Soldiers of The Great War: Jewish Military Service in WW I, as Reported in The Jewish Chronicle – “The Action in Heligoland Bight”, September 25, 1914 (Stoker Syd Braham)

Here is another news item about a Jewish sailor in the Royal Navy: Stoker Syd Braham, of HMS Falmouth. 

The Falmouth, a light cruiser built for the Royal Navy, was launched on September 20, 1910, and commissioned in September of 1911.  She participated in most of the early fleet actions, including the Battles of Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank, and Jutland, but was only seriously engaged in the latter.  She was torpedoed and sunk off Flamborough Head, Yorkshire, by German submarines on 19 August, 1916, with one fatality.  

A portrait of Stoker Braham was published in the 7 October issue of The Jewish World, and appears below.



The Jewish Chronicle

September 25, 1914

Mr. J. Braham, of Sydenham Park Road, sends us an interesting letter he had recently received from his brother, Stoker Syd Braham, H.M.S. “Falmouth”.  In the course of this letter, Stoker Braham writes, “We were in the affair in Heligoland, and might say we were the foremost ship.  We sank two German cruisers and escaped in a burning and sinking condition.  You ought to have been on our ship and heard the shells buzzing over our ‘Tags (ears)’.  We didn’t get hit – not a scratch.  You ought to have seen the ship burning.  You could see the men [the enemy’s apparently] going mad and jumping into the water.  It was a horrible scene.”  “Syd” concludes with a warm greeting to his brother and sister and other relatives.


HMS Falmouth, at


Soldiers of The Great War: Jewish Military Service in WW I, as Reported in The Jewish Chronicle – “The Sinking of the Pathfinder”, September 11, 1914 (Stoker William Stern)

The photograph below appeared in the September 9 issue of The Jewish World

It commemorates Stoker 1st Class William Stern (K/5331) of the Royal Navy, who was killed in the sinking of HMS Pathfinder on September 5; four days earlier. 

Born in Bishopsgate, London, on July 3, 1891, William was the son of Jacob and Esther.  His name is memorialized on Panel 5 of the Chatham Naval Memorial, in Kent. 

The very brief, two-sentence announcement of his death which is presented below, appeared in the Chronicle on September 11.

As for the Pathfinder…  A plethora of information about the ship, her crew, and her loss can be found on the Internet.  She has the tragic distinction of having been the first ship ever to have been sunk by a motor-powered (self-propelled) torpedo. 

(Based on the Wikipedia entry…)  She was launched in July of 1904 and commissioned in 1905, as the lead ship of the Pathfinder class of scout cruisers.  Struck in a forward magazine by a torpedo fired by the U-Boat U-21 (commanded by Otto Hersing) while off the Firth of Forth, she exploded, and sank within four minutes.  The total number of casualties is reported to have been 250, with eighteen known survivors, including the ship’s captain, Captain Francis Martin-Leake. 

As reported in the Daily Mail on September 8, 2014, a century after the Pathfinder’s sinking, a wreath was placed over the site of her wreck by members of the British Sub-Aqua Club, in the presence of members of the Royal Navy, and, Royal Marines. 

Among those in attendance were members of Stoker Stern’s family, a photograph of whom appears in the Mail’s article.

Note that the caption mentions the Pathfinder as having been sunk by a mine.  This was reported as such due to the Admiralty’s belief – at the time – that surface warships could not be sunk by torpedoes.


The Sinking of the Pathfinder

The Jewish Chronicle
September 11, 1914

We regret to announce that among the crew of H.M.S. “Pathfinder” who perished when that vessel was mined in the North Sea was a Jew, Stoker William Stern.  Stoker Stern’s relatives reside in Bell Lane, E.


U-21 Sinks HMS Pathfinder 5 September 1914, by Martin Gibson.

Tribute to the first ever casualty of the U-Boats: Divers lay wreath on the wreck of HMS Pathfinder 100 years after submarine sent it to the bottom

H.M.S. Pathfinder (1904)