Soldiers of the 462nd General Transport Company
The above image, posted at the website of the Kedem Auction House Ltd., shows the cover of a Passover Haggadah printed by the 462nd General Transport Unit in Italy, in 1944. The stylized Magen David, with a winged camel in the center, was the unit’s emblem.
Another emblem of the 462nd, more clearly showing the design of a winged camel inside a Magen David, from information about Jewish units in the British Army in WW II, at the website of the Jewish Soldier in WW II.
While the total number of 462nd casualties is reported as 148 (Henry Morris) or 140 (numerous web references) news articles from the South African Jewish Times and The Jewish Chronicle give the number of fallen as 138, which is identical with my findings.
For a few (only a few) names, such as that of Chaim Cikanowski (PAL /410) and Wilhelm Scharf (PAL/30940), the soldier’s name is not present in either volume of WWRT, but it does appear in Volume 4 of Jewish-Palestinian Volunteering in the British Army During the Second World War.
For some servicemen, like Israel Platzman (PAL/522) and Michael Schlesinger (PAL/32377) the “match” between the name as given in WWRT and CWGC is exact.
For many soldiers (seen in the attached files) there is notable variation in the spelling of the names among We Will Remember Them, Volume 4 of Jewish-Palestinian Volunteering in the British Army During the Second World War, and, records in the CWGC.
In such cases, I list every name variant for every soldier, and I have “unified” these variants under a single name that appears to be the best “fit” for these variants. The following are such examples:
The name “Yaakov Schmerling” (PAL/1272) is derived from “Yaakov (Shneur) Schmerling” and “Yacob Shmerling”.
For “Pinchas Kuflik” (PAL/30343), WWRT 1 gives his name as “Pinchas Kopelik” and “Paul Koplik”, while CWGC gives his name as “Pinkas Kuflik”.
There are two possible names for “Isak Chaim Nussbaum” (PAL/1266). WWRT 1 gives his name as “Yigal Nussbaum” and CWGC gives his name as “Isak Chaim Nussbaum”.
But… A man’s name is not merely a string of letters; mere “information”.
It is his identity.
It is him, in senses both symbolic and real.
Who were these men?
Most CWGC records for casualties of the 462nd General Transport Company list only the man’s name, rank, serial number, date of casualty, and place of commemoration. However, using a combination of CGWC data, and, a variety of genealogical information available at various websites (such as year and place of birth, place of citizenship or residence of next-of-kin, and names of next-of-kin) it has been possible to “reconstruct” – to a limited extent – biographical information for eighty-six men; information which may indirectly be representative of the background of the other 52 soldiers for whom such information is currently unavailable.
How old were they?
The average age of the eighty-six was twenty-eight. The oldest of the eighty-six was Ahron Ben Shalom Qarawani, whose mother lived in Peta Tikva, and who, born in 1886, was fifty-seven years old. The youngest were Ouri Baks, from Netanya; Moshe Alter Kaplan from Peta Tikva; and, Pesach Yaacobson, from Ramat Gan. Born in 1925, they were all eighteen years old.
Where were their families from?
Of those of the 86 for whom a place of residence of next-of-kin (rather than the men themselves) is listed, the following locations are given, with the soldier’s surname listed adjacent.
Afikim – 1 man (Gurevtich)
Bet Hanan – 1 man (Tadjer)
Degania (Kibbutz) – 1 (Tanfilov)
Brooklyn, N.Y., USA – 1 man (Scharf)
Hotin, Bessarabia, Rumania – 1 man (Guterman)
Givat Samuel – 1 man (Spinzel)
Giwatayim / Givatayinu (Givatayim?) – 2 men (Fogel, Milkain)
Haifa – 3 men (Altgenug, Veiner, Zyto)
Jerusalem – 1 man (Rosenzweig)
Kfar Gibton – 1 man (Ben Yisrael)
Kfar Mallal – 1 man (Nadav)
“Kinereth” (Kinneret) – 1 man (Pesach Maimon)
Kiriat Bialik – 1 man (Jashuvi)
“Meia Sharim” (Mea Shearim) – 1 man (Gruber)
Nahalal – 1 man (Betzer)
“Nanthaya” / Netanya – 2 men (Baks, Terbas)
“Peta Tiqva” / “Petak Tikvat” (Peta Tikva) – 3 men (Kaplan, Raphael Maimon, Qarawani)
Post Karkur – 1 man (Simon)
Ramat-Gan – 2 men (Heydermann, Pesach Yaacobson)
Ramat-Gan Bet – 1 man (Stern)
Rehovoth – 1 man (Gotlib)
Rishon-le-Zion – 1 man (Aharon Segal)
Tel-Adashim – 1 man (Steinberg)
Tel-Aviv – 6 men (Bachrach, Busany, Yechye Cohen, Greenberg, Schiefer, Schmerling, Israel Segal)
Two of the eighty-six were born in Latvia. They were Johoshua Adari, who was born in Zilupe under the name of Truskanovski, and, Itzhak Ben Yeshayahn (Yeshayahu?) Lotz, a member of Hashomer Hatzair, who was born in Rezekne in 1912 under the name of Itzkhak Kisayevitch Lots.
Where were they born?
Along with Adari and Lotz, the countries of birth for some of the eighty-six are:
Austria – 9 men
Bulgaria – 1 man
Israel (Yishuv) – 7 men
Germany – 5 men
Hungary – 1 man
Latvia – 1 man
Libya – 2 men
Lithuania – 1 man
Poland – 14 men
Romania – 4 men
Russia – 1 man
Some were born in Germany or Austria
As listed above, five of the casualties are known to have been born in Germany, and nine in Austria. Among those men for whom genealogical information is absent, twelve have names with a Germanic “sound”, suggesting birth in either of those countries. They are:
Hans Carl Altgenug, whose uncle Zwi Alvin was from Haifa
Erich Bachrach, whose parents were Rudolf and Rudoleine, and whose step-father Henry was from Tel-Aviv
Gustav Gavriel Gruber (listed above)
Paul Heiman, whose parents were Berthold and Martha
Gerhard Heydemann, whose mother Ruth lived in Ramat-Gan
Hans Gerd Rosin
Werner Sally Trauman
The married men, and their wives, were:
Yaakov Ben Israel, from Kfar Gibton – Hemda
Gustav Gavriel Gruber, from “Meia Sharim” (Mea Shearim) – Batia
Moshe Greenberg, from Tel Aviv – Bella
Baruch Gurevitch, from Afikim – “Jaffa” [Sheina Peleg]
Pesach Maimon, from “Kinereth Israel” (Kinnererth Israel) – Naomi
Raphael Maimon, from “Petka Tikvah” (Peta Tikva) – Rachel
Aharon Segal, from Rishon le Zion – Jocheved
Shlomo Stern, from Ramat-Gan-Bet – Gnesa
Gershon Haim Tadjer, from Bet Hanan – Victoria
Moshe Terbas, from Netanya – Shoshana [Treves]
Where are their names memorialized?
The names of every man – but one – are commemorated on Panels 15, 16, and 17 at the Brookwood Memorial, in Surrey, England. That “one” man is Hans Carl Altgenug, whose name is commemorated at the Athens Memorial, in Athens, Greece.
The Hebrew Wikipedia article about the Erinpura states that two casualties of the 462nd are buried in Libya; one in Tripoli and the other in Benghazi. However, based on information available thus far, I believe that every Jewish soldier lost in the sinking of the Erinpura was genuinely “lost at sea”, as was true for all but one of the other casualties on the ship.
Other casualties of the 462nd General Transport Company
The 462nd incurred the loss of four other soldiers during the war. Driver Abraham Reznik died on July 6, 1942 and is buried at El Alamein. L/Cpl. Alfred Freddy Schwartz, whose parents lived at Shepherd’s Bush, in London, died in Italy on October 24, 1944, and is buried at the Caserta War Cemetery. Private Shlomo Halun and Driver Moshe Zack also died in Italy (on December 11, 1944 and February 15, 1945, respectively), and are buried at the Rome War Cemetery, and, Florence War Cemetery.
462nd General Transport Company – Surnames beginning A through E
462nd General Transport Company – Surnames beginning F through J
462nd General Transport Company – Surnames beginning K through O
462nd General Transport Company – Surnames beginning P through T
462nd General Transport Company – Surnames beginning U through Z
462nd General Transport Company – Other Casualties in the Second World War
– Michael G. Moskow