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Lieutenant Gerald George Samuel

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10th Battalion Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), 123rd Infantry Brigade, 41st Division, Age 31, Killed 7 June 1917. Menin Gate Memorial Panel 45. Son of Marcus Samuel, first Viscount Bearsted, and Fanny Elizabeth, Viscountess Bearsted, 3 Hamilton Place, Piccadilly, London. He ran an import business trading with the Far East and established the Shell transport and Trading Company. Gerald had a brother, Walter, and two sisters Nellie and Ida, she married a Sebag-Montefiore. He was educated at Eton and then on leaving he travelled to Japan, Canada and the United States.


On his return he devoted his life to the poor children of London’s East End. Gerald and his friend Denzil Myer established a Home for boys in Stepney. Gerald was Honorary Secretary and Denzil Myer, a member of the Apprenticing Committee, purchased a freehold of a house in Trafalgar Square, Stepney, and adapted it as a Home for ten working boys, and to live there and run it personally, the Samuel and Myer Home. They were both killed in action in 1917, and Gerald bequeathed the house and £10,000 for its maintenance to the Jewish Board of Guardians, on the condition that two or more gentlemen would live there and supervise the home and look after the boys. In 1923 a married couple became Honorary Warden and Matron and a gift from Gerald’s mother made it possible to take in the full complement of ten boys.


On the outbreak of war he applied to join the Army but was rejected twice due to his poor eyesight. In October 1915, he gained a commission in the 10th Battalion Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) and went to France in April 1916. He was wounded twice. On the 7 June the Battalion was part of the 123rd Brigades attack at the Dammstrasse as part of the Battle of Messines. At 3.10am the British blew nineteen mines beneath the German lines in what became known as ‘Cratering the Ridge’ Read more here

Simultaneously, a massive barrage opened up on the German lines. The Battalion advanced towards the Dammstrasse and Pheasant Wood from trenches 34 and 35 at St Eloi the War Diary recording:

War Diary

They captured forty prisoners and consolidated the captured trenches and held them under heavy German artillery fire. Gerald was killed leading his men during the attack.

Battalion casualties were: 5 officers killed, 4 wounded. Other Ranks, 30 killed, 188 wounded, 10 ‘doubtful’. Gerald's body was lost and he is listed on the Menin Gate Memorial.


War and After


I hope that when at last these days are o’er,

I may return my labours to renew,

And try to wipe away the marks of war

That stain the nations with their bloody hue.

To bring some ray of solace to a few,

To make their lives less difficult to live,

Is all I ask.  My work I shall not rue

If I can help to comfort some who grieve,

And added happiness to some poor toilers give.




But I would not forgotten be,

When only dust is left of me:

And so I try, with painful strife,

To justify my having life.


Gerald Samuel’s WW1 poetry collection ‘Poems’ was published by Arthur L. Humphreys, London in 1917. 

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