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The Hull Reform Synagogue - Ne've Shalom






In the last issue of the Hull Jewish Watchman, there was an article written by Howard Cuckle on the life and death of Major General Orde Charles Wingate and his time in Burma. One of our members, Natalie Winetroube, whose uncle, Ernie Rosenthall, had served in Burma with Major General Wingate, sent us the following article in which she reminisces about her family's military service in the Second World War.


My sister, Audrey, and I were interested in the story of Orde Wingate and the Chindit as our Uncle Ernie served in his unit in Burma with the Chindits fighting the Japanese. Before being sent to Burma, Ernie served in France and was one of the 'lucky' soldiers rescued on the Dunkirk beaches by one of the 'small boats'. Ernie never spoke much about the campaign in Burma and when he came home, he was gaunt and silent for days. He just lay on my Grandmother's sofa, not speaking much at all for quite a while.


Ernie was one of the Rosenthall Band of Brothers who all served in the Forces in different capacities. There was Sydney, Cyril, Ernie, Jack and Ronnie and I have photographs of all our Uncles in their various uniforms.


As a schoolgirl evacuated for the whole of the War,  I wrote to all my Uncles to keep in touch with them. When I received a reply from Ernie in Burma, it came in the form of a square blue airmail. These airmails were often censored and sadly, they got lost when I moved house as an adult. I wish I had kept them all.


Our father was Sam Rosenthall and he could not join up in the War as he had only one good eye and a glass one, having lost one eye in an accident in his youth. He was, however, a Senior Air Raid Warden in his shelter on some land near the Carlton Cinema on Anlaby Road, where the Tesco Store is now. He was opposite Stirling Street which received a direct hit from enemy bombers and Dad was responsible for digging dead and alive people out of the wreckage. Some of the ladies in the area kitted Dad out with scarves, gloves and balaclavas, as our Mum had gone to live in Hornsea with my two little brothers. Luckily, our Grandmother had rented a house there, as she had been bombed out and our Grandfather was an invalid in a wheelchair having lost his legs from Diabetes.


Sadly two of our Uncles were killed in the War. Cyril, aged 26, was a gunner down South shooting at German aircraft. Ronnie, aged 21, was a trained mechanic and serviced aircraft in Gloucester. He couldn't wait to join the RAF and he was killed on his return to his barracks, outside Cheltenham, after being on leave to celebrate his 21st birthday


How our Grandmother recovered from the loss of two precious sons in 10 months we shall never comprehend. She did, however, make an effort to find two Jewish soldiers who were stationed in or around Hornsea and invited them to her Erev Shabbat dinner on a Friday night. Be they Free French, Algerians, Poles, American or Canadian, she invited whoever she could. She was an unsung heroine in her own right.


Audrey's future husband, Harold Sugarman, also served all through the war on the front line. He was an expert in decoding secret messages from the enemy and spent time in Austria and Italy. He was an expert skier and stayed on after the war, and although the authorities wanted him to be a skiing instructor, he declined. Due to the sensitivity of his role whilst serving in the secret service, he was actually given a pill to take if he was captured. Audrey and her son Ian's own James Bond who would never ever talk about what he actually did during the war.


My future husband, Ivor Winetroube, was called up when he was an 18 year old and was assigned a munitions truck taking supplies wherever they were needed. He never took a driving test in his life. Apparently, if he could keep his truck on a straight line, he was passed as a driver. I am still in constant touch with one of his co-drivers after all these years. Ivor's brother, Warren, later joined the RAF and was sent to India where there was unrest and rioting. He was only sent home when Ghandi was assassinated and the partition of India followed.


There can be few, if any, of our community who know all about our men folk's contribution to the war effort, but Audrey and I are proud of what they all did and the sacrifices some of them made, particularly Cyril and Ronnie and we will keep their memory alive forever.




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