Memorial Held in Honor of British Jewish WWI Soldier Awarded Victoria Cross for ‘Conspicuous Bravery’
A memorial was unveiled on Tuesday commemorating a London-born Jewish soldier who had been awarded the Commonwealth’s highest military honor for his service during World War I.
Lance Corporal Leonard Keysor of the 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force was honored with a Victoria Cross commemorative stone next to the Ministry of Defense Main Building in London.
Keysor, who died in 1951, received the award for his “conspicuous bravery” during the Battle of Lone Pine on August 6, 1915, according to the British Army.
Keysor risked his life to pick up live Turkish grenades as they were lobbed into the Allied trenches and throw them back towards enemy positions. Later, despite an injury and being ordered to seek medical attention, Keysor remained in the line and volunteered to throw bombs for another company, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported.
Keysor immigrated to Australia in 1914, three months before World War I broke out. He immediately enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and arrived at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915. Two months later he was promoted to Lance Corporal. He later served on the Western Front before returning to Australia to help with recruiting.
The memorial service celebrating Keysor’s achievements was held at Victoria Embankment Gardens in Westminster. The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Christabel Flight, unveiled the paving stone monument. Also attending the ceremony were past, present and future representatives of the Royal British Legion, HQ London District and Army Cadets.
The Victoria Cross was the first British medal for bravery that could be awarded to a serviceman irrespective of rank. It remains the highest and most prestigious recognition of exceptional valor against enemies in Commonwealth countries.