Joe ensures war heroes honoured

TRIBUTE: Joe Manning

JOE Manning is living proof that one man can make a difference.

In the late 1980s, Joe launched an appeal in the former Jewish Gazette for readers to come forward with the names of young Jews who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars.

As he stood in the AJEX Street Lane Garden of Remembrance, when ex-servicemen and women came to honour those who gave their lives in the world wars, he gazed intently at the commemoration stone.

"We were praying and staring at a nameless stone," he recalled.

"The faces of old friends and contemporaries who never returned passed through my mind and nothing could erase the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice."

The fact was there was no roll of honour for the soldiers who never came back, as there was in countless other areas.

This motivated Joe, who thought that unless something was done immediately, while there were still people who could identify the names, it would be too late.

After his open letter was published, Joe's mission to establish a Leeds Jewish Roll of Honour received a huge boost.

He was astonished with the avalanche that followed and Joe, now 96, describes the response as "astounding".

He said: "I was inundated with names. People phoned, wrote and came from all over, so we held a public meeting at the Jubilee Hall in order to record the many names of those who died."

Many contributed to Joe's war memorial fund, which soon topped 3,000. This went towards the cost of engraving and maintenance.

The end result was 108 names from The Great War and 99 names from the Second World War, making a total of 207.

"The whole project turned out to be far greater than I ever envisaged. I never realised our losses were so great," Joe said.

"Their names are now honoured for perpetuity, giving future generations visible proof of the sacrifice Leeds Jewry made for this country," said Joe, who served in the Royal Scots as a signaller and a lance-corporal.

Although wounded in service, he retains a wonderful philosophy.

"Everything that happened to me had a bearing on my future life and helped shape my character," he said.

"When I came out of hospital, after being blown up, I made a vow that I would never go back to tailoring."

Joe's interest in photography prompted him to open a business in Leeds Grand Arcade, which soon expanded to include business equipment.

This month Joe attended the AJEX remembrance service.

"It was very poignant but heartening to see a good representation of young people," he said.

"As AJEX members get fewer and fewer, the honour of remembering is now handed over to the young, so that those fallen heroes will never be forgotten."

Joe has been married to Betty for 65 years and the couple have two children, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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