Edward Ephraim Barnet SAMUEL
Eyes black, Hair black, Complexion sallow
The Samuel Family
Story text (with minor edits and additions) is reproduced with permission from the copyright holders, the Australian Jewish Historical Society on behalf of Peter M. Allen Please note change of name to Edward from Ephraim (Annotation to Peter Allen’s story).
Edward’s birth was registered in Glasgow as Ephraim Barnett Samuel and he appears under that name in the 1891 Scottish Census with his family – which at that time included Polish-born parents (his father was a tailor), two sisters and two brothers. Another sister was born after that census. In the 1901 census, he is a 14-year-old picture framer living with his family and now one of eight siblings
When he emigrated to Australia in 1912, he came out under the anglicized name of Edward Samuel and listed his occupation as a tailor. He appears in Victorian electoral rolls from 1914 under the name Edward Ephraim Samuel, despatch clerk of Lygon Street, Carlton in Melbourne. His AIF enlistment papers were signed under the name Edward Samuel.
And finally, in 1917, Edward’s brother, Phillip, named his son Edward, presumably in honour of his now deceased older brother.
SAMUEL, Ephraim Barnet (aka Edward)
Ephraim Barnet Samuel was born c. 1887 to Jane (‘Jeanie’ née Rosenbloom) and Israel Samuel in Glasgow, Scotland, where he attended Adelphi Terrace School. Ephraim trained as a tailor and came to Australia c. 1912, working as a despatcher for Barnet Glass Rubber Co. Ltd. in Melbourne.
Age 27, he enlisted in the AIF at Melbourne on 6 July 1915 as No. 3911 Private Edward Samuel. Following training, he embarked on 23 November aboard HMAT A40 Ceramic with the 12th Reinforcement of 7th Battalion for Egypt. As part of the doubling of the AIF, he was transferred to the new 59th Battalion, 15th Brigade, on 26 February 1916 and continued training.
From 12 May, Edward suffered severe diarrhoea followed by rheumatism, being treated at Field Ambulance hospitals for a week. The battalion embarked Alexandria 18 June to Marseilles and travelled to Fleurbaix in the north of France, 20km west of Lille.
Fromelles – Killed in Action
On 19-20 July 1916 - less than a month after arriving in the ‘nursery section’ - the 59th fought in the disastrous Battle of Fromelles: the AIF’s first major battle on the Western Front. Attacking in the first wave, the battalion's advance faltered far short of its objective, suffering the 5th Division’s heaviest casualties, especially from German machine-gunners on the Sugarloaf.
Like many of the division’s 5,533 casualties (including 35 of the battalion’s 39 participating officers), Edward was posted ‘Missing in Action’.
Private E. Shaw (a cook) later stated:
“Pte Samuel was Mess Orderly ... and therefore I saw him a good deal during the day. I last saw him alive about 7.45pm. At about 8.30pm ... I saw his body about 200 yards from our trench.”
The note “Presumed Buried in No Man's Land at approx. 5J90 43 to 5K02.5.1 Sheet Hazebrouck 5A” was subsequently handwritten in his record but no burial place has been identified or proven. A similar note appears in records for Privates Bezelle Rabinovitch and Gershun Harbert, another two Jewish soldiers of 59th Battalion from some 100 in the 5th Division. We can only speculate whether the three were close mates.
His name commemorated
In April 1917, a Court of Enquiry determined that he was ‘Killed in Action, 19 July 1916’. As he has no known grave, 29-year-old Private Edward Samuel’s name is engraved on Panel 17 of VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, Lille, Nord Pas de Calais, France.
He was one of ten Jews amongst the 2,000 diggers killed at Fromelles: Australia’s – and Australian Jewry’s - worst-ever 24 hours. See separate entries for the others, including just two with identified graves: Pte Joseph Hart, buried in 1921, and Lt Berrol Mendelsohn, one of the 250 ‘Lost Diggers of Fromelles’ reinterred in 2010. By 2019, 166 of them had been identified and the quest to identify the remainder continues.
A 2nd mtDNA sample (only) is still being sought for family connections to
|Soldier||Ephraim Barnet (Edward) SAMUEL c. 1887-1916, Scotland, Australia|
|Parents||Israel SAMUEL born in Poland, lived in Glasgow|
|Jane (Jeanie) ROSENBLOOM, born in Poland, lived in Glasgow Scotland|
|Siblings||7 Siblings, Sarah, Fanny, Phillip, Myer (Matthew, Sophia, Rose, Bella|
|Sophia m David Rueben Goldwater New Zealand – 5 Children|
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