4 December 2012

German Heritage Volunteers

One of the West Ham Battalion officers, Ernest Sherman (who came from Whitechapel and won his Military Cross at Oppy, April 1917) was German heritage, but he wasn't the only one.

There are a distinct number of German surnames in the Hammers, but this shouldn't be surprising - the 1911 Census records that about 2% of the Borough of West Ham was 'foreign born'.

Most of the lads were British born but of German parents or grand parents and they included the Medical Officer, Dr Alan Holthusen. He had his GP surgery in Sebert Road, Forest Gate and another in Wanstead. His younger brother Len was also serving in the Hammers, as the Signals Officer.

Alan Holthusen

The West Ham Battalion tailor was Ernie Kurtz, born in Bow but living in Forest Gate, son of a tailor and married to a seamstress.

Ernie Kurtz

Other German surnames on the Muster Roll of 'Originals' include Lang, Luck, Giess (two brothers who enlisted together), Vogt, Teitjen (who knocked a few years off his age and was severely shattered mentally by the Somme Summer of 1916), Tettmar, Hauser, Izzat, Francker, Englefield, Vaus, Zimmer, Schuler, Therin (two more brothers who enlisted together) and Kunkel (who was wounded by a sniper).

Cyril Blattman is interesting as he was living just a few doors down from Mr Flatan's photography shop in Ley Street, Ilford when he enlisted. Although Cyril's surname sounds German, it was actually from his grandfather Jean Blattman - who was born in Matherne in the Alsace region of France and first appears in London on the 1851 Census!

1 comment:

Jean Giess said...

Do not assume that because of the surname Giess, these were foreign born. The Giess family can be traced in Essex back to the 18th century.