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Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu

Martin Sugarman

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies, volume 42, 2009 Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu MARTIN SUGARMAN Simmon Latutin was born on 25 July 1916 at 20 North Villas1 off Camden Square, Camden Town, London.2 His father, Moses Vlatutin, had been born in Riga3 in 1887 ana" was distantly related, family history has it, to a Russian-Jewish general of the same name who in the Second World War lifted the siege of his home town, Kiev, where he died soon after. Moses Vlatutin's father was a regimental tailor who travelled with his family as the regiment was posted from place to place. His first wife - the mother of Moses - died, but he remarried and had a second family. At least one of Moses' stepsisters reached Israel where relatives live to this day. Moses himself became a master tailor at the age of sixteen and earned the right - under the anti-Semitic laws of the time - to move from village to village for work in Czarist Russia. He made his way to Odessa and later to Romania, where he worked for some years saving for his emigration to America. In around 1912 he arrived in London having crossed Europe in stages by train from city to city. Here he met and fell in love with Fradel Kraftcheck,4 who later shortened her name to Frieda/Freda Kraft. She had been born in Warsaw in 1895, and was brought to England with her brother and parents when she was three years old. Moses became Morris and the couple married in 1913. An orthodox Jewish working class family, they first lived in Stamford Hill, Hackney, and later moved to a rented house in Camden Town where Shimeon (later Simmon) and his younger sister Blanche were born. Simmon's mother did not enjoy good health and for many years his father, 1 I am grateful to Mark Aston of the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre for consulting the Electoral Registers for the 1930s. The family rented the whole house, but lived in only the lower half. It survives at the time of writing. 2 Most of the information on Simmon Latutin's personal life comes from the author's taped interviews and telephone calls with Margaret Latutin-Liebert, Simmon's widow, between March and June 2006, from her home in Gloucestershire. She was, at the time of writing, in her ninetieth year and a great-grandmother. 3 Information confirmed by Margaret Latutin-Liebert. 4 Also spelt as Krafchig in Simmon's Army Records (henceforth AR). 211</page><page sequence="2">Martin Sugarman Plate i The family house in Camden Plate 2 Simmon on his Bar Mitsvah where Simmon was born. in 1929. with his European accent, worked in his tailoring shop in the basement of their house so that he could be near to and care for his wife at home. Sheila Gaiman, a first cousin and daughter of Pearl (Simmon's aunt), recalls5 that after Simmon had shown musical talent on the violin and later the viola at the age of seven his parents tried to shelter him from the normal rough-and-tumble games that boys get up to, for fear he would damage his hands. She remembers that he practised intensely and often and according to a strict timetable his parents laid down. They were enormously proud of his skill and had high hopes for him as a musician in years to come. Sheila recalls how Simmon's bedroom faced over the back garden in Camden and when they went round to visit, they would secretly play ball with him from the garden, throwing the ball back and forth to him in his first-floor room. Simmon attended the North London Polytechnic School between 1931 and 1933, attached to the nearby College which stood in Holloway Road.6 5 Taped interview with the author at the home of Simmon Hill, May 2006. Sheila is Rhoda's sister - see below. 6 It is now part of the extensive London Metropolitan University. The North London Polytechnic Day School for Boys moved about half a mile to the east in 1922, to Highbury 212</page><page sequence="3">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu He was very bright and the headteacher advised the family that he should apply for a mathematics scholarship at Oxford University. But Simmon, a gifted and sensitive musician who loved to listen to music whenever he could, but never had enough money to attend concerts, had his heart else? where. Three years after his Bar Mitsvah, at the age of sixteen, he won the Westmoreland scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music to study violin.7 He was a student of piano and violin from 1932, when he won the four year Sainton Scholarship for violin in September of that year,8 until 1940. His student record shows that he won first the bronze then the silver medals for violin, culminating in the Certificate of Merit, the highest award possible in that instrument. He was awarded various bursaries, including the Bache Scholarship in 1935.9 When still aged only sixteen he was approached by Sir Henry Wood's assistant to apply for a post in Brighton to play the viola; he borrowed an instrument, practised with it that evening, auditioned for the job next morning and was taken on.10 Within four years, when aged only twenty, he was playing for the London Symphony Orchestra, one of its youngest play? ers, having beaten off stiff competition.11 As an honour he was loaned the RAM's Stradivarius viola to play for several years prior to the War. Archives at the London Symphony Orchestra offices in the Barbican first mention Simmon in the programmes of the thirty-second series of concerts of the 1937-8 season - specifically 25 November 1937, where he appears in the viola section playing at the Queen's Hall12 in Elgar's 'Dream of Gerontius', conducted by Adrian Boult.13 His name appears consistently Grove, to become the Highbury County School by the time Simmon was a pupil there, but was probably still known to locals as the NLP School. I am grateful to Peter Bowbeer, Operations Manager at the LMU Library in Holloway Road, who extracted this information from the Schools's annual report of 1921-2. 7 Margaret says his name was on the honours board in the student canteen at the RAM. 8 I am grateful to his nephew Simmon Hill for providing a copy of the Scholarship certificate issued by the RAM. 9 I am grateful to Bridget Palmer, Assistant Librarian and Keeper of Archives at the RAM, for showing me the Student Register. 10 This was at the Theatre Royal in Brighton, with the Brighton Repertory Company, with whom he stayed for two seasons (AR). His CV in his army records shows that between 1932 and 1940 Simmon played with the Band of the Royal Marines, the London Philharmonic, the London Film Symphony Orchestra, the London Ballet Orchestra, the London Mozart Orchestra, the London Theatre Orchestra, the Queen's Hall Orchestra, the Royal Opera House Orchestra, the Isidore Schwiller Sextet, the Rael String Quartet and the Fortune Theatre Orchestra - as well as teaching. 11 I am informed by Margaret Latutin that Simmon was already leader of the viola section of the senior student orchestra at the RAM. 12 Langham Place, Wi. 13 LSO Archives, Barbican, with thanks to the Archivist, Libby Rice. 213</page><page sequence="4">Martin Sugarman Plate 3 (left) Simmon on the beach in 1936, probably at Brighton or Southsea where the family went on holiday. Plate 4 (right) Simmon dressed for playing in a quintet in Brighton, probably 1936. until April 1940,14 after which the names of orchestra members stop appearing and archive programmes peter out, perhaps due to wartime paper shortages. Simmon is also mentioned once in the Minutes of the Board of the LSO in August 1939, when he was refused permission to play with the English Opera Company as 'it was not in the best interests of the Orchestra'.15 At the RAM Simmon met Margaret Liebet Jacob, a woodwind student and daughter of a long-established and observant Anglo-Jewish family, George and Phoebe Jacob (nee Green). Their origins in Britain dated back to the eighteenth century. Margaret had been born on 6 December 1917 at 129 Hamilton Terrace, St John's Wood, one of three children, with an older brother and younger sister. She went to St Paul's Girls School in Hammersmith and attended the Hampstead synagogue in Dennington 14 He was in the army shortly after this - see below. 15 LSO Board Minutes, LSO Archives. 214</page><page sequence="5">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu Plate 5 Simmon and Margaret at the time of their engagement in London. Park Road. She was a diligent student and learnt Hebrew, Bible studies and religious studies (privately at home from a Miss Manville) with enthusiasm and ability, from the age of four, passing the Chief Rabbi's confirmation tests when she was in her teens. Margaret and Simmon, with their shared interest in music, fell in love. He was tall, broad and muscular, well spoken , with curly, dark-brown hair and brown eyes. Classical music was his life - he had little time or money for other pursuits - and had he lived he would certainly have been assistant conductor to Henry Wood. With a well-developed sense of humour, he was at the same time very serious. They became engaged, and after they were married bought a diamond for ?49 from a street trader in Hatton Garden, which they had set in plat? inum for ?2 f?r Margaret. It became their engagement ring and she treas? ures it to this day over sixty-six years later. Parental relationships were strained, however, because Margaret's parents - especially her domineering mother - disapproved of her relation? ship with the son of an Orthodox Jewish family of recent East European origin. Margaret also found visits to Simmon's parents quite difficult as the 215</page><page sequence="6">Martin Sugarman family were strictly kosher and pious. In addition, Simmon's parents seemed not to be pleased that his work took him away from home on Sabbaths and Holy days, or that work in his field was so hard to come by, especially when war first broke out. Simmon consequently lived away from home. Margaret too felt the need to leave home, but Simmon would not agree without their first being married, since many people knew about their relationship, and Simmon refused to risk any chance of scandal for her. Not being able to face the encounter at an orthodox Jewish wedding between two sets of parents who had never met, they were married in a private ceremony at St Marylebone Town Hall Registry Office on 15 March 1940, with two casual acquaintances for witnesses, and told their parents later. They used part of a gold watch chain as a wedding ring as they could not afford anything else, and had the rest of the chain made into a bracelet for Margaret. Following the marriage, Margaret's parents became even more estranged, but Simmon's parents - especially his mother - were always kind and supportive. Freda always referred to Margaret as 'her daughter'. Simmon's sister Blanche was also close to Margaret and they were firm friends. They lived in a bed-sit at 94a St Johns Wood High Street, NW8.16 Margaret's work in Civil Defence earned her under ?2 per week,17 and involved stressful and long shift-work as a first-aid auxiliary. She practised setting up a mobile hospital should the need arise, and staffed tube-station first-aid posts during the Blitz. Simmon, meanwhile, did voluntary unpaid Civil Defence work and also had some weekend work playing at concerts. There was little time for visiting family and friends. Life consisted of work, sleep, housekeeping and staying alive during the bombing. One of Simmon's younger cousins, Marlene Malnick (nee Tobias) informed the author18 how Simmon had several times visited her father, Simmon's uncle Mick (also known as Myer), while he was recovering from an operation in the London Clinic near the Royal Academy of Music around 1938. Simmon had played his viola on a number of occasions to cheer him up, but Mick eventually told Simmon that although he was welcome any time, he should not bring his viola. There had been complaints from matron, who said that young nurses had been distracted from their work by the handsome young man playing such divine music. Then in July 1940 Simmon was called up into the Army.19 16 The address given on the AJEX Jewish Chaplain card (see below) was 68 Brondesbury Road, NW6. 17 She also had a small legacy from her parents. 18 On 4 December 2006. 19 His AJEX Jewish Chaplain card says he was entered on 18 July 1940. (The 70,000 cards drawn up by the Jewish military Chaplains throughout the Second World War can be consulted at the Jewish Military Museum, Hendon, by appointment.) 2l6</page><page sequence="7">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu War service Simmon was 5 feet 11 inches tall, robust and physically strong, with the build of a rugby player. But since his eyesight was very poor, he was graded B3 and sent to the Primary Training Company, No. 4 Centre, Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps (AMPC) as Private 13052358, at Clacton.20 In March 1941 he was promoted to Lance-Corporal and in June attached to the 20th Company of the Pioneer Corps. Through July, August and September he attended and passed cadre courses at No. 23 Pioneer Company Group at Donnington, where he was described by his Com? manding Officer as 'very keen, thorough and intelligent ... [especially] in squad control'.21 He loathed this period and was determined to apply for a commission in a fighting regiment, as he wanted desperately to confront the Nazis. The first time he failed, but on the second occasion he memorized the reading card while waiting for the eye test. Bluffing his way through, and possibly with the connivance of a friendly Medical Officer, he was graded Ai, much to his delight. In January 1942 he was selected as a candidate for OCTU, and in March proceeded to No. 3 Infantry Training Centre for a pre-OCTU course of instruction. In April 1942 he was sent to C Company, 163 OCTU, at Hey sham. 20 Professor Raphael Loewe, MC, comments: 'At the outbreak of war, men adjudged unsuitable, because of defective eyesight, etc., for active combat were called up into the pioneer corps, some units of which consisted of refugees and others whom it would have been unacceptable to expose to risk of capture. But this did not mean that in the unit (without refugees) at Clapton to which Simmon and I were both directed there was no weapon-training. At first, one would not, if one's eyesight was below standard, be considered for a commission. The debacle at Dunkirk occurred just as examinations in the universities were taking place, after which there was a vast intake of students and new graduates into the armed services. I joined up on 15 August 1940, and as young men just down from college, were not slow in seeking each other out. I first met Simmon and Margaret in the bar of a hotel in Clacton. My father, Herbert Loewe, had just died (in October), and Margaret was sufficiently au fait with the Jewish community to have seen his obituary notices and to identify me as his son: and the three of us rapidly became good friends. One feature of the realistic administration of Churchill's national government was that from approximately the turn of 1940-1, men whose sight, with the aid of glasses, was perfectly adequate could be commissioned as officers in the army, and fairly early in the new year I proceeded to an OCTU in the Isle of Man - about a year before Simmon was similarly sent for training at Heysham. We never met again, although for a while we were in occasional corre? spondence. I myself was wounded in Italy in September 1944, and it was only early in the following year, after repatriation in a hospital ship, that I learned from my mother of Simmon's death, although not, I think, then of its heroic quality. I much valued his friendship and admired the gentleness of his character and his gift for drawing out those who felt unsure of themselves. And I much regret that post-war circumstances meant that Margaret and I lost touch.' 21 AR. 217</page><page sequence="8">Martin Sugarman During his OCTU he was described by his officers as 'above average intelligence, with evident powers of leadership, initiative and resourceful? ness when in command ... leadership comes easily to him and he can be a "tough" as well as a thinker ... I have no hesitation in recommending him as an outstanding cadet with wide knowledge who with experience in a battal? ion, will be one of its most useful and promising officers.'22 From here he was posted to the IXth battalion, the Somerset Light Infantry at Donnington.23 His Jewish chaplain card notes that he had a spell in Colchester military hospital in August 1940 where he was visited by a 'Rabbi R.', Military Chaplain, and given the usual Jewish Military Prayer Book, Book of Jewish Thoughts and Psalms. He also met Senior Jewish Army Chaplain Dayan Rabbi Gollop on 13 July 1941, Rabbi Edgar in August, and in May 1942 the Revd Maurice Lew. Margaret lived through the Blitz in London in various bed-sits near her parents' home. When she fell pregnant she contacted her old synagogue and asked if she and Simmon could arrange to be married in the traditional Jewish manner before their child was born. But the cost was so exorbitant and the response so hostile that she abandoned the idea. At around this time she sought some financial help from the Officers Family Fund and received a small loan and grant which she eventually paid back. Margaret was evacuated to a flat in Park View, West Road, Berkham stead, a town where members of her parents' extended family were living; and on 5 January 1942 their first daughter Anne was born there at the Grange Nursing Home. Relations with Margaret's parents considerably improved after this happy event, joyful as they were to have a grandchild. Between October and December 1942 Simmon attended the Tactical Training School at Aldershot and also managed to be the concert and enter? tainments officer for the officers' mess with the Somersets. Among Margaret's first cousins in the area where she was living were brothers Jack Green (then aged 10) and David (aged 8).24 Jack has fond memories of his 'uncle' Simmon coming home on leave on a number of occasions during 1943, in uniform and teaching the boys to ride their bikes. He would telephone them and off they would all go cycling into the surrounding countryside, walking on the golf links and visiting a ruined castle, returning hours later for tea, with David riding piggy back. They remember him as a kind and charming man, whose visits they looked forward to. By coincidence, when Jack was at Clayesmore School near 22 AR. 23 His Commission was gazetted on 11 and 17 September 1942 in the London Gazette, p. 3956, as 242974, Second Lt Somerset Light Infantry from 21 September 1942 - see LG website. 24 Telephone conversation with Jack Green, May 2006. 2l8</page><page sequence="9">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu Plate 6 Simmon and Margaret with their elder daughter Anne in December 1942, before his posting to Somalia. Blandford in 1950, he trained for 3 weeks with the Somerset Light Infantry, Simmon's old regiment, as a member of the CCF (Public School Combined Cadet Force). Simmon's cousin Sheila Gaiman recalls how proud the family were of Simmon's membership of the LSO, and when he came home on leave he would often go to play in their radio concerts. They would all gather around the radio and hear Paul Beard, a famous leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with whom the LSO frequently played,25 announce that Simmon Latutin was playing with them that evening. Margaret recalls one charming incident when Simmon - newly commis? sioned, and a new and very proud parent - was wheeling daughter Anne in her pram. He was smoking his pipe when a private approached the young family and smartly saluted the officer. With one hand on the pram and the other on his pipe, Simmon rapidly appraised the situation and whispered loudly to Margaret, 'grab the handle!' while returning a crisp salute to the soldier with his now free hand. 25 Paul Beard, BBCSO website. 219</page><page sequence="10">Martin Sugarman By January 1943 Simmon was posted with his battalion to Northern Ireland and Margaret went on a visit to County Down for three months with Anne to be near his army base. She was in digs first on a farm close to his camp, and later in Downpatrick, and Simmon was able to obtain frequent passes to spend time with his family. But between 10 February and 10 March 1943 Simmon attended a Battle Course at Barnard Castle. Not wanting to have an only child, Margaret soon fell pregnant again and returned to Berkhamstead. By the time she was in her fourth month Simmon came home to Berkhamstead in April 1943, on embarkation leave, pending posting to former Italian Somaliland, in East Africa. Simmon was disappointed as he had wanted to be with his Regiment while it rehearsed for D Day. But both he and Margaret believed that he was posted away to avoid having him in action with his poor eyesight, a disability that the other officers had obviously noticed. On at least one occasion Simmon went to Haslemere to visit a much loved aunt, Pearl (Freda's sister) and her daughters. They, Rhoda Zeffert and Sheila Gaiman, were small children at the time, but remember Simmon as a gentle and kind man, and how, during his embarkation leave, he came to say goodbye.26 There was great excitement as he arrived at the garden gate in his officer's uniform. Pearl had accidentally put on her dress inside out and Rhoda recalls how she would not change it in case it brought bad luck. Pearl was only about ten years older than Simmon and they had been play? mates when Simmon had visited them in the Mile End as children. She had spent many hours with him as a baby and helped partly to bring him up. East Africa Simmon left the UK on 9 April 1943, travelling the usual troopship route via West and South Africa around the Cape, and arrived in Durban on 21 May. He then proceeded to Mombasa, arriving on 10 June. Simmon was first sent to the border with Abyssinia, commanding African troops who were engaged in trying to stop Arab slave traders transporting their appalling 'cargo' from the Abyssinian border to the Cairo markets. In his letters home he described to Margaret some of his adventures.27 On one occasion a runner came to him with urgent news. Simmon thought it had to be about the arrival of his second child, but instead it was about the surren? der of Italy on 8 September. Soon afterwards another runner arrived, this 26 Tape-recorded interview with the author at the home of Simmon Hill, May 2006. 27 His Jewish Chaplain card states that while overseas in April 1943 he was sent a Bible and 'T &amp; B', meaning either a Tallit (prayer shawl) and Bag, or Tefillin (phylacteries) and Bag. 220</page><page sequence="11">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu Plate 7 The only known photograph of Simmon in field uniform and bush hat, taken in Somalia. time with the glad news of the birth of his second daughter, Elisabeth.28 The only European for 400 miles, he was asked for all kinds of advice and showed leadership to local people on many occasions - once having to over? see the birth of an overdue baby in a village.29 Rhoda Zeffert (his cousin, mentioned above) recalls that just before Christmas either in 1943 or 1944, when Simmon was in East Africa, his toddler daughter Anne appeared on the British Forces Radio, reciting a popular nursery rhyme of the day for her dad. All the family gathered around to hear Anne perform,30 and she remembers Anne saying hello to her daddy, and Captain Simmon Latutin's name being mentioned by the compere. All the children were allowed to stay up and listen. Late in the summer of 1943 Simmon was posted to Mogadishu to command the infantry training school for Swahili-speaking Kenyan African troops31 and troops of the Somalia Gendarmerie about to go to Burma to 28 Elisabeth was born on 7 September 1943 in Colchester, while Margaret was staying with friends at Grout's farm in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, ten miles east of Colchester. Rose, a family cook at Margaret's childhood home, had become a firm friend and invited Margaret and her chil? dren to stay on her husband's farm at this time, so they could be looked after. 29 Margaret did not keep his letters from army days. 30 Rhoda thinks it was 'Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy...', written in 1943 by Drake, Hoffman and Kingston, and sung by Al Trace. 31 Simmon's obituary in The Harrow Observer and Gazette, 12 September 1946, with thanks to Bob Thompson of Harrow Local Studies Library. 221</page><page sequence="12">Martin Sugarman Plate 8 Captain (Acting Major) Simmon Latutin, with the cap badge of the Somalia Gendarmerie and collar badges of the Somerset Light Infantry from which he was detached to the SG. fight under Wingate. He was promoted Captain on i August 1944 and then Acting Major, and given his own house. He made it his business to seek out Jewish servicemen in the locality and to entertain them for Friday night - the eve of Sabbath - in his quarters; what Margaret proudly describes as 'keeping the Jewish boys together in some way by inviting them to his house'. In early December 1944 he developed a tropical ulcer on his leg and had to spend from 4th to 20th December in hospital in Nairobi, returning to Mogadishu by air with a leg in plaster and using a walking stick, just before Christmas. This meant that he was unable to go on the next bush training patrol with his men, and that his Second in Command had to take his place. This proved to have a tragic outcome. On 28 December a Captain and Sergeant of the British Military Police, stationed in the camp, came to ask Simmon if the men could have some of the old Italian signal rockets that were stored in a hut for the New Year cele? brations with the African troops. Simmon agreed and, taking the keys, hobbled along with the men to unlock the doors. As the two men and an African Askari entered the hut, there was a huge explosion, which was heard clearly in central Mogadishu.32 Without hesitation, Simmon plunged 32 A Somali Gendarmerie Officer, writing to Margaret after the War. 222</page><page sequence="13">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu into the inferno and pulled out one man. Then, his clothes now ablaze, he plunged in again to pull out a second man, and attempted to enter a third time before other soldiers pulled him away as he was badly burnt. Throughout this time he would have been unable to use his stick and would have been much hindered by his leg-plaster. The African soldier died and the by now badly burnt three survivors were rushed to hospital.33 The two MPs died that day and Simmon succumbed on 30 December.34 On 2 January 1945 Margaret received a telegram at her home in Hemel Hempstead35 saying Simmon was gravely ill in hospital with third-degree burns. She called a relative who was a nurse to ask for an explanation of this, and it was she who called Margaret's mother who came over immediately to stay with her.36 Two days later, the day before Anne's third birthday, the second telegram arrived announcing Simmon's death. He had been twenty eight years old. Margaret was devastated. Simmon had never held his second daughter. For Margaret many of these events are a blur. With no telephone at home, she went at around 2 pm to a public call box to tell her sister-in-law Blanche the terrible news while she was at work. Blanche was allowed home immediately to inform her parents in Camden. Morris and Blanche then travelled to see Margaret, and about two days later Margaret went to see her parents-in-law at the house in Camden. Simmon's effects were eventually sent home to Margaret. These included various personal items, including, most importantly, his violin and viola. A treasured watch which she had inherited from her grandmother, and had 33 According to the same officer this was done within fifteen minutes - telephone call to Margaret, i November 2006. 34 These dates are from the War Diary of the HQ/Troops Somalia (Mogadishu), The National Archive (TNA) 69/18292 - see below. The author has traced the names of the two men Simmon tried to save by searching the CWGC website for Ngong Road, Nairobi, where only two other burials were dated the same day as the incident in Mogadishu - 164547 Captain James Long, Leicestershire Regiment and 779283 CSM Thomas Carruthers, Corps of Military Police (from Durham). Mary Connor of the CWGC confirmed from the records that the remains of both these men were moved at the same time as Simmon's from Mogadishu, where they died. TNA WO169/18292 (see above) confirms that '28/12/44 explosion at Gendarmerie 1600; 1700 Long and Carruthers injured as a result of explosion; 2100 Long and Carruthers died. 2g/12/44 1600 Long and Carruthers buried with full military honours in Italian civil cemetery. 31/12/44 1000 Captain Latutin buried with full honours Italian civil cemetery.' The the family of CSM Carruthers, contacted by the author via Durham newspa? pers, declined to be interviewed. 35 Margaret rented 30 Langley Avenue, but soon had to leave with her two small girls, staying with various friends and relatives over a nine-month period. Many condolence letters sent on from the Latutin parental address in Camden Town therefore never reached her (see below - correspondence with Margaret in April 2006). 36 Interview with Margaret June 2006. 223</page><page sequence="14">Martin Sugarman given him with his name inscribed on it, never arrived and had probably been stolen. Simmon's aunt Pearl was devastated. Sheila and Rhoda remember their mother receiving phone calls that Simmon was very ill. Sheila could not quite believe what she was hearing. The children had a game whereby when eating a fried egg - as they were that evening - they would break the yoke and make a wish. Sheila said that all the cousins should wish that Simmon would get better quickly, and then told young Rhoda to go and tell their mother what they had wished. Sheila deep down knew that the worst had happened. Their mother, standing in the kitchen, sadly replied that Simmon would not get better, and that he had in fact died. Pearl was speechless for some time. How the news was broken to Simmon's parents she does not recall, but she remembers that Freda was beside herself with grief at the loss of her talented and gentle son. In April or May 1945 Sheila was sent by Pearl to stay for ten days with her aunt Freda to try and cheer her up. Sheila remembers taking this very seriously and achieving a partial success. They played games together and went shopping, Sheila trying desperately to distract Freda - and Morris - who were alone in the house while their daughter Blanche went to work. At the National Archives in Kew the author discovered the War Office (WO) Diary of'HQ^Troops East Africa Command, Mogadishu'.37 The monthly summary for January 1945 refers tantalizingly on 10 January to a 'court of inquiry (C of I) into an explosion at the Gendarmerie', in the minutes referring to December 1944. But there is no sign of the minutes of the meeting,38 where it was discussed, or any copy of the inquiry itself. A Jewish neighbour in Hemel Hempstead, on hearing about Simmon's death, came to give her condolences and astonished Margaret by telling her that her nephew - a Jewish soldier in East Africa - had been a frequent Friday-night guest at Simmon's house in the training school and had attended his funeral. One can only imagine Margaret's feelings at such a coincidence. Sadly she does not remember the name of the serviceman. Margaret drew strength from her Jewish faith and learned to accept her blow with courage and fortitude. She knew that for Simmon's and their daughters' sake she had to make the best of her life. One officer's wife from the SLI, whom Margaret had got to know in Northern Ireland, wrote a particularly moving letter to her. Many other letters of condolence arrived, but one in particular was informative. It came from a retired British regular-army officer, Major Arthur McKinstry, who lived at Limuru in Kenya, growing coffee. He had 37 TNA WO 169/21761. 38 Further searches in the files of the WO, FO (Foreign Office), CO (Colonial Office) and others, revealed nothing further. 224</page><page sequence="15">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu lost his only son serving in the RAF and had adopted Simmon as a kind of surrogate. He raged in his letter because an order of 1942 had instructed that the Italian rockets be dumped as unstable. This order had not been carried out by the CO of the time, and it was almost certain that the hobnail boots of the men, scraping on the concrete floor of the hut, had created a spark which caused the explosion. Simmon's death was announced in the Daily Telegraph on 16 January (page 6) and, via the British Jewish Military Chaplains department, in the Jewish Chronicle on 26 January 1945 (page 16). Many tributes came. Lieutenant-Colonel Richard E. Thorne, Deputy Commandant of the Somalia Gendarmerie, wrote to Margaret on 2 January 194539 expressing his deepest sympathy. He had looked on Simmon as a personal friend and 'an extremely efficient and outstanding Officer in every way ... he was more than anyone responsible for the [Training School's] unqualified success. He was undoubtedly looked up to with respect and affection by all the men who passed through his hands, in the neighbour? hood of two hundred, and by his permanent staff.' Simmon had still been conscious in the hospital where he and the others had been rushed, and Thorne reported how 'He talked to me saying first "I am terribly sorry about this, Sir" ... this was because we were together reorganising the School and he had just prior to this been in hospital with a bad ulcer on the ankle which would not heal and he felt that he was again incapacitated. He then asked me, "What happened to the native - did he get away?" I tried to set his mind at rest over this - to save the shock - although I knew he had not been able to be got away. I feel you would like to know this as it again shows how his reactions even then, were consideration for others. Mercifully he suffered little if anything. We buried him on the morning of the 31st [December] with full Military Honours and a tribute to the affec? tion and regard with which he was held was shown by the fact that no less than 50 Officers and 10 other ranks attended - a very large proportion of our strength here ... I feel very deeply myself the loss of a friend and a very gallant Officer and gentleman.'40 On 22 January Colonel P. R. Munday, the CO of the Gendarmerie, added his own tribute, writing to Margaret, 'of his sincere sympathy ... in the tragic loss of Captain Latutin, who died so gallant a death ... I was away ... when the fire occurred ... his undaunted courage and magnificent self? lessness in his determination to effect a rescue ... are beyond praise. I have lost in him a most valued Officer, who was doing his work at the Training School for which he had been specially selected, exceedingly well and he 39 Margaret learned of this only sixty-one years later in April 2006 (see above), since for some reason the letters were not forwarded or shown to her. 40 The original letter is in the possession of Simmon Hill. 225</page><page sequence="16">Martin Sugarman was very popular amongst his men who all appreciated his ability to instruct and his firmness of character. As a friend also I mourn his loss, as he was a most charming person in private life. His funeral was well attended by all the available officers who form the garrison and he was afforded full mili? tary ceremonial. Major Mckinstry who knew him was also present.'41 Some time later a Major of the Somalia Gendarmerie wrote to Margaret to say that he would be in England in due course and would like to meet her for lunch at the Overseas Club in St James's. Margaret agreed and dressed for the occasion. The officer eventually arrived late and somewhat the worse for drink, and he invited her to a restaurant in Jermyn Street. Here he egotistically and tactlessly regaled her with how he had enjoyed a 'good' war in Somaliland, and that this was the first time he had had home leave in five years. Margaret thought - but did not say - that her beloved Simmon would never have the home leave that this man was enjoying. As the lunch? eon wore on, Margaret was eventually able to bring herself to ask him if Simmon realized how badly burnt he was; he sharply replied that he had no idea. But he patronizingly reminded her of the Officers Families Fund that could provide her with some assistance. Afterwards Margaret took him for a short meeting with Simmon's parents in Camden, although only Morris was strong enough to see him. Two weeks later Margaret received a grant from the Officers Families Fund for her two daughters. Although she regarded it as blood money - given the nature of Simmon's death - she accepted it for the childrens' sake. One day in April 1945 the three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Anne asked Margaret if it was true that her daddy was never really coming home. Margaret explained that this was true. Anne then asked: 'Then where will he go?' Margaret explained that when a match is struck and then goes out, we know that there has been a flame, but that it is now gone. We do not know where it has gone, but we do know that it was once bright and strong and has now gone - just like Anne's daddy. The Award and remembrance On 2 February 1946 a letter was sent by Brigadier D. H. Wickham, Chief British Army Administrator in Somalia, to Civil Affairs Branch in Nairobi.42 Nairobi had requested witness statements of the incident at Mogadishu, and Wickham had to reply that 'both the persons carried out of the burning [explosives] store by Capt. Latutin died before they were able 41 Ibid. ? TNAT 351/35. 226</page><page sequence="17">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu to make any statement. I enclose however, a report by No. 132 Sgt Aden Abdi of the Somalia Gendarmerie, who was an eye-witness of Capt. Latutin's action.' This reads in full: I remember the day in December 1944, just after Christmas, when a fire broke out at the Somalia Gendarmerie Training School in Mogadishu. Between the hours of 1500 and 1530 I was in my barrack room when I heard shouts of Tire, Fire!' and simultaneously a number of explosions. I ran out of the barrack room and saw that the fire was in the store where explosives are kept. I picked up a bucket of water and went to the scene of the fire. On my way I sounded the fire alarm. On arrival at the store, the first person I saw was Captain Latutin, whose clothing was aflame, dragging the Military Police Sergeant Major though the doorway of the store. The Sergeant Major was naked except for a pair of smouldering boots. Captain Latutin laid the Sergeant Major clear of the doorway, and then immediately dashed back into the store, to return in a very short time, dragging the Military Police Captain with him. The Military Police Captain was naked. Captain Latutin's clothing was by this time practically burnt off him, and his hair was alight. I rushed up to take off Captain Latutin's clothing, but he ordered me to attend to the other two which I did. Myself and some other Gendarmes put all three burnt men into a truck and took them to the De Martino Hospital.43 The fire continued all the afternoon and it was most dangerous to approach the build? ing on account of the continual explosions. I was the first person to arrive at the scene of the fire, and I feel sure that Captain Latutin would not have died had he not gone into the blazing build? ing to bring out the Military Police Captain, because when I saw Captain Latutin the first time, after he had dragged out the Sergeant Major, he was not badly burnt. On 29 May 1946 Sir Robert Knox, DSO, received a letter from the War Office44 saying 'Dear Robert, I submit the attached citation for the posthu? mous award of the George Cross to Captain Simmon Latutin, Somalia Gendarmerie. The recommendation has been forwarded by the G.O.C.-in C. [General Officer Commander in Chief] East Africa Command.' Margaret was of course not informed of this at the time. Some eighteen months after Simmon's death Margaret, now living in Harrow45 on just her widow's war pension, wrote to the War Office asking if some kind of recognition could be given to Simmon, perhaps a 43 The city's General Hospital was built during the First World War and named after the then Italian Governor of Mogadishu. 44 TNAT 351/35. 45 At 62 Walton Drive, the house given to her by her mother after the GC award had been announced. Until then she had had to pay her the equivalent of a mortgage as her mother had disinherited her over her marriage to Simmon. Later, Margaret's brother gave her a share of the profits when the family business was sold. 227</page><page sequence="18">Martin Sugarman posthumous Mention in Despatches, so that she would be able to explain to her two children why their father had died in a non-combat zone. After some time, a reply was received to the effect that a George Cross was going to be awarded to Simmon in recognition of his supreme courage in the inci? dent in trying to save the three men.46 The medal, the highest award that can be bestowed for gallantry not in the face of the enemy, is described as follows: 'The George Cross - instituted by king George VI in September 1940 - is only awarded to soldiers or civilians of Britain and the Commonwealth for acts of the greatest heroism and conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger, but not necessarily in the field of battle; it is equal in stature to the Victoria Cross as the highest and most prestigious award.'47 The award was announced in the press the following day, the London Gazette publishing it on 6 August 1946: 'The King has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS in recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner to Captain Simmon Latutin 242974 Somalia Gendarmerie (Harrow Middlesex)'. This was promulgated on 10 September and appeared in The Times and Daily Telegraph on 11 September 1946.48 The Jewish Chronicle announced the award on their front page on 13 September 1946, quoting in full the GC Citation from The Times:49 It was on December 29th 1944 that a fire occurred at the Training School Store, Somalia Gendarmerie, Mogadishu, while some Italian rockets and explosives were being taken out for another unit about to hold a New Year's entertainment. Captain Simmon Latutin, together with one officer, a Company Sergeant Major and a personal boy, were in the store selecting explosives, Captain Latutin standing in the main doorway. For some unex? plained reason, a fire broke out and almost simultaneously, a great number of rockets began to explode and burn. There were some 70 cases in the store.50 The force of the explosion and the fire turned the store into an inferno. Regardless of the detonating rockets, the intense heat of the fire and the choking clouds of smoke, Captain Latutin plunged into the storeroom and succeeded in dragging out the officer who was almost unconscious due to his burn.51 By this time Captain Latutin's clothes and body were alight, but 46 He also has the Defence and War medals. 47 MoD leaflet definition. 48 Thanks to the staff at Victoria Library, Westminster, and at Colindale Newspaper Library respectively for these. 49 Taken from The Times, the Jewish Chronicle and Henry Morris and Martin Sugarman (eds) We Will Remember Them (London 2009, in press). 50 The original citation from TN A T351/35 says 170 cases. 51 The Daily Express article - see below - mentions that Simmon's leg was in a plaster cast. 228</page><page sequence="19">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu unhesitatingly he rushed again into the inferno and rescued the Company Sergeant Major, who by this time, owing to the fire, was quite naked. The body of the personal boy was recovered later, but was unrecognisable due to its charred condition. The heroism of Captain Latutin was outstanding as he fully realised the acute danger he was in as he twice entered the building ablaze with explosives and flames. His unquenchable determination to succour the injured is illus? trated by his second entry into the store, even though his own clothes and body were alight. His action was illustrative of the finest degree of British courage and a magnificent example of undaunted selflessness. Captain Latutin died next day as a result of his injuries. Despite the fact that only one eye-witness is available, the evidence of the extremely gallant conduct and determined heroism of Captain Latutin is unassailable.52 There were other tributes: on 11 September the Daily Express described the award to ca sturdy young man who sat in mufti53 playing the viola at wartime symphony concerts in London', quoting Margaret as saying 'after he joined the Army in 1940 he continued to play with them when he was on leave. He was a quiet man ... whatever job Simmon had to do he did it thor? oughly. He was in charge so he went along ... he never knew his efforts had been in vain nor realised how badly he had been burnt. For that I can be thankful.' The Daily Graphic newspaper of the same day carried a similar, but shorter story.54 The Minutes of the Board of the LSO noted on 16 September the award of the GC to Simmon. The Jewish Year Book announced the award in the edition of 1947 on pages 312 and 320. However, his regiment did not officially know till November i960 about the award, because he had been seconded to the Somalia Gendarmerie.55 Disappointingly, none of the three local Camden newspapers mentioned the award in 1946 or in 1947,56 even though they featured plenty of stories about locals being given MBEs, MCs and other decorations. One is left wondering at the motives for this.57 52 Note that in Abdi's account Simmon first brought out the sergeant, while the official citation says it was the officer. It is probable that Abdi was right and that the citation was changed for reasons of protocol based on class-prejudice. Simmon would hardly have had the time or opportunity in a smoking inferno to do anything but grab the first man he could see. 53 Civilian dress. 54 Cuttings in the GC file for Simmon in the Imperial War Museum archives. 55 Regimental magazine of the SLI The Light Bob, 1961 (II), i, p. 51 - with thanks to the SLI Museum curator, Lieutenant-Colonel David Eliot. 56 The St Pancras Chronicle, the Hampstead and High Gazette and the North London Press. 57 Thanks to the staff at the Camden Local Studies library in Theobold's Road. 229</page><page sequence="20">Martin Sugarman Within a few weeks, the Major from the Somalia Gendarmerie wrote to congratulate Margaret on the award of the George Cross, and suggested that they would have liked to have proposed the award themselves. Margaret politely replied that they had already had eighteen months to do this and that was surely long enough. The posthumous investiture took place at Buckingham Palace on 2 December 1947 and was announced in The Times on 3 December.58 It was postponed slightly as the King had been abroad on an official visit to South Africa in the weeks before. Margaret's mother's attitude had somewhat altered, as a George Cross award was something of which to be proud. Margaret alone was invited to attend with , as she believed, one of her chil? dren.59 She had been told mistakenly by her mother that only one could attend, so decided to take Anne to the ceremony. It was bitterly cold as she and Blanche and the two children took a taxi to the Palace. Blanche would look after Elisabeth during the ceremony. Margaret remembers the ceremony as quite low-key, with quiet string music being played in the background. Anne remembered that the seats were arranged in pairs, since two people were invited from each family, and that raffle-ticket-style numbers were pinned to the seats.60 She said to Margaret that she had better sit on a specific chair, so that Margaret would not get hurt by the pin. She also remembered being disappointed when she was told by Margaret that the King was the man in the uniform, as she was expecting someone with a crown and cloak. One other George Cross was presented to an elderly couple before Margaret and Anne were called forward. The King looked ill, and stuttered so much when he spoke to Margaret that she was unable to understand what he said. But she replied 'I am very proud of him'. The King presented her with the medal in an open case, as the toddler Anne, in her light tweed coat, stared at him, with a finger in her mouth. They were so nervous they both forgot to curtsy. At one stage, overawed by the plush surroundings, Anne whispered to her mother, 'Do they have marble statues in their bedroom too?' Elisabeth, meanwhile, was taken for a walk in St James's Park by her aunt, Blanche Latutin, to feed the ducks. For many years, therefore, the medal was given to Elisabeth to keep, but it is now on perma? nent loan to the SLI regimental museum in Taunton. After the investiture, all four went for a coffee and snack and returned 58 The Times 'Court Circular', on line, with thanks to Terry Hissey who confirmed this with the Chancellery of the Orders of Knighthood at St James's Palace. No names were mentioned in The Times announcement of posthumous awards to families of men killed being made that day. The Daily Telegraph court circular also mentioned the award on 3 December 1947, p. 4. 59 Local reporters from the Harrow press came to the house to take photographs. 60 Tape-recorded interview with the author at the house of Simmon Hill in May 2006. 230</page><page sequence="21">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu ! ATUTIY GC Plate9 Simmon's Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone in Nairobi, where his remains were transferred from Mogadishu. It is unique since Margaret requested that the Star of David appear on the stone rather than the George Cross, [[nr p. 16]] Plate io Margaret with her younger daughter Elisabeth at the opening of Simmon's George Cross display at the Somerset Light Infantry Museum in Taunton, 1982. 231</page><page sequence="22">Martin Sugarman The Royal Academy oJ~Mus\c TO THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO FELL IN THE WORLD WAR. 1939 -I94-5 Basil Godfrey BENSTED -Alice Purves FORTUNE Michael Savage HEMING * Bohdan HUB1CK.I RoystonClifford OULSON ? Simmon LATUTIN Muriel Evaline Dorothy SHIELDS-SCHIBILD David Carl TAYLOR.'Douglas THOMSON Plate 11 The 1939-45 War Memorial at the Royal Academy of Music in Marylebone, London, including Simmon's name. CAPTAIN SIMMON LATUTIN OC 25th July 1916 - 30th December 1944 Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's)? seconded to the Somalia Gendarmerie, Awarded the George Croes for heroism in rescuing comrade* from fire and exploding ammunition. 29th December 1944, Mogadishu, Somalia. Student of composition snd violin, Royal Academy of Music Plate 12 The additional memorial to Simmon celebrating his George Cross, unveiled at the Royal Academy of Music by Margaret and AJEX at a special service in December 2006. 232</page><page sequence="23">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu home by bus to Simmon's parents. They deeply mourned Simmon's death, especially his mother, who never really recovered from it. Anne and Margaret both remember how Freda, when they arrived in Camden, wept ceaselessly. Simmon's father silently took the medal in its case over to the window, to the sunlight, and gently turned it over to read the inscription. He then carefully and gently handed it back to Margaret. On 27 April 1946 the LSO held a concert at the Albert Hall called 'A Tribute to the Members of the LSO Who Gave their Lives in the Cause of Freedom 1939-45'. Anne remembers attending the first half with family members and recalls that the programme had Simmon's name inscribed on it,61 along with six others. Simmon's mother died on 30 May 1953, and within seventeen days his father too had passed away, on 16 June. They were aged just fifty-eight and sixty-six years.62 Simmon is remembered on a number of memorials. His name appears in the GC and VC section of the memorial to Commonwealth servicemen and women of the two World Wars on Constitution Hill, near Hyde Park Corner, as well as on the Royal Academy of Music War Memorial in the Marylebone main building63 and in the RAM Magazine Roll of Service 61 The concert consisted of Elgar's 'Cockayne'; Heming and Collins' 'Threnody for a Soldier Killed in Action'; Rachmaninov's second piano concerto and Brahms' fourth symphony, conducted by Anthony Collins; the solo pianist was Benno Moiseiwitch (with thanks to Jack Cowdrey of the Royal Albert Hall archives). 62 They were buried beside each other on i and 18 June respectively at Willesden Jewish Cemetery, Beaconsfield Lane, London, graves LX24/104/105. They had been members of Golders Green Synagogue in Dunstan Road. 63 The original memorial was unveiled by the Duchess of Gloucester on 20 March 1951: see RAM Magazine, May 1951. Until 2006 this memorial did not mention Simmon's rank or the award of the George Cross, causing some dismay in the family and the wider Jewish commu? nity. But in March 2006, in response to a letter from the author and with permission from Margaret, the RAM agreed to install an additional plaque beneath the existing war memorial, describing Simmon's deed and the GC award. On 4 December 2006 the new plaque was unveiled by Margaret Latutin in a ceremony organized by AJEX, the RAM and the VC and GC Association, with the SLI veterans. Four generations of the Latutin family attended, together with Jewish war veterans and civic dignitaries, including the Deputy Mayor of Camden (Cllr Dawn Somper), the Secretary of the VC and GC Association (Mrs Didy Grahame), Lieutenant-Colonel David Eliot (Curator of the SLI Museum in Taunton), Harold Newman (National Chair of AJEX) and over twenty-five Jewish war veterans, with twenty-five relatives and friends of the Latutin family (photo and report in the Jewish Chronicle 8 December 2006, p. 13 and Ham and High Gazette, 14 December 2006, p. 10). A video of the event and a copy of the order of service (which included biblical readings, Kaddish and a parade of the AJEX National and Westminster branch Standards) is held in the AJEX Museum Archives. At a reception later in the RAM, the author described to assembled guests the background to the GC award, and Margaret responded with a moving speech. She was presented with an AJEX Eightieth Anniversary plate. 233</page><page sequence="24">Martin Sugarman published in September 1945.64 He is named on the Second World War memorial at Golders Green synagogue, Dunstan Road, NWi i,65 on a large memorial on the grave of his parents at Willesden cemetery,66 on a Roll of Honour in the former Harrow synagogue, Vaughan Road,67 and in both the Somerset Light Infantry (Taunton) and Jewish Military (Hendon) Museums. The memorial at Golders Green synagogue was inaugurated in October 1954,68 at a service presided over by the Revd Isaac Levy, Senior Jewish Chaplain to HM Forces, attended by the Revds Newman, Livingstone and Tashlicky. Alderman Bernard Waley-Cohen - later Lord Mayor of London - unveiled it, and two members of the Royal Horse Guards formed a Guard of Honour, with several Standards of the North West London branches of AJEX on parade. South Africa After the war Margaret was financially insecure, earning a poor living by freelance copying of music manuscripts. When an old friend of Simmon's - Joe Sack 69 - introduced her to a South African who told her she would earn more working for an orchestra in South Africa, she left for Cape Town in March 1948. Employing an African domestic and nurse for her girls, Margaret was soon playing in the Cape Town Broadcast Orchestra and with various string quartets. She was offered a music-teaching post at the University of Cape Town and took a diploma in music teaching. She spent five and a half years in South Africa,70 where she also met a German-Jewish refugee, Michael Liebert. His family had sent him to family friends in South Africa in 1935, while they remained in Berlin and later died in Auschwitz. Michael had served in the South African army in the war. They married in December 1948 at the Cape Town City Hall. While in South Africa, the past revisited her when she met a former RAF officer who had known Simmon. But for an injury he had received at the time, he had meant to attend his funeral in Mogadishu the day after he died. 64 Nowhere in the RAM records is there a descripton of Simmon's GC action; a disappointing oversight. 65 Close relatives of the family are still members there, including Blanche's son Simmon Hill, named after his uncle, and his wife Naomi. 66 This is sadly almost illegible, but the author managed to decipher Simmon's name and GC. 67 I am grateful to Simmon Hill for informing me that the synagogue is now closed and that the whereabouts of the black wooden board with gold lettering is sadly unknown. 68 Jewish Chronicle, 8 October 1954, with photograph. 69 See below. 70 She kept in regular touch with both sides of the family. 234</page><page sequence="25">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu Michael was an ideal stepfather to the girls who did not remember or know Simmon - although Anne did remember the press attention the family got at the announcement of the GC and at the investiture in 1947. After some hardship, unpleasant experiences with her new in-laws and the rise of the Apartheid regime, Margaret and Michael decided to move back to the UK in August 1953. Margaret had wisely rented out her Harrow house while abroad, so they had somewhere to live. Simmon's grave was eventually moved to Nairobi Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery (grave 1.3), Ngong Road,71 albeit without Margaret's knowledge. She received an invitation from the War Office with a free ticket to attend the official opening of the cemetery, recommending an inexpensive hotel to stay in if she could fly herself out. But Margaret had politely to refuse, as she was working full time with two small children, and anyway, she said, her late husband was buried in Mogadishu. She then received a curt reply saying the body had been moved. Margaret's second husband Michael had a former refugee cousin in Nairobi who attended the ceremony on her behalf and took a photograph of the CWGC headstone, carved with the Star of David.72 Inscribed on the foot of the white Portland stone grave is Margaret's own tribute: 'We can never forget your unselfish courage in true service to mankind'. Margaret got a job as a music teacher in a local secondary school in Harrow, and Michael became a successful salesman and manager. When Anne was nineteen she became Head Girl at St Paul's Girls School - the first Jewish girl to hold the post in the school's history. Margaret fell ill with arthiritis in her hands and spine and had to retrain as a teacher of English to foreign students. She later wrote a book on music teaching. In 1971 they moved to Walderton, near Chichester, West Sussex, where Margaret ran the local play group. In the 1980s Michael became ill, and he died in December 2004, after fity-six years of happy marriage. Margaret had been close to Simmon's sister Blanche (who married in 1946), but they drifted apart when Margaret moved to West Sussex. Sadly, Margaret was not told when Blanche sadly died quite young of cancer. After For many years Margaret was invited to SLI annual reunion dinners in London, and attended until she moved to West Sussex. She once attended an SLI 'Beating Retreat' at Wells Cathedral with one of her granddaughters, 71 Southwest of the city, on 20 January 1946. 72 Margaret refused to have the George Cross symbol on the headstone, as is customary with this highest of awards, and instead insisted on the Star of David, with the letters GC after his name. 235</page><page sequence="26">Martin Sugarman when they were presented to Princess Alexandra, then Colonel of the Regiment. In 1979 a letter appeared in the Jewish Chronicle from Joe Sack, the founder and then Managing Editor of the Orchestra World magazine,73 who had previously been music editor of the Rand Daily Mail, but moved to London in 1979. Joe had been a cello and composition student with Simmon at the RAM in the 1930s and had also known Margaret. Responding to a letter about Jewish holders of the George Cross, Joe wrote movingly about how Simmon's family had made a lonely student from South Africa so warmly welcome in their humble home. He said Simmon was 'like so many true heroes, a quiet, modest, retiring young man, as big in heart as he was in stature'. They had been in the London Symphony Orchestra together, and he declared Simmon one of the best viola players in Britain at that time. When war came they went their own ways, promising to meet up again. In May 1943 Simmon wrote to Joe telling him of his post? ing to East Africa - a letter he still had in 1979 - and they almost met in Durban when Simmon was en route and Joe was serving in the South African Air Force. But they managed only a telephone chat and never spoke or met again. Simmon's daughter Anne has had a distinguished career as a university teacher in Sociology. Elisabeth has worked in primary education and ? perhaps not surprisingly - is a talented cello player.74 The last word must rest with Simmon. He left a letter for Margaret in case of his death,75 in which he predicted that 'We Latutins will make our mark'. So they have. Acknowledgements Margaret Latutin has been unstinting in her help, making many audio tapes, writing letters, reading drafts of this paper and speaking with the author on the telephone on numerous occasions, despite her eighty-nine years. Without her enthusiasm and assistance this study would not have been possible. I would also like to thank Jack Green (cousin of Margaret); Simmon Hill (son of Blanche Latutin); Simmon Latutin's cousins Sheila, Rhoda, 73 12 December 1979. 74 On 18 November 2007 Annabel Hill laid a Magen David poppy posy in memory of her great uncle during the formal wreath laying at the AJEX Annual National Parade at the Cenotaph. In 2008 Camden Council sadly rejected a request to put a plaque on the wall of the house in Camden where Simmon was born and lived for many years. 75 She found it too heartbreaking to preserve. 236</page><page sequence="27">Captain Simmon Latutin, GC - hero of Mogadishu Marlene and Maureen; Simmon and Margaret's daughters Anne and Elisabeth; Professor Raphael Loewe, MC; Anna Charin of the Jewish Chronicle Library; the staff of the Tower Hamlets Local History Library; the staff of The National Archives - TNA - (formerly Public Record Office) at Kew; Bridget Palmer of the Royal Academy of Music Library and Archives; Mark Aston of the Camden Local History and Archives Centre; Karen Nathan of the United Synagogue Burial Society; Charles Tucker of the United Synagogue Archives; Peter Bowbeer of the London Metropolitan University; Naomi Hill of Golders Green Synagogue; the staff of the Bushey and Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery offices; Bob Thomson of the Harrow Local Studies Library; the curator of the Somerset Light Infantry Museum in Taunton, Lieutenant-Colonel David Eliot; Mary Connor of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Marion Hebblethwaite of the GC Database; the staff of the Reading Room of the Imperial War Museum, Lambeth; Jack Cowdrey of the Royal Albert Hall archives; Libby Rice of the LSO Archives; the Army Records Office, Glasgow; Peter Baron and Tony Kearney of the Northern Echo newspaper, Newcastle; Helen Charlton of the South Shields Gazette. 237</page></plain_text>

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