New plaque unveiled in Anglesey to record Jewish ancestry of Welsh war hero
A new plaque recording the Jewish heritage of a Welsh naval hero has been unveiled at the base of his statue on Anglesey.
Admiral Max Horton, who served in both World Wars, was born in Rhosneigr in 1883.
Horton was previously commemorated by a small plaque in the local library. In 2019, a statue of him was erected in his hometown on Anglesey, initiated by local Councillor Gwyneth Parry. Neither mentioned Horton’s Jewish heritage.
The new plaque came about when, in 2020, the Archivist of The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women of the UK (AJEX ), Martin Sugarman, in London, contacted Mr Klinger to point out that the inscription failed to say anything about Horton’s Jewish heritage.
Mr Sugarman said, “The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women of the UK (AJEX, also known as the Jewish Military Association), are very proud of our war hero Admiral Max Horton.”
The new plaque now points out Admiral Horton’s other ethnic heritage and has been added at the foot of the statue.
It was funded by American historian and philanthropist, Jerry Klinger, of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation.
Admiral Max Horton was born in 1883 in Rhosneigr, Anglesey, Wales, son of Robert Angel Horton and Esther Maude Goldsmid of the famous D’Avigdor-Goldsmid British-Jewish family.
In 1898 he joined the Royal Navy as an officer cadet and soon won a bravery award for rescue operations at sea.
At the beginning of WW1, he commanded a submarine and by the end of the war, he commanded the British overseas Submarine flotilla serving in the North Sea and Baltic and winning three DSO medals for sinking several enemy ships.
He also initiated the tradition of submarines flying the ‘Jolly Roger’ flag on returning after successful patrols. A Captain of various battleships by war’s end, he was soon promoted to Vice-Admiral in 1937, commanding the Reserve Fleet, and then to Rear Admiral commanding all British submarines.
As WW2 began, he created Atlantic Convoy rescue ships to pick up survivors from U boat sinkings, with fully equipped hospital facilities and naval surgeons, and then in 1942 became a full Admiral in what was to be his most important wartime role – Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches.
He not only introduced new tactics to increase the defence of convoys but also created the fleet of hunter ships to destroy the U boats, and so in the opinion of many historians and Winston Churchill himself, saved Britain from certain defeat in the Battle of the Atlantic, by keeping open the food, munitions and troop supplies coming from North America.
He asked to be retired in August 1945 and received not only the GCB but a dozen other high-level foreign awards from allied nations. He died in 1951 and there is a memorial to him in Liverpool Cathedral.
It is planned that the new plaque and statue will be included in the forthcoming map of Anglesey’s Jewish History currently in production by Bangor University and Menter Fachwen.