Lance Corporal Abraham Cohen


Abraham was a Freemason, member of Lodge Temperance 2557 and one of our forgotten war heroes. He is not listed in the Lodge Temperance WW1 Roll of Honour although the Lodge registers clearly show he was on war service. We can only speculate why he was omitted from the Roll.

At the Lodge Temperance 2557 meeting held at the Assembly Rooms on the 20th March 1905 Abraham was initiated into the Mysteries and Privileges of Ancient Freemasonry. He was passed to the second or Fellowcraft degree on the 7th April and raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason on the 15th May 1905. He was a 26 year old Commercial Traveller living at 39, Westmoreland Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Abraham resigned from Lodge Temperance 2557 on July 11th 1922.

Unfortunately the service and pension records for Abraham’s time during the war can’t be found so are probably among the 60% of the Service Records irretrievably damaged or lost completely as a result of enemy bombing in 1940 during the Second World War. The 1918 Absent Voter’s list for Newcastle Upon Tyne shows Abraham living with his parents at 161, Westmoreland Road, Elswick with service number 61093 and is a Lance Corporal with the 458th P. Coy, RDC. (458th Protection Company, Royal Defence Corps).

The Royal Defence Corps was a corps of the British Army formed in March 1916 to provide troops for security and guard duties inside the United Kingdom; guarding important locations such as ports or bridges. It also provided independent companies for guarding prisoner-of-war camps. The corps was never intended to be employed on overseas service which is most likely why there is no Medal Index Card for Abraham. The company’s were mainly composed of soldiers either too old or medically unfit for active front-line service, although we haven’t found any medical information to suggest this was the case with Abraham.

Abraham was born on 11th April 1878 in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne to David Cohen a jeweller originally from Austria and Lena Peterkowsky who was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne of Prussian immigrant parents. They married in Newcastle in 1877 and had nine children of which six survived:

  • Abraham (b 11/04/1878 – d 19/10/1952)
  • Esther (b 1880)
  • Minnie (b 22/07/1885 – d 26/02/1973)
  • Hannah (b 1887 – d 1907)
  • Beatrice (b 02/08/1889 – d 1952)
  • Louis (b 19/05/1891 – d 25/12/1972)
  • Polly (b 14/08/1893 – d 1967)

Abraham’s father was a dealer in jewellery with a shop for many years at 161 Westmoreland Road, Elswick in the west end of Newcastle. In later life he seems to have given up the shop, although continued to live there with his family, and became a travelling jeweller. Abraham called himself a commercial traveller when he joined Lodge Temperance but was in fact a travelling jeweller like his father. In the 1939 register he is still a travelling jeweller and is staying with a family in Birmingham. He is shown as being married but it has proved impossible to identify his wife.

He died on 19th October 1952 at the age of 74 in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle; he left £8778 to his brother Louis, a fancy goods dealer with offices in Bigg Market, Newcastle and his brother in law Nathan Hyman, a retired mattress maker, who was married to his sister Minnie.