England expects…: British Jews under the white ensign from HMS Victory to the loss of HMS Hood in 1941

The fact that Jews have served and still serve in the Royal Navy frequently occasions surprise, and it is true that the phenomenon is somewhat rare. The relatively small number of Anglo-Jewish Royal Navy Seamen and Royal Marines is itself worth studying within the wider history of the Royal Navy.

Early evidence of the consequences of being Jewish in the Royal Navy can be found in the partial obscurity of the supernumerary section of HMS Victory^ muster roll. One entry states that Landsman Moses Benjamin, ‘being a Jew, was to be discharged from the service on the order of Lord Nelson, agreeable to orders from the Lord commissioners of the Admiralty. Dated 20 August 1805.1 This annotation needs clarification. Moses Benjamin, a pedlar, was pressed while in the Minories, close to the London Docks, a favourite haunt of Press Gangs, and sent to HMS Victory, then refitting at Chatham on

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