LIEUTENANT ERNEST EMANUEL POLACK
17TH JULY 1916 AGE 23
BURIED: LONSDALE CEMETERY, AUTHUILLE, FRANCE
With these words, Shakespeare's Richard III describes the young prince Edward of Westminster, killed fighting for the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471:
A sweeter and lovelier gentleman,
Framed in the prodigality of nature,
Young, valiant, wise and, no doubt, right royal,
The spacious world cannot again afford;
Nature richly endowed this young man with every gift it could bestow, it will never be able to afford to be so lavish again.
Joseph Polack chose this inscription. He and his wife, Sophia, lost two of their sons in the war, Ernest's elder brother, Benjamin, had been killed in Mesopotamia only three months earlier on 9 April 1916. Sophia herself died on 28 March 1918, before the end of the war.
Joseph was a schoolmaster, a Jewish minister and the master of the Jewish boarding house at Clifton College, Bristol. Both his parents were German Jews, born in Hamburg, who had come to England in 1853.
Two letters from Ernest Polack survive, both published in Laurence Housman's 'War Letters of Fallen Englishmen', and in both of them he quotes Shakespeare. In one, to the father of a friend who has been killed, he quotes Friar Francis from 'Much Ado About Nothing', and in the other, his last letter to his parents on the eve of the opening of the Battle of the Somme, from 'Anthony and Cleopatra', 'Julius Caesar', and a misquote from 'Hamlet'. It therefore only too appropriate that his father should quote from Shakespeare for him.
Benjamin Polack has no grave and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial.