The Commonwealth War Graves Commission confirmed Friday that it has ordered new gravestones with Stars of David on them for three Jewish Canadians killed in France during the Second World War. The graves of Trooper Archie Adelman, 24, of Montreal, Lieutenant Jules Freedman, 24, of Toronto, and Flying Officer Mortimer “Max” Sucharov, 29, of Winnipeg, are in the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, south of Caen, France.
The trio will have their tombstones replaced with the right religious symbol, according to David Avery, commemoration officer for the CWGC.
“I have heard back regarding the ground check at Bretteville and can confirm that three casualties who should have the Star of David are currently incorrect showing crosses,” Avery wrote in an email.
This is the second major correction of improperly remembered Canadian Jewish personnel in a Normandy cemetery in recent months. Last November, I teamed up with British historian Martin Sugarman and others to have the grave of a Toronto navigator Morley Ornstein, changed in a German cemetery, to properly reflect his Jewish faith.
Killed by a sniper
The discovery of Lt. Freedman’s cross came in this January while I was doing a live-streamed visit to Jewish war graves in Normandy for WW2TV, a YouTube channel run by Paul Woodadge, a battlefield guide based in Bayeux, France. His colleague Colin Taylor took the photo (above) of Freeman’s grave showing a cross.
Freedman was an optometrist, who had attended the University of Toronto. He was born in 1920 and graduated from Harbord Collegiate. He enlisted with the Irish Regiment initially, and took officers’ training in 1942, in Brockville, Ontario before heading overseas in November of that year.
In England, Freedman was attached to the 6th Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars), a tank outfit. He qualified as a driver of wheeled armed vehicles and also tanks. His regiment embarked for France on July 17, 1944. Freedman was killed Aug. 14, 1944 in the Allied breakout towards Falaise.
See Freedman’s grave here live from Bretteville-sur-Laize, in the video from my live tour on WW2TV:
Parachute heroism: Sucharov
The remains of Flying Officer Mortimer “Max” Sucharov of Winnipeg were originally located near where his crew bailed out of a disabled bomber on Dec. 2, 1944 en route to complete a raid over German-occupied Europe. According to the RCAF, the plane iced up, and the captain ordered the crew to bail out.
According to military records, Sucharov was able to don his own parachute. No one knows why he was found dead on the ground. His family says it is because of Sucharov’s noble efforts to help the flight engineer, who became paralyzed with fear, and jumped without a parachute.
His relatives say Sucharov jumped out the plane while carrying the other man. The weight proved too much and neither airman survived. The other five on board landed safely. The pilot was able to bring the stricken empty plane down without injury.
Sucharov’s nephew Dr. Max Sucharov, a Vancouver psychiatrist, was born six months later, in 1945 and was named after the uncle he never knew. Max’s daughter is professor Mira Sucharov, of Carleton University in Ottawa. Mortimer was the youngest of seven children. He had worked in the family butcher business before enlisting.