Abraham Beverstein was a Jewish soldier from the East End of London. Due to some people viewing it was dishonourable for a Jewish person to enlist as a soldier, Beverstein enlisted under the false name of Harris. He was also his parent’s only son.
After enlisting in September 1914, he was sent to Aldershot for his military training. Once completed, during May 1915, Beverstein joined the rest of his comrades in France. Two days before Christmas 1915, the 11th Middlesex went into the front line at Givenchy. The next day, Christmas Eve 1915, a huge mine was detonated by the Germans. Private Beverstein was wounded in the back, and was admitted to hospital. He also appeared to have been suffering from shock. He eventually recovered, and rejoined his battalion.
In February 1916, Beverstein left his position in the front line, and reported to one of the Company Headquarters in the rear. He told the Company Quartermaster Sergeant that a grenade had burst very near him, and that he was shocked. The NCO sent him to the Medical Officer. This doctor examined him, and told him that there was nothing wrong with him. Consequently, he was ordered to return to his unit in the front line. Beverstein instead went to a farmhouse in the rear, and hid in the barn. He was found by an officer from another regiment, and placed under arrest as a deserter.
After his arrest, Beverstein wrote the following letter (reproduced from “The Thin Yellow Line”):
I have sent you a letter that I have received the parcel. I am well and hoping all of you are quite well. Dear Mother, we were in the trenches and I was ill, so I went out and they took me and put me in prison, and I am in a bit of trouble now and won’t get any money for a long time. I will have to go in front of a court. I will try my best to get out of it. But dear Mother, try to send some money. I will let you know in my next [letter] how I get on. Give my best love to Father and Kath.
From your loving son, Aby.
Private Beverstein was courts-martialed on 4 March 1916.
He was executed by firing squad, with another unconnected soldier, on 20 March 1916. Private Beverstein is buried in Labourse Communal Cemetery, Grave Reference B.5.