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Some things are meant to be……

Last Thursday one of my rescue kittens was playing with a cat toy and threw it into the fireplace where I keep my collection of 1st WW shell cases. She knocked them over so I decided it was a good idea to clean them. On one of them I noticed a name inscribed on the bottom of it so I decided to google that name.

The inscription was “Pte H Poberevsky 557847”. I found the soldiers medal card online and nothing else except a link to a very recent news article on a charity webpage called Spare Room Sorted and about the lady who had created it, Juliet Landau-Pope. This charity is helping Ukrainian refugees to find homes in the UK as they escape from the Russian invasion of their county. I couldn’t work out why this article had come up in my search until I read into it. The article mentioned Juliet’s grandfather, Hyman Poverevsky and I started to wonder if it was the same man. I had no idea if the name was a popular one – a bit like a John Smith or similar – but decided to send Juliet a carefully worded email – ensuring I didn’t sound too much like a stalker! I asked if her Granddad had served in the Great War and included the pictures of the shell.

Almost immediately I received a reply to my email confirming it WAS her Granddad and his service number!! A flurry of emails followed by an emotional phone call the next morning and the next day Juliet came over from her home in NW London to mine in Surrey.

She brought with her a bound book containing her family history including pictures of her Granddad Hyman. He came from Kyiv in 1907 escaping Russian persecution as he was of the Jewish faith. He worked hard and within two years could afford to bring his parents and 4 siblings over to Whitechapel where he had a barrow loaning company. He served in the Labour Corps June 1918 to December 1919 and during that time must have bought or made the shell. Perhaps a German POW working with the Labour Corps made it? Who knows?


His British War Medal and Victory Medal are proudly in the possession of the family. During the 2ndWW he assisted with the Kinder Transport finding sponsors and homes for Jewish children escaping Nazi persecution. He had married in 1921 and had 3 children including adopting in 1938 a little 10 year old girl from Danzig. In 1934 he changed his name to Pope and lived a full life, passing away in 1958 aged 69. His name is in the British Jewry Book of Honour and is remembered with great pride by his family.

And so, 103 years after he had made or bought the shell, I handed it back to his granddaughter. I’d bought it years ago from a junk shop but its finally gone home. I asked nothing for it but Juliet wanted to give me something so I asked her to donate to a Ukrainian charity to assist present day refugees. I think Private Hyman Poberevsky would have liked that.

Story by Eugenie Brooks, Anglia Guide