Isador (Issy) STEINBERG


Service Numbers: 2218, 2218A
Enlisted: 30 July 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 9th Infantry Battalion
Born: Perth, Western Australia, 21 March 1896
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Perth State and Modern School, Western Australia
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Killed in Action, France, 20 April 1916, aged 20 years
Cemetery: Rue-du-Bacquerot (13th London) Graveyard, Laventie
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Brisbane Hebrew Congregation Honour Roll, Subiaco Perth Modern School WW1Honour Board, Subiaco Perth Modern School War Memorial, WA Jewish War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

30 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2218, 25th Infantry Battalion
18 Sep 1915: Involvement Private, 2218, 25th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '15' embarkation_place: Brisbane embarkation_ship: HMAT Armadale embarkation_ship_number: A26 public_note: ''
18 Sep 1915: Embarked Private, 2218, 25th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Armadale, Brisbane
20 Apr 1916: Involvement Private, 2218A, 9th Infantry Battalion, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 2218A awm_unit: 9th Australian Infantry Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1916-04-20

Help us honour Isador Steinberg's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Robert Johnson

Isadore Steinberg

One of the most beloved boys of the early Perth Modern School community was Isadore Steinberg, known to all as ‘Issy’. He was a student of great academic, sporting and musical gifts, and fitted an amazing amount into his short life.

Issy Steinberg was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants Jacob and Emma from Odessa who had moved to Perth from Adelaide to start a new life in the 1890s. Jacob became a naturalised Australian in Adelaide on 18 July 1893 at age 35 after having lived there for three years, suggesting that Jacob and Emma arrived in Adelaide in 1892. His father ran a highly successful jewellery business in the city, and owned a fairly opulent home in the new suburb of Mount Lawley. Issy was yet another of the group who attended the school from the first year of 1911. He was one of the 46 of 52 Perth Modern boys sharing the common birth year of 1896 who enlisted with the AIF in the Great War.

Issy was deeply involved with school life, and was an avid sportsman, representing the school in cricket, and the state in both Australian Rules football and baseball. He certainly had a ‘good eye’, as he regularly topped the batting scores for Perth Mod’s cricket team. He was also a member of the Perth Modern cadet group that won the state championship in 1913, and travelled to Sydney to compete for the national title.

It was as a talented musician, however, that we might choose remember him most. Issy had joined the Young Australia League, and along with many boys from Perth Modern School, travelled to the Northbridge headquarters after school to participate in band practice.

The YAL was a patriotic organisation founded by businessman Harold Boas, a friend of Issy’s father. They promoted a healthy, adventurous life for you Australians, with the aim of establishing a strong national identity in the “first generation that grew up in the Federation of Australia.” Of the 27 former students of Perth Modern who died in the war, 5 were YAL members, indicating how popular this institution was at the time. (Arthur Bacon, Marshall Fox, Noel Sainsbury, Gladstone Royce were the others.)

Issy clearly had great ability as a cornet player, and was one of 40 boys selected in the All-Australian YAL band of 1914. This group toured extensively through the USA and Canada, performing concerts, marching displays, competing with American teams at baseball, and staging demonstration games of Australian Rules football.

There is a lot of evidence that Issy was a popular boy, and formed many close friendships through the school and the Young Australia League. His family moved to Brisbane at the end of 1914, and according to YAL folklore, Issy chose to spend his last night in Perth with his friends in an overnight sleepover at the headquarters in Northbridge. As a farewell, he signed the wall with his name and the date – December 1914.

Steinberg enlisted from Brisbane on June 30th 1915, as did so many others at the time of high patriotic feeling following the Gallipoli landings. He joined the all-Queensland 9th Battalion, who put his musical talents to appropriate use, as he became one of the unit’s buglers.

The bugler performed important functions in Battalion life, helping to regulate actions in camp, and occasionally on the battlefield. The ability of a bugle to project sound over distance made it ideal for instant communications. Soldiers in the 19th Century were trained to recognise bugle ‘calls’ that signalled ‘attack’ and ‘retreat’ more effectively than message runners, and more reliably than field telephones. This made life a little more dangerous for buglers, however. Snipers’ favourite targets were officers, but buglers also were a prime target, as the enemy knew that killing one could significantly disrupt communications.

By the time of the Great War, the battlefield role of the bugler was on the way out, but they still performed an important role in camp life. At the end of each day, sentries were posted on the perimeter of the camp for overnight security watch. An officer would make a round trip to inspect every post, and as he began, the bugler would sound the ‘First Post’ to inform the whole camp that lights out was approaching. As the officer completed his round the bugler played the ‘Last Post’, to let all of the soldiers in the camp know that the perimeter was secure, and that they could safely put out lights and sleep.

At most military funerals during the Great War, buglers performed the Last Post as a symbolic act.  Metaphorically, the call is a ‘signal’ that the deceased soldier has now completed his duty, and can rest in peace. In the ANZAC Day ceremony, a lone bugler performs the Last Post with the same symbolic meaning. The silence that follows represents the sleep of death, and is broken by ‘The Rouse’. Each day in camp began with the bugler’s call ‘The Rouse’, which signified the end of sleep and resumption of regular duties. In ANZAC ceremonies it symbolises an awakening in a better world for the dead, according to the Christian theology, and also rouses the living back to duty, now their respects have been paid to the memory of their comrades.

Isadore Steinberg would have performed these duties in training camps in Queensland, and Egypt before arriving in France on April 3rd, 1916. After a long train journey, he joined the 9th Battalion as a reinforcement in the very northernmost sector in France, near Fromelles.

The 9th Battalion camp was about 6kms behind the front lines, near the town of Laventie, and seemingly safe enough from danger. The position had been located, however, probably by German aerial photographers. On the night of April 20th, long-range artillery shells rained on the camp, killing Issy Steinberg along with 24 other men, and wounding 50. He had only been in camp for 10 days, and never had been deployed in the front line, seen the barbed wire, or encountered an enemy soldier.

Issy Steinberg was the first boy to die on the Western Front who had connections to both Perth Modern School and the Young Australia League. His photo was the centre of a special memorial built in the YAL’s Murray Street headquarters built in 1922. Issy’s autograph on the wall at the old Northbridge building was felt to be such an important memento, that YAL members cut it out of the wall, and installed it into a fireplace mantelpiece of that new building, where it can be viewed to this day.

Written by Perth Modern School music teacher Neil Coy.


Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Jérôme Hermans (The Photographs of WW1)
A jewish soldier (son of european immigrants) in the great war.... Isador (Isaac) Steinberg's story.
Isaac Steinberg is born 21st march 1896 in Perth to Jacob and Emma Steinberg.

He is from a Jewish family originally from Odessa who immigrated to Australia in the early 1890s in search of a better life.

His parents were naturalized Australians on 18th July 1893, about 3 years before Isaac was born.

The family, having set up a prosperous jewelry business, could offer her a golden life in their large house in Mount Lawley.

Isaac attended first Perth public state school and later Subiaco Perth Modern School.

Isaac distinguished himself there as a talented sportsman, mainly in cricket and Australian baseball, where he won numerous school competitions, but also as a talented musician.

During this period of his life, he was also part of the Young Australia League, a patriotic association founded by Harold Boas, a friend of his father, which aimed to develop a strong Australian identity among young first-generation immigrants who were born overseas before their parents arrived or just after they arrived on Australian soil.

The YAL therefore offered to lead a healthy and adventurous life and to represent their state in all kinds of competitions.

He responded to a strong patriotic movement present in Queensland following the events of Gallipoli and enlisted in Brisbane 30th June 1915. He had to present parental authorization because he was under 21 year's old.

After a short period of training at Enoggera he sailed for Egypt 18th September 1915 aboard HMAT A26 Armadale as a private in 4th Reinforcement of 25th Battalion.

He was still in training during the evacuation of Gallipoli.

He will therefore not fight for his battalion but, at the time of the reorganization, he will be transferred on 28th February 2016 to the reconstituted 9th battalion where his musical qualities will allow him to assume the function of bugler for a time.

He embarked, again as a private, in Alexandria 27th March 1916 bound for Marseilles which he will reach 3rd April 1916.

They will then be sent to a then quiet area of ​​northern France to complete their preparation for trench life.

However, he will not survive more than 3 weeks and will be shot 20th June 2016 by a sniper during a patrol in No man's land

He was 20 years old.

He now rest in peace in Rue-du-Bacquerot (13th London) Graveyard