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An Extraordinary Man and a True Fighter.


March 2019

It is with great sadness that we lose W Bro Lt. Col. Mordaunt Cohen MBE, TD, DL to the Grand Lodge Above. Mordaunt was the Province of Durham’s longest serving Grand Lodge Officer.


Mordaunt was Initiated in May 1940 at Lodge Benedict Biscop, later joining Wear Lecture lodge in November 1959, becoming one of the Founders’ of King David Lodge in January 1960 and finally joining Euclid Lodge of Installed Masters, which meet in London, in 1992. Mordaunt was given the Grand Rank of Past Assistant Grand Registrar in 1979 before receiving promotion to Past Junior Grand Deacon in 1987. Mordaunt‘s Chapter career started when he was Exalted into Londonderry Chapter of Amity in December 1950. He then joined Euclid Chapter of First Principals, which meet in London, in November 1992. In 1981, he was given Past Grand Standard Bearer, before finally receiving promotion to Past Assistant Grand Sojourner in 1989.


Saul Taylor, his oldest grandson, made the announcement on Facebook on behalf of the family, saying “our very special father, grandfather and great grandfather, Lt. Col. Mordaunt Cohen MBE, passed away peacefully at the Royal Free Hospital in London the early hours of Saturday.”


Saul told Jewish News: “Our whole family have always been, and will always be proud of him and his achievements. We are all benefiting today, as a direct result of what he and his comrades did for this country, all those years ago. He was one of a kind, an extraordinary man and true fighter.”


Lt. Col. Cohen was brought up in Sunderland and qualified as a solicitor in 1938 at the age of 21.


After qualifying to be a solicitor, he joined the army in 1940, having heard the plight of European Jews from refugees who had come to his native Sunderland.


His first command was leading the predomiantly Muslim Royal West African Frontier Force in Nigeria. He also served in Burma, which saw some of the war’s most brutal fighting.


After returning home, he resumed a legal career. He and his wife, Judge Myrella Cohen QC, made legal history when they became the first married couple to both hold full-time judicial roles.


For 60 years, he led the 1st AJEX Battalion down Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday. He only stopped three years ago when he was no longer able to walk the distance.


He educated people about the war and particularly about the 60,000 British Jews who fought in it.
In a statement, the family said he “was well aware of his place as one of the last surviving senior officers who served in World War II, and that he was one of the last few who had the ability to tell the story first-hand.


“He spent much of his time telling his military story and over many years was one of the most active and high profile veterans, speaking all over the country.


“He saw it as his duty to inform young people of what life was like in the war and the importance of remembering those who sacrificed their lives so that future generations may live in peace.


“He was particularly passionate of teaching about the Jewish contribution to the war effort, with 60,000 Jews serving in World War Two. All of this was done with dignity and a profound sense of duty.”


It was this work, educating people about the war, which led to him receiving an MBE in the 2018 New Year Honours list. He received his award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace on June 1, 2018.  Mordaunt was survived by two children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, the funeral, with Hespedim, was held at Edgware Yeshurun Synagogue. The burial was held a day later at Har Hamenuchot in Jerusalem, with the Shiva in Ra’anana, Isreal.


Those of you in the Province that had met Mordaunt will have fond memories of a true Gentleman and a great Freemason.


Photographs courtesy of the Press Association, Saul Taylor, and  Kevin Poolman/GL RFCA.


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