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Leslie Hore Belisha
Birth: Sep. 7, 1893
Death: Feb. 16, 1957

British Liberal Party politician, known as "England's Dreyfus.". Isaac Leslie Belisha was the only son of Jacob Isaac Belisha, the manager of an insurance company, and his wife, Elizabeth Miriam Miers. His father died when Leslie was less than one year old, and his mother did not re-marry until 1912. When she did do so, to Sir Charles Adair Hore, Leslie added his stepfather's surname to his own. Leslie Hore-Belisha was educated at Clifton College in Bristol and, briefly, at the Sorbonne and Heidelberg. His studies were interrupted by the First World War, in which he joined the Royal Fusiliers, saw action in France, Flanders and Salonika, was mentioned in dispatches, and rose to the rank of Major. At the beginning of 1918, however, he caught malaria and had to be invalided home. After the War, he took a degree at St. John's College in Oxford, where he was the President of the Union. After graduating, he wanted to become a lawyer, but had little money, so he worked in journalism in order to raise the funds. He became a leader writer for Express Newspapers before, in 1923, being called to the Bar, at the Inner Temple ; and, in the same year, he was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Plymouth division of Devonport. In the coalition Government between the Wars, Hore-Belisha served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (1931-32) and Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1932-34) before, in 1934, becoming the Secretary of State for Transport with, two years later, a seat in the Cabinet. At the Ministry of Transport, Hore-Belisha revised the Highway Code and introduced driving tests for motorists, as well as the 30 m.p.h. speed limit in built-up areas, but he is best remembered for extending the use of pedestrian crossings. To this day, the amber globes on top of a black-and-white striped pole, which he introduced to mark such crossings, are known in England as "Belisha Beacons." In 1937, Neville Chamberlain replaced Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister, and moved Hore-Belisha to the Ministry of War. Here, he increased soldiers' pay and allowances, improved the standard of catering, made sure that new barracks were built, with showers and recreation rooms, allowed married soldiers over the age of twenty-one to live with their families, insisted upon easier promotion from the ranks to the officers corps, and appointed younger generals, along with lowering the age of retirement. Not all of these innovations made him popular with the old guard, and Chamberlain objected to his introduction of conscription on April 27th. 1939, and to his proposals for increased military spending. When, in September that year, the Second World War broke out, his warnings about the slow progress of the defences in France were not heeded, especially by Lord Gort. Hore-Belisha had appointed Gort as Chief of the Imperial General Staff and as head of the British Expeditionary Force, but the two were no longer on speaking terms. Some of the flavour of the times may be gained from the fact that Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Pownall wrote of the relationship between the Field Marshal and his Minister : "They could never get on, and you couldn't expect two such wildly different people to do so ; a great gentleman and an obscure, shallow-brained, charlatan, political Jewboy." Chamberlain travelled to the Front in France to attempt to persuade the Generals of Hore-Belisha's case, but was unsuccessful ; so, in January 1940, he attempted to move Hore-Belisha to the Ministry of Information. However, Lord Halifax, the Foreign Secretary, considered that it would be "inappropriate to have a Jew in charge of publicity." Instead, Chamberlain offered Hore-Belisha the Presidency of the Board of Trade, but he considered this to be something of an insult, and resigned from the Cabinet. In his letter of resignation, he wrote : "You have been categorically assured that there is no reason whatsoever for anxiety about a German breakthrough. Yet my visit to France has convinced me that, unless we utilise the time that is still available to us with far more vision and energy, the Germans will attack us on our weak spot somewhere in the gap between the Maginot Line and the sea." Four months later, he was shown to be right. In May 1945, having spent the war years on the back-benches, Hore-Belisha returned to government, as the Minister for National Insurance, in Churchill's caretaker administration. Two months later, however, he lost his seat, which he had held for twenty-two years, in the Labour landslide. Sir Leslie, as he had now become, resigned from the Liberal Party and joined the Conservatives, but was defeated in 1950 when he contested Coventry South. In 1954, he was raised to the peerage, as Lord Hore-Belisha of Devonport ; but, three years later, he died suddenly in Reims, whilst leading a British Parliamentary delegation to France. He and his wife, Cynthia Elliot, had no children, and the Barony died with him. In order to find his grave, follow the path to the left (West), and then turn North, passing Julia Goodman and Jacqueline du Pre on your left. Lord Hore-Belisha is a few yards beyond them, on the right. All three are on the border of the path.  (bio by: Iain MacFarlaine) 
 
Burial:
Golders Green Jewish Cemetery
Golders Green
London Borough of Barnet
Greater London, England
Plot: R WL 51
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Iain MacFarlaine
Record added: May 20, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 7468940
Leslie Hore Belisha
Added by: quebecoise
 
Leslie Hore Belisha
Added by: Iain MacFarlaine
 
Leslie Hore Belisha
Added by: Iain MacFarlaine
 
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