British Army

My change of name was forced on me in the army during the war. After my initial training I was told when going on leave: 'You better come back with an English name.' I totally forgot. On my return I suddenly realised I hadn’t thought about names & quickly looked in the telephone directory. I wanted to keep my initials LB. There weren’t many 1st names that appealed & Leslie Howard was very much en vogue. So I thought Leslie would be a good name to choose. And Brent I had just chosen almost at random from the telephone directory, because it seemed to go reasonably well with Leslie. So I became Leslie Brent. Well, that was okay, I mean that did help me to integrate, it helped me in the army. I became an officer in the army. I had to become English pretty dead quick actually. Because I had to look after English soldiers & so on. So having an English name was a very good thing from that point, too.

[During his time as translator in a POW camp in Yorkshire] I decided my- the only way I could deal with it, was to explain very clearly that I was a German born Jew. I was in British uniform as their boss. But I was a Jew. And I think in a way that helped to- well, it cleared the air. They knew whom they were dealing with. And I never had any problem.


@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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