By Sophie Lipton
Bob Block joined the Army in 1911 at the age of 13, playing the drums and bugle for the Royal Fusiliers, the City of London Regiment.
Block contributed to British military service during the First World War, and in 1914 served in Malta, before going to fight in France the following year.
After being wounded in France, he was sent home to the UK for treatment, before returning to the army in 1916.
He witnessed intense fighting in the Somme that year and suffered gas poisoning. Not long after that, he was again a witness to action in the Battle of Arras and at Passchendaele.
After his military service in Europe, Block joined the British Jewish Brigade in 1917 and served in the Army in the Middle East. During this time, he became General Allenby’s Signal Sergeant, observing the liberation of Jerusalem from the Turks. Block stayed on in the Middle East, where he was wounded by shrapnel and also caught malaria.
His military service therefore came to an end when he was aged 21, and he was sent back to the United Kingdom.
He became a taxi driver in central London, but was always known as ‘Soldier Bob’. He died 49 years later at the age of 70 of a stroke.