New Hampshire’s First WW2 Naval Officer Killed: Manchester’s LTJG Ben Richard Bronstein (MC) USNR (1915-1942)

BRONSTEIN PARK, formerly known as Hanover Square is located on Hanover and Beech Streets in Manchester, New Hampshire. The official City of Manchester web site describes it as “the small, 2.84-acre park is located within walking distance of Central High School on Hanover and Beech Streets. The scattering of trees across the park provides both shade in the hot summers and beauty in the colorful spring and autumn seasons. The walkways have benches lining the sides so visitors may sit and enjoy their surroundings.

Granite plaque memorial to Ben Richard Bronstein in Bronstein Park, Manchester NH

Granite plaque memorial to Ben Richard Bronstein in Bronstein Park, Manchester NH

The 5-foot-tall granite stone was erected in 1990 at the northwest corner of the park by Bronstein ‘s brother, Maurice Bronstein, who donated the memorial. It reads:
“in memory of
aboard the destroyer
U.S.S. Jacob Jones
Lost in Action, February 28, 1942
First Naval Officer
From the State of New Hampshire
To have Sacrificed his life
in the fulfillment of his duty
in World War II.

Ben Richard Bronstein was born in Manchester, New Hampshire on 14 April 1915, the youngest son of Max & Dinah (Braymark) Bronstein. Max and Dinah had immigrated from Russia in 1905 and 1908 respectively, and were naturalized citizens.  In the 1914 Manchester City Directory Max is a pawnbroker at 22 Lake Ave., and the family is residing at 195 Central Street. By 1919 Max was a merchant in dry goods, and later still in men’s furnishings.

By all accounts Ben R. Bronstein was a remarkable young man. A 1992 newspaper article in the Manchester Union Leader, stated that he “had a brilliant athletic and scholarship record at Central High School…and captained the University of New Hampshire basketball team in 1936, and from which he was graduated in 1932-B.”

Ben Richard Bronstein

Ben Richard Bronstein, from USN Press release regarding USS Bronstein (DE-1037)

The University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, printed an article in its March 6, 1942 edition of the school’s newspaper, “The New Hampshire” [Vol No. 32, Issue 39, page 1, 4.] that succinctly states the sad sequence of events:  Lt. Ben Bronstein, ’36 Falls Victim to Nazi Submarine. “Former Hoop Capt. Won Cogswell Scholarship; Served as Ship Doctor
Lt. Ben Richard Bronstein, USNR, 26, of Manchester, graduate of the university in 1936, was “lost at sea” last Saturday, when an enemy submarine sank the United States destroyer Jacob Jones off Cape May, N.J. Only eleven out of approximately 145 on board survived the shelling.
     After having been graduated from Tufts Medical School in 1940, Lt. Bronstein served his internship at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford Mass. He entered the service about two months before Pearl Harbor and was ordered to sea as ship doctor on the Jacob Jones in December 1941.
Accorded Many Honors.  Bronstein was one of the outstanding men in his class at the university. In addition to starting in basketball and captaining the team in 1936, he was vice-president of his class and was awarded a Cogswell scholarship at the conclusion of his junior year. He was a member of the Sphinx, junior honorary society, Blue Key, senior honorary biology fraternity, and Phi Alpha, social fraternity.
      Few Escaped Only three rafts were able to escape the sinking ship. Of fourteen men on one raft, only three survived while eight men were rescued from the other two rafts. Only a day before the attack on the Jacob Jones, the tanker R.P. Resor was torpedoes and sunk off the same New Jersey coast. The Jacob Jones was the twenty-sixth merchant ship or tanker sunk by Germany’s submarines since enemy operations were begun off the coasts of the United States.

Ben Richard Bronstein died that day, 28 February 1942, at the age of 26. His body was never recovered.   Ben was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.  In addition to the renaming of the park to Bronstein Park, he was also recognized on/by the following:
New Hampshire Marine Memorial Honor Roll, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Tablets of the Missing at East Coast Memorial, Battery Park, New York City
Two Navy ships have borne the name of LT(jg) Ben Richard Bronstein, MC, USNR. The first BRONSTEIN (DE-189) was commissioned in 1943, served the remainder of the war, and was presented to Uruguay in 1952. The second USS BRONSTEIN (DE-1037) is a 371 foot destroyer, commissioned 15 June 1963, decommissioned 13 December 1990, struck from the Navy list on 4 Oct 1991, and disposed of as a foreign military sale to Mexico in 1993.

 ======PARTIAL GENEALOGY OF Ben Richard Bronstein=====

Max [Meyer] Bronstein b. abt 1874 Sokolov, Russia; died 4 April 1934 in Manchester NH, age 60; He married Dinah/Dianah/”Rachel” Primack/Braymark, dau of Morris & Jennie (?) Braymark. She b. abt 1884 in Russia. They married about 1897 probably in Russia. She married 2nd) 20 February 1940 in Manchester NH to John Kurtz, son of Marcus & Rebecca (?) Kurtz.
1930 US Census > NH > Hillsborough Co. > Manchester > 360 Central Street
Max Bronstein M 48 Russia Russia Russia married age 23, Jewish, immigrated 1905 naturalized, clothing, men’s furnishings
Dinah Bronstein F 46 Russia, marriaged age 21 Russia Russia Russia Jewish immigrated 1908 naturalized
Maurice Bronstein M 24 Russia immigrated 1908 naturalized, forman, public service
Sam Bronstein M 20 Russia, immigrated 1908 naturalized salesman department store
Joseph Bronstein M 19 NH
Ben Bronstein M 15 NH
MANCHESTER — Dorothy (Kessler) Bronstein , formerly of Manchester, and West Palm Beach, Fla., died Dec. 25, 2003. She was predeceased by her husband, Joseph E. Bronstein .The family includes a daughter, Maxine Selig of Newton, Mass.; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; three sisters, Lillian Lappe, Gertrude Liffman and Frances Klein; and two brothers, Henry and Sidney Kessler. SERVICES: Services are Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at Levine Chapels, 470 Harvard St., Brookline, Mass. Burial will follow at Adath Jeshurun Cemetery, Beech Street, Manchester, at 12:30 p.m. A memorial observance will be held at the home of Maxine and Mitchell Selig on Sunday from 7 to 9 p.m., and Monday and Tuesday, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to Memorial High School J.E.B. Scholarship Fund, 1 Crusader Way, Manchester 03103; or Stanley R. Tippett Hospice House, 920 South St., Needham, Mass. 02492.
Children of Max & Dinah (Braymark) Bronstein:
1. Jennie Bronstein, b 1897 in Sokolov, Russia, died 5 Apr 1969 in Santa Monica, California; m. 19 Nov 1916 in Manchester NH to Simon Ashworth, son of Harry & Eva (Hianovich) Ashworth. He was b abt 1893 in Roumania His occupation shoemaker.
2. Harry Bronstein, b 7 October 1898 in Russia, and died 1982 in Boston MA; He married Bertha “Bessie” Wise. She was b. in 1897 in Chelsea MA and d. 1971 in Boston MA. In 1920 he had a mens firnishing shop at 635 Elm Street. In 1929 living at 264 Ash Street in Manchester, with a men’s furnishings shop at 12 Lake Avenue. In the 1930 US Census he has two children: Frank [1923-1985]  and Barbara [1927-1995, m. Jacob Fishkind].
3. Maurice “Morris” Bronstein, b 5 May 1901 in Russia; died 9 May 1994 in Hillsborough Co. NH; married
4. Rose Bronstein, b abt 1904 in Russia; married John “Jack” Harris. He was b. 1907 in Manchester England and died in 1961; two children.
5. Samuel “Sam” P. Bronstein, b 10 June 1905 in Russia; died 16 July 1997 in Hillsborough Co. NH; he married 6 March 1934 in Allenstown NH to Lilian Malibou, daughter of Samuel & Tillie (Levine) Malibou. She b. 17 September 1906 in Milford NH and died 18 September 1994 in Nashua NH. At the time of their marriage Samuel was a “Buyer” and Lillian was a nurse. In 1959 they were living at 28 Chester Street, proprietors of Morey’s Clothing and Bronco Realty Co, with Samuel a member of the Nashua Housing Authority. The Bronstein apartments that opened in May of 1974 in Nashua New Hampshire are named after him. Samuel & Lilian had a son, Stephen Max Bronstein, b 10 March 1938 in Manchester NH and died 19 Feb 2010 in Central Point, Jackson, Oregon. Stephen was living at 922 Elm Street, Manchester NH on 1 July 1993. [Morey’s Men’s Wear]
6. Joseph E. Bronstein, b 9 June 1910 in Manchester NH and died 30 June 1977 in Palm Beach FL; married Dorothy Kessler [see her obituary above]. He was a teacher in the Manchester NH School system and also principal of Manchester Memorial NH from 1960 to 1972. Prior he had coached basketball and taught at Manchester Central. He himself was a Central and UNH basketball star. They had child: Maxine (b abt 1937) who married Mitchell Selig and removed to Newton MA.
7. Ben Richard Bronstein, b. 14 April 1915 Manchester NH; never married. [This blog post is written about him]

[Editor’s Note: This article is one of several I have written at the request of Don Pinard, Department of Public Works, Chief of Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division, City of Manchester, New Hampshire.  It is a volunteer project (on my part) to better record and share the stories of the men memorialized by the city’s “Military Squares.”  All the information specifically within the body of this project is shared copyright free with the City of Manchester and its representatives, with the exception of photographs provided by family or friends who still retain whatever rights conveyed to them by law.]

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4 Responses to New Hampshire’s First WW2 Naval Officer Killed: Manchester’s LTJG Ben Richard Bronstein (MC) USNR (1915-1942)

  1. Pingback: Manchester New Hampshire’s Military Squares and other Memorials | Cow Hampshire

  2. Pingback: Manchester NH’s Monument to honor War Veterans from 1898-1902 at Bronstein Park | Cow Hampshire

  3. jane Kelley says:

    My late husband Martin Charles Harris was the son of Rose Bronstein and John Jack Harris.We have visited the park on several occasions.Thank you for more family genealogy.

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