Sergeant George Jefferies
Reg. No. 2814 (East Surrey Regiment)
Killed In Action: Saturday 1 July 1916
Commemorated: Theipval Memorial, Somme
George was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure.
George Jefferies (1889 - 1916)
George was the son of John Jefferies (1855 - 1899) and Rebecca (1863 - 1929). He was born in 1889 and had four siblings (Bertha Amy, John Thomas, Florey and Charlie). Following the death of her husband, Rebecca remarried Joseph Barnes on 12 June 1904. He was 10 years her senior and himself a farm labourer. The 1911 census shows them living in the High Street, Thurleigh. Sadly for Rebecca, it appears that Joseph died in April 1912, the War Graves evidence stating that she was living at Church End, Thurleigh, at the time of her son's death.
What is interesting is that the three sons of John and Rebecca were all baptised on the same date, 9 July 1899. This appears to be very shortly after their father died (Q2 1899) and might have been a reaction to his death.
George joined the 8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment, like a number of his village colleagues, and had been promoted to sergeant by the time of his death. He was clearly killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916.
George Jefferies is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial. This Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.