Charles Wilfred Jeffreys was born in Chelmsford, and educated at the town’s Grammar School, Hurstpierpoint College in Sussex, and in Somerset. He joined his father’s outfitters and clothiers business before enlisting into the army in September 1915. He went to France in June 1916 and obtained his Officer’s Commission in May 1917. He was killed in action near Ypres in October 1917. His home was in Mildmay Road.
JEFFREYS, CHARLES WILFRED, 2nd Lieutenant, 5th (Service) Battalion,
King's Shropshire Light Infantry (formerly of B Squadron, 6th Dragoon Guards)
Charles was reported missing near Ypres on 17th October 1917. He was aged 26. Three days later Charles’ father was sent the following telegram by the Secretary, War Office:
“Deeply regret to inform you 2nd Lt. C. W. Jeffreys Kings Shropshire Light Infantry was killed in action October seventeenth. The Army Council expressed their sympathy.”
On 26th October 1917 the Essex County Chronicle carried a family announcement regarding Charles:
“Jeffreys. - Killed in action in France, Oct. 17th, 1917. Sec.-Lieut. C.W. Jeffrey’s, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, the eldest and beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. F. H. Jeffreys, of Mayfield, Chelmsford, aged 25.”
Charles was born at Albert Place, New London Road, Chelmsford on 6th March 1892, the eldest child of the outfitter and clothier Frederick Herbert Jeffreys and Helena Edith Jeffreys (nee Smith). His father had been born in 1865 in St. John’s Wood, London; his mother c1868 in Chelmsford.
The couple had married on 10th December 1890 at the London Road Congregational Church in Chelmsford. Their honeymoon was spent in Hastings. The following year they had been resident at 7 Albert Place in New London Road, Chelmsford (today’s number 124).
Charles’ paternal grandfather was William Jeffreys who had gone to Maldon around 1860 to work there at the outfitting and tailoring establishment of David Nickois. After a number of years he moved to Chelmsford in order to
manage Mr. Nickols' branch shop, in the High Street near the Stone Bridge. A few years later Mr. Nickois took Charles’ grandfather into partnership, and the firm became known as Nickols and Jeffreys. The business extended, and when Mr. Nickols died in 1897 Charles’ grandfather took over the two shops, the one at Chelmsford and the other at Maldon, and the name was changed to Jeffreys and Sons. The partnership consisted Charles’ grandfather and Charles’ father and uncle, Arthur John Jeffreys. When the latter died young in 1899, his position in the business was taken by a third brother, Charles William Jeffreys, who was then in the teaching profession, as an assistant master at Dulwich College in London. Mr. Nickols had the distinction of being the first person from Maldon to be cremated.
Charles’ four siblings, all Chelmsford-born, were May Doris Jeffreys (1893-1925), Mabel Winifred Jeffreys (1898-1988), Frederick William Jeffreys (1903-1980) and John Murton Jeffreys (1907-1945).
Charles was educated at King Edward VI’s Grammar School, Chelmsford from September 1899 to April 1902. At the time of his admission his father was described as a clothier of Bridge House, High Street, Chelmsford.
The 1901 census listed nine year-old Charles living with his parents, two sisters and two servants at 52 High Street, Chelmsford, where his father still ran the clothier’s and outfitter’s business.
Charles returned to the Grammar School between October 1903 and March 1907 at which time his father was resident at Wave Cottage in Mildmay Road, Chelmsford. His brother Frederick was also educated at the Grammar School, between
September 1911 and December 1918. When aged 15 Charles left for Hurstpierpoint College in Sussex and later studied at Dr. Morgan’s School in Bridgewater, Somerset.
The 1911 census captured 18 year-old Charles staying with his widowed maternal grandmother Harriet Elizabeth Jeffreys (aged 75), aunt Emily Jeffreys (aged 51) and two servants at Wimborne in New London Road, Chelmsford (today’s number 182). The house had been built for Charles’ grandfather William Jeffreys who had died there in 1910. Charles was an outfitter’s assistant, working for his father; his grandmother survived on ‘private means’. At the time Charles’ parents and siblings were living at Mayfield, (Upper) Mildmay Road, Chelmsford.
On 6th September 1914, when aged 22 years and 180 days and working as an outfitter, Charles attested at Chelmsford to join the army, passed his military medical; he was approved to join the 17th Lancers and was given a service number of 8068. His preference was to join ‘any cavalry regiment’ and he agreed to serve for the duration of the war.
Charles was a relatively well-built man for the time. He was five feet eight and a half inches tall, weighed 153 pounds, had a chest of 37.5 inches which could expand by three inches. His physical development was ‘good’. He had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. His religion was Congregationalist.
Charles joined the 3rd Reserve Cavalry as a Private on 9th October 1914, and on 15th June 1915, after 282 days in the army, he embarked to France to join the 6th Dragoon Guards as a Lance Corporal where he served in B Squadron.
On 6th December 1916 Charles completed his application form for an Officer’s
Commission with an infantry battalion.
On 22nd December 1916, after a year and 190 days in France he was posted to the 3rd Reserve Cavalry Regiment and sent back to England as a candidate for a Commission.
On 6th February 1917 Charles joined Number 3 Officer Cadet Battalion at Artillery Ground, Whiteladies Road in Bristol.
On 29th May 1917, Charles was discharged to the 3rd Battalion of the Shropshire Regiment having been awarded his Commission as a Second Lieutenant. He subsequently joined the Regiment’s 5th Battalion in France and Belgium.
The same edition also included a report on his life and death:
“Sec.-Lt. Charles Wilfred Jeffreys, Shropshire Light Infantry, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Jeffreys, of Mayfield, Chelmsford. was killed in action on Oct. 17. The deceased, who was 25 years of age, was one of the first to respond to the country’s call. He joined the 6th Dragoon Guards, and in his training came out as a first class shot and rider. He went to France with his regiment, and after 20 months’ service there was offered a commission by his Colonel. He came home, and passing through a Cadet School very successfully, was posted to the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, and went to the Front a fortnight later. He had served just under two years abroad at the time of his death. In a letter received by Mr. and Mrs. Jeffreys from the Colonel of his regiment the Colonel says: ‘I cannot tell you how sorry I am for you and his family. He had only been with us quite a short time, but he had shown himself such a good officer and cheerful companion that I had chosen him to act
as my Assistant Adjutant during this turn of the trenches, We had all taken a particular fancy to him, and are terribly grieved at his loss.”
The day’s Essex Weekly News included the following family notice:
“Jeffreys. - Killed in action in France, Oct. 17th, 1917, Second-Lieut. C.W. Jeffrey’s, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, the eldest beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. F. H. Jeffreys, of Mayfield, Chelmsford, aged 25.”
The paper also included a report on Charles’ death:
“Second-Lieut. Charles W. Jeffreys, Shropshire L. I., killed in action on Oct. 17 at the aged of 25, was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. F. H. Jeffreys, of Mayfield, Chelmsford. In the early days of the war he joined the Dragoons, and during the training was classed a first-class shot and rider. After serving for 20 months in France he was offered a commission. Having passed through the Cadet school very successfully he was posted to the Shropshire L. I., and again went to the Front. Altogether he had served just on two years abroad. Lieut. Jeffreys was an Old Chelmsfordian and completed his education at Dr. Morgan’s School at Bridgewater. He had many friends in civil life, and will be greatly missed, especially among sportsmen. Prior to the war he assisted his father in the business of Messrs. Jeffreys and Son, outfitters, High-st., Chelmsford."
On 27th October 1917 the military authorities wrote again to Charles’ father:
“The Military Secretary presents his compliments to Mr. Jeffreys and begs to inform him that the following report has just been received at the War Office from General Headquarters in the Field: ‘2nd Lieut. C. W. Jeffreys, 5th Shropshire Light Infantry, reported killed 17.10.17. is now reported missing believed killed 17.10.17.’ The Military Secretary is desired by the Secretary of State for War to express his deepest sympathy with Mr. Jeffreys in his great distress.”
On 27th November 1917 the War Office, London issued Charles’ death certificate which gave a date of death a day before that previous quoted and currently used by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
“Certified that, according to the records of this Office Temporary Second Lieutenant CHARLES WILFRED JEFFREYS 5th (Service) Battalion, Shropshire Light Infantry, was killed in action in France on the 16th day of October 1917.”
Charles has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderan, Belgium, on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford. He was also commemorated at the London Road Congregational Church, Chelmsford. He was not commemorated on the war memorial at St. John’s Church, Moulsham. Charles’ estate was valued at £150 12s. 8d.
The December 1917 edition of King Edward VI’s Grammar School’s publication, The Chelmsfordian Magazine, reported:
“Many of our readers will remember Lt. C. W. Jeffreys of the Shropshire Light Infantry who was killed in action on October 17th. He had served two years abroad at the time of his death.”
On 18th October 1918 the Essex Weekly News published the following in memoriam notice for Charles:
“In proud and honoured
memory of Sect.-Lt. Chas. Wilfred Jeffreys. K.S.L.I., eldest son of Mr.. and Mrs. Fred. Jeffreys of Wimborne, Chelmsford, who fell in France Oct., 17th, 1917. - Never forgotten by Auntie Edith.”
The 1918 register of electors listed Charles’ parents at 62 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford (later renumbered as 151, pictured). Later they lived at Coval Lodge, Rainsford Road, Chelmsford. Charles’ grandmother Harriet Elizabeth Jeffreys died early in 1918.
Charles’ mother died in 1936, aged 68. His father died in 1943, aged 78 and left an estate valued at £17,249.