Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Bertie Frederick George JEFFS (1895–1916)

(Jeffs is also listed on the Holy Trinity Church Roll of Honour and thus appears twice in the “tour”)

Bertie Jeffs

Bertie Jeffs killed

Bertie Frederick George Jeffs was born in Headington on 15 July 1895. He was the son of Francis Henry Jeffs (born on 4 May 1868 at Woolwich and baptised at St Mary Magdalene Church there on 26 July 1868) and Amelia Elizabeth Jacob (born in Headington and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 29 July 1866).

His parents were married at St Andrew’s Church in Old Headington on 28 December 1890 and had four children:

  • An unnamed child, probably stillborn (buried in Headington Cemetery on 11 January 1892)
  • Francis Ernest Arthur Jeffs (born in Headington on 18 January 1894 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 25 March)
  • Bertie Frederick George Jeffs (born in Headington on 15 July 1895 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 2 August)
  • Mollie Edith Nellie Jeffs (born at Windmill Road, Headington in 1896):
    died aged 14 weeks and buried at Headington Cemetery on 6 January 1897).

Bertie’s father Francis Jeffs was running a grocer’s shop in the Pits in Quarry at the time of his wedding, and he and his wife began their married life over the shop: the 1891 census shows them living there with Francis’s sister Maud (14). By early 1894 they had moved into St Andrew’s parish, and Bertie’s father was working as a railway porter. When Bertie himself was baptised in 1895, his father was described as a labourer.

The 1901 census shows Bertie (5) living at 39 Windmill Road (then numbered 12), which was on the east side of the road and so fell in Headington Quarry parish, with his father Francis (32), was now a painter’s labourer, his mother Amelia (35), and his older brother Francis (7). Ay the head of the household was Mrs Jeffs’s widowed mother, Mrs Alice Jacob (58), who took in laundry.

Bertie Jeffs

 

By the time of the 1911 census the family was living at 125 Windmill Road (then “Elm View”), which again was in Holy Trinity parish. Bertie’s father was still a builder’s house painter, and his older brother Francis was an apprentice motor engineer. Bertie himself (15) was apprenticed to a general blacksmith. The fact that he appears on the St Andrew’s war memorial as well as the Quarry one suggests that he may have worked for the Stow brothers in Old High Street.

 

Poppy In the First World War, Bertie Jeffs (19) volunteered to serve immediately in 1914 and joined the 11th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps (Service No. 3023). He became a Corporal, and died on 10 October 1916 at the age of 21, sixteen months after being sent to France, when he and his co-pilot were shot down over France in an air battle. He has no known grave, but is mentioned on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.

His father and elder brother Francis were also serving in France at the time of his death.

Bertie is remembered both on stone plaque in the porch of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry and on the roll of honour of St Andrew’s Church in Old Headington.


Postscript

St Andrew's memorial board

Bertie’s parents
  • Francis Jeffs moved with his wife Amelia to New Headington village around the time of the end of the war, and lived at 5 New High Street. He died there at the age of 63 and was buried in Headington Cemetery on 18 November 1931: he is described in the burial register as being a painter.
  • Amelia Jeffs died at 5 New High Street at the age of 75 and was buried with her husband on 30 June 1941.
Bertie’s brother
  • Francis Ernest Arthur Jeffs (born 1894) became a motor mechanic, and married Edith Joy Edwards of New High Street at Holy Trinity Church on 5 April 1920. The birth of their daughter Pauline B. Jeffs was registered in the Headington district in the first quarter of 1929.

See also
  • CWGC: Jeffs, Bertie Frederick George
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 5 July 1915, p. 4: Photograph of a group of Oxford soldiers in a village in France, including B. G. Jeffs of Headington (detail shown above left)
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 15 November 1916, “Heroes of the War”: photograph of Bertie Jeffs of Headington, who was then missing, believed killed; and 11 April 1917, p. 6,“Heroes of the War”: photograph after he was confirmed dead (both shown above with kind permission of Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire History Centre)
  • Oxford Chronicle of 30 March 1917, p. 7: Obituary of Bertie Jeffs, with photograph
  • National Archives: Medal card of Bertie Jeffs
  • Wikipedia: Royal Flying Corps

Back to St Andrew’s Church, Old Headington roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website