Image taken from the Evening Star – 28th June 1945.
Born: 1920, Ipswich.
Died: 24th October 1943; age: 23; as a Japanese PoW – Thailand – Burma Railway.
Captured: 15th February 1942.
Residence: 107, Boyton Road, Ipswich.
Rank: Private; Service Number: 5826896.
Regiment: Suffolk Regiment, 4th Battalion – Infantry.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Jethro Robert & Ellen Jay.
Father: Jethro Robert Jay, born June 1876, Rushmere St. Andrew, Suffolk – died 1940, Ipswich. A Cemetery Worker.
Mother: Ellen Jay (nee Cowie), born May 1883, Felixstowe, Suffolk.
Probate to Ronald Percy James Capon, a Turner.
The Battalion was attached to the 18th East Anglian Division.( including 4/5th Battalion the Suffolk Regiment)
15 February 1942: After the fall of Singapore, approximately 620 of the Battalions were taken POW and later mostly died on the Burma-Thailand Railway.
Jack’s brother, GEORGE JEFFREY JAY – was the 6th child of Jethro & Ellen’s seven children.
In July, 1944, Jack’s widowed mother, Ellen, submitted to the local newspaper the ‘Evening Star’ a photograph, with a short obituary about Jack’s brother, Jeff. Ellen, of 107, Boyton Road, Ipswich, had been notified that her son, George Jeffrey Jay, of the Parachute Regiment, had been killed in June 1944, in North-West Europe. This was a mistake. Jeff was alive.
In his 90th year, Jeff Jay spoke about the event that happened on the 5th June 1944, when he was 20 years old.
“In 1944 (5th June), I was ‘Number 14’ in a group of 20 men, ready to jump into Normandy, France. The man in front of me ‘Number 13’ said he wasn’t going
to jump. I explained to him the consequences, and he maintained he would not jump. So I said if I change places with you, will you jump and he said “yes” and that settled the problem. When we were crossing the coast of France we were being buffered and blown about with Anti Aircraft fire and with a terrible bang a piece of shrapnel hit the plane behind me and sadly ended the life of who would have been ‘Number 13.'”
(What Jeff didn’t say here, was that they swapped not only places, but watches, and it was his watch that was found, and it was Jeff’s mum that was visited and told the news of her son’s death. It was some time later that Jeff walked in the door…..)
“Our Padre had told us not to be afraid at our service before leaving Brize Norton. This apparently stirred me on.”
George Jeffrey Jay died in 2019, he was described as a great character in the village of Grundisburgh, Suffolk. His full obituary written by Canon Rev’d Clare Sanders can be found at:
Jeff Jay’s amazing story courtesy of Nicola – Editor of the Grundisburgh & District News.