REGINALD SOLOMON JEFFRIES

Born: 1900, Norwich, Norfolk.

Baptised: 23rd December 1900, at St. Michael the Archangel’s Church, Booton, Norfolk. Parents: Margaret & Solomon Jeffries, a commercial traveller, of Lenwade.

Died: 17th June 1940; age: 39; died when H.M.T. ‘Lancastria’ was sunk by enemy action near the port of St. Nazaire.

Residence: 2, Chesapeake Road, Ipswich.

Occupation: Commercial Clerk.

Rank: Corporal; Service Number: T/5932.

Regiment: Royal Army Service Corps, Heavy Repair Shop Motor Transport.

Memorial Reference:

Column 133.

Dunkirk Memorial,

France.

Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Solomon & M.M. Jeffries, of Norwich; husband of Doris A. H. Jeffries, of Ipswich.

CENSUS

1901   155, Bridge Street, Northampton, Northamptonshire.

Reginald was 5 months old and living with his mother at the home of his paternal aunt & cousin.

Mary Ann Jeffries, 40, a Shopkeeper – at home, born Syleham, Suffolk.

Fanny Elizabeth Jeffries, 9, born Gorleston, Norfolk.

Mabel May Jeffries (nee Allen), 21, born Morton, Norfolk.

On the 1901 census Reginald’s father, Solomon Jeffries, 36, was a Traveller – Jewellery – own account. He was a visitor at the home of 48 year old, Patrick Healey, a Musician – 33, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1911   62, Stafford Street, Norwich, Norfolk.

Reginald was 10 years old and living with his parents & brother.

Solomon, 46, a Hawker – own account.

Mabel, 31.

Algernon George Jeffries, 8, born Northampton.

On the 13th December 1923, at Carton, Norfolk, 23 year old Reginald, a commercial clerk, of 62, Stafford Street, Norwich, married 17 year old Doris Agnes Chilvers, born February 1906, Oulton Board, Suffolk – daughter of George Chilvers, an iron moulder and Margaret Anna Chilvers (nee Mayes), of 95, Drayton Road, Norwich.

They had 4 children.

ENGLAND & WALES REGISTER 1939.

Reginald’s wife Doris, and their children were living at their family home – 2, Chesapeake Road, Ipswich.

Doris, unpaid Domestic Duties.

June Audrey L. Jeffries, a Cigarette Machinist, born June 1924, Norwich, Norfolk.

Joyce M.D. Jeffries, born 1926, Norwich.

John A.G. Jeffries, born 1928, Downham Market, Norfolk.

Jane M.R. Jeffries, born 1933, Ipswich.

A Family note:

Reginald Solomon Jeffries was a teenager when he was called up to fight in the First World War.

When he came back, Reg married his sweetheart, Doris, and the couple had four children, all of them “J”s – June, Joyce, John and Janet.

Jeff worked as shorthand typist at a car dealership in Aldeburgh while Dilly, as he affectionately called her, lived in a rented house in Bartholomew Street, Ipswich, with the kids.

                                                                        Reginald far right seated. Mayor Albert Victor Smith center. 1937 Coronation May 12th.

In the mid 1930s the family moved into its brand new council house in Chesapeake Road, over Gainsborough and Reg went to work for Ransomes. A meticulous book-keeper he organised the finances for the neighbourhood Street Party in 1935 for King George V’s Silver Jubilee.

A reservist from the Great War, Reg was called up in August 1939, when another war seemed imminent. Corporal Jeffries was a slightly-built man who wore glasses for his very short sight.

A prolific correspondent he wrote to Dilly once, often twice a day and he also sent letters to each of his children in a neat hand – often in green ink.

When he and his regiment were despatched to northern France he continued to write home. He diligently numbered each letter and marked the envelopes: “On active service”.

In his last letter to his wife, dated June 3, 1940 – a day before the evacuation of Dunkirk ended – he wrote: “I am ok and carrying on as usual.

“So much has happened that it is hard to give a clear opinion of events but I think it is not going to be an easy or a quick job for us… We can only, each of us, do all possible to help and, if there is nothing for one to do, just to carry on and stick it out.”

Two weeks later, on June 17, the RMS Lancastria arrived at St Nazaire to pick up British troops stranded by the German occupation of France. Among those troops was Cpl Reg Jeffries.

Although the ship’s capacity was 1,300, it is estimated that up to 7,000 people were on board when a bomb from an enemy aircraft dropped down the funnel and exploded. RMS Lancastria sank, resulting in the largest loss of life on a single ship in British maritime history. One of those lost was Reg Jeffries, whose name is inscribed on this war memorial.

The Mayor of Ipswich Cllr Lynn Mortimer 2023-24, granddaughter to Reginald Jeffries.

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