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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 41862
6th Northamptonshire Regiment
Who was Killed in Action on Saturday, 31th August 1918
Age 18

Plot III Row A Grave 40
Combles Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Combles Communal Cemetery Extension

Combles Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France1

Horace Edgar Jeffries was born in Ilkeston Junction, Nottinghamshire in 19002, the second of three children and only son of Edgar (b. 1870, New Basford, Notts) and Annie Jeffries (b. c1871, Carrington, Notts née Storer). Horace was a lace curtain maker and he and his wife had lived in the Ilkeston Junction, part of the Parish of Cossall, Nottinghamshire early in their marriage. In 1901, they were living there at Digby Street with their three children, including the one-year-old Horace 3. By 1911, the family had moved to 57 Derby Street, Beeston, Horace having taken a job with one of the local lace curtain manufacturers4. In 1915, Annie Jeffries died, aged only 445 and, in 1917, Horace married Isabella Deborah Owen, a widow who was then trading as a hardware dealer at 71 Chilwell Road, Beeston6, where the couple settled.

From 1916 onwards, conscription into the armed forces had become compulsory for all single men when reaching the age of 18, and they would then be eligible to be sent abroad on reaching age 19. Accordingly, Horace Edgar enlisted with 12th Battalion Notts & Derby Regiment in the first few months of 1918. The then expectation would have been that, after training, he would have joined a 'Graduated Battalion' to await his 19th birthday before being sent abroad. However, by April, 1918 the army was facing a desperate shortage of manpower on the Western Front and there were grave concerns that, following the German Spring Offensive, the position was critical. In the face of the resulting serious political crisis, the Military Service Act was extended to allow soldiers aged 18 who had received six months training, to be sent overseas. It therefore appears that, after his six months training and having reached the age of 18, Private Jeffries was posted to 6th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment and joined it in France in July or August 19187.

On 28th August 1918 the battalion, as part of 18th Division, moved off from Fricourt and relieved 17th Battalion East Kent Regiment to take over front line positions near Combles, south of Bapaume, as part of the Second Battle of Bapaume which had began on 21st August. This was a further phase of the Battle of Amiens, the British and Commonwealth attack that was to become the turning point of the First World War on the Western Front and the beginning of the Allies' Hundred Days Offensive. But this was the early stages and there was still much fighting to be faced. On the 29th, the enemy was seen to retire from Combles and the battalion advanced but was met by shelling and fairly enemy machine-gun fire which continued into the following days. Immediate further progress became impossible and the battalion was forced to dig in8. It appears that Private Jeffries was amongst those killed in this period. He was buried in the recently recaptured Combles Communal Cemetery Extension.

The village had been entered in the early morning of the 26th August, 1916, by units of the 56th (London) Division and of the French Army and it remained in Allied occupation until the 24th March, 1918, when the place was captured after a stubborn stand by the South African Brigade at Marrieres Wood. It was retaken on the 29th August, 1918, by the 18th Division. The village was later "adopted", with Flers, by the County Borough of Portsmouth. The cemetery was begun in October, 1916 by French troops, but the 94 French graves made in 1916 have been removed to another cemetery. The first British burials took place in December, 1916. From March, 1917, to the end of May, 1918, the Extension was not used. In June, July and August, 194 German soldiers were buried in what was afterwards called Plot I, but these graves, too, have been removed; and in August and September further burials were made by the 18th Division. Plots II, V, VI and VII and most of Plot IV were added after the Armistice by the concentration of 944 graves from the battlefields in the neighbourhood and from three smaller cemeteries9.

Private Jeffries was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal10. His financial effects of 3 13s were paid to his father on 16 November 1918 and he also received his War Gratuity of 3 on 2 December 191911.

At some point after the death of his second wife in 1933, certainly by 1939, Horace went to live with his daughter Winifred and her husband Albert Annable, in Southwell, Notts. He died there in December 194512. He was buried with his first wife in Beeston Cemetery, where Horace Edgar is remembered on their memorial stone.

1The photograph of Combles Communal Cemetery Extension is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Ilkeston Junction was part) in Q1/1900 (Ref 7b 204).
3Cossall, Notts: 1901 Census, Piece 3149 Folio 23.
4Beeston, Notts: 1911 Census, Piece 20426, RD429, SD3, ED1, Schedule 109. Eliza Jeffries, Edgar's widowed mother, was living with the family. Horace Edgar's siblings were Winifred Gertrude (b. 1893) and Hilda, b. c1905).
5Her date of death was recorded as 28 November 1915 on her memorial in Beeston Cemetery.
6Isabella Deborah was the widow of Thomas Charles Frederick Owen, a butcher, who had died on November 1915. He was a a 69-year-old widower when he had married her, aged 44 and previously unmarried, in Liverpool in July 1911. Born in the Isle of Man in c1868, she was the daughter of Isaac and Esther Milburn. Isaac was a whitesmith and one-time ironmonger which may have given her the experience to trade in that line.
7His Army Service Record has not survived but notes in his Medal Card indicate that he enlisted with 12th Battalion Notts & Derbys Regiment (Service Number 100492) before being transferred to 6th Battalion, Northants Regiment.
8Details of the battalion's deployment on 28-30th August are from the battalion war diary.
9This description of the Combles Communal Cemetery Extension is based on that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
10Details from Horace Edgar's Medal Roll entry - available on ancestry.com.
11Details from his entry in the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929 - available on ancestry.com.
12Details of the family in the post-war period are derived from standard genealogical sources, including Electoral Rolls and the 1939 Registration.

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