Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 17, 1894
Place of BirthBradford, Yorkshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinWilliam John Jeffery (father), Graham, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number81445
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion10th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentDecember 14, 1914
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 3, 1915
Age at Death21
Buried AtBoulogne Eastern Cemetery, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
PlotVIII. A. 65.

Jeffery, Harry

The Germans used massive amounts of artillery in the First World War and more than half of Allied casualties were the result of artillery fire. There were all different kinds and sizes of shells and they were a constant danger during battles and in the trenches as well as behind the front lines. Private Harry Jeffery was wounded by an artillery shell at the Battle of Festubert in May 1915 and he died from his injuries two weeks later.

Harry, or Henry, was the oldest son of William John Jeffery and Mary Elizabeth Richards of Yorkshire, England. William and Mary were married in 1892 and Harry was born in May 1894, the second of their seven children (Emily, Harry, John, Hattie, William and two children who died very young). At the time of the 1901 census the Jeffery family was living in the town of Shipley in Yorkshire and Harry’s father was working as a ‘steam travelling crane operator.’ Sometime in 1907 or early in 1908 Harry’s father immigrated to Canada. Harry joined him there in May 1908, arriving on the SS Canada, age 14, his destination Kenora, Ontario, ‘father to meet him.’ They ended up settling in the small town of Graham, later called Sioux Lookout. Harry’s mother stayed in England and when the 1911 census was taken she was living in Shipley with the two youngest children, Hattie and William. In 1912 Emily, John and William joined their father and brother in Canada, arriving in July on the Empress of Britain, their destination listed as Graham, Ontario.

Harry spent some time living in Kenora but when he enlisted in December 1914, four months after the war started, he was a resident of Virden, Manitoba. He signed up in Winnipeg, joining the 32nd Battalion. He was a labourer, 20 years old and his next of kin was his father William Jeffery of Graham. The 32nd Battalion had been organized in Winnipeg in November 1914 and it was recruited in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. After just eight weeks of training Harry embarked for England with his battalion on 23 February 1915 on the SS Southland (also known as the Vaderland). In England the 32nd Battalion became the 32nd Reserve Battalion and the men were used as reinforcements to replace casualties in other units. Less than two months after arriving Harry was sent to France and transferred to the 10th Battalion, which was in the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. When he joined the battalion early in May, in a draft of 360 men, the 1st Division had just been through the 2nd Battle of Ypres (St. Julien) where they’d suffered very high casualties.

In May 1915 the Canadians took part in the Battle of Festubert, a British assault on a German salient between the towns of Festubert and Neuve Chapelle in France. The battle started with a night attack by the British on 15 May and three days later Canadian units were brought in. The 10th Battalion was ordered to capture a German redoubt but due to ineffective artillery preparation and heavy German machine gun fire the attack was postponed until late on 21 May. Following the initial assault the Germans counter-attacked several times and in two days of fighting the 10th Battalion suffered about 270 men killed, wounded and missing. Harry was seriously wounded by an artillery shell on the first day, 21 May, with injuries to his head, back, shoulder and arm. He was evacuated to a hospital in Boulogne, on the coast of France, and he died there of his wounds on 3 June.

From the Circumstances of Death record for Harry: Died of Wounds (Shrapnel Wound Back) at No. 13 General Hospital, Boulogne.

Harry is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, one of the town cemeteries in the port city of Boulogne, France. There are over 5,000 First World War Commonwealth burials in the Eastern Cemetery, most of them from the hospitals in Boulogne. Harry is commemorated on the Kenora and Sioux Lookout Cenotaphs, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial and on the War Memorial in Virden , Manitoba.

His brother John Fordham Jeffery enlisted in April 1915 in Port Arthur, Ontario. He died of wounds in France in November 1916 while serving with the 8th Battalion. Their father William John Jeffery enlisted in April 1916. He joined the 224th Battalion, which became part of the Canadian Forestry Corps, and he survived the war, returning to Canada in July 1919.

By Becky Johnson

Photos below of the Sioux Lookout War Memorial courtesy of Sioux Lookout Community Museum. Photo at the top is the plaque on the Kenora Cenotaph.

Jeffery-Harry-99 Jeffery-Harry-2 Jeffery-Harry-3 Jeffery-Harry-98

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