|Date of Birth||January 5, 1896|
|Place of Birth||London|
|Next of Kin||Father: The Hon. JEP Vereker|
|Trade / Calling||Bank Clerk|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||Royal Field Artillery|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||August 13, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||18|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||19760526|
|Age at Death||80|
|Buried At||Royal Oak Crematorium, Saanich, British Columbia|
Jeffrey Vereker was among the first group of Kenora volunteers to enlist following the declaration of war in August 1914.
Born Jan. 5, 1896, Jeffrey was the son of the Hon. JEP Vereker, youngest son of the 4th Viscount of Gort. JEP (Jeffrey Edward Prendergast) Vereker had served for 20 years with the Royal Field Artillery but left the service in 1897 shortly after achieving the rank of major and emigrated to Canada where he established himself as a businessman in what was then Rat Portage.
Jeffrey’s mother, Susan Harriet (Head) McCutchan, although separated from her husband, army surgeon Lt. Col. James McCutchan, was still legally married to him when Jeffrey was born. Lt. Col. McCutchan entered his name as the father on the baptismal record, but later filed for divorce citing adultery and naming JEP Vereker as young Jeffrey’s father in the suit.
Susan McCutchan came to Canada in June of 1900 with Jeffrey and two of the children by her first marriage, marrying JEP Vereker on July 1, 1902 in Winnipeg, Manitoba a year after her divorce was finalized in England. Jeffrey was raised in Kenora, attended local schools, then worked for his father at the family business, the Rat Portage Cold Storage company for a short time before joining the Imperial Bank in Kenora as a clerk.
Enlisting as a private with the 98th Regiment, Kenora’s militia unit, on Aug 13, 1914, Jeffrey Vereker travelled to the Valcartier training camp with the Kenora’s 1st contingent of volunteers and along with most of the Kenora men, was assigned to the 8th Battalion, formed from volunteers from the 90th Winnipeg Rifles, the 98th (Kenora) Regiment, and the 96th (Lake Superior) Regiment.
Vereker shipped overseas as a member of the 8th Battalion in early October, but with his family background, did not remain in the ranks for long once the Canadian Expeditionary Force arrived in England for training.
In a letter home in November his mother noted he’d been selected for officer training and added that when he’d enlisted he done so without informing his family first.
He was Gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant effective Jan. 9, 1915 however had to leave the Canadian Army and transfer to the Royal Field Artillery of the British Army to receive his officer’s appointment. In a letter home that February he noted the Canadian officer positions were ‘filled up’. His letter added that another Kenora man and fellow Imperial Bank employee, Robert Knox, was applying for a transfer to the Connaught Rangers in hopes of attaining the officer’s commission he’d trained for.
Eager to get to the front, another letter home from the family in April noted Jeffrey had been taking flying lessons in hopes of transfer to the Royal Flying Corp. He was successful and attained the rank of Lieutenant with them and saw service in Europe. However he spent most of the war in the Mediterranean Theatre after transferring back to the Royal Field Artillery.
His British War medal card cites service in Egypt and Palestine for the 1914-1915 Star, while his post-war militia service entry records he served in France and Belgium from May 29, 1915 to June 6, 1916; following which he served in Greek Macedonia, Siberia, Bulgaria, European Turkey and the Islands of the Aegean Sea. From July 1917 to May 1918 he served in Egypt, then returned to Europe until October of 1918. In a letter home in November 1916 to his former bank manager, H.H. Moore, Jeffrey noted he was recuperating in hospital in Malta from a bout of malaria and mentioned he’d already seen action in Flanders and Salonika. The letter added he’d been recommended for a Military Cross, but one was not awarded as his British Army war service medals card records only awards of the 1914-1915 Star, the Victory Medal and the War Medal.
Following the war Jeffrey Vereker married Florence Evangaline Fairhurst in 1919 in England. The couple returned briefly to Kenora in April of 1919 before Jeffrey, who had rejoined the Imperial Bank, moved to Edmonton where he was made a bank manager.
Jeffrey retained his ties with the military after the war serving with the Canadian Artillery (militia) where he was promoted to Captain, then major in charge of the 59th Field Battery in Edmonton. During the Second World War he offered his services to the regular army but was assigned duties recruiting and training for the militia. In 1944 he was awarded the Efficiency Decoration for 20 years meritorious service with the non-permanent active militia for his service up to 1942.
In the 1960s he moved to Victoria B.C. where he worked as an investment advisor and remained connected with the militia being promoted to Lt. Colonel.
Jeffrey Vereker passed away May 26, 1976 in Victoria, his wife Florence in 1984.
by Bob Stewart
photos: Lake of the Woods Museum Archives
newspaper articles: Kenora Miner and News
obituary: courtesy of Mike Melen