(Service number 8/1267)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||7 December 1884||Place of Birth||Timaru|
|Date||3 November 1914||Age||29 years 11 months|
|Address at Enlistment||Te Puke|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||W. JEFFERIES (father), Kongahu, Westport|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 10½ inches. Weight 199 lbs. Chest measurement 37-40 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes brown. Hair brown. Sight, hearing & colour vision all normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth - upper artificial, rest fair. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No distinctive marks or marks indicating congenital pecularities or previous disease. Fit.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||2nd Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Otago Infantry Battalion|
|Date||14 December 1914|
|Transport||Verdala or Willochra or Knight of the Garter|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Otago Infantry Battalion|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||2 May 1915||Age||30 years|
|Place of Death||Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Turkey|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, Anzac, Turkey|
|New Zealand Memorials||Westport War Memorial; Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War I Hall of Memories|
William Jefferies was born on 7 December 1884 at Timaru, the eldest son of William Jefferies and his wife Ada née Cullimore. The family moved from Timaru to Kongahu in about 1891-1892. There his mother was gazetted as a registered midwife. Along with some of his brothers William had been a bushman at Kongahu, a forestry area near Westport. He enlisted on 3 November 1914, close to his 30th birthday. He had been residing at Te Puke for about three years, engaged in bush-felling and flax-cutting. He was single, of Church of England affiliation, and a well-built man, standing at 5 feet 10½ inches, weighing 199 lbs, and in good physical condition, although the teeth, apart from the artificial upper ones, were only fair. He nominated his father, of Kongahu, Westport, as his next-of-kin.
Before long, on 14 December 1914, he was on his way to battle, embarking with the Otago Infantry Battalion, Second Reinforcements. It was to be a short-lived and tragic battle. Having reached Egypt on 29 January 1915, he was first posted to the 8th Southland Regiment at Kubri, before embarking at Alexandria on 12 April 1915 to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli. In mid June 1915 the first reports were coming through that Private William Jefferies, 8/1267, Otago Battalion, was missing in action 1 – 3 May 1915. Casualty List No. 68 was a heavy list and named over 160 men missing. Because of uncertainty over the date of this massive loss, the time period was calculated as 1 – 25 May. The most likely date was later considered to be 2nd May. A Court of Enquiry held at Moascar Camp, Ismailia, Egypt, on 22 March 1916, concluded that he was “Missing, now reported reasonable to suppose dead between 1st and 25th May 1915”. He was probably killed on Dead Man's Ridge (Pope's Hill) in an attack on Baby 700. Dead Man’s Ridge, which ran between Pope’s Hill and Quinn’s Post at the Dardanelles, was so-named following the disastrous attack by the Otago Regiment supported by British and Australian units on the night of 2-3 May 1915. On 25 April when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula it was with the aim of capturing Baby 700. William Jefferies is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial, Anzac, Gallipoli. This memorial is dedicated to those who died at Gallipoli and have no known grave. The lone pine was planted in the cemetery after the war.
His brother Job Jeffries died of lobar pneumonia on 12 February 1917 at Codford Hospital, Wiltshire, England, and is buried in Codford St Mary New Churchyard. Another brother, Charles Henry Jefferies (Harry), who gave well over four years of service in World War I, was wounded at Gallipoli just a few months after William was reported missing. A younger brother, Albert Jefferies, a drainer of Kongahu, Westport, who was drawn from the West Coast Recruiting District in the second Military Service ballot, in December 1916, was given three months leave.
William’s mother, Mrs A. Jefferies, Kongahu, was to receive his war medals – 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and victory Medal. His father acknowledged receipt of the scroll in 1921. A photo of Private W. Jefferies, Otago 1st Battalion, Missing, is attached to the Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database. The Public Trustee elected to administer his estate in September 1916. His property included £153.10s.9d. in the bank, a £100 life policy, and £5.8s pay accrued to death, which reflected well on his saving endeavours. His parents were buried at little Wanganui Cemetery but may have been reinterred at Karamea following sea erosion at Little Wanganui. William and his brother Job are honoured on the Westport War Memorial. This memorial which is inscribed “Gates of Remembrance” and includes a tablet bearing the names of fallen soldiers, was unveiled on 3 June 1922. After an address by Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell, the bugler played the “Last Post”, accompanied by the tolling of the fire bell. The “Dead March” was played by the Garrison Band and the National Anthem followed before returned soldiers (perhaps brother Harry) and the general public walked through the gates. His name is also inscribed on a panel of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War I Hall of Memories.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [11 May 2017]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5541 0060166) [11 May 2017]; CWGC [11 May 2017]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [11 May 2017]; Press, 14 June 1915, Star, 14 June 1915, Otago Witness, 16 June 1915, 4 August 1915, 15 September 1915, Otago Daily Times, 30 March 1916, 5 June 1922, Dominion, 30 March 1916, Evening Post, 30 March 1916, Grey River Argus, 15 December 1916 (Papers Past) [10 May 2017; 23, 24, 25 & 26 September 2017]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [22 September 2017]; Karamea headstone listing (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records); Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [26 September 2017]
- Great War Stories - William JEFFERIES - Timaru Herald 5 July 2018 (pdf, 20.3 KB updated 19-Sep-2018)
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
Tell us more
Do you have information that could be added to this story? Or related images that you are happy to share? Submit them here!