William Ernest ‘Jeff’ Jeffery
Corporal R A Wilson describes Jeff as follows:
Jeff, as befits a coalman, was dark with a round Norman head. He had been in more trouble in his months in the Army than most old sweats in all their years. His girlfriend was a marvel, perpetually pregnant without bringing forth a baby. On each move or change of command Jeff applied for compassionate leave to make her an honest woman. When he had local leave in France, he hastened to the brothel and on leaving it, had bought a sentimental card, hearts entwined in multi-coloured wool. Being none too good with a pen he had got into the habit of asking me to write his cards and letters. As a reward, he’d bought a similar card for me to send home too. “God Almighty!” I’d blurted out, then seeing his hurt look I changed my tune, though he wasn’t completely convinced of my joy.
Earlier, on joining the Battalion, I had been given Seven Section, with the
privilege of bringing it up to strength by choosing from the chaps who had come with me. Jeff, who
had got the news from the bush telegraph, accosted me as I left the office with my instructions.
“You’re a couple light in your section,” he’d said. “So me and Yorky would like to come with you.”
“Yorky?” I’d said appalled. “You and Yorky? Do you think I’m mad?”
“Come on, Corp.” he pleaded, “let’s come with you. I’ll always be in trouble with the other bastards.” (Though he called them ‘Bawstuds’).
“You’ll always be in trouble with me!”
Then with a seriousness that I found irresistible, he said, “I may be a rotten sod but when we’re in it, I promise I’ll always be there with you.”
And so he was.