15-21 June 1915: Deaths of Council Staff and a Putney Teacher Joins Up

The meeting of Wandsworth Borough Council on the evening of 16th June had to deal with what course of action to take in the event of staff being killed whilst on active service.  Three deaths had been officially reported to them so far, these were listed as Private William George Daborn (2nd class clerk, Rating Department), Sergeant F Beard (store-keeper, Tooting Depot) and E Smith AB (road sweeper).  Sergeant Frederick Beard was with the 24th County of London Regiment, Private Daborn with the 23rd County of London Regiment and E Smith was an Able Seaman.  With a name like Smith it’s obviously difficult to find more information about him, but he may well have been this man as the date of his death fits.  The Council decided that on the notification of each death they would pass a resolution of Condolence to the families and appreciation of the service of the men.  It was also decided that dependants of employees killed whilst on active service would continue to receive allowances from the Council for 26 weeks.

Advice received from the Local Government Board and discussed at the meeting was that the Council should avoid appointing new members of staff whilst the war was ongoing.  Instead they should try to re-employ retired staff, or those who weren’t eligible to join the Army.  The meeting noted that Wandsworth Council was already doing this, and further recommended that heads of departments should be given the authority to fill vacancies by hiring women.  Concerns over how to fill vacancies presumably tied in to the fact that the Council was very much encouraging local recruitment, the battalion correspondence file contains a list – produced on 21st June – of staff in the Borough Engineer’s department who were apparently eligible for military service.  One hundred members of staff were listed, with approximate age and how they were employed, with notes including whether or not they had already been rejected for military service or not – see the images below.

 List of WBC staffList of WBC staff detail

Elsewhere in the borough, an entry in the school log book for Putney St Mary’s school on 15th June records that Frank Jefcoate, a student teacher who had been absent at teacher training college, would not be returning to school as he had recently gained a commission.  Jefcoate later transferred to the Royal Air Force and was killed in a flying accident in Egypt in February 1919 (the log book also records this), having been mentioned in Dispatches and awarded an MBE.

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2 thoughts on “15-21 June 1915: Deaths of Council Staff and a Putney Teacher Joins Up

  1. The service record of Z/454 Edward William Smith can be found in ADM 339/2/4294. There are a few things taht don’t quite fit with it being the right man: the only address given, as both his and that of his next of kin, is 80 Thorold Road, Ilford; and the record indicates that the Admiralty only received a report that he had been wounded (on or about 4-6 June) on 19 June, and this was only updated to wounded and missing on 1 August 1915. However, it’s possible the notification came via less official means. Note that he was serving with the Royal Naval Division, as part of the Howe Battalion, this means he was actually serving as infantry. His record further indicates that he had actually been rated as Leading Seaman on 28 April 1915, and that he had previously served in the RNVR for four years from 25 January 1906 – I can’t find the service record for this earlier period of service though. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious alternative who fits better however. The date of wounding indicates taht it happened during the Third Battle of Krithia.

    Jefocate’s RAF record can be found as AIR 76/255/24 I’d expect to find an earlier army record too in WO 339 or WO 374, but can’t trace one. He appears to served mainly in administrative and training positions (perhaps unsurprisingly due to his background), and it appears his Mention in Despatches and OBE were for the period he was basically in charge of managing all postings within the RFC and then RAF within the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. His death was the result of an accident, though no details are given within the record.

    • Thanks for the further information. We couldn’t find an obvious alternative either, which is one of the difficulties of the name Smith and the minutes only giving initials, as opposed to full names. There’s only so much time we can spend on trying to work out further details, so it’s really helpful to have people who know more telling us things!

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