b. 18/08/1921 Ulverston, Cumbria. d. 04/09/1982 Bolton, Lancashire.
Francis Arthur Jefferson (1921-1982) was born at Sunderland Terrace, Ulverston, Lancashire on the 18th August 1921. He was the son of James Holmes Jefferson (1894-1961) and his wife Ethel May (nee Hayley). He enlisted into the army on the 19th February 1942 and was posted to no19 infantry Training Centre, Formby, Lancashire. He was posted to 1/4th Battalion on 30th June 1942.
He was appointed Lance Corporal on 14th August 1942, but relinquished the rank on admission to High Royds EMS Hospital, Menston, Yorkshire on 18th September 1942. He sailed for North Africa on 17th May 1943, arriving on the 27th. He was then transferred to the Lancashire Fusiliers on 14th June 1943 and posted to No. 13 Platoon, 2nd Battalion. He was then posted to Italy where he was appointed a Company Runner with ‘C’ Company.
On May 16th, 1944, during an attack on the Gustav Line, Monte Cassino, Italy, the leading company of Fusilier Jefferson’s battalion had to dig in without protection. The enemy counter-attacked opening fire at short range, and Fusilier Jefferson on his own initiative seized a PIAT gun and, running forward under a hail of bullets, fired on the leading tank. It burst into flames and its crew were killed. The fusilier then reloaded and went towards the second tank which withdrew before he could get within range. By this time, British tanks had arrived and the enemy counter-attack was smashed.
Jefferson was promoted to Lance Corporal the day after his VC action, and received a shrapnel wound to his shoulder on 21st June 1944. Evacuated to England by air, arriving on 26th August 1944 and was admitted to the military hospital at Catterick, Yorkshire. Whilst back in England, he attended his investiture with his parents at Buckingham Palace, where his medal was presented to him by King George VI. He was then posted to the Service Speakers Section, Ministry of Supply on 22nd September 1944 and sent on a Victory Bond Tour throughout the United Kingdom.
Following the tour, he was posted to 6th Infantry Holding Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers on 14th March 1945. He was discharged from the Army on 17th July 1946, and placed on the Class B Reserve. Frank re-enlisted with the “G” Corps of Infantry, Northamptonshire Regiment on 4th January 1950 in Peterborough, and was posted to 5th Battalion. He was soon placed back on Class W Reserve on 29th June 1951. Frank had married during the War, and had two children. He emigrated to the United States with his family in the mid-1950s to start a new life. Sadly, the marriage ended in divorce, and in April 1975, Frank returned home to Lancashire, suffering from ill health, and moved in with his widowed mother, Ethel in Luton Street, Bolton.
Sadly, the last six years of Frank’s life were a struggle, as he found life difficult back in England looking for employment, and his only sources of income was a supplementary benefit of £9.72 a week and his VC pension of £1.92. Although he had retained his British citizenship despite living in the USA, his insurance cards had not been stamped and therefore he could not claim unemployment benefit. He was tempted to sell his coveted VC (worth around £7,000 at the time), but couldn’t bear to part with it. Sadly, in 1982, his prized possession was stolen from his mother’s home, and to this day has never been recovered. Frank never recovered from this blow, and began to drink heavily and suffered from bouts of depression.
On 4th September 1982, just 200 yards away from his home, he was struck by a passing train, and despite being rushed to Bolton Infirmary, he passed away aged just 61. He was cremated at Overdale Crematorium, Bolton, and following his wishes, his ashes were scattered in the Memorial Gardens at Wellington Barracks, Bury, Lancashire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: STOLEN FROM HIS MOTHER’S HOUSE IN 1982. .
BURIAL PLACE: OVERDALE CREMATORIUM, BOLTON, LANCASHIRE.
ASHES SCATTERED IN MEMORIAL GARDEN AT WELLINGTON BARRACKS, BURY, LANCS.
Thomas Stewart – Jefferson Block, IBS Brecon, Wales.