Two local men died on 3rd May 1917 – 21-year-old Second Lieutenant George Cliffe Jenkins, 2nd/5th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment, and 27-year-old Private Tom Smith, 12th Company, Machine Gun Corps.
George Cliffe Jenkins was born on 18th May 1896 and baptised at St Michael’s Church, Coventry. He was the only son of parents George Edward, a surveyor, and Harriett Cliffe (née Newey), who had married in Aston in 1892. Cliffe was the maiden name of Harriett’s mother. George had two sisters – Doris Valentine (1893-1976) and Elsie Winifred (1899-1994).
By 1911, the family had moved to Hampton-in-Arden. George was educated at King Edward’s School, New Street, Birmingham and was serving his articles with an engineering firm when war broke out. He enlisted as a Private in the Royal Fusiliers and was promoted Sergeant whilst on active service, first seeing overseas service on 14th November 1915. He was wounded in 1916, and was gazetted Temporary Second Lieutenant with 2nd/5th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment in July 1916.
He was posted as missing on 3rd May 1917 and, in August 1918, it was announced that he was officially presumed to have been killed on that date. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on Hampton-in-Arden War Memorial.
Tom Smith was born in Beausale in 1890 and baptised at Hatton on 18th May 1890. He was the second of three sons of parents John (an agricultural labourer) and Emma (née Cox) who had married at Shustoke in 1883. His older brother, John, was born in 1884 and his younger brother, George, was born in 1895.
Tom became a vanman (defined in the Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921 as: “drives a horse-drawn van used for collection and delivery of small goods”). He volunteered for the Army, enlisting in Coventry on 11th December 1915, aged 25, giving his address as 58 Cromwell Street, Coventry. His parents were living in Waste Lane, Balsall Common.
He initially joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment but was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) in May 1916 before going overseas on 15th July 1916. He spent a brief spell in hospital in France in September 1916 before rejoining his company in October 1916 and serving on the front until his death. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on Berkswell War Memorial.
If you have any further information on either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977