Military History

The Highest Honour #24 | Clarence Jeffries | Joergen Jensen

By The Cove June 27, 2021


Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries VC (1894 - 1917, 22yo)

Clarence Jeffries was born on 26 October 1894 at Wallsend, NSW. At the completion of schooling he was an apprentice engineer. His military career began in the militia when he was just 14 years old.

In 1912, under the compulsory training scheme, he joined the 14th Hunter River Regiment as a Private and was promoted to Sergeant only one year later. In August 1914 he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and in July 1915 was promoted to Lieutenant. On 01 February 1916 he joined the 34th Battalion, AIF as a Second Lieutenant and three months later embarked for England. In August he was once again promoted to Lieutenant and in November the battalion moved to the Western Front where he spent the early months of 1917 in the Armentières sector in France. Highly respected by those serving under him and by his superiors, his first major action was at Messines where, on 09 June 1917, he was wounded in the thigh while leading a reconnaissance patrol. Promoted to Captain on 26 June 1917, Jeffries rejoined his unit in September.

On 12 October 1917, in the attack on Passchendaele during the third phase of the battle of Ypres, his company's advance towards its first objective was held up by two pill-boxes. He organised and led a bombing party which eliminated the obstacle and captured thirty-five prisoners and four machine-guns. He then led his company forward, under an extremely heavy enemy artillery barrage and enfilade machine-gun fire, to the objective. Later that morning the Battalion's advance to its second objective was delayed by a machine-gun post. Jeffries led another party to capture the position, enabling the advance to continue, but was killed during the operation. For his service that day he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, for 'most conspicuous bravery in attack'.

Jeffries was buried near Passchendaele, in the Tyne Cot military cemetery and on his mother's death, his Victoria Cross was presented to the Christ Church Cathedral in Newcastle.

 

Private Joergen Christian Jensen VC (1891 - 1922, 31yo)

Joergen Jensen was born 15 January 1891 in Loegstoer, Denmark and migrated to Australia in March 1909. Upon his arrival he worked as a labourer in South Australia and was naturalised on 07 September 1914 in Adelaide. Jensen enlisted as a Private in the AIF on 23 March 1915 and was posted to the 6th Reinforcements for the 10th Battalion where he joined his unit at Gallipoli in August 1915.

The Battalion left the peninsula on 22 November 1915 for a rest period at Lemnos and did not return before the evacuation. Jensen moved from Egypt to France in March 1916. On 14 August 1916 he was wounded in action and after recovering was transferred to the 50th Battalion on 28 January 1917.

Jensen won the Victoria Cross for 'most conspicuous bravery and initiative' on 02 April 1917 at Noreuil, one of the 'outpost villages' of the Hindenburg line. During its long advance towards the village, the 50th Battalion came under enfilade fire from a German forward machine-gun post which caused heavy casualties. Jensen, covered by another Private, rushed the post with bombs. After eliminating the machine-gun crew with one of his bombs he threatened to throw the others and bluffed the German position into surrendering, taking about forty prisoners. Later that day, after a fierce fight, Noreuil was captured.

In June 1917, the 50th Battalion was involved in the Battle of Messines; the following month, Jensen, now a Corporal, was posted to a training unit in the United Kingdom. He returned to his battalion in October, and was promoted to temporary Sergeant in November 1917. In March 1918, the German spring offensive was launched, and Jensen fought with his battalion at Dernancourt and Villers-Bretonneux. Shortly after the fighting at Villers-Bretonneux, Jensen was on patrol when he received a severe head wound, and was evacuated to the United Kingdom, then repatriated to Australia, where he was discharged in Adelaide at the end of the war. He worked as a marine store dealer and married in 1921, but died the following year, having never fully recovered from his war wounds.


Portrait

Biography

The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.



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