SAPPER FREDERICK WILLIAM JEEVES
1ST AUGUST 1918 AGE 30
BURIED: VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MILITARY CEMETERY, FRANCE
Sapper Jeeves' wife chose his inscription. She took the words from a letter he had written from the front, which she quoted when she filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia:
"I would rather lie with a little wooden cross above my head, than be one of those who could have gone and did not."
The words inspired his brother-in-law, Clarence Herbert Cazaly, to write 'In Memoriam Sapper Frederick Jeeves'. The poem, published in the Lilydale Express on 25 October 1918, begins with the same sentiment:
"I would rather lie," he said,
"With wooden cross above my head,
Than be one who could have gone
And who did not." By the Somme
In a soldier's grave he lies,
Dust of France upon his eyes,
Robe of honour on his heart;
And in token of his part,
A wooden cross above his head,
Calm amid the Austral dead,
By the waters of the Somme,
On the road to Amiens.
Jeeves, a motor mechanic and garage proprietor from Croydon, Lilydale, Victoria, joined up on 1 February 1916 and embarked for Europe on 28 July that year. His inscription has to be seen against the background of Australian resistance to the introduction of conscription. He served with the 6th Field Company Australian Engineers and was killed on 1 August 1918, as reported in the War Diary:
No.4 Section, while building S.P. Shelters for 22nd Battalion in railway cutting at O.28.c.3.8. came in for a heavy "area shoot", Sapper F.W.Jeeves being killed and Sapper H.Q. Boutchard wounded.
Jeeve's platoon commander, Lieutenant Carleton, described him as, "Absolutely one of the very best".