John Hugh Jerwood (1889-1918)
Officer with 10th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, and Somerset Light Infantry
John Hugh Jerwood was born on 1 September 1889. He was the son of the Reverend Canon Thomas Frederick Jerwood and Mrs Jerwood, of Little Bowden Rectory, Market Harborough.
John was educated at Oakham School, Rutland, 1899-1908. He did well both academically and in the sporting arena, being Head Prefect, 1907-08, captain XI, and captain XV.
Going up to Cambridge in 1909, Jerwood served for two years in the Cambridge University Officer Training Corps. He was an alumnus of Jesus College, Cambridge where he rowed, stroking head of river (Lent) in 1910 and 1911, and head of river (May) in 1912. At Henley he rowed in the final heat of the Grand Challenge, 1910 and stroked in the Ladies’ Plate against Henley 1912. He graduated Bachelor of Arts, and became a schoolmaster at Winton House School in Winchester. However, at the time John attested, he was living at Staple Inn, London.
Jerwood was passed fit for service in the Territorial Force on 1 September 1914 and appointed to the 28th Battalion, the London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles), under the regimental number 1962. He joined for four years.
By the time the month of September was out, he was identified for a commission, leaving the Artists’ Rifles and joining the 10th Durham Light Infantry (10 DLI).
The MT423 form in Jerwood’s records indicates that he formally applied for a temporary commission on 16 November 1914, although the date of commission recorded in the London Gazette is 30 September 1914. His commission appeared in the London Gazette on 23 April 1915.
10 DLI was successively at Woking, Aldershot and Witley. Scanty provision of equipment (500 service rifles and packs for the battalion, which were gradually removed and replaced, in the case of rifles, with obsolete long rifles, either Long Lee-Enfields or Lee-Metfords) meant that they passed from man to man and made it hard for company officers to know who was responsible for which, making inspection difficult. This was largely rectified by mid-February.
Colonel Morant’s recollections for August-September 1914 (compiled retrospectively) notes Jerwood as amongst his best New Army officers. Jerwood, then a second lieutenant, was a judge at the 10 DLI sports at Aldershot on 29 March 1915. By May 1915 Jerwood was serving with ‘A’ Company, and accompanied the battalion abroad, travelling via Folkestone to Boulogne, on or about 21 May 1915.
The battalion underwent training in trench warfare under 46th (North Midland) Division in mid-June at Dranoutre. It then went into the trenches east of Ypres (Y Wood sector, near Bellewaarde) for its first frontline experience on 24 June. These were very battered trenches, only recently recaptured from the Germans, not fully reconstructed and very wet. At around this point Jerwood was promoted to lieutenant.
Whilst serving in this rank, Lieutenant Jerwood was wounded. He was admitted to 7th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne on 14 November 1915 suffering from gunshot wounds (a term applicable to any penetrating wound and possibly in this case down to shrapnel) to his right side, face and right arm. He appeared on the War Office daily casualty list for 15 November 1915. His next of kin (his father) was notified by telegram on 19 November 1915. He went to a convalescent home on 22 November and was discharged to duty on 10 December 1915. The 10th DLI War Diary, which describes him as Captain Jerwood, indicates that he was wounded, two other men killed, and that Lieutenant Kelham was suffering from shell shock. The battalion was in dugouts on the Yser Canal banks at the time, with one company in the Potijze defences.
By February 1916 Captain Jerwood had clearly returned to the front, and appears in the Talbot House, Poperinghe (Toc H) officers’ book for the 6th of that month.
Jerwood was promoted temporary captain on 20 April 1916, and gazetted on 26 May, although he had clearly been acting in the role for some months before.
In August 1916 Captain Jerwood was admitted with debility, to the 10th British Red Cross Hospital at Le Treport on the French coast. Once again the War Office notified Rev TF Jerwood. This is possibly when John returned to the UK. At this time the battalion was in action opposite Delville Wood, having gone into the line at Longueval on 12 August.
Certainly, Jerwood was home in September, presumably during a spell of leave after his sickness, as he married Cecilia Mary Herklots Jerwood in September 1916 at St Giles in The Fields, Holborn.
Captain Jerwood would probably have been back with the battalion for the Battle of Arras, but definitely saw action with 10 DLI during the Third Battle of Ypres. During the fighting on the Menin Road at Inverness Copse, he was involved in defending the north corner of the copse. Although wounded on 23 August 1917, he remained at duty.
There is a good account of the action in “The Durham Forces in the Field”:
“The other men from this post had joined their company which held on inside the copse north of the road. Here Captain Jerwood put up a stout defence, despite withdrawals upon the flanks, repulsing the German attacks by rifle-grenade, Lewis gun and rifle fire. At 3.30pm he had to withdraw to the extreme north-west corner owing to heavy casualties from our own guns. Second Lieutenant Dennison, leading his own platoon and some stragglers collected on the west edge of the copse, had held a defensive flank on Captain Jerwood’s left, and retired in conjunction with that officer after 24 of his 80 men had been killed by our own artillery.”
Jerwood’s Military Cross, for distinguished service, was gazetted on 18 October 1917. The citation stated “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He maintained his position, regardless of withdrawals on his right and left and of the fact that the enemy had penetrated the line on both his flanks. He displayed a coolness and fearlessness which inspired all ranks with confidence.”
He was gazetted acting major 9 January 1918, however it again appears that he had been acting in the role since the previous November.
Major Jerwood was killed in action on 21 March 1918, during the Battle of St Quentin. He was attached at the time to the 6th battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (SLI), 43rd Brigade, 14th (Light) Division (the same brigade and division as the now disbanded 10 DLI). The 6th battalion SLI had just returned to the line, apparently near Cherisy, at 11pm on 18 March. This was after ten days’ ‘rest’ in Montescourt, during which time the battalion furnished working parties most days to work on strongpoints. Whilst in the line it supplemented this by wiring and constructing new fire bays in the trench.
The German attack on the 21st was preceded by an intense bombardment commencing at 4.30am. The war diary reports that by 4.40am all signal communications were cut, later communication relying on pigeons, until between 10.35am and 11.10am one officer, six runners, and three signallers from battalion HQ determined to fight their way from strong point ‘Egypt’ to the Brigade HQ. One officer, two runners, and one signaller got through.
The war diary (compiled by the adjutant, Captain Frampton, from memory and records available) reckoned 20 officers and 540 men, those manning the forward positions, to have become casualties. The remnants of the battalion fell back to defend Jussy under the command of the 9th Scottish Rifles. Major Jerwood was almost certainly one of this number. His next of kin were first notified by telegram that he was missing (“Regret Major JH Jerwood MC Durham Light Infantry missing March twenty first no details known”). His death was first notified in a letter home from one of his brother officers intercepted by MI9c(2), that June. Major Jerwood is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial and at Oakham School, where his brother was chaplain.
According to a will made on 16 May 1917, his sole beneficiary and executrix was his wife Mary, with small suggested bequests to his brothers. His widow made an application for the remission of death duties. She was resident at 49 Owlstone Road, Cambridge. Mary was pregnant when her husband was killed. Their son, John Michael Jerwood, was born on 17 September 1918. He fought in the Second World War and also won the Military Cross. He went on to become a businessman and philanthropist, starting the Jerwood Foundation, still in existence today.
In November 1920, Mary married Major Arthur Wellesley L’Estrange Fawcett MC in Cambridge. Jerwood’s medals were issued to his widow in October 1922.
This information was derived from the officers’ service records, held at The National Archives, Kew, London: WO 339/22375
WO 374, transcriptions hosted by Forces War Records (in particular Leicestershire and Rutland, Soldiers Died 1914-1920), 10th DLI and 6th Somerset LI war diaries, https://www.jesus.cam.ac.uk/john-hugh-jerwood.
Birth date: 1-September-1889
Death date: 21-March-1918
Armed force/civilian: Army
Residence: Little Bowden Rectory, Market Harborough
Jesus College, Cambridge
Staple Inn, London EC
Education: Jesus College, Cambridge University
Employment: Schoolmaster, Winton House School, Winchester
Family: Father: Reverend Canon Thomas Frederick Jerwood
Mother: Mrs Dorothea Elizabeth Jerwood
Siblings: Catharine Maud, and Reverend F H Jerwood (Chaplain of Oakham School)
Wife: Cecilia Mary Jerwood (née Herklots)
Son: John Michael Jerwood MC
1-Sep-1914 Attested, private 28th Battalion, the London Regiment (Artists' Rifles)
30-Sep-1914 Commission, temporary second lieutenant, 10th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
20-Apr-1916 Promoted, temporary captain
18-Oct-1917 Military Cross (London Gazette)
9-Jan-1918 Gazetted acting major
Early 1918 Attached 6th (Service) Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
21-Mar-1918 Killed in action
Medal(s): 1915 Star
British War Medal
Memorial(s): Pozieres Memorial
Oakham School, Rutland
Contributed by AHJ, South Wales