Peals for Robert Jesson 1895-1916
Last Wednesday the bellringers of St Andrew’s Parish Church rang a quarter peal in memory of Robert Weston Jesson, exactly 100 years after his death in World War One on January 20, 1916 -the day after receiving a medal for bravery.
The ringers pictured above (from left) are: Clarke Walters, Julian Edgson, Ann Jackson, Christine Homer, Diana Butcher, John Goddard, Des Jones and John Slack.
Corporal Jesson became a ringer at St Andrew’s in 1913 after moving to Rugby from his family home in East Langton, Leicestershire where he had taken up the hobby.
Before the war he was working at the BTH Wiring Department in Rugby, and when he joined the Territorial ‘Rugby Battery’ at the age of 18, on June 19, 1913 he gave his address as Bath Street.
He became a Gunner in the 5th Warwickshire Howitzer ‘Rugby’ Battery, which was part of the 4th South Midland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Corporal Jesson received the DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal) ‘For conspicuous gallantry and good work, in laying and maintaining telephone wires, often under heavy fire’ just the day before he died, aged 21.
A letter to his parents, from his commanding officer Major Cecil P Nickalls, said: “…I have lost one who had endeared himself to me by all those qualities which stamp a man as a man - upright, brave, generous and chivalrous. He was in charge of the telephone system of the Battery. This duty called for much very hard work; he was always ready at any hour of the day or night to go out cheerfully at great personal risk to attend to any defect or breakage of the telephone wires, and his fearless devotion to duty set a grand example to all ranks.”
Corporal Jesson was serving in France when he was killed, walking through a small orchard on his way back from Roll Call to his billet at 7am, when a sniper’s stray bullet hit him in the temple and he died instantly.
A letter from Cpl F Shepherd said: “Bob had none but friends in the whole brigade, everyone loved him he was so cheerful and kind-hearted. We buried him yesterday at about 4.30 in a little cemetery not far behind the firing line and quite close to where he fell.
“ It seems so hard that in the hour of his great honour and distinction he has been taken from us.”