Mentioned in Despatches
Petty Officer Stoker
No. C/K 17091, HMS Curacoa, Royal Navy
Died as a result of an accident at sea on Friday 2 October 1942 (aged 49)
No known grave
Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent, England (Panel 61. 1)
Bangor and District War Memorial
Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s)
James Jamfrey was born in the townland of Coolnafranky, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone on 17 September 1893 and he was a son of Thomas Jeffers (later Jamfrey) from Omagh and Elizabeth Jamfrey (nee Cardwell) from Coalisland. They were married on 21 April 1887 in Brackaville Church of Ireland Church, Coalisland, Co. Tyrone. Before they moved to Cookstown, Thomas and Elizabeth Jeffers lived in Omagh and they changed their surname from Jeffers to Jamfrey.
Thomas Jamfrey worked as a railway porter and he and Elizabeth had eight children:
William (born 10 April 1888 in Campsie, Omagh))
May (born 18 April 1890 in Cooknafranky, Cookstown)
James (born 17 September 1893 in Cooknafranky, Cookstown)
Male child (born 26 March 1896 in Cooknafranky, Cookstown)
Sarah (born 9 April 1897 in Cooknafranky, Cookstown)
Ethel (born 11 September 1899 in Loy, Cookstown)
Margaret (born 14 August 1902 in Cooknafranky, Cookstown)
Elizabeth (born 24 September 1907 in Cooknafranky, Cookstown)
James Jamfrey and his brother William also worked as railway porters; William retained the surname Jeffers.
During the First World War Private William Jeffers (S/2127) served with the 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. He enlisted on 7 August 1914, went to France on 17 January 1915 and was wounded three times. He died on 2 November 1918 as a result of wounds received in action and was buried in St. Souplet British Cemetery, France (Grave I. C. 29). Born on 10 April 1888 and educated in Derryloran School, Cookstown, William Jeffers was 30 when he died.
James Jamfrey joined the Royal Navy and he was in uniform when he and Winifred Mary Owen were married in Chatham, Kent.
Their first child, Thomas Edward James (Eddie), was born in England in 1925.
Twins William (Billy) and Winifred (Winnie) were born on 5 September 1932 after the family had moved to Lurgan in County Armagh.
In 1936 James Jamfrey, his wife and their three children moved from Lurgan to Bangor and they lived at 53 Groomsport Road.
Two more children were born in Bangor, James on 17 September 1937 (his father’s 44th birthday) and Rosemary on 29 January 1939.
James Jamfrey’s five sisters, May, Sarah, Ethel, Margaret and Elizabeth – known locally as the Misses Jamfrey – lived at 17 Springfield Road, Bangor.
James Jamfrey left the Royal Navy after 23 years of service and he worked as a lorry driver in a quarry at Conlig. At the start of the Second World War he was called up from the Reserve and rejoined the Royal Navy. When his eldest son died in a road accident in Belfast, James was unable to get leave to attend the funeral. Thomas Edward James (Eddie) Jamfrey aged 15¾ was killed on 8 October 1940 after being struck by a lorry on Queen’s Road, Belfast on route to the train station on his way home from work. Since June 1939 Eddie had been serving his time as a sheet metal worker at Messrs Short and Harland in Belfast. Eddie Jamfrey was a choirboy in Bangor Abbey, and he was also a member of the Second (Parish) Scout Troop. Eddie Jamfrey was a King’s Scout and he was given Scout Honours at his funeral from 17 Springfield Road to Bangor Cemetery. Eddie was buried in his scout uniform.
When James Jamfrey was lost at sea on 2 October 1942 he was serving as a Petty Officer Stoker aboard HMS Curacoa. Built as a Ceres Class light cruiser in 1918 by the Pembroke Dockyard in Wales and Harland and Wolff in Belfast, HMS Curacoa was rearmed as an anti-aircraft cruiser at the beginning of the Second World War. Initially reported as missing in action, James Jamfrey’s body was never recovered and two weeks later, in November 1942, he was officially presumed dead. At the time, HMS Curacoa was escorting the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary, with more than 10,000 American troops on board, in a convoy from USA to Europe. Both ships were following evasive zigzagging courses about 60 kilometres north of the coast of Donegal when HMS Curacoa was struck amidships and cut in half by RMS Queen Mary. HMS Curacoa sank immediately, and because of the risk of U-Boat attack, RMS Queen Mary steamed on. Some time later, the Convoy’s lead escort ship returned to the scene and less than 100 men from HMS Curacoa were rescued. More than 300 men died. The circumstances of the loss were not reported until after the war ended and a protracted case for compensation ended in 1949 with a final appeal to the House of Lords. Two-thirds of the blame for the loss was attributed to the Admiralty and one-third to Cunard White Star Line.
Petty Officer Stoker James Jamfrey had been Mentioned in Despatches in January 1942 and after his death some ten months later in October 1942, the Admiralty paid tribute to his outstanding service in a letter to his widow Winifred. James Jamfrey was 49 when he died, and he is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial and in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s).