Robert William Fairey Jesson

Date of birth: 17th June 1886
Place of birth: Southampton
Regiment: Wiltshire
Battalion: 5th
Rank / Service No: Major (acting Lieutenant-Colonel)
Died: 22nd February 1917, aged 30 years
Commemorated: Basra Memorial, Iraq


Robert was the second of 8 siblings born to Robert William and Annie Randall Jesson (nee Fairey), who married in Southampton in 1883.


Robert, a solicitor’s clerk, was born in Market Harborough in 1854; he died in Southampton on 16 March 1930.


It must be assumed that he became a full-blown solicitor, because he left an incredible £87417 11s 2d in his will (the equivalent of roughly £4million today !!), a lot of which was left to his second-born.


Annie had been born in Ryde in 1856 and she passed away in the Grosvenor Nursing Home in Southampton on 2 May 1928.

Interestingly, she left a mere £5172 10s 10d to two of her daughters.



Annie Maud   b. 1883 Southampton   d. ??   Married Ernest G. Hicks in Brentford in 1917. 

Beatrice Mary Weston   b. 20 February 1885 Southampton   d. 20 January 1947 St. Jude’s Nursing Home, Bitterne. Beatrice left £33322 2s 8d to her sister Christine.

Robert William Fairey

Alice Feary   b. 25 September 1887 Southampton   d. 1966 Christchurch   Married Rowland Eustace in Southampton in 1926.

Mabel Esther   b. 3 April 1889 Southampton   d. 1964 Coulsden   Married Edwin James Poole in Southampton in 1910.

Dora Courtness   b. 1890 Southampton   d. 1890 Southampton

Grace Kathleen   b. 15 December 1893 Southampton   d. March 1975 Fareham Married John H. Dibley in Southampton in 1920.

Christine Upward   b. 15 December 1893 Southampton   d. March 1975 Fareham !!


Robert was a sportsman of some renown; he played 14 matches for Hampshire C.C between 1907-1910 and played rugby for Rosslyn Park.

He was a solicitor’s clerk at Hepherd & Winstanley in Southampton and he joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps on 6 August 1914.



The 5th Wiltshire’s were amalgamated into the 13th (Western) Division in early 1915, at the same time as Robert was promoted to Captain.

The Division embarked at Avonmouth on 1st July 1915, destined for Gallipoli.


On 4th August, they disembarked at ANZAC Cove and were propelled directly into various actions against the Turkish Army.


On 9 August, Robert was injured but returned to his regiment in the October.

He had obviously not fully recovered because he was invalided home with shellshock (listed officially as “frostbite” ??) in December 1915.


In January 1916, the Wiltshires (amongst others) were evacuated to Egypt. This was simply because of the number of casualties suffered, through combat, disease or the harsh weather.

After a month in Egypt, the Division was deployed to Mesopotamia (Iraq) where further actions against the Turks were ongoing.


Almost immediately, the Battle of Kut Al Amara commenced. On 29th April 1916, one of the British army’s worst humiliations took place…..11800 British and Indian troops were forced to surrender to the Turks at Kut.


Robert returned to the war in Mesopotamia in July 1916, at aa time when the British were trying to formulate a plan to recapture Kut.


Changes in leadership ensued, and the area was recaptured in February 1917. On 22 February, Robert was killed by a Turkish sniper whilst in action outside Kut.


Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 4th October 2016


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