The very fine Great War Battle of Jutland Distinguished Service Medal group awarded to Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class later Engineer Commander R.G. Jefferson, Royal Navy, who was decorated for his service aboard the battleship H.M.S Benbow on 31st May 1916, before being granted a commission in August 1917, and probably served in the Baltic in 1919 aboard H.M.S Dauntless, he died in service in 1938.
Group of 5: Distinguished Service Medal, GVR bust; (271692. R.G. JEFFERSON. E.R.A.2CL. H.M.S. BENBOW. 31 MAY.-1 JUNE 1916.); 1914-1915 Star; (271592. R.G. JEFFERSON. E.R.A.3., R.N.); British War Medal and Victory Medal; (MTE. R.G. JEFFERSON. R.N.); Coronation Medal 1937.
Condition: Damage to court-mounting, but medals Good Very Fine.
Ronald Glinn Jefferson was born on 16th December 1888 in Plympton, Devon, and joined the Royal Navy straight from the Ryder’s School in Devonport as a Boy Artificer (Devonport No.271692) with Indus II from 7th July 1906, before being posted to the training establishment Fisgard from 27th April 1906, being then rated as an Engine Room Artificer 5th Class on 1st July 1908.
Jefferson was then posted aboard the armoured cruiser H.M.S Cornwall from 25th August 1908, and then joined the battleship H.M.S Commonwealth from 18th September 1908, and then saw service with the Channel Fleet and the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet, being appointed Acting Engine Room Artificer 4th Class on 25th May 1909, and promoted to Engine Room Artificer 4th Class on 4th October 1910.
Posted to Vivid II from 8th December 1910, he then joined the battleship H.M.S Mars from 4th November 1911, followed by the battleship H.M.S Majestic from 2nd January 1912, and saw service with the Home Fleet. Posted back to Vivid II from 29th April 1912, Jefferson then joined the battleship H.M.S Colossus from 2nd May 1912, and was promoted to Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class on 24th May 1912, before being posted to Vivid II from 25th November 1913.
Jefferson joined the battleship H.M.S Benbow shortly after the outbreak of the Great War on 7th October 1914, and was part of her first crew on completion. On 1 December, Benbow and her sister ship HMSEmperor of India arrived at the 4th Battle Squadron to begin working up, before being pronounced fit for service with the fleet on 10 December. During this period, the rearmost 6-inch guns were removed from the four Iron Duke-class ships and their casemates were sealed off, as they were too low in the hull and permitted water to continually enter the ship. On the 10th she replaced HMSDreadnought as the flagship of the 4th Squadron. On 23 and 24 December, the 4th and 2nd Squadrons conducted gunnery practice north of the Hebrides. The following day, the entire fleet sortied for a sweep in the North Sea, which concluded on 27 December; this was Benbow's first fleet operation.
Another round of gunnery drills followed on 10–13 January 1915 west of the Orkneys and Shetlands, this time with the entire fleet. On the evening of 23 January, the bulk of the Grand Fleet sailed in support of Beatty's Battlecruiser Fleet, but the main fleet did not become engaged in the Battle of Dogger Bank that took place the following day. On 7–10 March, the Grand Fleet conducted a sweep in the northern North Sea, during which it conducted training manoeuvres. Another such cruise took place on 16–19 March. On 11 April, the Grand Fleet conducted a patrol in the central North Sea and returned to port on 14 April; another patrol in the area took place on 17–19 April, followed by gunnery drills off the Shetlands on 20–21 April. The Grand Fleet conducted a sweep into the central North Sea on 17–19 May without encountering any German vessels. In mid-June, the fleet conducted another round of gunnery training. On 2–5 September, the fleet went on another cruise in the northern end of the North Sea and conducted gunnery drills. Throughout the rest of the month, the Grand Fleet conducted numerous training exercises. On 13 October the majority of the fleet conducted another sweep into the North Sea, returning to port on the 15th. On 2–5 November, Benbow participated in another fleet training operation west of the Orkneys. Another such cruise took place on 1–4 December..
Benbow was occupied with the typical routine of gunnery drills and squadron exercises in January. The fleet departed for a cruise in the North Sea on 26 February; Jellicoe had intended to use the Harwich Force to sweep the Heligoland Bight, but bad weather prevented operations in the southern North Sea. As a result, the operation was confined to the northern end of the sea. On the night of 25 March, Benbow and the rest of the fleet sailed from Scapa Flow to support the Battlecruiser Fleet and other light forces that raided the German zeppelin base at Tondern. By the time the Grand Fleet approached the area on 26 March, the British and German forces had already disengaged and a severe gale threatened the light craft. Iron Duke, the fleet flagship, guided the destroyers back to Scapa while Benbow and the rest of the fleet retired independently. On 21 April, the Grand Fleet conducted a demonstration off Horns Reef to distract the Germans while the Russian Navy relaid its defensive minefields in the Baltic Sea. The fleet returned to Scapa Flow on 24 April and refuelled before proceeding south in response to intelligence reports that the Germans were about to launch a raid on Lowestoft. The Grand Fleet did not arrive in the area until after the German High Seas Fleet had withdrawn, however. On 2–4 May, the fleet conducted another demonstration off Horns Reef to keep German attention focused on the North Sea.
In an attempt to lure out and destroy a portion of the Grand Fleet, the High Seas Fleet with sixteen dreadnoughts, six pre-dreadnoughts, six light cruisers and thirty-one torpedo boats commanded by Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer, departed the Jade early on the morning of 31 May. The fleet sailed in concert with Rear Admiral Franz von Hipper's five battlecruisers and supporting cruisers and torpedo boats. The Royal Navy's Room 40 had intercepted and decrypted German radio traffic containing plans of the operation. The Admiralty ordered the Grand Fleet, at that time consisting of twenty-eight dreadnoughts and nine battlecruisers, to sortie the night before to cut off and destroy the High Seas Fleet. At the time of the battle, the ship's commander was Captain Henry Wise Parker, and she was the flagship of Vice Admiral Doveton Sturdee. She was stationed toward the center of the British line. The initial action was fought primarily by the British and German battlecruiser formations in the afternoon, but by 18:00, the Grand Fleet approached the scene.
At about 18:15, Jellicoe gave the order to turn and deploy the fleet for action. At 18:30, Benbow opened fire, but her gunners were frequently hampered by poor visibility; her two forward turrets fired only six two-gun salvos over the course of the next ten minutes without any success. Shortly thereafter, German torpedo boats attempted to rescue the crew from the light cruiser SMSWiesbaden, which had been disabled between the opposing fleets, though they appeared to the British to be launching an attack against the Grand Fleet. Benbow and several other battleships opened fire with their secondary batteries, starting at 19:09. Despite the fusillade from eight battleships, none of the torpedo boats were hit, though they were forced to abandon Wiesbaden. The ship fired six salvos from her main battery between 19:17 and 19:25, the first from two of her forward guns to confirm the range, and then four 5-gun and one 4-gun salvo in rapid succession. The gunners incorrectly claimed to have hit the battlecruiser SMSDerfflinger. At around that time, Benbow and three other battleships opened fire with their secondary guns on a group of torpedo boats that were launching an attack on the British line. The vessels made four hits, but in the confusion, credit for the hits cannot be given.
Following the German torpedo boat attack, the High Seas Fleet disengaged, and Benbow and the rest of the Grand Fleet saw no further significant action in the battle. This was, in part, due to poor communication between Jellicoe and his subordinates over the exact location and course of the German fleet; without this information, Jellicoe could not bring his fleet to action. Benbow fired briefly at a group of torpedo boats at about 21:10, with a salvo of 6-inch shells and a single 13.5-inch round. At 21:30, the Grand Fleet began to reorganise into its nighttime cruising formation. Early on the morning of 1 June, the Grand Fleet combed the area, looking for damaged German ships, but after spending several hours searching, they found none. In the course of the battle, Benbow had fired forty 13.5-inch armour-piercing, capped shells and sixty 6-inch rounds.
Jefferson who had been promoted to Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class on 23rd May 1916, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal ‘for services rendered in the action in the North Sea 31 May – 1 June 16’ in the London Gazette on 15th September 1916. Remaining with Benbow, he was promoted to Chief Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class on 6th September 1916. Upon returning to port after Jutland, Benbow was relieved as the squadron flagship, thereafter serving as a private ship. In July, the ship received additional deck armour, primarily over the ammunition magazines. The work was completed by August. On 18 August, the Germans again sortied, this time to bombard Sunderland; Scheer again hoped to draw out Beatty's battlecruisers and destroy them. British signals intelligence decrypted German wireless transmissions, allowing Jellicoe enough time to deploy the Grand Fleet in an attempt to engage in a decisive battle. Both sides withdrew, however, after their opponents' submarines inflicted losses: the British cruisers Nottingham and Falmouth were both torpedoed and sunk by German U-boats, and the German battleship SMSWestfalen was damaged by the British submarine E23. After returning to port, Jellicoe issued an order that prohibited risking the fleet in the southern half of the North Sea due to the overwhelming risk from mines and U-boats.
Jefferson was put forward for a Warrant Officer’s Commission as an Acting Mate in the Engineering Branch on 6th August 1917, and then finished his wartime service with the Type base ship Calliope and the light cruiser H.M.S Dauntless which on being launched just after the end of the war, in 1919 was assigned to the Baltic for service against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War. Commissioned as an Engineer Lieutenant on 6th August 1919, he was then promoted to Engineer Lieutenant Commander on 6th August 1927, his duties included being the senior lecturing officer at the mechanical training establishment in Devonport, and those of engineer officer to the destroyer flotilla leader H.M.S Valhalla. Promoted to Engineer Commander on 30th June 1931, he was appointed the assistant to the Admiralty engineer overseer in Manchester, to whom he was responsible for the inspection of all Admiralty contract work in the Lancashire area. Jefferson carried out inspections and reported on various engineering firms in the district in connection with he desirability of placing them on the Admiralty contract list.
In 1932 Jefferson who was elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Naval Engineers, and left for China as engineer commander to the 6th Destroyer Flotilla aboard the destroyer leader H.M.S Keppel and returned home in 1935. Jefferson took a course of study in electrical engineering at Portsmouth, and later joined the Reserve Fleet, serving on the aircraft carrier H.M.S Eagle at Devonport Dockyard.
In 1937 Jefferson is joined the light cruiser H.M.S Colombo, and is confirmed as having been awarded the Coronation Medal 1937 as an Engineer Commander, before serving with the light cruiser H.M.S Ceres with the Reserve Fleet at Devonport, but then died in service on 4th November 1938, aged 50.