Private Jason Oliver Clafton, 54629, Durham Light Infantry, 25th Battalion
Jason Oliver Clafton was born in 1875 in Ossett, the son of Samuel Clafton (born 1839 in Leeds) and Isabella (nee Vickers) who had married in late 1874 in Ossett. In 1881, Jason is living with his mother and a younger brother George Clafton (3) at the home of his widowed grandmother, 45 year-old Emma Vickers and her family of five children, at Radley Street, Ossett. There was no sign of father Samuel Clafton in 1881.
In 1911 he was a 35 year-old hewer in a coal mine. He was the father of five children, all under the age of 11 years of age and was living in a three-roomed house (with two bedrooms) at 84, Springstone Avenue, Ossett with his wife Amelia (nee Charlesworth) whom he had married in 1896.
Some of Jason Clafton's service record has survived and the word "dead" is written across the first page. He was 40 years and 11 months old when he enlisted at Pontefract in mid-1916. The age of conscription had been increased by then to include married men up to the age of 41 years. At that time, his occupation is recorded as "layer-on" and he was just 5ft 5½" tall. Jason Clafton enlisted with the 25th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry.
Sadly, Jason Oliver Clafton was never to get the chance to fight for his country and his service record refers to him suffering from capillary bronchitis, no doubt exacerbated by his work as a coal miner. It is probably an indication of how desperate the Army had become to recruit men by conscription in 1916 after the massive losses at battles like the Somme that men like Jason Clafton were even considered. His medical examination at enlistment on the 2nd August 1916 reveals that he was suffering from asthma. By 1917, Private Clafton was suffering from acute bronchitis and he died on the 14th February 1917 at Lichfield, Staffs, having been posted to a Training Division.
The "Ossett Observer" 1 had this short obituary:
"The death has occurred this week, at a military training camp in the Midlands, of Private Jason Oliver Clafton, of the Durham Light Infantry, an Ossett man. Deceased, who was 41 years of age, and married, was called up for military duties about six months ago. His home address is in Springstone-avenue, and at the time he joined up he was employed at Hepworth's mill, Healey-road. Owing to indifferent health, he had been engaged a good deal of the time on fatigue duty, and entered hospital in the early part of the week. His death was certified as due to chronic bronchitis and asthma.
A daughter of the deceased, eight years of age, died about a fortnight ago, and a few years ago another child was accidentally killed.
The funeral will take place at Holy Trinity Churchyard this (Saturday) afternoon, probably with military honours."
His widow, Amelia was awarded a war pension of 18s 9d a week for her and one child, from the 20th August 1917. It is hard to appreciate how difficult life must have been for her, bringing up several small children without a father and breadwinner. Tragically, Amelia Clafton also died soon after the death of her husband and two of her children in the summer of 1919 aged just 42 years.
Jason Oliver Clafton was buried in the graveyard at Holy Trinity Church2 in Ossett at grave reference 7.14 on the Saturday after his death. There is no record of any medal award.
1. "Ossett Observer", 21st April 1917