Siblings’ sacrifice remembered with a bench in St Ives

The bench is unveiled by St Ives Mayor Brian Luter, with, left, Ivor and Jeff's niece Miss Sheila Da

The bench is unveiled by St Ives Mayor Brian Luter, with, left, Ivor and Jeff's niece Miss Sheila Day. - Credit: Archant

Two brothers who died in the First World War have been commemorated with a memorial bench in Broad Leas Cemetery, St Ives. One is buried there. The other has no grave but the sea.

Dennis Ivor Day, known as Ivor, was wounded in the head by a German sniper at Vermelles, France, in September 1915.

His parents crossed The Channel to Boulogne but he never regained consciousness. He died 10 days later, aged 23. His body was brought home and an impressive funeral was held at the family home, Rheola, now a care home. Before the start, 3,000 people had gathered there. The shops in the town closed for an hour in respect.

His younger brother, Miles Jeffrey, known as Jeff, was a pilot killed in action in February 1918, aged 21, two weeks after being awarded the DSC “for great skill and bravery as a fighting pilot” shown in action near Dunkirk.

He was shot down by six German aircraft which he attacked single-handed, out to sea. He had out-distanced his flight, it’s thought because he wanted to break the enemy formation and make it easier for the pilots behind him to attack. His plane burst into flames. He nose-dived, flattened out and landed on the water. He climbed out of his machine and waved his fellow-pilots back to their base. That was the last they saw of him.

The brothers were part of the Day family, which founded the company of solicitors now known as Leeds Day. Ivor and his father George were both graduates of St John’s Cambridge and both keen rowers.

Ivor got his blue for rowing in the winning Cambridge team in 1914, the last University Boat Race before the event was suspended during the war.

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Jeffrey was a war poet. His work was published in 1919 as Poems and Rhymes under the spelling Jeffery Day. He wrote about his love of flying and his love of nature, particularly the river and Fen landscape. He is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Representing the family at the ceremony last Tuesday (March 24) was Sheila Day, niece of Ivor and Jeff. Her father, George, the oldest of the three brothers, also fought in France and Belgium and was wounded just before the Armistice. However, he survived and as well as working as solicitor in the family firm was Town Clerk of St Ives. He died in 1974.

Miss Day said: “My Uncle Ivor and Uncle Jeff were always remembered and I am glad that they are remembered still.”