1887-???? Missing – but not in action.

Among our family mysteries perhaps the most puzzling is the disappearance of David Victor Zeffertt. David was the third child of Jacob Zeffertt and his wife Yetta Hyams.

This is his story as told to us by his nephew Jacob Myer ‘Sailor Jack’ Zeffert now of Fremantle, son of William Zeffertt and cousin Rosie Zeffertt. When David was a lad of about 16 he ran away from home and joined the army. His mother soon discovered where he was stationed (one of the advantages of our unusual name is that it is easy to trace), so she went to the camp and after a few words with his C.O., grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and dragged him home.

However the prospect of working in his father’s clothing business in Liverpool didn’t appeal because a few months later he again ran away and rejoined the army. This time he made sure there was no ignominious return to the quiet life, he enlisted under the name John Owen and joined the Welsh Guards.

Unfortunately there is no record of his activities during his period of service (he did not share his cousin Harry Mortimer Zeffertt’s talent for self publicity) but they must have satisfied David’s taste for adventure because he willingly returned to family life on completion of his tour of duty.

Step forward the Kaiser. One of the conditions of voluntary service was that you were placed in the reserves on demobilisation and David was drafted immediately on the outbreak of ‘The Great War’ and posted to France. After a few months he was wounded and lost the use of one arm, which led to his discharge.

Once again it seems he was content to lead the quiet life working in his father’s business and pursuing his hobby of photography until his father died the year after the end of the war.

During the 1920s there were great prospects for a new life in Australia (just as there were after the Second World War) and the whole family decided to emigrate, even the married ones with families of their own. In 1926 David had booked his passage, along with William, Rosie and the young Jack. As the time for departure approached and the cry of ‘All ashore that’s going ashore’ rang out, there was still no sign of David. The ship sailed without him.

The family in Australia made repeated enquiries to try to solve the mystery. The families in Liverpool tried every way they could without success – Jacob’s brother Simon Zeffertt and Rosie’s brother Reuben Zeffert had remained there.

So what happened to David Victor Zeffertt? Did he have a heart attack and die? Was he attacked by criminals? Did he meet the love of his life and decide to settle down with her? Who knows? If you know, please tell us!

Michael Zeffertt