Christleton Village History Group

Christleton Village Voices

Remembering our Forgotten Heroes 1914-18

Commemorated on Christleton War Memorial and Church Memorial
Christleton Institute and on the War Memorial at Whitchurch, Shropshire

Name:
Birth Place:
Residence:
Death Date:
Rank:
Death Location:
Enlistment Location:
Rank:
Regiment:
Battalion:
Number
Type of Casualty:
Theatre of War:
George Frederick Jones
Whitchurch, Shropshire
Whitchurch
1 July 1916
2nd Lieutenant
France & Flanders Hebuterne Military Cemetery. C6
Chester
Private
Cheshire Regiment
1/5th Battalion
3192
Died of wounds
Western European Theatre
George Frederick Jones was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire, in 1893, the fourth of seven surviving children of Samuel and Kate Jones1. Samuel Jones, a sawyer from Wem, married Kate Maddox, a railway carter’s daughter from Coalport, in 1884 and the couple settled in Wem. Their first child, named Samuel after his father, was born in 1885, followed by Henry in 1888. At the end of the decade the family moved to Whitchurch where Kate gave birth to her third child, Joseph, in 1891. The Census of that year shows Samuel, Kate and the three children living at Catteralls Lane in Broughall, a village two miles east of Whitchurch.

By 1911 the family were living at Smithy Cottages in Broughall. Seventeen-year-old George had also left home and was working as a footman for Constance Lingen Morris at her home in Oxon, some twenty miles south of Whitchurch. Mrs Morris was a wealthy widow who, despite living with just her daughter, employed nine domestic staff: a housekeeper, two lady’s maids, two housemaids, a kitchen maid, a butler, a footman (George Jones) and a hall boy. Mrs Morris died in February 1914, and George Jones was forced to find a new position.

He became a footman for Mrs Harriet Pitcairn Campbell at Christleton Hall in the village of Christleton, two miles south of Chester. Mrs Pitcairn Campbell was another wealthy widow who, according to the 1911 Census, employed no fewer than ten staff to look after her: a sick nurse, lady’s maid, three housemaids, cook, kitchen maid, scullery maid, groom and footman.

In 1914 George attended a recruitment held at the Boys’ School in Christleton on the evening of Wednesday 9th December 1914. The following Saturday the Cheshire Observer carried a report of the meeting which vividly captures the mood of the times:
Cheshire Observer 10th December, 1914
Captain Gosset gave an interesting address. He said there was a special appeal from the War Office for recruits for the new Welsh Division, the Special Reserve of the Cheshire Regiment and all the Irish regiments. Referring to what “that most gallant regiment, the Cheshires” – (applause) – have done during the war, he said that at the battle of Mons they stood the brunt of the whole of the Expeditionary Force2. Night after night he addressed audiences, sometimes of 150 people, and sometimes of over 2,000, and he saw what he called – and he said it perfectly straight – the loafer, the man who ought to do his duty but would not. There was no person in the world, he supposed, who was more keen on football, hockey, polo, cricket, billiards and any game than he was. He was as keen as mustard when he joined the army in ’95, yet the man who went in for those kind of sport at the present time he absolutely despised. The other man he despised was the man who stood outside the public house – the street loafer – waiting for somebody to pass who would give him a glass of beer. He must have more recruits from that district, and he was going to have them. He supposed they were aware that one stroke of the pen would bring in the Militia Ballot Act, which practically meant conscription. That would mean that we should be the laughing stock of the whole world. Lord Kitchener asked for 1,500,000 out of a total of 42,000,000, and we should get them without having to appeal to Parliament for the Militia Ballot Act. It would be a calamity, in his consideration, to have to ask Parliament to enforce that act. He appealed to them to come forward, and he felt certain his appeal would not be in vain. His friend, Sergeant Parry, who was wounded at the battle of Mons, had offered his services, and would take the names of the recruits at the end of the meeting. (Applause).
The following day George travelled to Chester where he enlisted as 3192 Private Jones in the 5th (Earl of Chester’s) Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment.
The 5th Cheshire Regiment
In 1914 the Cheshire Regiment consisted of two Regular battalions (1st and 2nd), one Special Reserve (3rd) and four Territorial battalions (4th, 5th, 6th and 7th). When war was declared, all Territorial troops received orders to mobilise. Many of them had just departed for their annual summer camp and were hurriedly recalled to the home base. Most Territorial units had a pre-arranged war station and the units moved quickly to take up their allotted places.
Thus on joining the Cheshire Regiment in December 1914, George Jones was posted initially to the 5th (Reserve) Battalion at Chester which shortly afterwards became the 2/5th Battalion. When the 2/5th Battalion moved to Cambridge in February 1915 it is likely that George remained at Chester and joined the newly-formed 3/5th Battalion. In early 1916, on completion of his training, he was posted to the 1/5th Battalion in France.

The 1/5th Cheshires in France
The 1/5th Cheshire Regiment arrived in France on 15 February 1915. The men worked on trenches and redoubts and dug a new fire trench on their old front at Maricourt. In the early weeks of 1916 the Battalion received fresh drafts of men from the 3/5th Battalion, and in one of these drafts was Private George Jones. George was assigned to No 5 Platoon of “B” Company under 2nd Lieutenant J. D. Salmon.

On 25 January 1916 orders were received that the 1/5th Cheshire Regiment had been appointed Pioneer Battalion to the 56th (London) Division which was in the process of being formed. On 2 February the Battalion left “The Barracks” and marched by stages to Hallencourt where, on 13th February, they joined their new Division. The 56th (London) Division. “C” Company awaited orders all day in the reserve trenches. One platoon was ordered to reinforce the London Scottish, but on reaching the German wire this order was countermanded by the officer on the spot in charge of the infantry and the men returned to the rest of the Company.

Of the two platoons of “B” Company that were detailed to fix name boards and direction boards in the captured trenches, one platoon went over the top but lost their officer and several men in No Man’s Land and were forced to return to their own lines. The other platoon was not required to go over and remained in the reserve trenches all day. The platoon that was to remove barricades on the Hébuterne-Bucquoy road succeeded in removing one barricade, but the German shell fire was so intense that the work had to be abandoned. No 5 Platoon under 2nd Lieutenant J D Salmon succeeded in blowing up the barricade on the Hébuterne-Gommecourt road with gun cotton (nitrocellulose) charges and threw their bridges across the trenches, thus achieving the tasks

The 56th Division had carried out every task demanded of them. They had captured the complete German front-line system and reached the Quadrilateral behind Gommecourt. But the failure of the 46th Division doomed the attack on Gommecourt to failure. The cost was enormous: the 56th Division suffered 4,314 casualties, making it the sixth worst-hit of the sixteen divisions used on the day. By contrast, the 46th Division lost 2,455 men, making it the least worst-hit of the full divisions used on the day. The 46th Division’s commander, Major General Stuart-Wortley, was subsequently sacked for his refusal to prosecute the advance.

According to the Battalion War Diary5, the 1/5th Cheshire’s suffered a total of 178 casualties on 1st July 1916, including 13 killed, 87 wounded, 77 missing and one died of wounds. The man who died of wounds was Private George Frederick Jones.

Panel on Christleton War Memorial

Shortly after his death his parents received a letter from his Commanding Officer in which he wrote:
It is with deepest regrets I write this letter to inform you of the death of your son, 3192, Pte George Frederick Jones. He died from wounds received from a shell which burst just beside him. It occurred about 8 a.m., July 1st, when there was a big action in progress. Your son was working with a small party bridging a trench under exceedingly heavy shell fire. He was very badly wounded, and owing to the very heavy fire could not be moved till night, when he was brought in, but died on the way back. One man in the platoon, Pte Holmes, remained with your son all day, which was an exceedingly brave act. It is needless for me to say that the loss of your son is felt by all ranks, especially by his own platoon, No 5. He was a splendid soldier, and did his duty until the last.
Cheshire Observer dated 29th July 1916
Research
David Cummings: Christleton Great War Voices Project
Alan Riches Hove, Sussex. (A relative of George Jones)
Museum of the Cheshire Regiment, The Castle Chester
Nigel Meyrick: Researcher
My image
George F. Jones | Christleton