Commemorated on Christleton War Memorial and Church Memorial
Christleton Institute and on the War Memorial at Whitchurch, Shropshire
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.
Showing Private P. H. Jones
Shortly after his death his parents received a letter from his Commanding Officer in which he wrote: