Edward Jones (1881-1918)
8th Royal Berkshires
Born in Yardley in late 1881, Edward was the son of Herbert Jones and of Ellen Gunner. Edward had various jobs, including as a carriage lamp maker, as an insurance agent and as a rent collector, and then on the staff at B.S.A.
The family lived in Long Street when Edward was a young man. In 1908 he married Rosalind Gertrude Burton, and they moved, along with Rosalind’s mother, to 68, Kathleen Road. Daughter Irene was born in 1914.
As a married man with a family, Edward was not conscripted until early 1918. He joined the 8th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment on 3rd May 1918, by which time the Jones family lived in Lincoln Road, Olton. After training, Edward was sent to France in September.
The Battle of the Sambre, fought on 4th November 1918 in Northern France, was part of the Allies final push – the Germans were retreating further and further. The Allies needed to cross the Sambre canal and the flooded ground around it. There were substantial casualties, more than one thousand Allied dead in crossing the canal, under heavy fire, using temporary bridges. One of those who died was the poet Wilfred Owen. Four Victoria Crosses were awarded for the action.
The 8th Berkshires sustained many casualties as they tried to clear out German machine gun emplacements. Edward Jones was killed in action that day, aged 37. He had been in France for only two months, and the war was to end a week later.
Edward Jones is buried in Preux-au-Bois Communal Cemetery. The inscription on his grave reads: “THAT OTHERS MIGHT LIVE IN FREEDOM”.
Private Jones was also commemorated at Olton Congregational Church, since closed.