Private 17331 Robert Jones

 Jones Robert AldridgeWM 96 401x600  Jones Robert AldridgeWM Panel 96 446x600
Aldridge War Memorial, and panel showing Robert's name.

Killed in Action on Saturday, 28th April 1917, age 34.
Commemorated on Bay 6 of Arras Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 6th Brigade of 2nd Division.
Formerly 17331, 7th Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment.

Husband of Mrs Florence Jones, Bates Buildings, Bank Row, Aldridge, Staffs.
Born: West Bromwich, Enlisted: Walsall, Resident: Aldridge.

First landed Balkans, 11th September 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1574868/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Robert Jones registered June quarter 1882 in West Bromwich.

1901 Census
10 Newton Street, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Thomas Jones (42, Coal Miner - Hewer, born West Bromwich), his wife Phoebe (41, born West Bromwich), and their 9 children: Robert (17, Coal Miner - Hewer, born West Bromwich), Thomas (14, Coal Miner - Hewer, born West Bromwich), William (12, born West Bromwich), Maud (10, born West Bromwich), Leonard (8, born West Bromwich), Alfred (7, born West Bromwich), Elsie (5, born West Bromwich), Harold (3, born West Bromwich) and Arthur (1, born West Bromwich).

Marriage of Robert Jones and Florence Edwards registered December quarter 1904 in Walsall.

1911 Census
Bates Buildings, Bank Row, Aldridge, Staffs.
Robert Jones (28, Coal Miner - Hewer, born Dudley Port), his wife Florence (30, born Aldridge) and their 4 children: Augusta May (5, born Aldridge), Mabel Lizzie (4, born Aldridge), Agnes Winifred (2, born Aldridge) and Albert Christopher (4 months, born Aldridge).
Two further children were born: Mary Rebecca born 23rd December 1912 and Frank Robert born 2nd November 1915.

Personal Data

The Tipton Library Memorial commemorates R. Jones; the 'Staffordshire Roll of Honour' for Tipton records Pte. R. Jones, South Staffs. The only R. Jones killed in the Great War serving with the South Staffs is this man, Private 17331 Robert Jones, 2nd Battalion South Staffs. He is recorded as born In West Bromwich and resident in Aldridge, but his 1911 Census records him as born Great Bridge.

After Robert's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/15/2d (5 pounds, 15 shillings and 2 pence); this was paid to his widow, Florence, in September 1917. His War Gratuity was £9/10/0d (9 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to Florence in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Robert had enlisted in approximately February 1915.

Florence was awarded a pension of £1/13/9d (1 pound, 13 shillings and 9 pence) per week for herself and her 5 children. A grant of £3/0/0d was paid to Florence on 25th June 1917. The pension in respect of Florence would have ceased in June quarter 1924 when she married Benjamin Jones, the pension in respect of her children would have continued until their 16th birthdays.

Action resulting in his death

Zero time fixed for 4.25 a.m. and Z day 28th. The 5th & 6th Brigades reached their 1st & 2nd objectives but were obliged to retire to the original positions owing to the Division on right (63rd) failing to reach its objectives. The British front was subjected to heavy and ceaseless fire all through the day. Our casualties were - Capt. W.A. SIMMONDS, 2/Lts. H. JOHNSON AND J.S. SMITH killed, Lt. T.H. SEARLES wounded, 2/Lts. C.W. BLOOMFIELD & R.S. O'CONNOR missing, and 186 other ranks killed, wounded and missing.

The following detail is from the excellent book "When the Whistle Blows" by Riddoch and Kemp on Sportsman's Battalion - the 17th Middlesex.
The Battle of Arras (1st Battle of the Scarpe) commenced on 9th April 1917, acting as a northern distraction to the Nivelle Offensive on the Aisne which was intended as a major French breakthrough. The British attack brought numerous successes including the capture of Vimy Ridge and the village of Monchy. By 15th April the advance had slowed, and Haig ordered a temporary halt so preparations could be made for the next series of attacks.
The objective for 1st Army (which included the 2nd South Staffs) for the 2nd Battle of the Scarpe (23rd -24th April) was simply the capture of Gavrelle. This was achieved and German counter-attacks were re-buffed, the line held and gains of 1 to 2 miles were made. Haig made plans for a major attack in May to encourage the French to continue their Aisne offensive. As a preliminary to this, an attack on 28th April was intended to get an improved starting line for May - the 2nd Division objective (which included the 2nd South Staffs) was the village of Oppy.
The attack by 6th Brigade of 2nd Division was to be carried out by 17th Middlesex and 13th Essex with 2nd South Staffs in close support, with 'C' & 'D' Companies of 2nd South Staffs acting as support for 17th Middlesex for carrying parties and mopping-up duties.
17th Middlesex were to take 3 successive objectives, following a creeping barrage. At each objective, the leading troops were to consolidate whilst the next wave of troops passed on to the next. The 1st objective was achieved without undue casualties, but the advance to the 2nd objective was held up by German resistance and units either side not advancing as quickly. The creeping barrage moved away faster than the 17th Middlesex could manage and local German counter-attacks ensued.
The Germans managed to drive between the 17th Middlesex and the 2nd Highland Light Infantry to their left, and to attack the 17th Middlesex (especially 'A' Company) from the flank and rear. The "moppers-up" - the 2nd South Staffs - had already been sent forward to strengthen the flanks, but in effect the 17th Middlesex were surrounded. The day had been disastrous for the 17th Middlesex and the companies of the 2nd South Staffs allocated to them. This attack was to be one element of what was to become known as the Battle of Arleux.

62 Other Ranks from the 2nd South Staffs were killed on 28th April, 5 of them from Tipton: Ernest Allen, Robert Jones, Frederick Mantle, William Perks and William Williams. All 5 Tipton men are commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

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