Photograph courtesy of Imperial War Museum: www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205302174
Killed in Action on Thursday, 31st August 1916, age 29.
Buried in Grave XIV. I. 10. at Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France.
'B' Company of 1st Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 91st Brigade of 7th Division.
Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Jones, of Wednesbury; husband of Sarah Ann Jones, of 15, Addenbrook St., Darlaston Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Darlaston, Resident: Unknown.
First landed France & Flanders, 5th October 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.
Commemorated on the Darlaston War Memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.
Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/549649/
2 Court 3 House, Leabrook Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Green (58, Bricklayer's Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Sarah (47, born Tipton), and recorded as a Visitor: Samuel C. Jones (14, Bricklayer's Labourer, born Tipton).
11 School Street, Wednesbury, Staffs
Samuel Charles Jones (24, Labourer at Gas Tube Works, born Ocker Hill, Tipton), his wife Sarah Ann (21, born Darlaston), and their 1 surviving child of 2: Samuel Charles (3, born Darlaston).
A further child, Beatrice Mary, was born to Sarah and Samuel on 10th November 1911.
Samuel was a member of the 'Grenade Section' of 'B' Company; he was a bomber and threw the Mills bombs (hand grenades) which may have been made in Tipton.
After his death, Samuel's outstanding army pay and allowances was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Sarah, in September 1917; this amounted to £1/9/4d (1 pounds, 9 shillings, and 4 pence). His War Gratuity of £8/10/0d (eight pounds and 10 shillings) was paid to his widow in October 1919, this allows a calculation that Samuel enlisted in August 1914.
The battle to wrest Delville Wood from German control began on 15th July 1916 and lasted 7 weeks until finally in British and Allied hands on 3rd September. Fighting was at times close-quarters and primitive, and both sides are believed to have suffered around 30,000 casualties during the period.
The area to the east of Delville Wood was known as ‘The Brewery, this was because of the trench names – Ale, Beer, Bitter, Pilsen, and Porter. It was here that the first tanks rolled into action on the 15th September 1916, heading towards Flers.
On the day of Samuel’s death the 1st South Staffords held Hop Alley and Ale Alley trenches with Delville Wood to their back, and were subjected to German artillery fire and counter attacks all day long.
Following extensive bombardment the Germans attacked the lines at 1pm but were forced back, resulting in another bombardment. When it lifted a second attack was made at 2pm, this, again, was beaten back. After yet another bombardment the Germans made their third attack of the day at 7pm, resulting in hand-to-hand fighting taking place. Again beaten back a final assault was made at 8pm and finally the survivors of South Staffs were forced to retire into Delville Wood.
The battalion had 265 casualties recorded for 31st August; ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’ shows 1 officer and 51 Other Ranks killed on 31st August. During this furious action, Samuel Jones was killed; his body remained on the battlefield until clearance was done some time later when he was re-interred in Delville Wood Cemetery.
If you require further detail of the action, then an extract from the 1st South Staffs War diary follows, when reading it note that Samuel was a bomber (grenade thrower) in ‘B’ Company.
The War Diary (in part) records:
“31 August 1916
The enemy kept up a continuous shellfire on our trenches. At 10am they put a heavy barrage on the edge of Delville Wood cutting “A” and “B” Companies communications. This was kept up to 1pm when the enemy commenced bombing up Ale Alley and Bitter Trench.
Lieutenant G.H. Jones-Mitton, commanding “B” Company, at once organised counter bombing parties and lined Hop Alley to snipe enemy. The attack was beaten off. Captain C.S. Burt, commanding “C” Company, came up and reinforced at 2pm.
Enemy’s barrage commenced again. Lieutenant G.H. Jones-Mitton sent up S.O.S. signal and our guns opened a curtain fire, but behind attacking Germans. Enemy were again driven back by bombing and sniping, the shortage of bombs was becoming very serious as only a few boxes reached the front line owing to the enemy’s barrage.
At 4pm the situation was in hand, the enemy had gained no ground and all was quiet. The enemy still had a barrage on our communication trenches, and all our store of bombs was exhausted.
At 4.30pm 5 enemy aeroplanes flew over our lines and dropped lights. Then an intense barrage was opened behind front line and Hop and Bitter Trench.
At 7pm fire lifted, more than 50% of effectives in “A”, “B” and “C” Companies were gone. The enemy then commenced to systematically bomb up Ale Alley and Bitter Trench. The enemy rushed the right of “B” Company’s line in junction of Bitter Trench and Hop Alley.
At 8pm the remains of “B” and “C” Companies were forced to vacate Hop Alley having no bombs and being pressed very hard by enemy’s bombing parties……The enemy’s bombing parties were finally driven back and we held a shallow trench in Delville Wood.”
My thanks to Graeme Clarke for his major contribution to this narrative.