EDGAR CECIL JONES
This post was written by Linda Trim
Young man emigrates to Australia and joins the AIF to fight for his country.
Edgar Cecil Jones
Edgar Cecil Jones was the second child of William Henry Jones and Edith Mary Thomas. His family home changed a few times in his youth, but the family had strong connections to West Kirby.
William Henry Jones was born in Oswestry, Shropshire around 1860, but by 1861 his family was living in Liverpool, Lancashire. His mother, Mary, was from Cheshire and his father, John, from Oswestry, with his siblings being born in various places. It is probable his father, who was a joiner, moved to keep fully employed. William married Edith Mary Thomas on the 8th of June 1885 at St. Michael in the Hamlet, Toxteth, Lancashire. He gave his occupation as Cashier on the church records. William and Edith were to have six children. William Ernest (1886), Edgar Cecil (born 1st August 1888 and baptized in Tranmere on the 9th September that year), Herbert Henry (1895), Ruth Edith (1897), Eric Gilbert (1898) and Frederick Rupert (1900). Three children died while they were quite young; William Ernest in 1897, Eric Gilbert at 4 months old in 1898, and Herbert Henry in 1899. Edgar Cecil, the three sons that died young plus Edith and William are all remembered on a gravestone at St. Bridget’s. The family probably moved back to West Kirby after the war.
Edgar Cecil Jones family grave, St Bridget’s West Kirby
In 1898 Cecil (as he was known) and his family were living at Hydro Avenue in West Kirby, but based on the records it appears that they moved in and out of town more than once. Eric Gilbert was baptized at St. Bridget’s Church, West Kirby in March of 1898. In 1901 the family was living at 34 Alderley Road, Hoylake but by the 1911 census Cecil’s family had moved to Birkenhead, Cheshire and William Henry had a job as a Brewers Manager and the family had a live in servant to help in the house. William, Edith and the younger children lived at 77 Temple Road, while Cecil was living away from home.
On the 1911 Census, Cecil was living at Raby House Farm in Willaston, Cheshire learning Farm Management. He emigrated to Australia after he had completed his Farm Manager training in 1913, resigning his position with the Liverpool Scottish Territorials (10th Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment) to do so. His attestation papers provide information of this service as there are no records extant to show how much time he spent with the TA in England.
AIF Cap Badge
Cecil joined the 13th Battalion of the 4th Regiment of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on the 8th January 1915, listing his occupation as Farmer, and his father as next of kin. He had been living in Tenen, Richmond River, New South Wales, and enlisted in Auburn, NSW. He was 26 years and 8 months when he signed up and was 6 feet tall, weighed 11 stone 2lb with a chest measurement of 34-36 1/2 inches and had a fair complexion with hazel eyes and brown hair. After training was complete, Cecil went home and married his sweetheart, Nellie Leonie Barlow in Auburn, New South Wales before leaving for Europe. The average height for a man in 1914 was 5′ 6″, so he would have stood out as a tall, healthy and good looking fellow!
On the 17th March 1915, Cecil embarked for the European theatre of war on HMAT Shropshire A9 which sailed from Sydney. He ended up in Gallipoli with the AIF forces on May 27. The AIF fought there between April and December 1915, and Cecil was part of the reinforcements sent in. He was wounded in the back by shrapnel between the 20th and the 24th of July that year. On the 25th July he was transferred to Malta on the HS Salta, where he was admitted to St. Andrews Hospital. Apparently his father was notified of his injuries, and he in turn must have informed Nellie, because she sent a telegram to the AIF on August 17th asking his whereabouts. Cecil had never updated his next of kin, so Nellie had to send in a copy of their marriage certificate in order to get subsequent updates. He embarked for England on the HS Letitia to be nursed at Lewisham Military Hospital, where he remained from 13th October 1915 to 21st March 1916. At some point in his travels he contracted paratyphoid, which is a fever resembling typhoid, but caused by a different (but related) bacteria. On the 21st March he was transferred to Addington Park War Hospital in Addington Village, Croydon, Surrey, which dealt with acute infectious diseases. He was released on 19th April 1916 and went to Monte Video camp. Addington Park Hospital was closed in 1919.
Monte Video camp, based at Chickerell near Weymouth, Dorset was set up on May 31st 1915 for the ANZACS to use for their convalescent soldiers. In 1916 the New Zealanders got a Depot in Hornchurch leaving Monte Video to the Australians. In April 1916 Monte Video camp became the AIF Command Depot No. 2 which accommodated those men who were not expected to be fit for 6 months. It must have been a relatively pleasant, if spartan place, (40 men to a barracks with one fire) near to the sea and the soldiers there would have been able to go down to the promenade and enjoy the beach in their free time. In Spring and Summer the Esplanade in Weymouth was full of Anzac soldiers in wheelchairs, being wheeled along by their more able pals.
ANZAC Memorial Weymouth
On July 5th Cecil went to Perham Downs, Salisbury, Wiltshire barracks to get ready to be shipped to France, and on August 19th he was with his battalion again, this time at Etaples, France. The battle of the Somme, which was fought between July 1st and November 18th 1916 was ongoing when he arrived. Part of this battle was the battle of Pozières, fought between 23rd July and 3rd September. Cecil was involved in this fighting, some of which was at Moquet Farms which the British were trying to capture from the Germans who were entrenched there. He disappeared on August 29th and was reported missing on August 30th; on the 12th March 1917 his records noted that he was killed in action on 30th August and had no personal effects in his kit. He name is on the Villers Brettoneaux Memorial, Somme, France. On the three walls of this memorial, which are faced with Portland stone are the names of 10,885 Australians who died and have no known grave. After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a school in Villers-Brettoneaux. The boys school opened in May 1927 and contains an inscription stating that the school was a gift of Victorian schoolchildren, 1200 of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Brettoneaux cemetery with the names of many more on the Memorial.
He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory medal and the British War medal. Normally these would have gone to his wife, but by 1922 she had remarried and asked that the medals go to his family in England: this request was honoured.
Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Somme, France
Birth: 1st August 1888, Tranmere, Cheshire
Death: 30th August 1916, Somme, France
Addresses: 53, Victoria Road, Tranmere, Cheshire (1891); Hydro Avenue, West Kirby (1898); 34 Alderley Road, Hoylake, Cheshire (1901); Raby House Farm, Willaston, Cheshire (1911); Tenen, Richmond River, New South Wales (1915)
Unit: 13th Battalion, 4th Regiment, Australian Imperial Force
Number and Rank: 1762; Private
Medals: 14/15 Star, Victory & British War
Commemorated: Villers-Brettoneaux Memorial, Picardie France; St. Bridget’s Church West Kirby; Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia; Prenton War Memorial, Wirral
Sources: CWGC, SR, MC, Census: 91, 01, 11, PR, Cheshire Advertiser, St Bridget West Kirby grave stone