Saturday, 22 October 2011

George Jones MM

George Jones MM

This is the time of year when our thoughts and prayers are especially significant for our Armed Forces, so an appropriate time to relate George’s story.....

He was born in 1886 in a sleepy little town in the Midlands, the second of ten children. Even though life at times were difficult with so many children, the family was a loving stable one and there was very little they went without.
After George left school he joined his father at the local colliery, where working conditions and wages were now improving., and eventually where his younger brothers also found employment.

He married his wife Mary in 1913 and life was good but uneventful until the
following year and the outbreak of the Great War in 1914….At this time George was already twenty eight years of age but he had no qualms about joining the Army, and began his career as a Private in the Leicestershire Regiment….It’s reported that he stated every man should be prepared *to do his bit* ……
It must have been a big decision and a severe wrench to leave his wife and family – and poignantly, when he joined up he was unaware that he was about to become a father for the first time…his baby son was born soon after he’d departed with his regiment for France.

It was in March 1915 that his regiment embarked for France, landing at Le Havre and the following January they should have set sail for Egypt but through circumstances that move was cancelled, and his regiment remained in France for the duration of the war.

We’ve all been made aware of the utter devastation of this War, where so many young men perished. The squalid pitiful conditions on the battle field, where men had to exist for weeks – even months in trenches and dug-outs, sometimes knee deep in water and mud, wondering if tomorrow might be their last day on this earth…Thoughts of loved ones back home must have been constantly on their minds.

George somehow managed to survive the horrors right up until one of the very last battles on the Western Front. – this was north of Scarpe, when British troops took the Fresnes-Rouvroy line. It was in October 1918, and just a few short weeks before the cease-fire to this dreadful war…. I don’t have details of how he was actually killed, but I don’t suppose the *how* is really important – the fact that he and all those other brave soldiers lost their lives in bloody conflict is perhaps knowledge enough……
He was buried in the Military Cemetery at Le Treport which is a small sea port NE of Dieppe. Out of all the soldiers that tragically lost their life George could perhaps be termed as one of the more *fortunate* for he has his own grave and gravestone – a place where his family and descendants can visit to pay their respects to him.
There were so very many young men who had to be laid to rest in unmarked graves.
Mont Huon Military Cemetery via C.W.G.C.

George was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery in the field, but I don’t know for which campaign….I have a copy of his medal card but it only has the basic facts on it, and no dates as to when and where he won each of his medals. Unfortunately there are no citations for the MM awarded from this war that are in official custody - Recipients of this medal were told to look after their own citation as it was unique to them. Sadly none of George’s descendants have any knowledge of what happened to his citation, neither do they know the whereabouts of the actual medal itself.. It is a mystery what could have happened to them - perhaps they were lost in battle and are still lying hidden deep in the earth in some forgotten field in France….a sad thought.

One emotional fact emerged while researching George’s story – he never managed to get home to see his infant son.

When the Great War, as it became known finally ended, there was to be no joyous homecoming for the likes of George and the hundreds of thousands of other soldiers who gave up their lives for their King and Country…..but thank God for those brave men that did return home safely.

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