‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

Date of Death:14/09/1916
Rank:Lance Corporal
Service No:10/3615
Regiment:Wellington Regiment (New Zealand)
Unit:2nd Bn.
Flatiron Copse Cemetery
Grave Ref:I.F.4.

Photo courtesy of Chris Eaton

James William Jones was born in Royton on July 11th 1892, the eldest of Francis William's & Henrietta's two children. Younger brother Fred  was born the following year. The two boys were baptised together at St.Paul's Church on July 14th 1897, at which time the family lived at 22 Edge Lane Hollow and Francis worked as a cardroom jobber in one of the local mills. Not long after this Francis died when James was only five years old. In 1901, Henrietta and her two sons were living at 45 Orchard Street as lodgers at her sister's, Elizabeth,house and her husband Patrick McLoughlin.
By the 1911 census Henrietta, James & Fred were living at 9 Windmill Street in the Longsight area of Royton - both James and Fred were by this time working as piecers in one of the mills. James was a member of Royton Harriers and as a boy was a member of the scouts at St.Anne's. In 1913, James emigrated to New Zealand along with his mother and brother. They settled in Marton, a small town on the North Island and James worked there as a labourer.
James signed his enlistment forms and underwent his medical in Marton in May 1915. He was formally posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Wellington Regiment on September 19th 1915, exactly a year to the day before his burial in far off France. James reached Suez on February 12th 1916 to join his new unit and then on April 9th/10th the battalion left Alexandria on board two ships heading for the war in France. James was on the Llandovery Castle which later became a Canadian Hospital Ship and was sunk by a U-Boat with great loss of life in 1918.
The 2nd Battalion reached Marseille on April 18th and then entrained for the British sector of the front. They spent time in and out of the front line in relatively quiet sectors and were involved in a few trench raids during their first months. During this period James was promoted to Lance Corporal on June 14th.
They were then, in September 1916, to be sent into the Battle of the Somme. On September 2nd 1916 the 2nd Battalion of the Wellington Regiment marched out from their billets in Airaines and marched to Cavillon, the following day they marched to Breilly-sur-Somme and spent the next three days there.
On the 7th September, the 2nd Battalion marched via Bertangles and Cadonette to Rainneville, and next day marched to a bivouac camp next to their Regimental comrades from the 1st Battalion . From this camp the heavy firing of the guns could be heard very distinctly and, at night , the flares of the Very lights on the Somme front could be clearly seen.
The 1st and 2nd Battalions held their last joint church parade prior to the Battle of the Somme on the 10th September and in the afternoon the battalions independently marched on to Fricourt Wood. On the 12th, the 2nd Battalion moved into Carlton and Check trenches. By the 13th the New Zealand Division had taken up its allotted ground preparatory to their attack on the German lines on September 15th.
During their wait they were well within range of German artillery fire and it is this, most probably, that killed James and seven other men on September 14th. The unit war diary states:

"Carlton Trench. Operation order No 1 issued by CO for tomorrow. Battalion to be in Brigade Reserve. Canterbury Regt in support, 2nd Wellington Regt to move up as Canterbury Regt go forward and occupy ground vacated by Canterbury. Casualties 7 killed, 20 wounded and 2 missing."

The other men from the battalion listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as dying that day were:

BEATTIE ROBERT 27 Private 11801 from Wairnamaku,Hokianga                                    
KEIGHTLEY FRANK Private 24/1406 from Matamata                                
MEENAN HARRY 26 Private 10/3950 from Auckland                    
McGILLIVRAY DONALD 46 Private 24/1727 lived Wellington,originally from Scotland    
SHAW WILLIAM 25 Private 23/2528 from Hamilton,Scotland                
SHERRET JOHN 25 Lance Corporal 10/3735 from Chipping Norton,Oxfordshire                        
WHITE RONALD Private 23/2115 from New Plymouth

Sadly James and his brother Fred don't appear on Royton's War Memorial but their names can be found on the memorial in St.Anne's Church and also on that of Marton in New Zealand.