Jones, Roger A

Roger Arthur Jones was the son of Robert and Eleanor (Elinor) Jones, of Llys Eirian, Prestatyn.

In the 1881 Census for Wales, available on Ancestry, we find the family living at Talbot Row, Prestatyn. Head of the family was Robert Jones, 39, who had been born at Llanrhaidr, Denbighshire. He was described as a Stationmaster. His wife Elinor, 37, had been born at Meliden, Flintshire. The children were Martha M, 11, Edward 10, Robert P, 9, who had all been born at Broughton Hall, Flintshire, and Roger A, 7, and Alfred, 5, who had both been born at Nannerch, Flintshire.

In 1891, the family were still in Prestatyn, now living at Station House. There was no mention of daughter Martha, but two more sons had been born in Prestatyn, these were Herbert N, age 8, and Morley H S, age 5.

By 1901, the family had moved to Aber, Caernarvonshire. They were living at the Station House, and Robert is described as Railway Station Master. Roger was not at home, but his brother Alfred, age 25 and a railway clerk was there, and also Herbert and Morley. All the family spoke both Welsh and English.

In the 1911 Wales Census the parents are living at Llys Eirian Marine Road, Prestatyn, with eldest son Edward and his wife, and youngest son H M Stanley Jones, now age 24. Robert is described as a pensioner, a retired Railway Officer. Eleanor had given birth to seven children, of whom six were living, in forty three years of marriage.

We encounter Roger Arthur next on the website of England: Crew Lists for the port of Liverpool, for the year 1899. His place of birth was given as Nannerch, Flintshire, and his age as 25. The name of his ship was the “Orotova”, and the port of Registry for the ship was Liverpool. He served on this same ship for the following two years, 1900 and 1901.

Some time after this he emigrated to Australia, and during the War served with the 55th battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, (AIF), which was an infantry battalion raised in 1916 for service during the war, and saw action on the Western Front. Half of its recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 3rd battalion, and the other half were fresh reinforcements from Australia. The 55th was predominantly composed of men from New South Wales.

Roger Arthur’s military records are available on the website “Australia WW1 Records”. In fact there are 55 pages relating to him, although some are duplicated, and they are not in chronological order. He signed up for the duration of the war on 1st September, 1915 with the AIF. His place of birth is given as Nannerch, in the parish of Mold, Flintshire, and his occupation was a caretaker.

His height was 5ft 4ins, he weighed 120 lbs, and his chest measurement was 32ins. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes and grey hair. His age was given as 42years and 1month, and his denomination was Presbyterian. His next of kin was his wife, Jean Robertson Jones, and the place of enlistment was Holdsworthy.

There is also information concerning him on the website “Discovering Anzacs”, from the National Archives of Australia.

Roger Arthur’s service records state that he embarked at Sydney “per A40 Ceramic” on 4th April 1916.

SS Ceramic was a British ocean liner built in Belfast for White Star Lines in 1912-3. She operated on the Liverpool – Australia route, and was the largest ship at that time. In 1914 she was requisitioned for the First Australian Imperial Force as the troopship HMAT (His Majesty’s Australian Transport) Ceramic, with the pennant number A40. She was armed with two stern-mounted 4.7 inch (120mm) naval guns. She survived a number of attacks, and in May 1916 she was in the Mediterranean carrying 2,500 troops when two torpedoes from an unidentified ship missed her. She was torpedoed in 1942, and sunk with all hands. (Wikipedia)

What is of interest to us is the near miss in May 1916, as our soldier left Sydney aboard her in April 1916 on his way to Europe.

His service records continue that he proceeded overseas from England to France on 16th September 1916. He was then “marched in” from England to Etaples on 17th September. He was “taken on strength” to the 55th Battalion in the field on 15th October, and on 23rd October he was reported missing in the field.

On 28th July 1917, that is nine months after he was reported missing, it is noted that a Court of Enquiry was held in the field, convened by the commanding officer of the 55th Battalion. Having previously been reported as missing, he is now pronounced by Court of Enquiry to have been killed in action.

The records contain various correspondence between Mrs Jean Jones and the Military Authorities. Her address is “Llys Eirian” 1 Barton Ave, Haberfield, the house has the same name as Roger Arthur’s parents’ home in Prestatyn. The names of their children also reflect their Welsh heritage. Mrs Jones was granted £2 pension for herself, £1 for Athol Gwynfryn and 15 shillings for Eleanor Margaret. These sums were per fortnight.

There is a letter dated 29th July 1921 from AIF Base Records Office to Mrs Jones, Llys Eirian, regretting that their graves service have been unable to obtain any trace of the last resting place of her late husband. In her reply, Mrs Jones encloses four letters, three from the Red Cross Information Service, and also one from a Sergeant Nicholson who saw her husband killed. She asks for the present address of Sergeant Nicholson, “if he survived”, and also pleading that they take care of the letters and return them to her, as she says, “they are all I have to say how my dear husband was killed, and I only wish I could find something really definite, and writing brings great sorrow to me”.

The AIF sends the address to her, and also the information that her husband was killed between the villages of Fleurs and Le Sars.

On the website Red Cross Wounded and Missing, on the Australian War Memorial, there are printed many letters from soldiers who had served with Roger Arthur and were either with him , or near him on the day he died, and was posted as missing. It seems that a shell landed in the dugout where he was, killing several people, and the whole trench collapsed. Only his unusual sheepskin coat was retrieved. Ref 1 DRL/0428.

In Prestatyn, Mr and Mrs Robert Jones were to hear they had lost another son ten months later. This was Alfred, who has his own page on this website.

In the Prestatyn Weekly September 22nd 1917, there is a picture of both brothers in uniform, and an expression of thanks for the letters of sympathy and support the have received. The parents were named as “Gorsafydd and Mrs Jones”. Gorsafydd was the pseudonym of Mr Jones. A pseudonym was used by poets entering the Eisteddfod, and the local papers give instances of Gorsafydd giving bardic addresses and competing. This was a very appropriate name for Mr Jones, a former Station Master, “gorsaf” being the Welsh for “station.”

There is also a picture of Roger Arthur on the website “Prestatyn Scala Mural”, which depicts 100 years of the history of the town, and of the Scala cinema. He is one of three soldiers, three of the many with local connections, who lost their lives in World War One.

Roger Arthur is the soldier at the top.

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