Joseph Jones was born in 1896 in Groes, Denbighshire. He was the youngest of the four children of David and Grace Jones. His parents were bilingual and from local families; his father originally from Llanarmon and his mother from Trefnant. David Jones was a shepherd and at the time of Joseph’s death he and his wife were living in Arthur Cottage in the Waen near St Asaph. Waen today is very much as it was in Joseph’s time. Properties have been modernised and occupants have come and gone but Waen is still very much a rural community embedded in the beautiful countryside of the Vale of Clwyd.
Joseph joined up in February 1915 when he was 19 years old. His service records have remained intact and give some insight into ‘his war.’ He signed up for ‘Short Service’ which meant he was obliged to serve for the duration of the War. He gave his occupation as ‘labourer’. His original medical examination recorded that he was 5ft 2inches, 9stone 2lbs and of ‘fairly good physical development’ although his ‘teeth must be attended to’.
Joseph joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and served in the 13th Battalion. From February 1915 to May 1916 the Battalion remained in Britain. From the 1st of June 1916 and until his death Joseph was on active service in France. His records show he was briefly admitted to hospital on three occasions during this time suffering first from diarrhoea, then myalgia and lastly laryngitis. In July 1917 he was given 10 days home leave. Was this the last time he saw his family? During December 1917 he was wounded in the field. The following August he was killed in action on the Somme.
Unlike so many of his fellow soldiers at least Joseph’s body was retrieved and he was interred in Harponville Communal Cemetery Extension, near the Somme. He was 22 years of age when he died and had served three and a half years in the Army. At his mother’s request his gravestone carries the inscription:
PEACE PERFECT PEACE
REST, SOLDIER, REST
The service records are poignant as they are so personal; the form filled in by Joseph’s father (see below) detailing the members of the family left behind – brothers David and Thomas and their sister Eliza. Also the letter accompanying the package containing his belongings signed for by his mother.
The Denbighshire Free Press conveyed the sad news about his death along with that of John Hugh Jones (see below). Both ordinary lads from the Waen who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.