Francis Ernest JONES
Rank: Private
Number: G/49364
Unit: 23rd Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 17 February 1917
Age: 20
Cemetery: Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, Somme, France

Francis came from a successful middle class family. His parents, Lewis and Elizabeth, are thought to have married in 1888 in the Conway area. They soon had a daughter, Dorothy and, in about 1892, Winifred followed. The family was living in Manchester when Francis was born in 1896/7. The 1901 Census finds them living at 29 Brighton Grove, Rusholme where 53 year old Lewis practised as a civil engineer. His income allowed them the luxury of employing two live-in servants.

At the time of the War, the family had moved to the Stockport area and was living at 43 Lea Road, Heaton Moor (later moving to 3 Beechfield, Higher Downs, Bowden). Francis enlisted into the army at Manchester and was given the service number of PS/7885 - indicating he was assigned to one of the Royal Fusiliers' Public Schools battalions. However, this was only for his initial training and, before going overseas, he was reassigned to the 23rd Battalion and given the above new number. This was probably around mid-1916.

Francis would be killed taking part in a relatively small scale attack in the north of the 1916 area of the Battle of the Somme. British troops would attack on a frontage of only 1.5 miles. The main objectives were the German positions in Boom Ravine. The protective barbed wire had been cut to allow access and the men were ready in the assembly trenches in The Gully, waiting for zero hour at 5.45am. An hour before this, the German artillery opened fire on them and there were many casualties. In the leading "A" and "B" Companies, only two officers were unscathed. On schedule, the men went "over the top" keeping close behind the protection of the British artillery barrage which rolled across No Man's Land. The two officers quickly became casualties but the men pressed forward through the dark, rain and mud. They were held up by uncut German barbed wire for a while at Grandcourt Trench but reached Boom Ravine.

There were no officers left in any of the four companies and the command of the Battalion passed to Company Sergeant Major Fitterer of "B" Company. Sergeants took direct command of the companies. At 6.30, the advance continued but the rolling barrage was now so far ahead of the men that it offered little protection. German troops in Miraumont Tremnch poured heavy rifle fire onto the Fusiliers and all the men could was to take refuge in shell holes. Two hours later, the expected German counterattack was delivered and there was no option but for the men to try to get back to the safety of their own original trenches. 280 had become casualties - dead, wounded or missing.

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