Arthur Edwin Jones was born on 27th August 1880 in Romford, Essex. His parents Evan and Eliza Annie Jones lived with their children in Victoria Road, Romford. Arthur had five sisters and one brother. Evan Jones was a brewer’s clerk and on leaving school Arthur followed his father’s profession working as a clerk for the Inde Coope brewery. He also served as a Special Constable with Essex Constabulary and was stationed in the Romford Division.
He was a gifted footballer and together with his brother, Evan, joined Romford Excelsior Junior Football Club. They both made a significant impact in the team and before long were signed up by Romford F.C. with Arthur making his first team debut in 1897. He became a prolific goal-scorer and made his first appearance for the Essex County team when he was eighteen. Probably because of his size and build he was well known to football supporters as ‘Diddy’ Jones. Despite approaches for him to turn professional Arthur continued to play for local teams till the outbreak of The Great War. During his football career he scored 365 goals.
Arthur volunteered to serve his Country and joined the 11th Battalion Essex Regiment as Corporal 400278 sometime in 1916. He later served as Corporal 260114 with the 1st/6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
This probably resulted from the Battalions being consolidated at some stage in 1917 as a consequence of heavy losses.
During August 1917 the 1st/6th Battalion saw action at Vimy, 3rd Battle of The Scarpe, Polygon Wood and 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).
On 27th August, Arthur’s 37th Birthday, the Battalion attacked German Lines near St. Julien. The attack was unsuccessful, primarily due to the torrential rain that had fallen in the previous days, the deep heavy mud through which the attack was mounted and entrenched German positions. They faced continuous cross fire from Snipers and machine guns.
The war Diary of 1st/6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment records.
27th August 1917
Attacked at 1.55pm enemy position at Winnipeg Farm and Cemetery. Advance impossible due to state of ground and fire from MG’s (Machine Guns) and snipers in concrete emplacements. 25 other ranks killed, 120 other ranks wounded and 14 other ranks missing
Arthur Jones was mortally wounded during the attack and died two days later at No. 4 Casualty Clearing Station located close to what is now Dozinghem Military Cemetery. He was 37 years old. He is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery, northwest of Poperinge near Kronbeke.
Grave of Arthur Edwin Jones
Arthur is also commemorated on the Romford War memorial
Commemoration of Arthur Edwin Jones Romford War Memorial
Following his death the Matron of No. 4 Casualty Clearing Station wrote to his family:-
29 08 1917. I am very grieved to tell you that Corporal A E Jones, 260114 R.W. Regiment was very badly wounded in the leg and hand and although everything possible was done for him he passed away quite peacefully at 2.10 am this morning. He was too ill to realise he was dying and was unconscious at the last. I told him during the afternoon that I was writing to you, and he said to give you his love. He will be buried with Military Honours and be with many of his comrades. The graves are very well looked after and his name and number will be put on the cross. With much sympathy.
Obituaries for Arthur Jones were published in local papers.
Cpl. A.E. Jones who has died from wounds received in action in France, was a well-known Essex Footballer. Known by Romford enthusiasts as ‘Diddy’. On many occasions he represented the County and also played for Romford St. Andrew’s, Romford Town, Mawney Institute, Ilford and Luton. Prior to joining up he was a member of the Romford Division of the Essex Special Constabulary.
It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Corporal Arthur e. Jones on August 29th 1917 of wounds received in action in France. The deceased who was 37 years of age, was badly wounded on August 27th and his untimely end will be deplored by all Essex footballers. Without doubt he was the most prominent footballer in the County and was the idol of the Romford crowd, by whom he was affectionately known as ‘Diddy’. As an amateur forward he was probably without an equal for his shooting, and many visiting goal keepers have reason to remember his piledrivers. On many occasions he represented his County and was considered a valuable acquisition. Other clubs that Jones played for were Romford St. Andrews, Mawney Institute, Ilford and Luton, as well as having a trial with Portsmouth. Despite his prowess he was of an unassuming nature and he died as he would have wished, a hero’s death. When he joined up he had an opportunity of joining a unit removed from the Line but characteristic of Jones he remarked, ‘No if my Country is in for a scrap I am going to be in it’. Prior to joining up, Diddy was a painstaking member of the Romford Division of the Essex Special Constabulary.
(Whilst both newspaper reports refer to Arthur Jones being injured in France he was engaged in action in Flanders.)
On these fields of Passchendaele,
sSkylarks sing and cattle graze;
In these fields of Flanders lives were spent in far off days.