Topic: Arthur Robert Jones

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Arthur Robert Jones (Service no. 40817) enlisted for the First World War with a Peterborough Street address.

Arthur Robert JonesBorn in Addington, Christchurch to English parents Robert and Esther, Arthur was the eldest of eight children. His declared age on his certified medical examination was given as 39 years but the date of birth on his enlistment file, also in November of 1916 was recorded as 16th February 1887. His birth was officially registered as the 16th of February 1880. Either some accidental or deliberate adjustments were afoot.

Arthur's parents emigrated from Worcestershire, England in 1879 and eventually settled in Bromley. His father, a labourer, died in 1902, and the family moved to a variety of addresses in Linwood and around the Central City.

Arthur was educated at Bromley but failed the Fourth Educational Standard. Children of the period were generally expected to stay at school until at least 13 years of age but in practice many children left early. Arthur may have left school by today's Year 6. He seems to have held several different jobs, often labouring but by November 1916 he was working as a driver with the Christchurch Drainage Board.

As a youth Arthur had drilled with the Queen's Cadets. The Queen's Cadets numbered some 270 boys with four companies and a drum and fife band. Compulsory military training in New Zealand didn't start until 1909 with the introduction of the Defence Act so Arthur must have had an interest in the military as a youth.

In 1907 Arthur was married to Elizabeth (Bessie) Pullan by the Reverend Gow. Aged 35, Bessie was the daughter of John and Mary Pullan. John Pullan ran a general store and second hand dealership on the corner of Colombo and Peterborough Street and the family had a long association with both Peterborough and Colombo Streets. Both Mary and her then unmarried daughter Bessie signed the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition.

Arthur enlisted from his address at 131 Pages Road in Bromley. Bessie meanwhile moved to Peterborough Street to be closer to her mother Mary. 

Arthur was part of the 23rd Reinforcement and enlisted at a time when recruitment had slowed down. Recruitment rallies were held at a variety of locations to drum up men. Military bands played, returned soldiers and military cadets marched and speakers such as the Mayors of Christchurch and Lyttelton cajoled with gradual success. The quota was eventually filled.

Grey-eyed, brown haired and only 5ft 2 ½ inches Private Arthur Jones left Wellington on the Corinthic on the 2nd of April 1917 with the 23rd Reinforcements of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment. Arriving at Plymouth, Arthur next marched into Sling Camp on the Salisbury Plains.

The chalk kiwi at Sling camp

4 weeks later he left for France. He arrived at the vast military camp and depot of Étaples on the 9th of July and was posted to B Company.

In December Arthur was admitted to hospital, first in Bologne and later back at Étaples. These hospital admissions related to the sexually transmitted disease (STD) syphilis. STDs were extremely common amongst First World War soldiers. More than 5% of reported medical cases amongst British troops were related to STDs. Men sought temporary relief from the horrors of war in the "red-lamp" brothels that sprung up throughout France.

Arthur was sufficiently recovered to return to duty in February 1918 and was then posted to the 13 Company, 1st Battalion, Canterbury Regiment in April 1918.

Arthur was involved in one of the New Zealand Division’s final offensives of the war, the Battle of Bapaume. After the stalemate of the trenches, engagement between the allies and the Germans was on open ground and mobile. Over a ten day period the allies pushed the Germans back to the Hindenburg line. New Zealand troops captured the towns of Grévillers, Loupart Wood and the village of Biefvillers before entering the town of Bapaume, finally halting at Betancourt to regroup. 

During this offensive Arthur was killed. He died in the field on the 3rd of September 1918.

On the first anniversary of Arthur's death Bessie sent this tribute to the Press's Roll of Honour.

Roll of Honour 

Bessie and Arthur had no children. Arthur's mother died in 1924 and Bessie in 1956.

 

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Arthur Robert Jones


First Names:Arthur Robert
Last Name:Jones
Place of Birth:Christchurch