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Poignant story of village shop lad who joined up

By Toby Neal | Nostalgia | Published:

"Young Men Enlist Now" reads the poster behind the young man on the left in this picture taken over 100 years ago in Kinnerley, near Oswestry.

He did. And Private Albert William Jones, of the 7th Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry, was killed in France on Easter Monday - April 9 - in 1917.

Private Jones, who was 21, was the son of Thomas Wythen Jones and Elizabeth Mary Jones, of Laburnum House, Kinnerley.

None of that was known to Jerel Whittingham when he posted this picture on a website. All he knew was that they were outside a shop somewhere near Oswestry, and the recruiting posters pointed to it being the early days of the Great War.

He regularly posts on "Memories of Shropshire" on Facebook but because of the wartime context made a different choice with this particular photo.

"On a whim I posted it instead on a public Facebook group set up by Felicity Burke called Shropshire World War One (WWI) Memories, and thought no more about," said Jerel, who originates from Oakengates but now lives in Cambridge.

"However within hours one of the leading members, Neil Evans, whom I do not know, was able to identify it as the shop that's still in Kinnerley - recognisably the same today.

"But more importantly the shop names rang a bell from an old clipping he’d seen years ago. It turns out that the lad in the picture near the posters, A W Jones, joined the KSLI in mid-1915 and was tragically killed in action a following Easter.

"He is recognisable from the obituary picture, so credit to Neil for his amazing flash of insight and of course far greater to the soldier for his sacrifice.

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"The combination of young Jones, with his later fate one Easter day, standing next to those posters is, I think, quite powerful."

Jones' newspaper obituary says he was educated at Kinnerley School, and afterwards served his apprenticeship under Mr W. Evans, at The Stores. He joined up in February 1915, and went to France the following July.

On his death a memorial service was held at Kinnerley Parish Church.

Private Jones is buried at Tilloy British Cemetery, Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines, in the Arras sector, which points to him being killed during the great British offensive there in April 1917.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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