Edwin Jones had been born at Middleton in 1888. He would be raised in a successful middle class family which would include his older brother, Harold and a younger sister, Winifred.. His parents were Arthur and Lillie and Arthur was a cotton bleacher and dyer. By 1901, when the Census was taken, the family had moved to Arden Grange, Bramhall Park, Cheadle Hulme. The two boys were away at boarding school in Southport
On the night he died, Captain Jones was commanding "D" Company whilst it undertook a raid on enemy trenches opposite Givenchy. The purpose was to divert the attention of the Germans from British activities further north at Messines and to inflict losses on the enemy. Raids such as this were common and were intended to demoralise the enemy troops and also to identify which regiments were opposite. Serving with the Fusiliers, probably also in "D" Company, was William Tatham, also remembered on the Cheadle Hulme Memorial.
The element of surprise was usually lost with a trench raid, in that there was a need for several days artillery bombardment to cut the enemy's barbed wire. In this case, the Germans retaliated and put down gas shells onto the British communication trench up which the Fusiliers were moving to reach the front line. The attack was launched at 3am, with "A" Company on the right and Edwin and his Company on the left. As they crossed No Man's Land, the enemy again shelled them with gas. Few casualties were suffered and they made it into the German trench system along 200 yards of the front line and were able to penetrate to a depth of 130 yards. They were in the trenches for an hour, throwing grenades into dugouts and inflicting a number of casualties. They did not capture any prisoners but were able to identify the German units from papers found on the corpses.
The Germans then launched a counter-attack - moving up through the trench system and, also across the open ground. The Fusiliers were able to fend them off until the appointed time for return, when the Royal Engineers laid down a smokescreen to cover the withdrawal. As they did so, the Germans were able to reoccupy the front line and start firing. This is when most casualties occurred. Edwin was one of the first to be hit. Another 24 were also killed and 54 wounded.
The Official History of the Lancashire Fusiliers notes "The behaviour of the Germans after this raid was peculiar. Soon after the raiding party had returned a German climbed on to his parapet and beckoned to the Englishmen who were on the look-out for stragglers. Both sides sent out small parties into No Man's Land and began to clear the dead and wounded - it being agreed that neither side would cross the half-way line between the trenches. One of the Germans knew Manchester and said he wondered what was on at The Palace that week."
(Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website). Further updated February 2008.