To lose one son in the War must have been a devastating experience for a parent, but to lose two must have been almost too much to bear. It is almost impossible to comprehend how John and Emily must have coped with the news that their two lads had been killed on consecutive days. The "dreaded telegram" arriving from the War Office is often mentioned as the way families heard of their loved ones deaths. But, in fact, only officers’ deaths were notified by telegram. Other notifications came by letter and it would often be the case that families had already heard the news from a son's comrade, before the official letter arrived. It cannot be known now how Mr & Mrs Jones heard about the deaths of Louis on the 22nd and Arnold on the 23rd.
Louis and Arnold had been born in Stockport but the family then lived in Offerton for a short time and a third boy, Norman, was born there in about 1900. When the 1901 census was taken, the family was living at Sundial Cottage, Hazel Grove. Louis was the eldest child, then aged 7. Arnold was 4 and there was also one year old Norman. During the time of the Great War, the family was living at 115 Commercial Road, Hazel Grove
Unlike his brother, Louis was not an early volunteer for the army, his service number dating his conscription to after the beginning of 1917. The number is one associated with the Regiment’s 7th (Territorial) Battalion. During the War, there were three 7th Battalions – formed respectively as the 1/7th, 2/7th and 3/7th. The first two were disbanded during 1916 and Louis, no doubt, undertook his training in the UK with the 3/7th. After training, he will have been reassigned to a fighting unit – the 23rd Battalion - which, in November 1917, was sent to fight on the Italian front. Just before leaving England, he married his fiancée, Mary Beswick.
When the Germans launched their spring offensive in March 1918, many of the troops in Italy were rushed back to France as vital reinforcements. The Battalion’s War Diary, kept at the National Archives, suggests that the men were having a relatively quiet time by the summer. From 20 August, they were in the vicinity of Kemmel, about six miles south-west of the Belgian town of Ypres. Over the coming days, the men were working as labourers improving the trench system under the direction of the Royal Engineers. There are no details of casualties over these days, but it is reasonable to assume that Louis was killed by enemy shellfire.
In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, Emily Jones was living at 6 Brooks Avenue, Hazel Grove. Louis’ widow was at 10 Grundey Street – it’s not known if she and Louis had time to live there together.
Further information about Louis, including a photograph, can be found in the book “Hazel Grove to Armageddon” by John Eaton.