William Henry JONES
Rank: Private
Number: 30441
Date of Death: 25 January 1917
Age: 24
Cemetery: Basra Memorial, Iraq

William was one of three brothers believed to have served during the War - Eddie and Freddie both returned. Their father was also reported to be serving with the army in Egypt. William had been born in Macclesfield but, at the time of the War, the family home was at 3 Lucas Street, Stockport. He worked for local cotton spinners, Kershaw, Leese & Co at India Mill.

Not long after War was declared in August 1914, William enlisted into the army joining one of the Territorial battalions of the Cheshire Regiment (service number 2589). He never served abroad with the Cheshires and was transferred to the Fusiliers before going overseas on active service.

William and his mates spent the month of November 1916 at Amara, undertaking various training exercises. Amara is now a town of some 200 000 people in south eastern Iraq. During the war, it was a major hospital and rest area for the troops fighting in Mesopotamia

On 28 November, they left camp and moved towards the front line near Sinn Abtar and Bassouia. On 20 December, there was an attempt to cross the River Tigris, but this seems to have been half-hearted as minimal Turkish sniper fire seems to have deterred the whole Division and orders for a withdrawal were given. Christmas Day was spent in the front line. It was reported that there was intermittent enemy artillery which did no real damage. During the night, a patrol was sent forward some 2000 yards but there was no sign of the enemy positions. On 30 December, 40th Brigade was withdrawn from the front line and returned to reserve camp at Bassouia.

The War Diary records that the first week of 1917 was spent in "straightening out" the Battalion after it had been constantly on the move for over a month. Fatigue parties worked daily cutting brushwood to make a road. On 12 January, the period of "rest" was over and the Fusiliers were ordered back into the front line to prepare for an attack on the Turkish positions. On arrival, they found that there was no real trench network and digging started immediately. At this point, the Turks were only 350 yards away, across flat ground with very little cover. They were able to continually snipe at the British troops. But, by 24 January, the work was complete and a proper front line, 1200 yards wide, had been prepared, together with communication trenches to the rear area. A total of 5 miles of trench had been dug and 8 men had been killed

The attack took place next morning, with the Fusiliers assaulting a 500 yard wide section of the enemy trench. The attack was success, although there were a number of casualties during the charge across No Man's Land. As soon as the position had been taken, Captain Farrar (the officer in charge of the attack) reorganised the troops and pushed forward some soldiers, whilst others consolidated the gains. Whilst the consolidation was underway, the other men had captured the Turkish second line of trenches. By dusk, consolidation was complete and preparations were in hand for a further advance the next day. By that time, William and 26 other men had been killed. Amongst the 26 were two other local men, Stephen Isherwood, Walter Cooke. Joseph Holland had been badly wounded and died later the same day.

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