yeovil at War

Arthur Douglas Kemp Jones

Blinded while on active service, died in Yeovil


Arthur Douglas Kemp Jones was born in 1893 Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, the third son of Professor of Music and Bandmaster of the West Somerset Imperial Yeomanry, Frederick David Jones (b1861) and Bessie née Wilson (b1861). All nine of Frederick and Bessie's children were born in Merthyr Tydfil but between 1902 and 1911 the family moved to Yeovil. In the 1911 census they were listed living at 18 Brunswick Street and 18-year old Arthur was an apprentice in the printing works of the Western Gazette and spent over four years in the reading room.

Arthur served with 'D' Company (Yeovil), West Somerset Yeomanry like his father and two brothers, and enlisted at Southampton on 22 August 1912, joining 59th Field Company, Royal Engineers. His Service Number was 23205.

Arthur was sent to France on 18 August 1914. It is known that Arthur spent 2 years 3 months on active service with the Field Force - but where he served is unknown other than he served on the Western Front as part of 5th Division.


A letter published in the  Western Gazette, 30 October 1914
Mrs FT Jones, of Brunswick Street, Yeovil, has received a letter from her son Sapper A Jones, of the 59th Company, Royal Engineers, now serving at the Front. Sapper Jones was at one time employed in the Reading Room of the Western Gazette: " I forgot to tell you of an incident a little while back. We were billeted in a farm. Just about teatime the German artillery started firing. The shells were pitching in a field just in front of the house. One fellow suggested a move or we might cop one. We didn't take any notice of him and went on talking and smoking. All of a sudden there was a crash and a shell pitched right in the house. We were simply put in darkness. Tiles and bricks came falling down on top of us and there was a deuce of a scramble. One poor fellow was killed and four wounded. Three of us got out with just a few bruises. We had no sooner got out of the house when five more shells came topping in. It was a marvelous escape for all of us. A few days later the whole of the village was absolutely wrecked. I met Private Hook of the 12th Lancers and he is quite well. We have been together for a week."

A letter published in the  Western Gazette, 27 November 1914
Sapper A Jones, of the 59th Company, Royal Engineers, son of Mr and Mrs FD Jones of Brunswick Street, who was formerly in the Reading Room of the Western Gazette, has sent a number of interesting letters from the Front. Writing to his mother on 9th November Sapper jones says: "The weather is quite wet and cold now and the roads are in a beastly state cut up with so many troops passing over them. I met young Hook again, but only for a few hours. He tells me that one day they were dismounted and put in the trenches. The Germans started to shell and one pitched right in front of the trench completely burying him. They managed to dig him out but he has had a severe shaking. I must say he looked proper bad when I saw him."

In a letter to his sister he says: "There has been a terrific battle around here these last two or three days, especially the artillery shells diving and bursting all around. There are any amount of German prisoners being brought back and one of them had the 'neck' to be dressed up in one of our uniforms with the exception of the hat which was a Frenchman's. They seem to be all ages, some very old and some very young. The weather is cold and damp at present, quite a change from what we have been having."

Sapper Jones also sends a letter to his mother dated Nov. 15th in which he says: "We have shifted a good many miles since my last letter. The weather is somewhat awful, raining cats and dogs day and night. I can tell you it is rather uncomfortable for the troops, but they are simply splendid. We had rather a warm time in one billet. One big shell dropped 20 yards from the house and the hole it made was big enough to bury a dozen horses in it. One poor fellow I knew happened to get hit by a common shell and was wounded in three places and I'm sorry to say he died in a few minutes afterwards. He was buried just in front of the house and a little wooden cross made by one of our sappers was put in the heart of the grave. The other night the Germans got a chateau for a night's rest, but I'm sorry to say they got disturbed. The artillery were given the tip off and they rushed a gun up to within 400 yards and opened fire on the house which was absolutely blown to bits. We are gathering plenty of prisoners. Everybody is doing it but at the same time I shan't be sorry when it is all over."

A letter published in the  Western Gazette, 27 November 1914
In a letter to his mother, dated December 28th, Sapper DA Jones of the Royal Engineers, writes: "I hope you all enjoyed yourselves at Christmas. We had a decent time under the circumstances. The weather was absolutely great at Christmas and Boing days. Christmas morning we had a game of football to get us ready for dinner, which we put away in grand style. The Christmas pudding, &c, was a treat. I am sending you my gift from Princess Mary, as I think it's worth keeping, also the Christmas card from the King and Queen. The tie pin was given to me by a French artilleryman. Things are a bit different this Christmas but we still enjoyed ourselves, and I never thought we should have such a decent time."

from "Letters home to Yeovil in the Great War, 1914 – 1919" by Jack Sweet
Courtesy of Jack Sweet


He was seriously wounded during his service and on 19 October 1916, while chopping wood, an accidental puncture wound left him blind in his right eye. He was hospitalised and faced several operations without success. This eventually led to his honorable discharge from the army on 20 June 1917 and his death at his home at 18 Brunswick Street on 23 August 1917. He was aged 24 and was interred in Yeovil Cemetery.

In its edition of 24 August 1917 the Western Gazette reported "The death occurred at his home in Brunswick Terrace, early yesterday morning, of Douglas Arthur, third son of Bandmaster Jones, of the W.S.I.Y., and of Mrs Jones. Deceased who was 24 years of age, had experienced two years and two month’s active service in France with the Royal Engineers, being discharged on June 20th, having completely lost the sight of his right eye, and otherwise seriously injured. He was formerly employed for about four and a half years in the reading room at the “Western Gazette” and joined the Regular Forces sometime before the outbreak of war, having previously served with the W.S.I.Y. (West Somerset Imperial Yeomanry). Deceased was also a chorister of the Holy Trinity Church and a prominent member of the Church Lads’ Brigade. He was very popular and highly respected in the town, and sincere sympathy is felt with his bereaved family. It is only about a year ago that Mr and Mrs Jones lost another son."

In its edition of 31 August 1917 the Western Gazette reported "The funeral took place on Monday afternoon at the Cemetery of Mr Douglas Jones, whose death at his home at Brunswick Street, at the age of 24 years, was reported in last week’s issue. The late Mr Jones, who was formerly employed on the staff of the “Western Gazette,” joined the Army shortly before the outbreak of war, and served over two years active service in France, and had seen some severe fighting. He was discharged on June 20th, as the result of injuries. For the funeral the Yeovil Company of the 3rd Battalion, Somerset Volunteer Regiment furnished firing and bearer parties, the former according the usual honours to the remains of the deceased as they were brought from his home in Brunswick Street and placed in the hearse by the bearer party. Then the procession left for the cemetery in the following order:- At the head with arms reversed, the firing party, in charge of Company Sergeant Major Allbutt; the hearse and mourning coach containing Mr Trevor Jones, late W.S.Y., Lance Corporal Gilbert Jones, W.S.Y., Misses Amy, Flossie and Dilys Jones – brothers and sisters of the deceased; a large party of Volunteers; wounded soldiers from the Red Cross Hospital; the Men’s Voluntary Aid Detachment, under Section Leader J Goodchild; Quartermaster H Mott, V.A.D.; and Captain and Adjutant Bell of the Volunteers, who was in command of the parade. The service was conducted by the Rev. GC Seymour, curate of the Parish Church. After a portion of the service had been said in the chapel, the Union Jack covered coffin was borne along paths lined by the troops to the grave, and after that they formed up near the grave, and in the presence of a large and sympathetic gathering, the committal prayers were said. At the close, the firing party fired the customary three volleys, and the “Last Post” was sounded by Private E Rattle of the Royal Berks, an old school chum of the deceased soldier. Bandmaster FD Jones, the bereaved father, was unable to be present owing to having been recalled from his leave before the funeral. There were several handsome floral tributes."

The Western Gazette further reported, on 17 October 1919 "Mrs Jones of 18 Brunswick Street, has received from the Record Office, Chatham, the 1914 Star which would have been conferred upon Sapper DA Jones, R.E., had he lived. The Star was sent in memory of his services with the British Expeditionary Forces in France and Belgium between the outbreak of war and midnight on 22/23rd November 1914. In forwarding the decoration, the officer was commanded by the King to assure the recipient of His Majesty’s high appreciation of the services rendered. - The late Sapper Jones, who was formerly employed in the Reading Department of the Western Gazette was in the Royal Engineers when war broke out and went to France with his unit. He was ultimately invalided out of the service as a result of wounds and sickness, and died, much to the regret of his many friends, sometime afterwards. Mrs Jones has also received a Scroll of Honour inscribed as follows “No 23205 Sapper DA Jones, Royal Engineers. Served with honour and was disabled in the Great War. Honourably discharged on 30th June 1917:- George R.”

Arthur Jones was interred in Yeovil Cemetery and his name is inscribed on the Yeovil War Memorial in the Borough.




Arthur Douglas Kemp Jones


A postcard dated 1906 looking along Brunswick Street. The Jones family lived in one of the houses at left.



Bandmaster Frederick Jones, West Somerset Yeomanry, of Brunswick Street, at left with his three serving sons; left to right Trooper Trevor Jones, West Somerset Yeomanry, Sapper Douglas Jones, Royal Engineers and Trooper Gilbert Jones, West Somerset Yeomanry.