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Frank Jones, 1883 - 1916

Frank Jones died of wounds received while fighting in France on 23 September 1916. He was aged 33. He is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.

Frank was born at Oamaru on 17 August 1883. His parents were Dorothy and George Jones. His father was editor and owner of the Oamaru Mail and other provincial newspapers and also a member of the Legislative Council for a number of years. His brother Frederick edited the Oamaru Mail (which remained in the Jones family until the 1970s) and also served during the War. Frank went to school at Oamaru Middle School and Waitaki High School.

On leaving school Jones joined the National Bank and worked for them in Oamaru and for a while in Wellington, where he began to study law at Victoria University College. He passed the first stage of the law qualifications at the end of 1908.

Returning to Oamaru, he was employed by the firm of Hislop and Creagh as a clerk while he completed his studies. He was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court on 11 May 1912 by Sir Joshua Williams on the application of Mr Bundle. He stayed with Hislop and Creagh after his admission until 5 April 1913 when he left Oamaru for Taumarunui to join the practice of a Mr Prouse. He does not appear to have stayed there long. By May 1914 he was back in Oamaru with Hislop and Creagh, and appearing at the Oamaru Magistrate's Court.

Jones was an enthusiastic sportsman. He played cricket for the Oamaru Cricket Club and belonged to the North Otago Golf Club. A founder member of the Oamaru Swimming Club, he also played hockey and captained the North Otago Hockey Club for a number of years. He belonged to the Oamaru Boating Club and was a member of both the junior and senior championship crews which won at Queenstown regattas. Jones also played rugby with the Oamaru Old Boys, and tennis, and was treasurer of the North Otago Boxing Association for a time.

Around Oamaru Jones was a well-known singer (a baritone), appearing many times with the Oamaru Choral Society, singing solos and in choruses. A review of his performance of "Thus saith the Lord" and "But who may abide" from the Messiah in December 1909 said his "full, mellow bass" was heard to advantage. A "Grand Patriotic Demonstration and Concert" at the Oamaru Opera House on 17 August 1914 featured "The Sea is England's Glory" sung by Mr Frank Jones, with the North Otago Expeditionary Contingent appearing "in force" on stage during the song.

Jones enlisted in 1915, leaving for camp in Trentham. His medical examination reported that he was 6 foot 0-1/2 tall (1.84 metres), weighed 175 pounds (79.4 kg) and had blue eyes and brown hair. He was promoted to Sergeant in the Otago Infantry Battalion on 13 April 1915 and embarked from Wellington on 14 August 1915. From Alexandra he was sent to Sarpi Camp on the island of Lemnos on 1 October 1915, reverting to the rank of Private, but being promoted to temporary Corporal on 4 December. The battered New Zealand and Australian forces were withdrawn to Sarpi in mid-September 1915 to recover. Jones saw some action on the Gallipoli peninsula in December until he was evacuated to Ismailia on 22 February 1916. He spent six days in the New Zealand hospital there, but he appears to have been sick and not wounded.

Jones was promoted to Sergeant on 4 March 1916 and embarked for France on 6 April 1916 with the 1st Battalion of the Otago Regiment. He was wounded in fighting during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 18 September 1916 and although evacuated to a casualty clearing station he did not recover, dying of his wounds at 9:30pm on 23 September. Shortly after his death official news came through that he had been promoted to Second Lieutenant for services in the field.

Frank Jones is remembered on the First World War Memorial in St Lukes Church, Oamaru. A stained glass memorial window and bronze plaque in the church was donated by his family. The local borough and county councils planted Memorial Oaks for local soldiers who were killed in the War and a tree in Wansbeck Street has been planted to the memory of Frank Jones.

Sources: Oamaru Mail, 20 December 1893, page 4; Oamaru Mail, 18 December 1896, page 1; Oamaru Mail, 7 November 1900, page 2; Oamaru Mail, 2 December 1905, page 2; Oamaru Mail, 19 December 1908, page 2; Oamaru Mail, 28 April 1909, page 2; Oamaru Mail, 21 September page 1; Oamaru Mail, 17 December 1909, page 3; Oamaru Mail, 19 March 1910, page 2; Oamaru Mail, 14 May 1912, page 4;  Oamaru Mail, 7 April 1913, page 3; Oamaru Mail, 23 May 1914, page 4; Oamaru Mail, 29 July 1914, page 5; Oamaru Mail, 15 August 1914, page 5; Oamaru Mail, 1 September 1914, page 6; Oamaru Mail, 12 February 1915, page 1; North Otago Times, 2 March 1915, page 4; Press, 26 September 1916, page 8; North Otago Times, 2 October 1916, page 3; North Otago Times, 10 March 1917, page 4; North Otago Times, 30 March 1917, page 1; New Zealand Gazette, 4 October 1917; The Spike, War Memorial Number 1920, page 27; Evening Post, 17 December 1920, page 8; AE Byrne, Official History of the Otago Regiment, NZEF in the Great War 1914-1918 (J Wilkie & Company, 1921), page 125.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph soldier profile.

This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

Lawyers Roll of Honour.

By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: geoff.adlam@lawsociety.org.nz.

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Last updated on the 11th September 2016