b. 1839 Bristol. d. 15/04/1913 Manchester.
William Jones (1839-1913) was born in Bristol sometime in 1839, but is believed to have lived in Evesham, Worcestershire as a young man. After a brief period as a farm labourer, he was attested at Birmingham in December 1858 aged 19 years and became one of the founder members of the 2nd/24th Regiment of Foot (later South Wales Borderers). He served in Mauritius, Burma and India and was awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.
By the time that the 24th Regiment of Foot had sailed for South Africa in 1877, Jones was a very experienced soldier. By January 1879, he was stationed at Rorke’s Drift, when the large Zulu force moved in their direction following victory at Isandhlwana. During the first assault from the Zulus, Jones found himself in a ward of the hospital facing the hill. Together with Private Robert Jones, they defended the hospital to the last, until the Zulus were starting to break through. William worked hard to remove the patients from the hospital, and they successfully managed to get six out of the seven men moved. When they went back for the final patient, Sergeant Maxfield, who was delirious with fever, they found him being stabbed to death by the Zulus.
Both William and Robert Jones were gazetted for the Victoria Cross on 2nd May 1879, and William would not receive his medal until he had returned to England. Suffering from chronic rheumatism, he had a spell in Netley Hospital, and on 13th January 1880 he was presented with his VC by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. He was discharged from the Army due to his rheumatism on the 2nd February. Following his discharge, he struggled to find regular employment. He did some acting and also toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He lived in Birmingham for a while, before he moved north and lived in Rutland Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Lancashire.
In later life, he fell into financial hardship and was forced to pawn his medals. In 1910, he was admitted to Bridge Street Workhouse in Manchester. He spent the last couple of years of his life either in the workhouse, or living with his daughter in Brampton Street, Ardwick. He died there on 15th April 1913, aged 73. He was buried in Philip’s Park Cemetery in Manchester with a headstone paid for by public subscription. His medals were eventually obtained by the South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon, Wales.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:SOUTH WALES BORDERERS MUSEUM, BRECON.
BURIAL PLACE: PHILIPS PARK CEMETERY, MANCHESTER.
Section D, Grave 887
Kevin Brazier – Images of Jones’ VC grave and the Cemetery Plan for Philips Park Cemetery, Manchester.
James Mace – Photograph of the VC recipients from the South Wales Borderers 1898.
Thomas Stewart – William Jones VC Block, IBS Brecon.