STORIES SEEN THROUGH A GLASS PLATE

W2365  Capt. Stewart Jones (late), 1915

Box 59

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‘The Battle of Aubers Ridge - letters written home by survivors’ - Dr. Graham Mayhew, Historian

Audio transcript at bottom of page

 

Captain Thorold Arthur Stewart-Jones was the Commander of the 5th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment. He was one of the first to be killed when leading a charge in the Battle of Aubers Ridge. The Times correspondent described it as “a charge to certain death”, declaring the bravery of the soldiers in the fighting unequalled by any during the war.

 

Reeves were asked to create a memorial portrait from this group photograph, hence the shading on the plate.

 

Related story: Lightbox 58

 

The Battle of Aubers Ridge - The full horror of the day revealed in letters written home by survivors.

 

An officer of the 2nd Battalion:

“After a bombardment by our own guns on the German trenches, the good old Sussex went forward like one man, only to be met by a fire from the gunners which simply mowed us down like rabbits. I cannot express myself as I should like to, but it was perfect hell. We had 14 officer casualties and 580 men casualties. The barbed wire in front of the German trenches was not cut by our shrapnel as it had been planned, and we were caught up like rats in a trap… though we were unable to take the trenches and had to retire, we got through, and the men were all heroes, for they enabled others to go through and reap the honour and glory.”

 

Another officer:

“Stewart-Jones devoted all his efforts, sparing himself neither time nor trouble to make his company efficient and he succeeded beyond all expectations… He always thought of his men first. It was a fine thing to have nursed that company as he did, and, leading them into action, fall at their head right against the German trenches. When he reached the front trench with ‘Nine’ and ‘Eleven’ Platoons, which in that part was vacated, seeing gaps in the assaulting line (which was lying down in the open), he dashed on with great gallantry and overtook the 2nd Sussex line, and with them advanced in short rushes. Stewart-Jones and a few others got to the German wire – but no-one at all got any further.”