Private Edwin Jones, 18th Battalion, AIF

Posted on 3 August 2021

Edwin Sydney Jones was born in 1883, the youngest of three surviving children to Edwin and Elizabeth Jones of the Sydney suburb of Manly, New South Wales. Edwin went to Auburn Public School then worked as an assistant at the Auburn Post Office. He sang in the choir at the Auburn Congregational Church and paraded part-time with the Citizens Military Forces, most likely the 39th Infantry Regiment at Auburn.

Before the outbreak of war, Edwin had left the Auburn Post Office to study medicine at Sydney University.

Edwin enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Victoria Barracks in February 1915. After four months of training at Liverpool Military Camp, he sailed for Egypt as an original member of the 18th Battalion.

They had just two weeks in camp at Mena outside Cairo before the battalion embarked for the fighting on Gallipoli. They landed at Anzac Cove on 22 August 1915.

The 18th Battalion had been ashore at Anzac for less than a day before it was pitched into the bloody fighting at Hill 60. They were attempting to capture a low knoll that dominated the British landing area at Suvla.

Hill 60 was last major Allied offensive operation on the Peninsula. The first unsuccessful attempt to seize Hill 60 on 21 August was hastily planned and poorly arranged. A further attack on 27 August resulted in 3 days of intense fighting during which objectives were taken, lost and retaken.

Inexperienced and ill-equipped, the men of the 18th Battalion assaulted the Ottoman positions with fixed bayonets and were met with a fusillade of rifle and machine-gun fire. Theirs was a costly and unsuccessful attempt to capture the summit of Hill 60, resulting in 383 casualties in the fighting that one day.

Among the casualties was Edwin Jones, who was listed as missing in action when the survivors of the 18th Battalion were relived from the line.

Despite the best efforts of the Red Cross to determine whether Edwin had been taken prisoner, they had no further news of his whereabouts.

In January 1916, a court of inquiry determined Edwin Jones had been killed in the 18th Battalion’s ill-fated assault on Hill 60. He had been on Gallipoli for less than two days.

Edwin was 32 years old.

Today he is listed on the Lone Pine Memorial along with 5,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers killed on Gallipoli who have no known grave.

Aaron Pegram, Historian, Military History Section