The Friday before my MIL had the fall we were together with other family members and friends to see my 92 year old FIL collect his War Medals, 65 years after he had been discharged from the army. Official records stated that he was killed during the conflict, in which he suffered shrapnel injuries to his leg and was shot in the arm!
He had attended the Remembrance service at the town’s Cenotaph in November and was asked by various veterans why he wasn’t wearing his medals to which he replied that he had never received them, so he decided to apply for them. Here’s what the report in the paper said.
A Second World War Two hero who cheated death trying to save the life of a fellow soldier has received his war medals - after convincing the Army he is still alive.
Official records stated that 92 year old Edward Jones was killed during the conflict, in which he suffered shrapnel injuries to his leg and was shot in the arm.
But Mr Jones is actually alive and well and in good spirits with his wife Jean on Pine Street and has now received his four medals, 65 years after the end of the war.
Jean, 79, said "It was quite funny really, Eddie decided to apply for his medals so we filled in a form and I got a letter asking me to send a copy of 'the late Mr. Jones' death certificate', when he was sitting in the same room as me, large as life at the time. So, with the help of the Lancashire Veterans Association, we got everything straightened out and Eddie now has his medals."
Mr. Jones was born in Barrow-in-Furness, but moved to Rochdale as a child and has lived in Heywood since he was 15.
He signed up at the age of 21, as soon as the war broke out, and served throughout the conflict in countries including Britain, France, Germany and The Netherlands.
He was first injured during what he describes as a 'skirmish' with German forces in France in July 1944, shortly after he took part in the Normandy Landings. Three months later, he was shot at the 'Arnhem Drop' on the Dutch-German border, one of the bloodiest scenes of the war, which claimed the lives of many British soldiers.
Mr. Jones, who served as platoon Sergeant, said 'One of my corporals had got into difficulty after he landed on a mine, so I started to alert everyone and call for an ambulance.
Just as I called for an ambulance, I noticed a sniper was watching me and I managed to turn just in time, so he shot me in the arm rather than my chest. I could easily have been killed. I never found out what happened to the other soldier because I was immediately flown back to England."
Mr. Jones then faced a recovery period of almost two years in different hospitals. He was in constant fear that he would lose his arm and had monthly examinations to check it was healing properly.
"It was terrifying really" he said. "Back then, they never told you anything. You would be lying in the hospital bed and they would put a barrier up so you couldn't see what they were doing. Then if your wound wasn't healing properly, you could wake up and your arm or leg would be gone. It happened to a lot of soldiers in the hospital."
Unsurprisingly, the war had a lasting effect on Mr Jones, who continued to suffer nightmares about his experiences until recently.
When he was released from hospital, Mr Jones returned to Heywood, where he took on a number of jobs, including running his own DIY store on Wham Bar.
Mr. Jones said “At first I wasn’t all that bothered about getting my war medals, but I go to the Cenotaph every Remembrance Sunday and it does seem a bit wrong for all the other soldiers to have their medals and me to have none. This year, I’ll be proud to turn up wearing my medals.”
Harry Mills, chairman of the Lancashire Veteran’s Association, helped to secure the 1939 to 1945 Star, Defence Medal, France and Germany Medal and British War Medal for Mr. Jones.
He said “Mr Jones is undoubtedly one of the oldest remaining soldiers form the Manchester Regment and we are happy that he has finally received his medals. Soldiers like Mr. Jones deserve to have their stories told and their service recognised. He really is a war hero.”
The most amazing thing about this story is that in November, last year, just after Eddie had attended the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, he was so poorly the doctors gave him just two weeks to live! Just goes to show what determination can do doesn't it?
We are all very proud of Eddie.