PRIVATE EVAN FREDERICK JONES
KING'S SHROPSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY
8TH OCTOBER 1918 AGE 27
BURIED: RAMICOURT BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
There is more to this inscription than meets the eye. What sounds like a simple injunction to never disturb Jones' body is in fact a famous inscription - if you know your American literature. It comes from the grave of Natty Bumppo, the hero of James Fenimore Cooper's five American frontier novels known collectively as The Leatherstocking Tales.
Natty Bumppo, a white boy raised by Indians, is a 'good' white man, a frontiersman who helps people in trouble. At the end of 'The Prairie' (1827), Bumppo dies in the fulness of time and the Indians pay him this tribute:
"A valiant, a just, and a wise warrior has gone on the path, which will lead him to the blessed grounds of his people."
Bumppo was buried "beneath the shade of some noble oaks" and his grave "has been carefully watched to the present hour by the Pawnees of the Loop, and is often shown to the traveller and the trader as a spot where a just whiteman sleeps."
Later, a "stone was placed at its head, with the simple inscription, which the trapper had himself requested [...] "May no wanton hand ever disturb his remains!" This is the last line of the novel.
By choosing this inscription, Evan Jones' father, William Jones, associated his son with "a valiant, a just, and a wise warrior". Jones served with the first Battalion the King's Shropshire Light Infantry and was killed in action on 8 October 1918 when the battalion attacked at 5.10 am under a creeping barrage on the opening day of the Battle of Cambrai. The battalion war diary reported a 'great numbers of prisoners soon began to come back, which meant attack was going well'. The attack did go well but nevertheless the battalion suffered over 100 casualties killed and wounded.
Ten days before Evan Jones died his brother, Albert Rees Jones serving with the 2nd/4th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was killed in action at the Canal du Nord. However, William Jones had no opportunity to choose an inscription for his younger son because Albert's body was never found. He is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial to the missing.
William Jones was a farmer at Pantau Farm, Llanddew, Breconshire. Evan and Albert were two of his nine children all of whom worked with him on the farm. His wife, Mary died in 1912, his daughter Sarah in 1915 and two of his sons in 1918.