The Fatalist

Lieutenant Colonel E. W. Jones, D.S.O. †
21st (Eastern Ontario) BattalionJones

I have a presentiment that I am going into this fight probably to be killed.

(Lieut.-Col. Jones to W. R. Givens, Renfrew Mercury, 6 Sept 1918)

Elmer Watson Jones was killed in action on 8 August 1918 during the first day of the battle of Amiens. He had succeeded Brigadier General W. S. Hughes as commander of the 21st Battalion on 18 July 1916. A native of Brockville, Jones was born on 23 March 1874. He had served for eight years in the 41st Regiment and joined the 21st Battalion in charge of “A” company. He received a field promotion to second-in-command in January 1916.

The 21st Battalion chaplain, Captain R. J. Renison commented on the colonel’s personality:

The battalion was very fortunate in its commanding officer. Lt-Col. Elmer Jones, DSO, was one of the most brilliant and beloved officers in the Canadian Army. A veteran of St. Eloi, the Somme and Vimy, he was a father to every man in the battalion. His influence over his officers was quite extraordinary. He called them all by their Christian names, and his humorous badinage touched the spot with unerring instinct.

21stJonesJones was incapacitated after Vimy Ridge due to a serious gunshot wound to his left leg. Major T. F. Elmitt assumed temporary command until a recovered Jones returned to duty in July. Over a year later, on the morning of 8 August 1918, Jones was shot in the lung by a German machine gun bullet as he directed the advance. He died shortly thereafter and Major Harry Pense took command.

The 21st War Diary mourned, “Perhaps no individual loss in the whole of the Canadian Corps had been more universally lamented than the death of our Commanding Officer, who died when his battalion had accomplished a completely successful attack…He had not been very well for some time but determined to go with the Battalion at whatever cost to himself.”

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