Forgotten soldier's resting place finally marked

AFTER more than eight decades of being “lost”, forgotten Ballarat soldier Albert Charles Jones was finally remembered with a marked grave on the weekend.

The story of Jones’ final recognition follows a long trail after his granddaughter-in-law, Sylvia Jones, began a journey two years ago to learn about her family’s past.

Travelling from Queensland and visiting the Ballarat General Cemetery, she could not find the headstone of Albert Jones.

“It’s been two years since I sought out the grave, and walked up and down the paths here and found no grave existed,” Ms Jones said.

Since then, Jones’ story has resonated with the public. Yesterday this interest culminated in a ceremony attended by about 150 people to acknowledge Albert Jones.

“Like any other soldier, if Albert were looking down on us he’d be wondering what all the fuss is about, thinking he didn’t do anything special or unique,” Ms Jones said.

“But putting your life on the line and answering your country’s call is doing something special and it deserves a marked grave.”

Ballarat General Cemetery community advisory committee member Garry Snowden said although he had never heard of Albert Jones a year ago, through his research he had come to know him quite well.

“He was so typical of so many men who served: he was a bit of a knockabout but when the time came, he stood up to serve our country.

“It is just more than 99 years ago since he enlisted.”

Mr Snowden described Jones as a larrikin who was never destined to be a Sunday school teacher, getting himself into trouble on quite a few occasions.

Jones was a young baker from Newtown in Geelong when he enlisted in the Army in 1915,  joining the 7th Battalion at Gallipoli as a reinforcement and seeing action in battles at the Nek and Lone Pine, before being withdrawn to Egypt. He later joined the 59th Battalion, then the 4th Field Bakery in France. 

Jones was discharged from the army on May 23, 1919, but was not destined to have a long life.

He died in 1930 after a shunting accident at the Ballarat Railway Yards where he lost both his legs. He died the following day, aged 36. 

It was the beginning of the Depression and he left behind a widow and four children.

It is presumed the family could not afford to do more than arrange a burial.

“Albert had been forgotten for a long time but, due to the passion and investigation of his granddaughter-in-law and the Rotary Club of Ballarat South, things are being put right,” Mr Snowden said.

The gravestone was funded by the Rotary Club of Ballarat South, and club president Andrew Pipkorn unveiled the headstone.

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