FREE, Jonas

9815, Private, Jonas FREE
Aged 24

1st Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infanry
formerly 3160, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action, presumed on Saturday, 8th May 1915

Jonas FREE was born in Balsham in 1889 (Linton Q4-1889 3B:508), son of David and Mary FREE(née RICHARDSON).

1891 census...Aged 1, he was at Nine Chimney Lane, Balsham with his father David FREE [49] shoemaker, born Hadstock, Essex; his mother Mary [48]born Linton; brothers Tom [17] farm labourer born Linton and Charles [5] born Balsham; sisters Emma [13] and Kate [7] both born in Balsham.

1901 census...Aged 11, he was at High Street, West Wratting with his parents (father now farm labourer) and brother Charles, a farm labourer.

1911 census...Aged 23, he was in the 1st Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in Hong Kong. Brother Charles was in the Suffolk Regiment in Egypt. His parents have not been found in this census but they appear to have both died later in the Linton area

His father died in 1914, mother in 1916.

He enlisted at Linton on 10th February 1906, attested for the Suffolk Regiment, giving his place of birth as Balsham, residence West Wratting and employer as Mr E.P.Frost of Cambridge. He was single, a farm labourer and gave his age as 18 years 3 months. 5 feet 6.5 inches (168.9 cm) tall, weighing 136 lbs (61.9 kn), chest 33" to 36" (83.8 to 91.4 cm), grey eyes, light brown hair, Church of England. Next of kin his parents David and Mary, and brother Charles.
Placed in the 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, he seemed not to have settled and purchased his discharge on 12th December the same year, 1906.

For the war he enlisted in Cambridge. His "Soldier's Personal Effects" entry unusually gives many of family as legatees. They are:-
Brothers Thomas and Charles, sisters Mrs Beatrice BROWN, Mrs Annie Granger and Mrs Emma Sanderson, also the Clerk to the Guardians Linton Union

On 5th May they arrived at Freizenburg and dug in behind the front line trenches. At 11pm on 7th they moved into the fire trenches. The war diary has :-
Trenches heavily shelled with high explosive, this was followed by a German attack "C" and "D" Coys were shelled out of their trenches. "A" and "B" Coys drove off three German attacks and withdrew from trenches at night and went to 80th Brigade.
Casualties 3 officer killed, 1 died of his wounds, 3 wounded and 1 missing. RSM Lewis killed and 52 OR killed, 92 wounded and 272 missing.

CWEGC figures show 158 of the battalion dying that day, only 5 have known graves. The discrepancy of course being the number of missing eventually declared killed in action.

Jonas Free is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres panel 47

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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