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JONES, Walter Parke

Born: 1844
Died: 1883


(Captain), son of WL Jones and born in Valetta, Malta while his parents were on a European tour, Jones was educated in Paris where his mother went to live after the death of her husband (1852). He entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and obtained a commission in the ROYAL ENGINEERS having graduated in 1863. He served in various parts of the world before coming to South Africa in 1872 where he was stationed at Pietermaritzburg, Major Durnford taking over from him and Jones remarked: 'we got on famously'. This may have been the time when he made design proposals for a defensive laager at Estcourt, to which he referred when hearing about the Bushman's Pass incident involving Durnford (November 1873). In May/June 1873 he was sent to King William's Town (the headquarters of the Royal Engineers) and, once Captain Tilly had been dispatched, was appointed D.C.R.E. of the Eastern Frontier District 'a post never held before by anyone under a Colonel, I believe' (KCM 42907, letter dated 29 Aug 1873). His job included an annual inspection of the old forts in British Kaffraria. In November 1873 he was directed to take over from Durnford (KCM 42907, letter dated 16 November 1873) since Durnford had been wounded) but was recalled in December having reached East London). He returned to Natal on a hunting expedition to the Drakensberg in March 1874 to celebrate 10 years service, returning to King William's Town and was back in Pietermaritzburg on an official tour in September 1874 and accompanied Durnford on a visit to Bushman's Pass. He returned to King William's Town via No Man's Land and was posted to Cape Town in November 1875 and back to Britain the same year. He wrote from Chatham in November 1878, about to embark for the Kaffir war. He served in this war in charge of an Engineer Field Company until the end of 1879 when he was posted back to Britain.

As far as his fort plans went, apart from a great many plans and copies of War Department plans carried out by him at King William's Town, the proposals at Estcourt were not carried out but he advised on Fort Melville (1879) and 'Fort Helpmakaar is to a great extent my baby. The site is vile. I did not choose it' (KCM 42906, letter dated 25 February 1879). His company was also working on an eight foot high stone wall at Rorke's Drift.

He served in Calcutta for about two years before being posted to London to command the 3rd Company, Royal Engineers, died in Paris as a result of meningitis and was buried at Passy Cemetery. Two known photographs of him exist.

(Cory Library for Historical Research, Rhodes Univ; Killie Campbell Libr KCM 42906 (photocopies of correspondence); Looking Back Dec 1983, April 1984)

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.