Former prisoner of war poppy seller dies aged 102
Tributes have been paid to poppy seller Ron Jones, who has died aged 102.
The retired steelworker, who died on Sunday, was a prisoner of war in the Auschwitz concentration camp after being captured during the Second World War.
Mr Jones, from Newport, South Wales, collected for the Royal British Legion poppy appeal for more than 30 years, stopping last year aged 101.
Lynne Woodyatt, a Royal British Legion community fundraiser for South Wales, said: “We are very sad to learn of the passing of Ron Jones, who was a dear friend of mine and much loved by all who knew him.
“His passion for the Legion and the Poppy Appeal shone through and for over 30 years he dedicated his time to helping raise funds for those in the Armed Forces past and present.
“We will be forever grateful for his support, and will deeply miss his enthusiasm, drive and commitment to helping those that served their country.
“He was a true one-off and Ron’s remarkable efforts over the years should be highly commended.
“He will be greatly missed, but not forgotten.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with Ron’s family, his son and two granddaughters, and with his many friends at this time.”
Mr Jones was called up to fight in 1940 and served as a lance corporal in 1st Battalion Welch Regiment in the Middle East.
He was captured in Benghazi in 1942 and, after nine months in Italy, was transferred to forced labour camp E715, part of the Auschwitz complex.
After two years at the camp he was forced to join the “death march” of prisoners across Europe in 1945.
He was freed by American troops and finally returned home to Newport and his wife Gladys in May 1945, having dropped from 13 stone to just seven.
Mr Jones worked at the city’s docks until his retirement in 1980, then began collecting for the Poppy Appeal the following year.
Speaking two years ago, Mr Jones told PA: “I’ve been selling poppies for about 30 years, I go down to Tesco every year for a fortnight, practically every day.
“I like to do a lot for the British Legion as we help dependants, we help the boys coming back from Afghanistan.
“If they need help, I’m there. I’ve made as much as £15,000 occasionally, but normally we get up to nine or ten thousand.”
Recalling his time at the Nazi death camp, Mr Jones said: “When they got desperate they sent us out. I marched, I was on the death march from Poland back to Austria.
“Seventeen weeks on the road, pulling vans at night time and bitterly cold, no food. We lost about 100 blokes who died on the road, but I’m still here.”