Poppy seller who survived POW camp at Auschwitz and death march, dies aged 102

Poppy seller who survived POW camp at Auschwitz and death march, dies aged 102

Ron Jones, a retired steelworker who dedicated his life to raising money for the Royal British Legion, spoke of the horrors he saw after being captured by the Nazis

Ron Jones marking his centenary.
Ron Jones marking his centenary.

Tributes have been paid to poppy seller Ron Jones, who survived a prisoners of war camp Auschwitz and a death march, after his death aged 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.

He 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, Libya, 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.

During his time at the Nazi death camp, he worked alongside Jewish slave labourers at IG Farben’s infamous chemical factory.

Poppy seller Ron Jones,
Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

“When they got desperate they sent us out. I marched, I was on the death march from Poland back to Austria,” he said in 2017.

“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.”

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.

Mr Jones worked at the city’s docks until his retirement in 1980, then began collecting for the Poppy Appeal the following year.

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