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Leyton Orient fans pay tribute to former player who lost his life at the Somme

25 July 2016

Over 200 friends and supporters of Leyton Orient Football Club visited the CWGC Thiepval Memorial to pay their respects to former player, William Jonas.

Born in Northumberland in 1890, Jonas played for Jarrow Croft FC and Havannah Rovers before arriving at Orient in 1912.

Playing as centre forward for the club, Jonas was extremely popular with the ladies - receiving up to 50 fan letters a week.

As a happily married man, he was worried by all the extra attention, and asked the club to print a notice in the programme asking the ladies to stop!

'For the interest of the young ladies of Clapton Park, we have to state that Jonas is married to a very charming young lady.'

When the First World War broke out, Jonas signed up to serve alongside his team mate, Richard McFadden.

McFadden was with Jonas on the day he lost his life, and gave the following account of his final moments:

'Both Willie and I were trapped in a trench near the front in the Somme, France.'

Willie turned to me and said: "Goodbye Mac. Best of luck, special love to my sweetheart Mary-Jane and best regards to the lads at Orient."

Before I could reply to him, he was up and over. No sooner had he jumped out of the trench, my best friend of nearly 20 years was killed before my eyes.'

Private William Jonas is commemorated by the CWGC on the Thiepval Memorial.

Richard McFadden was killed three months later and is buried in CWGC Couin British Cemetery.