Robert “Bud” Jones
An often-overlooked reality of full-scale total wars, like the First and Second World Wars, is how soldier demographics change over the course of the conflict. Early in the war, combatants will mostly consist of professional soldiers and members of the standing army. It takes time to register, train, equip and move new recruits from their enlisting station to the battlefield. These recruits will change over time as well. There are only so many “ideal fighting men (and women)” in any given country. As both World Wars persisted, the need for new troops pressured armies and recruiters to change recruitment standards (they would typically be lowered) to increase the flow of new soldiers. While this could manifest in unethical ways, such as accepting noticeably young men or boys claiming to be of age to enlist, it did have some positive impacts in challenging racist standards or attitudes towards racialized groups.
A renowned Black historian and decorated career soldier of 30 years, Robert Jones was initially rejected from the military due to his small stature – standing at only 5’1”. Eventually, Jones would get the call to serve. He initially trained and deployed with the armoured corps, but the fierce fighting around Caen, France, would lead to him being reassigned to an infantry unit to help replenish their numbers. Jones would participate in fighting through Normandy, Belgium, and the Netherlands, pushing back the Germans and liberating towns and villages as he went.
Despite not being physically wounded during the War, he was designated in the “S” category. The “S” category was for soldiers with concerns about their mental health or stability. His prescription? Physical fitness and boxing. Jones excelled in the ring, becoming both a champion and a member of the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame.
Jones would go on to serve in Korea, fighting with the infantry there and establishing the Nippon Berra Training Camp in Japan. He was a career military officer and physical training instructor at the Petawawa Military Base. Robert “Bud” Jones passed away September 2, 2021, at the age of 96. He gave numerous interviews which are linked in the additional resource section below.
Additional information & further reading:
Interviews with Bud Jones (The Heroes Remember series, Veterans Canada)
Crestwood Interviews Bud Jones (Crestwood Preparatory College)
Main photo: Jones with some platoonmates (Credit: Crestwood Preparatory College).
Brunt, Eric, and Scott Masters. 2018. “Jones, Robert “Bud”.” Crestwood. Accessed July 2023. https://crestwood.on.ca/ohp/jones-robert-bud/.
Jones, Robert, interview by Veterans Affairs Canada. n.d. Heroes Remember Accessed July 2023. https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/video-gallery/search/people/496?p=1.