Ron Jones who survived Auschwitz as a prisoner of war and later became the country’s oldest poppy seller died yesterday morning, aged 102.

He was one of Britain’s national treasures and was not hindered by his advanced age, having driven up until four years ago and sold poppies until he was 101.

Mr Jones, of Bassaleg, died following a short illness at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

Speaking exclusively to our sister title The South Wales Argus, son Leighton Jones paid tribute to him, saying: “He died at about 9.30am.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Ron Jones selling poppies

“The day before he died I had stayed with him for five hours. He was very weak and wasn’t his normal, lucid self. He had had enough with life. He was not happy with going into a nursing home-- but he knew there was no option. He kept falling over and was a danger to himself.

“I think getting to 102 years of age wasn’t bad going.

“He was a loving father and adored his late wife.”

The 73-year-old then spoke of his late father’s life, most notably his incarceration at Auschwitz extermination camp.

“Not many people survived Auschwitz extermination camp,” he said.

“My father was fortunate and would speak for many hours of his ordeal.

“My family are also very proud of his determination to help the Poppy Appeal. He had been selling poppies for more than 30 years.”

When in his 80s, the late Ron Jones shot to fame after speaking publicly of what he witnessed when held in a prisoner of war sub-camp at Auschwitz from 1943 to 1945.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Ron Jones (fourth from left, top row) in Auschwitz

In the 1940s, Mr Jones was called up to serve in North Africa, but was eventually captured and sent to Fascist Italy in 1943.

Once he and other prisoners of war (POWs) had reached Milan, they were handed over to the Germans, who without delay piled them into cattle tracks.

“We had no idea where we were going,” he previously recalled.

Exhausted by the three-day journey where the POWs had no access to food or water, Mr Jones was eager to get out of the cattle truck when it came to an abrupt stop. But once allowed out, the unusual sight of people wearing pyjamas immediately caught his attention.

“I remember asking the soldiers who they were,” he previously said.

A German officer barked: “Jews.”

Denbighshire Free Press:

Ron Jones with his son and wife

Mr Jones added: “He said it as if I should have known.

“We soon learnt that we had arrived at Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland.”

The POWs were put to work at the IB Farben chemical factory, where they all worked from 6am to 6pm six days. On Sundays, Mr Jones and other POWs had the day off and would play football, where he was appointed goalkeeper of the Welsh team.

In another interview with the Argus, Mr Jones recalled his worst memory at Auschwitz, which he admitted remained with him all his life.

“The worst thing was the smell of burning flesh from the crematorium next door,” he said.

“It is something you cannot forget.”

Auschwitz became a major site for the Nazis’ Final Solution – The Holocaust - to the “Jewish question”.

The Holocaust took place between 1941-45, with an aim to exterminate the Jewish population in Europe. By the time World War Two had come to an end, Nazi Germany had systematically murdered an estimated 17 million people who were deemed “racially inferior”. Other groups also fell victim in Auschwitz, including Poles and Romani Gypsies.