Thomas was born in Llangeitho, a parish in the county of Cardigan, on the river Aeron, 4 miles west from Tregaron station, and 6 north-west from Llanio Road station, both on the Manchester and Milford railway, on 28th January 1884. He was baptised on 20th June 1884.
The family home was at 3, Meidrym Rd, Llangeitho.
His father was John Jones, stonemason, born in Nantcwnlle in 1853. His mother was Mary Davies born in Betws Leikey in 1854 although UK, De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919 states that Thomas’s mother was the “daughter of Lewis Davies of Lampeter” (a carpenter). Nantcwnlle and Betws Leikey were small villages near to Llangeitho where they settles and remained for many years.
Thomas was the third child of six children. The others were:
- Jane b 1880, who married the Rev Evan Williams in 1915
- Mary b 1883
- Elizabeth (Lizzie) b 1889
- Lewis b 1893 – The Cambrian and Merionethshire Standard reported Thomas’s injury in 13th April 1917 and stated that his younger brother was serving in Egypt.
- Magdalen 1895 – 1896
Thomas went to Tregaron County School prior to enrolling at St David’s College Lampeter on October 7th 1902 (student number 1967) where he was registered as Tom (G) Jones. He graduated in 1905 with a BA in History in 1905. Source: St Davids College and School Magazine 1920
He graduated from St. Michael’s Theological College, Aberdare, in 1906. The Cynon Valley History Society at http://www.cvhs.org.uk/timeline/chron.html States that the college opened in March 1892 in Abernant House, but relocated to Llandaff, Cardiff in 1907.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abernant,_Rhondda_Cynon_Taf states that Emma Talbot of Margam founded the college. Since 1917 Abernant House has been used as the site of Aberdare General Hospital. On September 27, 1929, a fire gutted the main building, destroying its notable interior furnishings too. The hospital later reopened in April 1933, and in 1939 W M Llewellyn funded the construction of a new maternity ward.
Crockford’s’ Directory of 1908 states that Thomas was made Deacon 1907, and was living at Mount Terrace, Rhewl, Mostyn. Andrew Lewis-Jones book “Mostyn in Bygone Days” (1984) states that Thomas lodged with Mr Bithell and his family. In 1925 Mr Bithell built a new house and named it “Glasfryn” in honour of his, and his family’s, friend.
De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1919 states that Thomas was a Curate in Mostyn for 9 years which would take him to 1916. Certainly he was still in Mostyn in 1915 as the Flintshire observer has reports of him officiating at church services, often in Welsh, on a number of occasions. On Thursday 12th August 1915 Thomas G Jones officiated at the service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Mostyn Church with a flower and egg service in the afternoon and in the the evening a Welsh service.
Thomas G Jones army career:
Thomas enlisted as a Chaplain, in June 1916. His medal card states that he was in France from 5th July 1916. After 9 years as a curate at Mostyn he had been offered, and had accepted, a living at Bylchau near Denbigh, but preferred to leave to “do his bit” with the forces.
About Army Chaplains:
Chaplains are the only British Army officers who do not carry standard officer ranks. They are officially designated Chaplain to the Forces (CF) (e.g. “The Reverend John Smith CF”). They do, however, have grades which equate to the standard ranks and wear the insignia of the equivalent rank. Chaplains are usually addressed as “Padre”, never by their nominal military rank.
http://www.army.mod.uk/chaplains states that 179 Chaplains died during WW1.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/priests/armychaplains_1.shtml has this account of the work of an Army Chaplain is described in this account published early in the war:
“I can go where I like; I go to see the wounded when being brought back from the front, and to see if I am needed when gunners have been shelled. If necessary, I am ready to go to the firing line, but I should only be in the way in the daytime. I see the sick who come in daily and are sent off by the ambulances to a hospital down country.
My first two Sundays I had no services. My third Sunday I had one in a farmyard lasting 20 minutes; and we had to march almost directly after. My fourth Sunday I crossed a river into the danger zone and held a service (without a surplice) for two companies, who were sleeping in bivouacs of straw in a wood in inches of water, surrounded by pools of mud up to 1ft. deep! I then went on to another wood to some more troops, and began a service, but a deluge stopped it, and I had to cancel a third owing to rain. We generally fight or march on Sundays!”
From the Front: The Army chaplain at work, The Times, Thursday 8 October 1914
About the 11th South Wales Borderers:
Wikipedia describes the South Wales Borderers as an as an infantry regiment of the British Army. It was formed in 1689 as the 24th Regiment of Foot and renamed the South Wales Borderers in 1881. The regiment served in a great many conflicts, including the American Revolutionary War, India, the Zulu War, Boer War, and World Wars One and Two. It was absorbed into the Royal Regiment of Wales in 1969.
11th (2nd Gwent) Battalion, South Wales Borderers was raised at Brecon on the 5th of December 1914 by the Welsh National Executive Committee. After initial training close to home they moved to Colwyn Bay and joined 130th Brigade, 43rd Division, which was renamed 115th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division on the 29th of April 1915. They moved to Hursley Park near Winchester in July 1915 but then to Hazeley Down for final training. They proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre on the 4th of December 1915. In July 1916 they were in action at Mametz Wood on The Somme, suffering severe casualties. The Division did not return to major action for more than a 12 months and it was during this time that Thomas received his fatal wound. In 1917 they were in action in the Third Battles of Ypres. In early 1918 the army was reorganised and on the 27th of February 1918 the 11th South Wales Borderers was disbanded in France with troops transferring to other units. – See more at: http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/alliedarmy-view.php?pid=7047#sthash.5ysXJCS2.dpuf
Thomas was thought to have been injured in France but his chaplain’s records (held at The National Archives) document his injury as occurring on 24th March 1917. His battalion was fighting at Bluet Farm, north west of Ypres at this time, thought the war diary does not mention his injury. He was initially treated at the 46th Casualty Clearing Station which at that time was at Mendinghem, near Poperinge. He was transferred to the 7th Stationary Hospital in Boulogne. His sister Mrs Jane Williams was issued a permit to visit him there, emn=barking at Folkstone. As she was of a nervous disposition his fiance Miss Prudence Roberts was issued a permit to accompany her.
He was transferred to the Empire Hospital for Soldiers in Vincent Square, Westminster. The hospital had been opened in 1913 as a nursing home for patients from overseas. The nurses were resident but there were no medical staff, the patients being looked after by their own doctor. It was a purpose built, well equipped, 4 storey brick building with an operating theatre on the top floor and a total of 40 well furnished en suite rooms on the other floors. At the beginning of 1916 the Hospital was taken over by the War Office for the treatment of officers suffering from traumatic paraplegia and brain injuries caused by bullet and shrapnel wounds. It was then known as the Empire Hospital for Officers (for Injuries to the Nervous System). Patients were initially first taken to the London Hospital in Whitechapel, under the care of the leading neurologist, Henry Head (1861-1940). Officers were then transferred to the Empire Hospital while enlisted men were transferred to the King George Hospital in Waterloo. Head and his protégée George Riddoch researched and published the treatment of gross lesions of the spinal cord and although it increased medical understanding it did not alter the treatment of spinal injuries for many years.The hospital closed in 1919 and is now the Grange Rochester Hotel.
Source: Lost Hospitals of london at http://ezitis.myzen.co.uk/empire.html
For more on the treatment of spinal injuries at that time: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=K3VHBAAAQBAJ&pg=PT47&lpg=PT47&dq=empire+hospital,+vincent+square&source=bl&ots=LzHlgjXtKM&sig=kFr6QFs7xyE3h_trgEL2wX0r938&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tJLwVPvyI8P8UvG0gegD&ved=0CD4Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=empire%20hospital%2C%20vincent%20square&f=false
The County Herald also reports that Thomas was conscious to the last, but died in the Empire Hospital on the morning of 12th April. The death certificate gives the cause of death as “gun shot wounds to the spine and chest, total paralysis of the abdomen and legs, and hypostatic congestion” (probably pneumonia). An article in the Liverpool Echo on Saturday 14 April 1917 stated that friends in Flintshire were aware that Thomas Glasfryn Jones had been wounded. Sadly they were unaware that he had died two days previously.
Thomas G Jones funeral:
The County Herald reports at length on his funeral. His body was taken by train from Paddington early on Monday 16th April to Llanio Road Station and then by road to his home in Llangeitho, where a service was held at 2pm that afternoon. A large number of people from far and wide had made their way to Llangeitho for the funeral. The body was taken from his home, carried by the headmaster and boys from Thomas’s school at Tregaron, to the parish church for the burial service and the church was so full that many people were unable to gain entrance. The services at his home, at the church and at the graveside were taken by the Rector of Llangeitho, the Vicar of Bagillt, his brother in law Rev Evan Williams, and his mother’s brothers The Rev Lewis Davies and Rev Edward Davies. The report of the funeral concludes with:
There in the beautiful Vale of Ayron, amid the ancient yew trees of the secluded little churchyard, with the forefathers of the hamlet he loved so well, he rests in peace; a good man and true, an eloquent and earnest preacher, and one who made the great sacrifice, and who shared al the perils and dangers of the men to whom he administered at the front.
- Thomas is remembered on the Memorial which forms part of the pulpit in Mostyn Church.
- He is listed on the memorial at St David’s College, Lampeter
- He may be on the memorial at Tregaron School.
- There was a war memorial in the Jubilee Hall, Tregaron, This is a wooden board with a gilt inscription. listing the names of the 105 local men who died in the First World War (1914-1918) but it is not known for sure if it includes Thomas’s name. The board was placed on the floor and has suffered from damp.
- Thomas Glasfryn Jones is listed on a memorial in Holy Trinity Church Oswestry and also on The War Memorial gates at Cae Glas Park, Oswestry. His fiance Miss Prudence Roberts was a member of the congregation. Her brother Arthur Cecil Roberts, previously a cleric at Kinnerly Church in Shropshire, had enlisted as an army chaplain the same month as Thomas. The Roberts family were from Glan y Don House in Mostyn and would have known Thomas from there.