John Owen Jones was born in Mostyn on the 19th of May 1897. At first his family lived in Marsh Row, later moving to 5 Glan y Morfa, Llanerch y Mor.
Today very little of Llanerch y Mor and its surrounding community survives – the rows of cottages in Tai Trevor, the chapel and the ironworks have long gone.
John Owen Jones’s parents were Samuel and Jane Jones. For most of his working life Samuel Jones was a mariner, following in his father’s footsteps. Samuel went to sea at the age of 14 on the coaster Caroline of which his father was master. For many years he was mate on the ship “Swift Sure”. The “Swift Sure” was owned by the Darwen & Mostyn Iron Company and it conveyed passengers and goods between Mostyn and Liverpool.
Samuel and Jane had nine children in all. Their first child was born in 1886 and they named him John Owen. He was followed by Sarah Harriet in 1888 and Jane in 1890. In 1893 Mary was born. However she lived for only six months. The following year another baby came along – Peter Holland. ( Holland was Jane’s maiden name)
Then there was another tragedy. According to Samuel and Jane’s granddaughter Rosina Parry, the eight year old John Owen went to gather bluebells for his mother after Sunday School. He caught pneumonia and died.
Three years later in 1897 another boy was born and he was named after the brother who had been lost. John Owen. This was a common tradition years ago. There were three more children in the following years; Margaret Elizabeth (Rosina’s mother), Samuel and Robert.
The children attended Mostyn school. By 1911 John Owen, now 14 years old, had left school and was a farm labourer. Two years older, brother Peter was an apprentice joiner in the iron works. Rosina tells me that John Owen then went to work on the railway – as a porter on Malpas station.
He enlisted in Holywell into the 3rd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment. However his army career turned out to be very short because he died of meningitis in the Cambridge Military Hospital in Barrow in Furness just a few days before his twentieth birthday.
According to the Register of Soldier’s Effects he left the princely sum £1/17/2 ( one pound, seventeen shillings and two pence) which was returned to his father. The record of service card in the County Archive shows his period of service as January – May 1917. The card has been signed by his mother.
John Owen is buried in Mostyn Cemetery with his Taid, Captain John Jones, his baby sister Mary and the first John Owen. He is commemorated on the Malpas War Memorial and, the family believe, on a memorial at Euston Station.
Peter Holland Jones also died as a result of the war. The Chester Chronicle reported:
“Mr Peter Holland Jones who died shortly after the Armistice, was a petty officer on the ship “King Alfred” which was torpedoed during the war off the Irish coast”
Rosina remembers her Nain and Taid telling her that he became ill as a result of being in the water. This eventually led to his death. Peter Holland is also buried in Mostyn.
So… there we have it. Samuel and Jane lost four of their nine children. Rosina’s memory of her grandparents – still sharp at 95 years of age – is of happy, kind and contented people despite all they had been through. “You just had to get on with it in those days” she said – “they had no choice”