Pontypool uncle’s war exploits retold

AUTHOR: Carol Lewis, who has written a book about her ancestors in WW1, at home in Cwmbran

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First published in News

A WOMAN has spoken of her shock at finding out that her great great uncle was a part of the WWI Christmas Day truce - where a copy of the Argus' sister paper The Free Press was used as a make shift flag.

Carol Lewis, 45, a member of Cwmbran Writers Group, started researching her relatives who fought in the war and has collected their stories into a book entitled Tell Them of Us.

One of the stories is of her great great uncle, William Jones, who was born in Blackwood in 1879, but lived in George Street, Pontypool from 1900.

Mr Jones was a rugby player and member of Pontypool RFC, going by the name of Blackwood Jones.

During her research, which took around ten years to complete using books and websites, she discovered her great great uncle, a sergeant, had taken his Pontypool roots to war with him.

She said: “One of the soldiers including William got hold of a copy of the Pontypool Free Press and attached it to the top of a rifle as a flag of truce."

The Germans were the 7th Bavarian Regiment, and they exchanged food and cigarettes while giving them all the chance to bury the dead, Ms Lewis' research suggests.

Author of the book, They Fought with Pride, David Nicholas confirmed the tale from a soldiers written account from the time.

It reads: “We spent Christmas Day in a rather unique position... as soon as it was daylight we stopped firing and sang ‘Hark!’ the Herald Angels Sing in real Poolian style.

“The Germans were astonished, so me and Segt Jones (Blackwood) got a copy of the ‘Press,’ dated December 11 and struck it on top of a rifle as a flag of truce.

"They stopped firing... there they were on top of their trench waving for us to come, and asking for cigarettes.”

Mr Jones lived at 29 High Street, Pontypool, with his wife Mary Elizabeth and their two children, Elsie and Pansy.

But in 1914, Mr Jones and his two brothers, Richard and Percy, were called up to fight.

Mr Jones served in the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (militia) and the 2nd Monmouthshire Regiment.

He was mobilized on August, 5 1914 and was in France on November 6 at Le Havre.

In December, the 2nd Monmouthshire Regiment occupied the same trenches as the Essex Regiment, rotating every four days, near Frelinghien.

Ms Lewis also researched the history of her other great great uncles. Richard's body was never found, while Percy, is buried in Calvaire (Essex) Military Cemetery. Their stories also feature in her book.

But Mr Jones survived the war, returning to Britain after sustaining facial injuries, and was discharged in 1917. He died in 1936.

Her book is available on www.amazon.co.uk and also on Kindle.

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