In 1924 they later changed their name to their mother’s family name of Penderel.
Dougles Jones the eldest of three brothers from Pontardawe
At the outbreak of war in August 1914, three brothers from Wales volunteered to join the British army. Amazingly, when the war was over, they all returned to their home, decidedly battered and scarred, but alive!
The eldest, Douglas, (1887-1963) unlike his younger brothers, was a committed pacifist, but on 4th September 1914, aged 27, he enlisted and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as a private, although by the end of the war had been promoted to temporary Sergeant Major. For over three years, Douglas was attached to the London Field Ambulance 56th Division, evacuating wounded and dying soldiers from the battlefields, mainly at Ypres and Paschendale, to casualty field stations. The horses were his particular responsibility as the field ambulances were horse driven. He was ‘mentioned in dispatches’ and awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
Godfrey Jones, later Penderel, from Pontardawe was awarded the Military Cross.
The next brother, Godfrey (1890-1943) joined the Welsh Regiment and fought in the battle of Sulva Bay, Gallipoli in 1915. He was wounded in the battle and hospitalised in London. He then learnt to fly, joined the Royal Flying Corps and in July 1916 was a fully fledged flying officer. He was soon in action but was twice wounded winning the Military Cross and the Italian medal for ‘military valour’. The citation in the London Gazette of March 1917 stated that ‘he received his M.C. in recognition of conspicuous gallantry in action. With a patrol of three scouts he attacked a hostile formation of ten enemy machines. Although wounded, he continued the combat and drove down an enemy machine. Later, although again wounded, he remained with his patrol until the enemy retired.’
Godfrey survived WWI, but remained in the RAF as it was called after the war. His obsession with flying and speed remained, competing in the King’s cup race of 1925 where he was reported to have made the fastest time but came second, owing to the handicap system. Although still in the RAF, he continued to race aeroplanes, cars and motorbikes. He also bob-sleighed for the British team in Moritz!
He was in command of the first flight from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope and was, based at Helopolis. The RAF were an important presence in Egypt, ostensibly to map the desert, but also for strategic military purposes. When in 1932, Godfrey joined the expedition, which successfully found the ‘Lost Oasis of Zerzura’ in the Libyan desert, his experience was invaluable. This expedition was led by Count Almasy, the central character of the 1982 film ‘The English Patient’, based on the Libyan expedition. Godfrey was depicted as Madox.
In WW2, Godfrey Penderel was a test pilot. He was killed in 1943, whilst on a secret flight in a Hurricane HV895 over Orfordness, Suffolk. He was 52.
Harold Jones of Pontardawe
The youngest brother was Harold (1896-1967). In August 1914, declaring his age as 19, when he was still 18, signed up for the 21st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, as a private. Eventually, on November 15th 1915, he went with the brigade to France and in January 1916 was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the newly formed Tank Corps. At the age of twenty, he was commander of a seven man crew and two years later was in the Somme as Captain in the battle of Cambrai where, according to a telegram from the War Office, he was ‘wounded in the head by flying shrapnel’. Although Harold returned home for a short time, he was back in France when the armistice was signed. He remained in the army until 1922, then returned to Wales.
Ypres in ruins taken by Dougles Jones and Harold Jones (on right in front of his tank).
Godfrey Jones with The Royal Flying Corps c. 1917 and Officers accommodation behind the trenches in the Somme.
A selection of items relating to the Jones brothers can be viewed at Casgliad y Werin / People’s Collection Wales.