Kindly Submitted by David Jones.
John Jones was my Great, Great Grandfather. He came to the Garw Valley at it’s industrial inception in 1876. He had previously been an Iron Puddler in his birthplace of Newport, Monmouthshire. John and his wife Sarah had eleven children but most had grown up by 1876 and only five were still living with him. In total they had seven daughters and four sons.
He arrived to work at the Great Western Railway as a Platelayer and moved to a house at 10 Station Row, Pontyrhyl. Some of his grown up children had moved to Dorset and London and were leading family lives of their own. However, John and Sarah regularly kept in touch with all of their children.
One of John’s sons, John Henry Jones had joined the Navy and served upon HMS Carysfort. He saw action upon the Nile in the Sudan war in 1884 and received a medal for bravery for his conduct in Suakin.
Eventually, two of his daughters, Sadie and Maggie left Pontyrhyl in 1890 and went to Canada to begin new lives.
John and Sarah had many Grandchildren. In fact, at least thirty seven! Most of the Grandchildren were girls, too young or coal miners but at least eight of the boys went to war at its outbreak in 1914.
One Grandson, John Peter Jones of Pant Street was a Stoker in the Ffaldau Colliery Coke ovens but enlisted straight away. He left the Ffaldau and got the train to Cowbridge where the Welsh Regiment enlistment office was. John was to see most of the action over the next four years on the Somme.
Another, his brother Frederick Coleman Jones joined the Navy, their cousins John Henry Gunsten and Herbert Edward Gunsten joined the Royal Field Artillery, another, Joseph Herbert Pascoe of Cuckoo Street joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
In Canada, other cousins, Maggie’s two Gieschen boys and Sadie’s son Raymond Collishaw joined the Canadian Infantry and RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) respectively.
Back in Pontyrhyl, John senior proudly noted that he had eight Grandsons fighting in the so called “Great War”. All were to have different outcomes.
John Peter Jones’s war record shows him to have been in constant front line action and wounded on numerous occasions. He spent several visits in field hospitals for wounds. Having tracked the service records of my cousins it is quite feasible that they saw their first cousin, Ray Collishaw engaged in dogfights in the sky above with the Hun which often entertained the troops in the trenches and lifted morale.
Raymond Collishaw became a world famous fighter ace. He was the first fighter pilot in history to shoot down six enemy planes in one day. He had several skirmishes with Manfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron” and even shot down and killed Von Richthofen’s number 2 airman, Karl Almenroder. By the end of the war he was to receive a staggering array of bravery medals. The Glamorgan Gazette of the time noted his ongoing heroics.
There are three sad endings to the story of John Jones’s Grandsons. Six returned home safely but Joe Pascoe was badly affected by what he had endured.
John Peter Jones died on the 19th August 1918, just five weeks before the end of the war. He had fought from day one. He died in the attack on Holnon Village near St Quentin, Somme and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois war memorial on the Cambrai to Arras road. His devastated parents left Pantygog and moved to Porthcawl where they lived out their days.
After service in France and Flanders, Driver 87469 John Henry Gunsten of the Royal Field Artillery was killed in action on 14th May 1916 in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) and is buried in the war cemetery in Amara.
Joe Pascoe moved from Cuckoo Street to Bridgend and whilst clearly suffering from shell shock left his home one day to visit a shop and was never seen again.
Stanley Jones left the Ffaldau Colliery and joined his mother and half siblings in Canada.
Ray Collishaw, with at least 60 kills to his name left WW1 and immediately joined another war in 1919 in the fight against the Bolsheviks in white Russia. In WW2 he commanded the entire Allied air force in North Africa. He visited Pant Street, Pantygog on at least two occasions in the 1930’s to visit the family.
When Raymond died in 1976 the RAF organized a double voodoo fly past over Buckingham Palace in his honour.
John Jones senior died on New Year’s Eve in 1919 at Cuckoo Street aged 85. All eleven of his children had outlived him but not some of his Grandchildren. He is buried at Bettws Church alongside Sarah.
Without complicating things any further there was another Gunsten lad who went to war so there were in fact NINE Grandsons in WW1.
1/ Herbert Edward Gunsten came back safely.
2/ John Henry Gunsten died in Amara, Iraq.
3/ AND: William George Gunsten joined the Dorset Regiment at Bournemouth. He was discharged with wounds but was accidentally shot by his cousin, George Hooper on 12th July 1918 at the Sandyhills, Corfe Castle whilst out shooting rabbits. I have the death certificate.
Following the loss of her two sons Mary Jane Gunsten (nee Jones) went to Canada to join her sisters, Sadie & Maggie, but couldn’t settle and she returned to Corfe Castle where she died in 1925.
She was John Jones Snr’s eldest child.