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Remembered Today:

"Todger" Jones, VC


Stephen Nulty

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Neil

Thanks for adding immense value to my original post about a very special man. The pictures are really appreciated.

Todger is pictured on the front cover of the current reprint of the Crookenden's History of the Cheshire Regiment, and the picture of him meeting the King in 1925 aroused my curiosity, which is how I came to make the original posting.

Cheers

Stephen Nulty

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Stephen,

Thanks for the heads-up on the book. I have ordered it twice now from Amazon and on both occasions have recieved a refund saying it was 'unavailable'.

I'm glad now because I will order the reprint issue from my local bookshop instead.

Also, thankyou everyone for the kind words.

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  • 1 year later...
Last night, reading the history of the Cheshire Regiment, I came across reference to "Todger" Jones and enjoyed reading his CV citation. It states:-

"On 25 September 1916 during the Battle of Morval Private Jones was with his company covering the advance in front of a village, when he noticed an enemy sniper 200 yards (200 m) away. He went out and, although one bullet went through his helmet and another through his coat, he returned the sniper's fire and killed him. He then saw two more Germans firing on him although they were displaying a white flag. Both these he shot. On reaching the enemy trench he found several occupied dug-outs and single-handed disarmed 102 of the enemy, including three or four officers, and took them prisoner."

I was a bit intrigued about how a single man could round up over 100 prisoners so did a bit of "googling" and found the following personal account from the man himself, taken from "The Poona Star" of 24 August 1929. It certainly made me smile.........

It was on September 25th that we took a village and were just beginning to dig ourselves in near the wood when bullets commenced to whiz past us, wounding one of our men in the head and making things decidedly uncomfortable. I felt the bullets ping-pinging by me and I said to the officer, "They're going to make it hot for us, Sir, if we don't get after 'em. Can I get out and have a packet at them?"

"My orders are to consolidate this position," replied the officer. "You must not go an inch farther, and you had better get on with your digging."

And this I did, but as I got up again I saw a chap hit through the head and another through the thigh. Looking ahead, I saw what appeared to be a white flag, and that fairly riled me. My "dander" was up and I shouted to the offer, "What do you think of that Sir?"

"You must get on with your digging, Jones" said he, but up I jumped and called out "If I've got to be killed, I'll die fighting, not digging."

I waited no longer, but dragged out my rifle, flung down my entrenching tool, jumped out of the trench and went across. The Huns were a couple of hundred yards away and they could see me coming. One bullet went "sss" through my steel helmet and four more through my jacket. There was a sniper in a tree but I soon counted him out. On I went and reached a "bay", or traverse, leading to the German trench. There were three men in it, but jumping in at the end of the trench, I had only one at a time to deal with. I got my back to the wall, and they whipped round on me. I always believe in firing from the hip and very quickly number one dropped dead.

Before the next man could recover his senses I had shot him as well, slipped another cartridge in the breech and got the old magazine going on the third at a yard range. The other man fired at me from the entrance to the dug-outs, but I managed to "get there" first every time, which is a great thing in jobs of that kind. In the second traverse there were five chaps standing behind one another. One of them made for me with his bayonet, but I bowled him over like the others by the old trick of shooting from the hip.

I got the five of them. I stalked through the trench, storming and shouting and hearing the firing and the commotion, the rest of the crowd bolted in the dug-outs. Soon they had all gone to earth and I was there alone. When they got into their dug-outs I had them. They were shouting and screeching, and every time I saw a movement I let fly.

Eventually they quieted down and seeing some of their bombs, a pile of them, on the floor of the trench, I picked up a couple and sent them flying down the first dug-out and they went off all right. I think they felt that the game was up when the bombs began to drop amongst them, for out rushed three fine specimens with their hands up and the usual cry "Mercy, Kamarad!"

They had left equipment behind them to show there was no "monkeying" and though I felt like laughing at being there all on my own, I demanded in a stern voice if any one of them could speak English.

One of them called out "I can." "Well," said I, "what is it to be? Do you want to be killed or taken prisoners? You can have it either way you like, for I am not particular. In fact, I would rather kill you."

And all with one consent actually cried out that they wanted to become prisoners and with Private Jones as their jailer, too!

I looked round and saw a hollow, so I told the English speaking German to order his two mates to get in there. They had to climb up to do it, and I knew our chaps would see them from our trench as they got on top.

"How many more are there down the dug-out?" I asked, and the Boche answered "about fifteen".

"What about it?" I said, and he replied "what do you mean?"

"Do they want killing or what?" said I, and he gasped, "I don't know."

"Well then," said I, "go and tell them what I have told you - that they can either be killed or taken prisoners and they can bloomin' well please themselves about it."

And by gum! He went and told them and came back to say they would all be taken prisoners.

"Well then," said I, "tell them they can come out when you call, but only one at a time, remember, and any one of 'em that has as much as a penknife on him, or any equipment, will be shot dead straight away. Fetch 'em up one at a time and tell them that my mates are coming across in thousands in a couple of minutes and if they find anything wrong with me, they'll cut you to bits."

I heard him yowling down the dug-outs what I had told him and meanwhile I got round the cover. Presently he came back and said "are you ready?" "Yes," I replied "call them up, and only one at a time and no rushing." He shouted the message and ordered them out without equipment. There were eight or nine dug-outs in all and they kept tumbling out and as they came I sent them out of the trench into the hollow I've told you of.

Lord! I'd expected fifteen and out they came in scores and went in my "compound." When they were all out, I threw some of their own bombs into the dug-outs to make sure that there was no sniper left behind to "do me in." And then I said to myself "Great Scot! What am I going to do with this little lot?" I knew I could eventually rely upon somebody coming from our trenches, but it was necessary to gain time.

It's not that I want to brag, but I didn't turn a hair; I just kept my head-piece going. I told them it would be a very cold night at the place where they were going to, and suggested they had better get their great-coats. I graciously permitted them to fetch them "two at a time, and no rushing." They ran and came in and out, and each time they passed me they saluted me, Private Jones! - and I sent them to their places. I didn't like the look of one "bloke" and kept half an eye on him. "I think I'll shoot that chap," I said to the interpreter.

"Don't," he exclaimed, "he very good man." But presently the "very good man" went for his great-coat and when he had got a short distance he made a dash for liberty. I swung round, clicked my rifle and got him fair and square. He rolled over and over just like a rabbit. Then I turned to the German by me. "Ask them if any more would like to try to escape," I said. He did so, and they all jumped up - they were seated on the ground - flinging up their arms and shouted "Kamarad!"

It fairly tickled me to death that did and I couldn't stop laughing.

Here was I playing a lone hand, for it looked so comical to see them all with their hands up - over a hundred of 'em - hoping against hope that Private Jones, Kamarad, wouldn't shoot.

I wondered what was going to happen next, for it was out of the question that one chap could keep them there for any length of time. But the bowling over of the chap who tried to escape was the best thing that could have happened to me and it fairly put the fear of God into the rest. The official report speaks of me bringing in a hundred and two, but though I didn't check their numbers, there must have been nearly and hundred and fifty of them when I got them into the open including four or five officers and any number of "non-coms" or whatever the Germans call them. But before they got into our lines, over forty of them were killed by our shells, which were sweeping the ground and clearing things up.

I then saw somebody start from our lines. It was my chum coming to look for me. He had been asking where I was and when they told him, he said: "If Todger's across there, I'm going to fetch him, dead or alive!" They all though I was a "goner," but, when they saw my chum start, three more chaps - a sergeant-major, a corporal and stretcher bearer, came across with him. Seeing I was alive, my chum gave me a smack on the face and couldn't stop larking.

They helped me to "round up the bag" and we marched them back to our lines. All the time our guns were knocking the position to bits and as I've said, some of the shells dropped amongst the prisoners and killed them. I got a shrapnel wound in the neck from our barrage.

Looking back and thinking over the incident, I feel that I must have had what the poets call "a charmed life," for, after jumping out of the trench and before I had accounted for the sniper in the tree, a bullet went through my helmet and was buzzing round my head-piece like a marble in a basis, finally galloping down my back and burning me during the journey. Four or five other bullets passed through my tunic, but I wasn't aware of it until afterwards. It never entered my mind that I should be killed and I didn't think my time had come.

Asked if he could explain how he was led into the exploit "Todger" said, with a grin, "when I saw the first three men in the bay I knew I was up against something, but I had been in more than one tight corner before and I had learned that the art of warfare - for the individual, as any rate, was to size up a situation quickly, to fire without hesitation.

My motto is never to lose this (significantly touching his head). The man who loses his "nob" is done for. I knew if I had to go I should, for everybody has his time, that's what I believe and I meant to sell myself at a good price. But when I got the first men in the traverse and drove the others back into the dug-outs, I felt that the game was in my hands. I had them at my mercy; they didn't know I was unsupported, cowed them into submission to my orders. I pictured the end that awaited them if a hair of my sacred head was singed and my trump card was played in making them come out one by one.

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Neil,

Are you aware of the commemorative stone in Victoria Park, Widnes to Halton`s three VC holders, Mottershead, Jones and Wilkinson.

Regards

H

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  • 1 year later...
Guest OneRedShoe

I am hoping to include an image and reference to Todger Jones in a public art mural I'm designing for Runcorn Old Town.

Runcorn is my home town, I can't believe I had never heard of him before researching this mural. An unbelievable act of heroism, I hope I can inform other Runcornians who have not been told about him by including his image in the painting.

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Hi Redshoe,

Here's a pic my dad (and forum member) Eric Thornton drawn of Todger in thew act of running across No-Man's-Land (note the bullet hole in the helmet)

There will hopefully be a statue erected of Todger Jones in the not too distant future, opposite the cenotaph on the corner.

Neil

post-42493-0-64811600-1303286336.jpg

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TRUE STORIES OF THE GREAT WAR

IV— JONES TELLS ANOTHER STORY

Pressed — and it should be understood that the man whose deed Sir Frederick Norman has described as "bisr stuff" was terribly reluctant to speak of himself — pressed to recount some other vivid experiences which have been hinted at, Private Jones was compelled to admit that on two or three other occasions prior to the capture of the hundred and two Germans he had been promised special mention, but the officers who had noted him were killed before the opportunity of recommending him for honours arose.

"It isn't every heroic deed that is noticed," said the soldier. "Many's the chap who earns the V.C. who never gets a Thank you.' Every lad out there is winning, though not receiving, glory ; they are brave, noble, clean-

fighting, staunch and true men, and if they haven't had my luck they've deserved it. "But if you want to know what further part I have played in this war, and my preparation for the big slaughter, I may say I was an old Volunteer of the Cheshire Battalion, and that the skill I acquired as a marksman sixteen or seventeen years ago led to me being employed at the Front as a sniper and bomb-thrower. By trade I am a fitter, and am thirty-six years of age, and I tried to join the Engineers at the outbreak of war, but as a Territorial Reservist was eventually posted to the Cheshire Regiment, and found myself at the Front in January, 191 5. "Amongst the narrow shaves I have had may be included a bullet through my pouch, the heel of my boot blown away, and an explosion of a shell which lifted me ten yards in the air and lodged a piece of shrapnel in my shoulder and another piece in my knee.

"Hill 60 was one of my hottest trials, and there I had my first experience — second hand, fortunately — of the German poison-gas. We had only been relieved the night before, and wanted a rest badly, but at ten o'clock in the morning we received word that something had happened at Hill 60, and it was up to us to try to set it right. We got through Ypres town to the railway cutting, and there came under heavy shellfire. Bad wasn't the word for it, for they were bowling the lads over right and left, and as we got closer and closer their machine-gun fire was mowing us down something cruel. "Eventually we took cover in the railway cutting and met the Germans coming along four deep. We received orders to charge, and cleared them off the railway line, and then we had to start with the trenches. No sooner had Colonel Scott given the word, as he stood by my side, than he ropped mortally wounded. We didn't wait for further orders, for vvc saw red, and cleared the second line of trenches. Then we made another charge, and took the original trench, which had been held by the Dorsets.

"There they sat, staring at us. 'Matey, you're relieved,' we said to one, but there was no answer. 'There's some hot tea waiting for you in Ypres,' we said to another. No answer. They were dead — gassed, and we didn't know then of the diabolical device that had killed them. I was one of forty-three that went out that night to bomb the Germans, expecting that another regiment would take over the trenches from which we had driven the enemy. "We used up all our bombs, and the Germans began to bomb us in turn. Our lieutenant was the only man with a revolver, and he used it until he had no more ammunition left and was shot. All except three of us and a corporal were either killed or wounded, and the corporal asked me if I could lead them back. I did it, and reported to the company officer, who said he had received reports on which he was going to recommend me for honours. A brave officer — reported from that very day as missing, as was the lieutenant.

"We also went through the Battle of St. Eloi, which lasted three weeks. We were at Hill 60 when it was blown up, and we remained in the trenches for twenty days, and after just one night out put in another forty- three days, which constitutes a record either in the French or British Army for continual fire-trench work. We were even reduced to the necessity of sewing sandbags together to serve as a change of 'linen.' When the hill went up it was a sight one can never forget, while the shelling of Ypres was more like a mighty firework display than anything else.

"The first trenches I was in were only thirty-five yards from the Huns. We caught a squad of them working in the rear of their trench. We soon downed them, but the others spotted us, and rattled at us for forty-eight

hours. We dared not show our heads above the trench, but I was acting as guide, and one night I turned out to look for a N.C.O. who had been sent with a message and had failed to return. He had had to go through two

woods in the dark, and I made sure he had lost his way. I took the turn he would have done had he gone wrong, and after going about two thousand yards I stepped through! a gap in the hedge and got a nice Httle hock.

"Lying on the ground about a yard from me were three Huns with helmets, rifles, and full kit! I whipped my rifle from my shoulder and butt-ended it, meaning to make a good fight for it. I noticed they did not move, so

I stepped closer in, and saw the frost on their packs. Then I knew they were dead. "My first thought was souvenirs. I got in between the dead men, and was going to begin collecting, when a star-shell went up, and I soon found I had landed between our own lines and the Germans. They spotted me, opened rapid fire, and sent up light after light. I flung myself into a ditch and waited about ten minutes. I don't know how I escaped being hit, for the bullets struck all around me. All thought of souvenirs had gone out of my head. When they ceased I made a sprint for it. I did 'even time' that night, and was mighty glad when I found the missing N.C.O.

"At another place we had a very rough time of it. Hell seemed to be let loose, for shells were dropping into our trenches, mortars blew the bags down, we were under rapid fire from the German trenches, and to cap the game they had mined the trench and tried to blow it up, but they had gone too deep, and only one or two of our lads were buried, and were safely dug out again."

Side by side on the table Private Jones placed his V.C. and a silver-edged German Cross of the "second degree," one the very embodiment of modest worth, the other blatantly arrogant. "And yet," said "Todger," looking upon the two emblems, and then turning his eyes upon a large official photograph of himself and his flock of a hundred and two Huns, and anon taking in at a glance a gold watch, a silver teapot, an illuminated address, and other public tributes to his valour — "and yet, next to the V.C, I think more of that Iron Cross than of all the rest, and God knows how much I appreciate all that my fellow-townsmen have done for me. "But it's quite another story," he protested, when asked for an explanation. "I won that Cross in a single-handed joust with a company commander of the First Prussian Guards. And I don't think the poor chap had ever had the chance to wear it ! But he had to go, for there was only him and me for it, and I didn't see why Jones should be turned down. "The fact is, it was the last scrap I was in before I won the V.C, and it was there that I got wounded in the shoulder. I don't think there's any harm in telling you it was at Guillemont — Mouquet Farm and the stronghold around. The Germans had beaten back all attempts to take it from them. Division after division had tried

to wrest it from them and had failed. "Then they brought up our division, and once again we were told that we had been called out to do what others had failed to do. It was a terrific struggle, and w^e were repulsed four times. Our company had to take the lead at the fifth charge. The bombers won through and leaped into the trench.

"We knocked the machine-gunners over and helped the following waves to get through with little loss. It was a terrible journey — the worst, I believe, that I have been through. "Yes, I'm coming to the Iron Cross by degrees. I had a wild three minutes, a rare good do. We got rid of those about us, and I rushed into the next traverse and met my man, a fine big chap, full of fight, a commander of the swell crowd, the First Prussian Guards. "He made for me with bayonet, but I knew too many tricks even for a Prussian Guard, and I soon settled him. The Iron Cross, in its Httle case, fell from his inside pocket as he dropped. It's new ; I suppose he'd just received it from the Kaiser. Poor beggar ! I'll never forget him when I look upon the Cross I won from him in fair fight. "We were then reinforced, and advanced another three thousand yards past Guillemont and dug in, being too exhausted to go any farther. We stayed there until relieved in the early morning, when we went into support about six hundred yards behind, and the shelling was very heavy. It was here I got v/ounded. It happened in this way.

"A party was lost, and I told them I would take them down for a drink, as they had been without food and water for over sixty hours. I got them to the place they had to stay at, got the water, and was making back when

one of the big shells plumped alongside me and lifted me about ten yards, a piece getting me in the right shoulder and leg. "I refused to go down the line, and though my arm was useless for a day or two, and was a bit stiff and painful when I won the V.C, it was all a streak of luck, for if I'd gone to hospital I should have missed the funniest round-up I've ever seen."

And with this Private Jones was brought back to his starting-point. He simply blushed when reference was made by the interviewer to some of the things that have been said and some of the eulogies passed upon his prowess. He admitted that he was filled with pride when he was ushered into the presence of the King to receive his decoration. "I was a bit flustered at first," said "Todger," "but His Majesty made me at home. One of the first things he said to me when the record was read was, 'How the dickens did you do it, Jones ?' I won't tell you what I answered on the spur of the moment, but the King laughed, and so did I. 'It was just my luck,' I said to His Majesty. 'I was like a man with his back against the wall, and I kept my head,' And then I gave him an idea how the thing had been done, and he laughed at the thought of me fetching home my happy little family."

Throughout the recital Private Jones made no secret of the fact that his nickname is "Todger." "Why 'Todger'?" I inquired, and the V.C. man chuckled just as one may imagine he chuckled when he remembered the pantomimic hold-up. "I was afraid you'd come round to that," said he, "but there it is, and there's no getting away from it. I was 'Todger' at school, and 'Todger' followed me to France. It's like this. As a boy at school I played football, and I suppose I was a bit tricky or artful when it came to dribbling. My school-fellows nicknamed me 'Dodger,' but my front name is Tom, and it wasn't long before it was 'Todger' this and 'Todger' that. It was 'Todger' with everybody at the Front, and lots of 'em seemed to know me by no other name.

Runcorn feels itself honoured by Jones's wonderful prowess. Thousands of people met him upon his return, a marble tablet is to record his deeds. His employers have provided his parents with an annuity of fifty pounds per year, he has received a gold watch, an illuminated address, framed photographs, a smoker's cabinet, a silver wrist-watch, a silver teapot, a case of cutlery, field- glasses, and a host of other things. He has also had a civic reception at Chester, been entertained at dinner by the Cheshire Regiment, chaired round the Castle square, and been photographed and filmed.

http://www.archive.org/stream/truestoriesofgre04mill#page/342/mode/2up

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armourersergeant

Excellent account, thanks for posting that.

A very brave man.

Regards

Arm

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In 2002 Dave Thompson published a useful 44 page illustrated booklet entitled:

I Laughed Like Blazes - The Life of Private Thomas 'Todger' Jones VC, DCM.

ISBN 0-9542629-0-5

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If you Google or ebay "The History of the Cheshire Regiment in the Great War" - Col Arthur Crookenden - there is a picture of Private T A Jones VC on the front cover, meeting the King with the Lord Lieut. of Cheshire.

If you've got the book the same pic is on the frontispiece, giving the date and place as 'Runcorn, 8 July 1925'.

What a marvellous guy - wouldn't you have just loved to meet him, over a pint or two!

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What an amazing coincidence, I have not read this thread before and have just watched (a repeat) on channel 12 Antiques Roadshow and the subject of Pte Jones cropped up in the form of a piece of trench art with his name and deed inscribed bought by the owners husband at a Birmingham arms fair a few years back, a couple of relatives appeared and his last resting place was shown by one of his relatives. Fascinating.

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Graham

Off subject but this post will interest you.

http://1914-1918.inv...howtopic=162767

I tried message but your message account is full.

1st Cheshire Officer Arthur Digby Dampier tranfered Beds Nov 1914.

Regards

Simon

P.s did you get head stone of 1st Cheshires from Overliegh?

Hi Simon

Thanks for pointing that out to me - I had missed it, but as you say it's in the 1/beds!

As for Overliegh - I've got a photo of CSM J W T Francis' Grave, but not Pt. C Nuttall, as yet.

Best wishes

Graham

P.S. Have cleared out some of the messages now!

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Hi Simon

Thanks for pointing that out to me - I had missed it, but as you say it's in the 1/beds!

As for Overliegh - I've got a photo of CSM J W T Francis' Grave, but not Pt. C Nuttall, as yet.

Best wishes

Graham

P.S. Have cleared out some of the messages now!

Graham

Pm me your e mail addy. I can then pass on the photo's

I keep getting this on your pm

The member GrahamC cannot receive any new messages

Simon

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  • 7 months later...

This site http://www.cc-publishing.co.uk/Archives/todger.html

Says the following.

Todger was hailed by Runner Kenworthy, a young friend of his who had recently come up to the position. 'It's a great day today, Todger,' he said. 'It's my eighteenth birthday.' These were the last words uttered by Runner Kenworthy for in that instance he was struck by a German bullet and fell dead.

Todger was horrified and filled with hatred for the enemy he walked steadily out into No Man's Land. No-one saw him go and no-one gave him permission.

Not sure if it is true.

But this is on CWGC http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=797988

Ant

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Excellent piece of work. My maternal grandparents lived in Mersey Road, Widnes, and I used to walk with my grandad across the railway bridge that they still had a walkway, to Runcorn, and I remember him showing me the grave. My grandfather served in the RFA during the war and died in 1974 with a reasonable amount of shrapnel in his leg!

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  • 1 year later...

Hi all,

I thought I'd add these photos of one of Todger Jones' medals that is still with the family. Obviously it's an unnofficial medal. It was given to him as a gift on his return to Runcorn.

This medal is with one family member and another relative has his Territorial and a Coronation medal. (The rest are in the regimental museum)

Neil

post-42493-0-43747800-1354723263_thumb.j

post-42493-0-50361800-1354723285_thumb.j

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Thanks for sharing, Neil.

I'm always glad that I started this thread :)

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