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Another Sgt York?

November 7 2002 at 7:49 PM
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Dick G  (Login Dick Gaines)
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Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 11:34:09 -0600
From: "Mark Parillo" <war@ksu.edu> | This is Spam | Add to Address Book
Subject: REPLY: Common Soldier as Hero
To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU

From: "Chuck Smith" <uchuck@mindspring.com> Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 1:28:42 -0500 On Tue, 5 Nov 2002 20:56:51 -0000, Brian Ditcham wrote: >

I'm not sure I'd go along with the suggestion that there was any reluctance > to "create" non-officer heroes in the UK during the First World War either.

Such is the case of Thomas Alfred "Todger" Jones: On 25 September 1916 at Morval, France Private Jones was with his company covering the advance in front of a village, when he noticed an enemy sniper 200 yards 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-handedly disarmed 102 of the enemy, including three or four officers, and took them prisoner.

Todger Jones actually did venture out into no-man's-land, kill a sniper, and bring back 102 prisoners.

But it did not happen quite the way the official citation above had it.

Jones was a character in the regiment, and a regular recipient of the nastier work details for disciplinary reasons. On the day in question, he and another soldier, a relative of his from Runcorn, had been detailed to empty the "honey-tubs" from the company latrine.

He "noticed" the sniper when his kinsman was shot dead and he was drenched with the contents of the tub in the process. He stalked the sniper, disposed of him, and started looking for other Germans to kill in retribution.

After killing two more men in no-man's-land, he entered the German trench line. There he discovered a large dugout. He entered, fired a round into the ceiling and shouted "Hande hoch!" Surprised by the appearance of a British soldier, the inhabitants of the bunker surrendered.

Well over a hundred Germans filed out into the trench. When they realized that there was only one enemy anywhere near their lines, some of them tried to escape. Jones killed two, rapid-firing his rifle from the hip; the rest froze.

Jones got them organized and started them back across to the British lines. His mates, who did not even know he was gone, saw a clump of Germans crossing no-man's-land and opened fire, killing many of them before Jones managed to wave them off. One-hundred-and-two survived to be marched off to the rear by Todger Jones.

A photograph was taken of the cocky Cheshire private as he herded his charges into the rear area. Examination of the photo reveals one more thing about the men he captured.

They wore a variety of different regimental uniforms, and all of them sported field bandages. Todger Jones had captured a forward dressing station (which does much to explain how one Tommy could "disarm" well over 100 of the enemy).

That things were not exactly the way they seemed does not detract from the bravery of Jones's action. To venture out into the enemy trench line alone required courage.

The motivation (revenge), however, was not acceptable to the higher powers, nor were the actual details. The sight of one man bringing in over a hundred prisoners single-handed was, however, too good an opportunity to pass up. Jones was gazetted, shook hands with King George V, and became a hero, an example of British courage and pluck and aggressiveness.

Chuck Smith ****************************************************** ******************************************************

 
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