Elias Henry Jones

26 Jan

Overlooking the Menai Straits in Bangor is the imposing house – Menaidale – the home of Elias Henry Jones a twentieth century soldier, author and academic. Eldest son of Sir Henry Jones he was born in Aberystwyth in September 1883 and was educated at Glanadda Infants School in Bangor and Llangernyw Village School before attending Glasgow High School when his father was appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy at the City’s university.  Elias continued his education at the Universities of Glasgow, Grenoble and Oxford.

He was a brilliant student and at the age of 21 successfully passed the Indian Civil Service examination and from 1906 to 1915 held various district appointments in Burma.  At the outbreak of the First World War he served in an artillery regiment in Mesopotamia, at first in the ranks and then later as a commissioned officer.

He was captured at the surrender of Kut-el-Amara and was taken Prisoner of War in Anatolia, Turkey and force marched 700 miles to a camp at Yozgad. The story of his captivity is told in his book “The Road to En-dor” where he described how along with Lieutenant C.W. Hill (an Australian serving in the R.A.F.) their escape. Duty-bound as officers to attempt escape, Jones sensed that what had previously been the harmless fun of fooling around with a homemade Ouija board could be turned into something much more productive. Playing on the naive nature of their captors, Hill and Jones weaved an incredibly elaborate plot and hatched a plan to escape.  Acting as mediums for the Ouija board, they attempted to convince their captors that they could reveal the whereabouts of buried treasure on the Mediterranean coast, once there, they planned to abscond to Cyprus. Although the original plan failed, Jones and Hill decided to persist with the ruse of insanity to gain repatriation on medical grounds. They succeeded (although a fake suicide attempt by Elias Jones nearly cost him his life) and they were approved for a prisoner exchange and arrived back in Britain a couple of months before the end of the war.

In 1919, while on military sick leave, he became secretary to Lord Curzon on the ‘Middle East Committee’ of which Winston Churchill was also a member. Later he returned to Burma where he became Commissioner of Excise and Secretary to the Departments of Education, Public Health and Local Government. He was also a member of the Burma Legislative Council.

In April 1922 he came to live at Menai Dale with his wife, Mair, and four children before returning to Burma the very next day.  His daughter recalled him walking out of the front door while her Mother played “the tune from ‘Rusticana’ which was their tune” on the piano.

In 1924, Jones retired from the Indian Civil Service, and came back to Bangor to be with his family and occupied himself with public work. Elias Henry Jones was a keen fisherman and a good shot and enjoyed nothing more than fishing and shooting in the Lake District and Snowdonia with his sons. Elected to Bangor town council in 1928, in the same year he was also appointed a member of the Councils of both the University of Wales and the University of North Wales and acted as a tutor in Economics and Political Science at Coleg Harlech.

In 1933 he became Secretary and Registrar to the University College of North Wales even though he was already serving on over sixty committees connected with voluntary public work.  He became ill in November 1940, four months after his son Arthur had been killed in action in the Second World War.

Just before his death in December 1942 he stated “that there should be no flowers and no fuss” and that those who would have sent wreaths should “save their money for Coleg Harlech to make the path easier for some poor lad”. He died at Runwell Hospital in Essex after a long illness aged 59 years.

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One Response to “Elias Henry Jones”

  1. bedwyr March 20, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    hi – you may be interested to learn that The Road to En-dor is now available as an e-book – http://www.cromen.co.uk/en/books/endor.html

    I’ve also created a short biography page for EH Jones – http://www.cromen.co.uk/en/authors/jones_eh.html – and got some of the information from your page . . . I’ve credited and linked back to this page –
    diolch yn fawr – bedwyr

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