- May 16, 2013
Follow this link to see how Captain Hugh Jones’ Story has captured the interest of the Berria newspaper at http://www.berria.info/dokumentuak/dokumentua1251.pdf go to pages 6 and 8 here is the translation of the article.
Captain Hugh Jones Story By K M Evans
I am the youngest daughter of Captain Hugh & Ann Jones of Surrey House Borth. My father was born on 31st October 1874 & had been connected with the sea all of his working life .I did not know my father as he drowned on the 5th October 1918 & I was born the 2nd September 1917 .My elder sister Anna Jane Jones was born on the 20 April 1909 & she died on 1st March 1959 at Bow Street and she could remember my father.
I married Ronald Evans 11th April 1941 at Soar Chapel Borth & since our marriage we have been trying to find out the circumstances how my father died. My eldest son Hugh was born in Borth in 1943 has along with my husband has been very interested in the Captain Hugh Jones story. In 1960 Ronald Evans my husband, me (Kathleen Evans nee Jones) & our two sons Hugh & Neil left Southampton on route for Vigo Spain .We motored up through Spain to Bilbao & paid a visit to my father’s grave, the first visit from any member of his family since he was buried there .
The Evans family with the 3 Spanish fishermen who found Captain Hugh Jones’s body
It was three o’clock in the morning of October 5th 1918 and though the world did not know it, the Great War had little more than a month to run. Only a few more men had now to die. On board the British steamer “Heathpark.” 1,963 tonne Captain Hugh Jones of Surrey House Borth & his crew were bringing their boat home in convoy from Bilbao, heavy with iron ore for their country’s war effort. There were five of them in the convoy, including the Spanish steamer “Mercedes” 2,164 tonne and a Norwegian vessel, and they had sailed from Bilbao at 10.0 p.m. on the previous day, hugging the coast to avoid the attentions of German submarines. That was the last that was heard of them. In that night of ruthless destruction all five ships disappeared. From the Spanish, there were three survivors, who told of the submarine they had seen before the torpedoes struck. The other Borth person’s on Heathpark were David L Lewis aged 26 of Dalston House & David Kenneth Jones aged 16 of Glanmore House
Captain Hugh Jones and his crew who were torpedoed by a German submarine during WW1 – All lives were lost
Four days later ,on October 9th ,four miles off the little port of Gustaria, a fishing boat saw a body , equipped with a lifebelt floating in the sea ,picked it up and landed it the same day at Ondarroa, a Basque fishing village .
Captain Hugh Jones had come to his last port .With great reverence & respect the fishing village of Ondarroa found him a resting place in the cemetery there, after an inquiry, conducted by two British Vice-Consuls, had identified him and delt with his personnel effects.
At a ceremony in the Sailors Institute in June 1919, the British Government represented by the vice-consul, Mr James Inns, made monetary gifts to all the members of the crew and presented a framed photograph of Captain Hugh Jones with the caption: “Hugh Jones Captain of the English steamship “Heathpark,” torpedoed off the east coast on October 5th 1918 .This photograph is dedicated to the crew of the fishing smack ‘Isabelita for recovering his body, which lies in the cemetery of Ondarroa.” After distributing the gifts, Mr Inns thanked the crew “in the name of the family of the heroic sailor who, in fulfilling his duty, would have disappeared in the depths of the ocean like his companions were it not for the conduct of the fishermen.”
Captain Hugh Jones was exhumed and re buried in Bilbao British Protestant cemetery in July 1925. This cemetery, created in 1775, ceased to be used as a cemetery in 1929, and all those buried there were removed to a new site in Lujua. And there, splendidly cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission a new gravestone was erected which was inscribed with the badge of the Mercantile Marine and below it the words :- “Master Hugh Jones, S.S.”Heathpark” 5th October 1918, Age 49. Died for King and Country. Rest in Peace. Never Forgotten.”
Our family in 1960 visited Ondarroa being the only members of the family ever to visit Captain Hugh Jones grave .The Isabelita is no more but its captain, Sr Jose Arteche now aged 73 and two members of the crew Sr Simeon Echano (69) and Sr Mauro Bericua (78) were there to greet the captain’s daughter Mrs Kathleen Evans nee Jones and it was an unforgettable experience for all of us.
Staff at the People’s Collection Wales office at the National Library of Wales have uploaded images on behalf of the family and they can be viewed if you follow this link. http://www.peoplescollectionwales.co.uk/User/hugh-evans
All of these images and more will form a larger collection on The People’s Collection Wales website to commemorate WW1
Hazel Thomas – The People’s Collection Wales