b. 25/12/1880 Runcorn, Cheshire. d. 30/01/1956 Runcorn, Cheshire.
Thomas Alfred “Todger” Jones (1880-1956) was born on Christmas Day 1880 at 39 Princess Street, Runcorn, Cheshire. He was known as “Todger”, a combination of Thomas and Dodger, a name he acquired due to his footballing skills. His father, Edward, was a fitter at the Hazlehurst Soap Works, Runcorn, where he worked for 62 years. He was also a preacher at the Ellesmere Street Free Church in Runcorn. Todger’s mother was Elizabeth nee Lawson, and she married Edward on 18th April 1868 at Frodsham Parish Church, Cheshire. Todger was one of nine children born to the couple.
Todger was educated at Runcorn National School from 1885-1894, and became an apprentice fitter at the same firm that his father worked in. He later became an engineering fitter at the Salt Union Works at Weston Point, Runcorn.
He enlisted with the Runcorn Volunteers on 15th January 1900, a company of 2nd (Earl of Chester’s) Volunteer Battalion. It became 5th (Earl of Chester’s) Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment on 24th April 1908 on the formation of the Territorial Force. He was noted for his marksmanship and was awarded the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal in 1912. When he resigned from the Territorial Force in 1913, he went on to the National Reserve.
He was recalled on 5th August 1914 and was attested at Runcorn on 31st August 1914. He wanted to go into the Royal Engineers, but remained with the Cheshire Regiment. Having spent some time training at Birkenhead, he went to France on 16th January 1915. On Christmas Eve 1915, has was punished for overstaying his leave in England by four days, forfeiting four days’ pay.
On 25th September 1916, during the Battle of Morval, Jones performed an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was with his company covering the advance in front of a village, when he noticed an enemy sniper 200 yards (183 m) away. He left his trench on his own, and crossed no man's land without covering fire. Although one bullet went through his helmet and another through his coat, he returned the sniper's fire and killed him. Near the enemy trench, he saw two more Germans firing on him while simultaneously displaying a white flag. Jones shot them both. Upon reaching the enemy trench, he found several occupied dug-outs and single-handedly disarmed 102 Germans. Three or four were officers, and the entire trench was taken by Jones and his comrades.
The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 18th November 1916. He received a civic reception in Chester and was presented with a gold wristwatch, a silver teapot, a case of cutlery and a pair of field glasses. He was wounded and gassed on 4th August 1918 and admitted to hospital at St Omer the following day. He was awarded the DCM for his actions at Beugny near Bapaume on 28th September 1918. He went forward five times with messages through an intense artillery barrage. He also led forward stragglers to their positions. He was discharged on 28th May 1919.
Todger’s private life was a little complicated. He was due to marry Robina Abram during the Great War, but the plans fell through. However, they did have a son, Thomas William Jones Abram, born on 8th April 1915. Todger returned to his pre-war job at the Salt Union Works, which was later taken over by ICI, and remained there for a total of 36 years, until retirement in 1949. In the Second World War, he was an ARP Warden and later served in the Home Guard. He was a member of the Liberal Club in Runcorn, winning prizes for billiards, and also served as Honorary Secretary of Runcorn Reserves Football Club.
Todger was admitted to Victoria Memorial Hospital, Runcorn on 4th January 1956, and died there on 30th January. The causes of death were pulmonary embolism, auricular fibrillation and arteriosclerosis. He was buried in Runcorn Cemetery, and the headstone was renovated in 1986, largely due to the work of a member of the Western Front Association called Stan Ellison.
In addition to his VC and DCM, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Defence Medal 1939-45, Territorial Force Efficiency Medal, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. On 16th May 1956, his sister, Emily Lightfoot, donated the medals to the Cheshire Regiment Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:CHESHIRE REGIMENT MUSEUM, CHESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: RUNCORN CEMETERY, RUNCORN, CHESHIRE. FAMILY GRAVE.
Runcorn Memorial Garden
Victoria Park, Widnes, Cheshire
This portrait and most pictures below are from the Cheshire Regiment Museum and Cathedral
Cheshire Regiment Museum, Chester (October 2015)
The Todger Jones Cup
Courtesy of Neil Thornton
War Illustrated, 11th November 1916
War Illustrated, 11th November 1916
Plan - Kevin Brazier
Courtesy of Vinnie Morris (pending approval)