The story of E. P. Jones, Pontypridd

By Aled Eurig 

From a Pontypridd family, E.P. Jones objected to war on religious grounds. As a Christian, he believed that war of any kind was wrong, and that no-one had the right to kill their fellow human beings just because they were of a different nationality, or because your government told you to do so. He belonged to the No-Conscription Fellowship (an organisation that encouraged men to refuse war service) and the Fellowship of Reconciliation (a peace group) – but stressed that his stance as a conscientious objector was taken as an individual.

After refusing to serve (in 1915, at the age of 25) E.P. Jones’ story follows a pattern that was typical of conscientious objectors in World War 1: they would appear before a tribunal, then be sent to prison when they refused to serve, then back in front of a tribunal, and back to prison. This was called the ‘cat and mouse’ treatment. He served terms in Caernarfon, Wormwood Scrubs and Walton (Liverpool).

Eventually E.P. Jones was released to do ‘work of national importance’. This involved building a reservoir above the village of Llannon (Carmarthenshire). The work camp was in a very remote location, and the Llanelly Chronicle reported that the men spent their time ‘up on the bleak top of the hill’. E.P. Jones himself described the work as hard, fit for a ‘qualified navvy’. Some of the camp guards were cruel and unjust: one objector, Frank Davenport, was sent back to prison for refusing to go to work in a snowstorm, whilst another fled back to prison because of the ‘callous neglect’ he had suffered in the camp.

This contrasted sharply to the welcome that the COs received from the local community. In the words of E. P. Jones:

The Tumble was special like that. You would go for tea with them on Sunday, and everyone, every denomination, was kind with everything; they let us borrow books from the library. You could not get more kindness.”

Once a month E.P. Jones was allowed home for the weekend. He was disappointed by the way he was treated by the ‘important people’ (the elders and the deacons) in his chapel: they were very cold towards him, some refused to look at him or speak to him.