War memorabilia from three Hartlepool brothers killed in action comes home to museum

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher with items from the Jones brothers' collection.
Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher with items from the Jones brothers' collection.

A collection belonging to three Hartlepool brothers who were all killed in action will be heading to the town.

At auction recently, Hartlepool Borough Council, managed to acquire the important collection of 40 items relating to the Jones brothers, who lived in West Hartlepool.

Theo Jones' prayer book.

Theo Jones' prayer book.

The trio were all killed in battle during the First World War.

This unique collection was bought using the Museum of Hartlepool’s own Purchase Fund, which is money donated by visitors to the museum and saved for this purpose.

The three brothers were Theophilus (Theo), Herbert (Bert) and Alfred (Alf) Jones, and while interest has previously centred on Theo due to the significance of his death, research has uncovered that his brother’s stories are equally as interesting and tragic.

Items of note within the collection include The War Medal 1914 - 1918 awarded to Private Theophilus (Theo) Jones, who was the first soldier to be killed on British soil by enemy action in the First World War.

It was of vital importance that we bring these items home to Hartlepool

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher

Also included is a book of Common Prayer, given to Theo Jones and carried in his breast pocket of his uniform during the Bombardment. The book is pierced by a fragment of German naval shrapnel, and a fragment of Theo’s uniform is still stuck to the front.

There are five medals awarded to Herbert Jones, including a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for bravery (awarded posthumously). Struck by a sniper while saving others from a fire, he died in hospital in France on October, 15, 1917.

And, two medals awarded to the youngest brother Alfred, who volunteered for the Army after Theo’s death. Killed on May, 3, 1917 during battle of Arras. There is no known grave because his body was never found.

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher first saw that this significant collection was coming up for auction and alerted the museum.

The councillor, who is the council’s vice chair of Regeneration Services Committee, said: “As a council we strongly value our heritage, so knew that when this collection came up for auction, it was of vital importance that we bring these items home to Hartlepool.

“This important collection was acquired using the Purchase Fund, which goes some way towards helping the museum secure important items of value to Hartlepool.

“We would encourage all visitors to the museum to donate what they can.”

Theo’s medal and prayer book will be temporarily displayed at the Museum of Hartlepool in time for Remembrance Day.

Plans are underway for all the items to be displayed the Heugh Gun Battery Museum in 2018, as part of the borough’s official programme for the Commemoration of the Armistice.