Story of a soldier hounded by Nazis
Feb 24 2004
Colin Hughes, The Western Mail
HEROIC exploits by a Welsh soldier during World War II have been revealed to his niece 60 years after his death.
Bombardier Alfred Jones, from Velindre Street, Port Talbot, was aged 30 when he was executed by the Gestapo at a concentration camp in 1944, even though he had been cleared by a court of being a spy.
But he had been "on the run" from the Germans for around 18 months with the help of Belgian partisans operating in the Brussels underground.
It is believed that this connection may have sealed his fate because he was treated as a political prisoner rather than a British prisoner of war.
It is only now that the true story of Alfred Jones can be told thanks to the efforts of retired post office worker John Clinch, 54, of Sidcup, Kent.
He uncovered the remarkable tale of an "ordinary Welsh soldier" when he was researching the story of his Belgian grandmother, Marcelline Deloge, who died in Auschwitz after being arrested for helping British troops to escape from Brussels.
Mr Clinch discovered that Alfred Jones lied about his age to join the Army in 1931, later serving in India before going to France with the British Expeditionary Force in 1939.
He was captured by the German Army in 1940 but escaped while being taken to a PoW camp. He survived the next 18 months in Brussels with the help of the Belgian resistance until he was recaptured in October 1941.
He was put on trial with his Belgian helpers and accused of espionage. Although found not guilty he ended up in a variety of concentration camps, including Dachau and Maut-hausen, where he was eventually executed.
Hans Marsalek, in his book The History of the Concentration Camp Mauthausen, states that "an Englishman not known by name was executed by a shot in the neck on the 9th November 1944" - and John Clinch is convinced this refers to Alfred Jones.
His name is remembered with honour on the Dunkirk Memorial in Nord, France, but this gives the year of his death as 1940 rather than 1944.
Mr Clinch, who is still adding to his factual World War II website (at www.belgiumww2.info), praised Alfred Jones's experiences as "really unique".
He said, "The people he was mixing with in the camps and the life he obviously led in Brussels add up to make him quite a character.
"He certainly must have enjoyed life on the run in Brussels and to some extent he was having a good time in Belgium because he was pretty involved in various things.
"A lawyer, Paul Lurquin, who was in the next cell to Alfred at St Gilles Prison, Brussels, described, for example, how they had gone horse racing together under the noses of the Germans.
"I did further research in the National Archives at Kew and found a file on the post-war search for Alf.
"This was remarkable because the person who provided information was the famous Lieutenant Commander Pat O'Leary RN - in reality a Belgian Army doctor, Albert Guerisse, founder of the Pat Escape Line.
"He had also been imprisoned with Alf."
Mr Clinch also discovered from Mauthausen Memorial Archives that Alfred Jones was listed as Prisoner 98320, a British soldier in protective custody.
The register of official executions confirms that he died on November 9, 1944, despite claims by other prisoners that he had been gassed.
But one who was in Maut-hausen with Alfred later wrote, "I can tell you that the SS of the Mauthausen concentration camp were hanged and among them were the murderers of Alfred."
Niece Gaynor Harrison, 61, of Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire, admits she is indebted to Mr Clinch because she previously knew nothing about her dead uncle.
"I was born in 1943 and oddly enough the family never spoke about him even though we had his pictures on the wall," she said.
"He was the pride and joy of the family but they never talked about him probably because he was a casualty of war.
"He was the favourite of the family, happy go lucky and carefree. But nobody could hold him down - he wanted excitement.
"The information has brought him alive and I feel I know him now a lot better than I did.
"To me he is a superhero. I just had no idea - all I was told was that he had escaped and eventually went into a gas chamber and was gassed.
"But the escapades he got up to make him a real hero. It is the sort of thing he craved for - and this is what has got me really enthralled and interested in his story."
Click on www.belgiumww2.info to go to HOMEPAGE