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Letter sent from G.W.Whittington to Anne Jane Jones, Borth regarding her husband's grave.



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 1,963 tonne British steamer “Heathpark”, 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 persons on Heathpark were David L Lewis aged 26 of Dalston House & David Kenneth Jones aged 16 of Glanmore House. 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.”

 

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