War writer's former home, Bangor
War writer’s former home, Siliwen Road, Bangor
This large house, Menaidale, was the home of Elias Henry Jones, whose book about his time as a Turkish Prisoner of War was a bestseller in the 1920s.
Eldest son of education pioneer Sir Henry Jones, Elias was born in Aberystwyth in September 1883 and attended Glanadda Infants’ School, Bangor, and Llangernyw Village School. He went to school in Glasgow while his father was Professor of Moral Philosophy at the city’s university. Elias attended university in Glasgow, Grenoble and Oxford.
He passed the Indian Civil Service exam and held district appointments in Burma 1906-1915. In the First World War he served in an artillery regiment in Mesopotamia, eventually becoming a commissioned officer. Captured at the surrender of Kut-el-Amara, Turkey, he was marched 700 miles to a prison camp at Yozgad.
His book The Road to Endor describes how he and Lieut CW Hill (an Australian RAF officer) planned their escape. The pair used a homemade Ouija board to weave an elaborate plot, claiming to be mediums who could lead their captors to buried treasure on the Mediterranean coast, where they planned to abscond to Cyprus.
The plan failed, but the officers persisted with the ruse of insanity for six months, to gain repatriation on medical grounds. Elias (pictured right) nearly killed himself in a fake suicide attempt in spring 1918. He and Lieut Hill were eventually approved for a prisoner exchange, reaching Britain two months before the war ended.
In 1919, he became secretary to Lord Curzon on the Middle East Committee, of which Winston Churchill was a member.
In April 1922 he came to live at Menaidale with his wife, Mair, and their four children – only to set off for Burma again the very next day. One of his children recalled, in old age, him walking out of the front door while her mother played “the tune from Rusticana, which was their tune” on the piano.
In 1924, Elias retired from the Indian Civil Service and returned to Bangor. He enjoyed fishing and shooting in the Lake District and Snowdonia with his sons. In 1928 he was elected to Bangor Town Council, appointed a council member of the universities of Wales and of North Wales, and taught economics and political science at Coleg Harlech.
In 1933 he became University College of North Wales’ secretary and registrar, despite already sitting on over 60 committees for voluntary public work! He died aged 59 in December 1942, 2½ years after his son Arthur was killed on active service (our page in Arthur’s memory is here).
Before dying, he asked for “no flowers and no fuss” and that any who would donate wreaths “save their money for Coleg Harlech to make the path easier for some poor lad”.
With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno
Postcode: LL57 2BH View Location Map
Other MILITARY HiPoints in this area:
Bangor war memorial