Thomas Edward Painton-Jones was born in Tadley on 18 March 1877. At his baptism (27 May 1877) the name Panton (note spelling) appears as a Christian name. Thomas dropped the use of ‘Painton’ as part of his surname during World War I and his papers were altered accordingly. His campaign medals from the Boer War are inscribed Painton-Jones, whilst the Victory Medal and British War Medal from World War I are inscribed Jones. However, on Tadley War Memorial he is listed as Painton-Jones and on the plaque in St Peter’s Church as Painton Jones.
His parents were William and Martha Elizabeth Jones (née Painton). They were married in Brighton in 1875. William does not appear on any local census but is recorded on his children’s birth certificates as a ‘Farmer’. It would appear that Thomas had only one sibling, a younger sister Mary Jane Langham.
Thomas appears only once in a Tadley Census and that is in 1881 at Heath End. Thomas, his mother and sister Mary Jane are living with his maternal grandparents, Thomas and Elizabeth Painton. Thomas is listed as a scholar, aged 4. In June 1888 his mother Martha died. It might be assumed that as a consequence, Thomas became a boarder at Oswestry High School (Shropshire), which is where he was recorded in 1891, aged 14. At this time his sister was still living with her grandfather in Tadley.
His mother and grandparents are first listed in a local census in 1861, at Browning Hill, Baughurst. By 1871, in addition to farming, Thomas’s grandfather was recorded as employing six men and a boy to run the brick kiln at Inhurst.
Thomas married a widow, Emily Annie Smith (née Cooper), at St Peter’s Church, Kleinplaats, in the district of Klerksdorp in the Transvaal, South Africa on 15 November 1905.
At the onset of war, Thomas and his wife left South Africa on 12 August 1914 aboard the Llandovey Castle. In October of that year they are recorded as living at ‘The Grange’, Smarden, Kent. However, his address at the time of his enlistment was ‘Hill Brow’, Hildenborough, Kent.
At some time Thomas was living in Welshpool, where he enlisted with the 49th Company Imperial Yeomanry (Montgomeryshire) on 4 January 1900 at the age of 22. His occupation at the time was a ‘Tailor’.
He served with the 49th Company in the Boer War in South Africa from 1900 to 1902. He was discharged on the 26 April 1902 in Johannesberg and settled in Potchefstroom; his rank upon discharge was sergeant. As a member of the South African Imperial Light Horse he fought in the Johannesburg Sanguinary Riots of 1912.
During his time serving in the Boer War he wrote a number of letters to a friend in Montgomeryshire, which were published in the local newspapers.
For his service in the Boer War he was awarded two campaign medals: the Queen’s South Africa Medal and the King’s South Africa Medal.
Thomas remained in South Africa until the outbreak of World War I. On his return to Britain he rejoined the army on 31 October 1914, enlisting in the 6th London Regiment (City of London Rifles). He served as a captain in the 1/6th Battalion. During the war, both the 1/6th and 2/6th Battalions served in France and Belgium.
He died at High Wood on the first day of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette
(15-22 September 1916), part of the Somme offensive which lasted from July to November 1916. The High Wood action is significant as it was the first occasion that tanks were used in an action.
Thomas was killed in action on the Friday 15 September 1916, aged 39.
He is commemorated on Theipval Memorial [Pier and Face 9D], Theipval, France, where he is recorded as Captain T. E. P. Jones.
He is also remembered on Tadley and Baughurst War Memorials, and a plaque in St Peter’s Church; the inscription on the plaque reads: ‘To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Capt T E Painton Jones who fell in France 15 Sept 1916. This tablet is placed here by his widow’.
He is also recorded on the War Memorials in Smarden, Kent and Hildenborough, Kent.
Thomas was awarded the Victory medal and the British War medal. These would have been sent to his wife.