Tommy Jones a former regular soldier who served in The 3rd King’s Own Hussars and the Queen’s Own Hussars died on 12th January 2012, some 4 weeks short of his 100th birthday.
Tommy was born on the 14th February 1912 in Bishop Auckland County Durham, and after completing his apprenticeship in the local Ironworks he felt free to fulfil his ambition to join the cavalry; in which he enlisted at Newcastle On Tyne: he was 21 years of age.
The 3rd King’s Own Hussars had recently returned from India and, with their ranks depleted to half strength owing to the retirement of ‘time expired’ men, Tommy found himself recruited into this Regiment which was stationed at York – only a canter from his hometown.
The Regiment was to be part of his family in Peace and War for the next 27 years.
Whatever ambitions Tommy and his fellow recruits had in 1933, their world of Mounted Cavalry was to change dramatically as, by 1935/36, The 3rd Hussars became a fully mechanised Regiment.
The loss of the personal horse was almost a bereavement to the cavalryman, and Tommy always kept in his possession a photo of “tich” who, together, served the ranks of the Regiment with the same pride as their ancestors.
In some respects the mechanisation of the Regiment came much easier to Tommy than most – he was simply reverting back to the skills of his civilian apprenticeship, for which his mechanical knowledge was an asset.
Come 1937, with the horse long gone, The 3rd Hussars were, nevertheless, called upon to provide a mounted escort for the Coronation of King George V1.
With borrowed horses and an assortment of dress uniforms loaned from retired Hussars, Tommy’s participation brought Radio commentary to millions of listeners regarding his magnificent control of his unruly Mount.
The outbreak of WW2 and the regiment’s subsequent embarkation for Egypt in August 1940 leaves us with a mystery in Tommy Jones’ military record. Tommy did not embark with the Regiment on this date, but followed 2 months later, arriving in Egypt in October.
There is a story that a mechanical breakdown of a tank whilst being loaded on rail at Kettering for Liverpool resulted in Tommy being ordered to remain behind to repair it, then catch up with the Regiment on the next convoy for the Middle East.
The mystery is further extended – how did he become involved in the Battle for Greece, eventually being taken prisoner on the Isle of Melos on 28th April 1941?
No historical records of 3rd Hussars show any Regimental involvement in this battle.
On his release from the POW Camp in 1945, Tommy rejoined the Regiment which was now in Palestine.
In 1948 the Regiment returned to England and was immediately deployed to Germany. Whilst serving with the BAOR Tommy met Kate, who was to become his wife they married in his hometown of Bishop Auckland.
During his ten years in Germany, he was promoted to SSgt., and spent the majority of his service with the LAD, despite persistent approaches, he declined to transfer from The 3rd Hussars to the R.E.M.E.
His last year of duty was served at the R.A.C School of Gunnery, Lulworth, in charge of maintenance.
On being demobbed in June 1960, after 27 years, Tommy felt young enough to start a new career with the Ministry of Defence Police, finally retiring in 1976.
Tommy and Kate lived in Wareham in his retirement years and was an active member of the Regimental Association. Sadly, Kate preceded him in 2003, and he found it necessary to retire to a care home some 17 months before he passed away. During his long life, Tommy’s engaging personality brought him many friends.