A King’s Ransom for a Welsh Miner

Tom Jones (centre)

Welsh miner Tom Jones survived a death sentence to be repatriated from Franco’s Spain after the UK government paid a massive ransom.

Jones, from Rhosllanerchrugog, Denbighshire, travelled to Spain in 1937 to fight for the International Brigades. He was wounded during the fierce battle on the River Ebro, in July 1938, and captured by Franco’s troops.

At one point he was sentenced to death, but this was subsequently changed to thirty years’ imprisonment – although his family was sent his death certificate.

Most of the International Brigaders returned to their home countries in December 1938, but Jones remained a prisoner in Spain when the Second World War broke out.

Then, in 1940, after the UK Government paid a £2m ransom – a colossal sum at the time – to Franco’s fascist regime, Jones was released.

On his return from Spain he became active in the Transport and General Workers’ Union. He died in 1990.

Next week Jones, who had worked in Hafod, Vauxhall and Bersham collieries before the war, will be honoured at the National Eisteddfod in Wrexham.

A specially-commissioned exhibition panel featuring Jones, also known as Twm Sbaen, and his extraordinary story is to be unveiled at the Cymru-Cuba stand on the Eisteddfod field on Thursday August 4, at 3.30pm.

It is hoped that a permanent location for the exhibition will be found in the area after the Eisteddfod finishes.

* Look out for ITV Wales’ special programme from the Eisteddfod which is due to be broadcast at 8pm on Friday, August 5.

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