Born 1892, died 1970
Appointed to RGS 1916
Retired from RGS 1964
Little is generally known about Pilgy's background, in fact for a long time nobody knew even what his initials stood for.
In February 2011, while rearching her family tree, Pilgy's great-great-niece Jennifer came across the fact that he had been a master at our school.
He came from a very poor background and was raised in a pub called the Black Lion, in a small village called Cwmffrwd, which is just outside Carmarthen in West Wales. Most of the family either ran public houses or were farmers and colliers so you can understand my excitement at having found someone different in the family!
He somehow managed to get a place in Aberystwyth University, where he can be found in the 1911 census.
He did so well for himself - to have come from nothing and to have taught in what looks like quite a prestigious school is quite an achievement, I feel.
My grandfather (who was his nephew) knew of him as 'Uncle Pitt' but I don't think they ever met.
I have made some headway in researching PLJ's army record, gleaned from a useful index of 'The Artists' Rifles' which I found online. I'm a bit confused, though, as to how the army 'system' works. He was in the Artists' Rifles but also in the Rifle Brigade and his battalion was the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Any ideas as to how he was in three sections of the army? Sorry - don't know much at all about these things. He joined in August 1917 but that is as far as I've got. His number was 766717.
PLJ's brother, William Anthony Jones, was in the Welsh Regiment and then the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and fought in the battle of Mametz Wood.
He somehow survived that but was then killed in action at Ypres on 1 October 1916 and is buried in the Essex Farm Cemetery.
I wonder if the two brothers enlisted together as David enlisted in London, which seems a bit strange.
I don't think he ever came back to Wales. His sister died in 1958 - she also ran a pub in Pontantwn called the Halfway Inn and that is where my grandfather and his two brothers were raised.
PLJ's other brother, John Owen Jones, was a tailor. he had one other sister, but I haven't traced her history yet.
They were all Welsh speakers (first language) as I and all of my family still are.
He evidently didn't forget his roots, though, as his wife left some money to my mother and her two brothers.
Interesting that you had so many Welsh teachers at RGS- it was a bit of a 'calling' here during those times. Education was seen as the only route out of poverty in those days.
Do you know of a Mervyn Mort Davies, as he was the executor of the will? (Yes Jennifer, everyone knows "Taffy Davies")
If any reader has anything further to add, particularly of Pilgy's wartime record, Jennifer would love to hear it. Send me an email and I will put you in touch with her. (03Mar11)
GOODBYE, P.L.J. (1916-64) [Wycombiensian, Sept 1964, p616]
We were all a little saddened last term when it became known that at last P.L.J. had decided to retire completely: for the last three years he has been helping the Maths department during the mornings.
What can one really say about someone who, for the best part of fifty years, has been a friend to all of us—boys, masters, parents, Old Boys—that is not already known or has not been said before? To be connected with a school such as ours for half a century, to make countless friends, to be counsellor and critic to generations of schoolboys, to preserve a warm place in the hearts of his colleagues, is to ensure a memorial—not in bricks and mortar but in the inmost heart. We all know his qualities. His completely unrelenting thoroughness in the classroom made him a most successful pedagogue: he was sometimes successful even in teaching those who didn’t want to learn, the supreme accolade in his profession! More than that, he brought to his relationships with younger people a warmth and friendliness which encouraged them to develop as personalities and people, to their lasting benefit in later years. To further this interest he kept up his contacts with Old Boys all over the country, and in the world without, by acting as secretary to the Old Wycombiensians, following their fortunes with a keen and human interest. One of the first questions a returning Old Boy inevitably asks is, “Old P.L.J. still here?” It must be one of his everlasting rewards that so many people bear him so much goodwill. To us, in the Common Room, he was always a fountain of wisdom. We could always feel that his replies-sometimes scandalous, sometimes facetious-to our queries, contained the essential germ of truth we were seeking.
P.L.J., we couldn’t let you go without assuring you once again that all you were to the R.G.S. will abide in our memories through the years to come. We wish you and Mrs. Jones many years of health and happiness. - S.M.
John Saunders writes - I'm pretty sure PLJ's obituary must have appeared in the May 1971 issue ofWycombiensian but I don't have a copy as I left in December 1970. But I do have a copy of the Sept 1971 issue and there are OW messages in it about being sorry to read of his death. Can anyone who has a copy of the May 1971 issue scan in the obit and either post it here or send it to me?
Members of staff being presented to the Queen on 6 April 1962, on the occasion of the school's 500th anniversary and founding by her royal namesake, Queen Elizabeth 1. It was published in the May 1962 issue of the school magazine (The Wycombiensian).
People being presented in the photo (left to right): ER Tucker (headmaster, back to camera), HM The Queen, ? (a governor of the school?), Sam Morgan (deputy head), W Clark, PL Jones, W Watmough.
(Entry contributed by John Saunders)
Martin King di some research into Pilgy's war record and came up with this:-
From “The Regimental Roll of Honour and War Record of The Artists' Rifles”
August 1917 P. L. Jones joined the Artists Rifles with the rank of Private, No. 766717.
February 3rd 1919 Gazetted as Second Lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade.
March 4th 1919 Gazetted as Second Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
(The Rifle Brigade posting may have been a clerical error)
From the “Supplement to the London Gazette”, 6 December 1921, pages 9991 and 9994
The undermentioned Officers relinquish their commissions, 20th September 1921, under A.O. 166/21 as amended by A.O. 332/21, and retain their rank except where otherwise stated:-
4th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
2nd Lt P. L. Jones
From the “Supplement to the London Gazette”, 7 November 1941, page 6436
Junior Training Corps
Royal Grammar School (High Wycombe) Contingent.
The undermentioned to be 2nd Lts. for service with the Contingent.: —
11th Sept. 1941: —
John Henry Alan DAGNALL (211930).
9th Oct. 1941: —
Peter Lewis JONES (211931), late 2nd Lt.R.W. Fus.
From the “Supplement to the London Gazette”, 1 March 1946, Page 1178
Junior Training Corps
Royal Grammar School (High Wycombe) Contingent.
The undermentioned 2nd Lts. resign their commissions, 14th Jan. 1946: —
E. R. TUCKER (157576).
P. L. JONES (211931).
And in addition to the above:
Royal Grammar School (High Wycombe)
Edmund Ronald TUCKER, late Cadet Royal Grammar School (High Wycombe) Contingent, Junior
Division, O.T.C., to be 2nd Lt. for service with the Contingent 4th Dec. 1940, with seniority 1st
Royal Grammar School (High Wycombe) Contingent.
2nd Lt. J. A. Dagnall (211930) resigns his commission. 3ist Dec. 1942.
Martin King also came up with this interesting item.
Bob Mitchel writes:-
Invented 'Elastication' - the twanging of a boy's head with a rubber band. Was appointed head of the hutted camp known as the Junior School at Uplyme. (
Ken Bowell writes:
Pilgy, as you say, was the master of the rubber band. But he was also a very accurate thrower of chalk, backboard dusters and rulers. During one hot and boring afternoon maths period, he stopped suddenly, took his chair to the corner of the room slowly climbed up and reached with his chalk to the upper corner of the wall and carefully drew an ”X” with his chalk. With out a word he came down and walked to my place in the class bent down and drew a bead on his chalk mark and said in his soft Welsh accent ”Tell me boy, what is so fascinating about that place I have marked? You have been staring at it for the last ten minutes! This remark was followed by the legendary rubber band treatment.
I remember he had the first model Morris Minor, probably 1948 with the low headlights.
In 1962 when by wife and I were visiting the UK, I saw him walking in Hazelmere and to my amazement he said “Hello Bowell, I haven’t seen you lately”. “What have you been up to?” What had I been up to, I hear you ask?! I had immigrated to New Zealand, served in the NZ Army during compulsory military training, became a Chartered Accountant and got married and here we were both recognising each other as though I had only just left the RGS. I had left in 1954. Mind you, he didn’t look much different either!
From the pages of the Forum:-
Saw your bit about Pilgy and thought I would add my twopennorth though I suspect mine is a common story shared by many others. When you were due for a punishment (this was in my first year at RGS in the Uplyme classrooms - 1951 - 60 years!! ) you were sent to Pilgy for the appropriate punishment. Pilgy would offer you an array of weapons and you chose the instrument of your choice . There were several: I remember a thin cane, a much thicker one, a plimsoll, a thickish ruler ( a bit like the one Gag Grant used when he got frisky ) - there may have been more. Anyway, you were beaten with the weapon of your choice; most boys, including me, chose the thickish cane as it was quite heavy and didn't leave much of a mark on your arse afterwards. As I remember the beating was usually administered with a smile and a few words of advice. I remember the beatings but not the advice afterwards.Roy (RC) Jones 1951 - 1959
And John Comer, in his book "The Old Times" wrote
I found myself regularly being kept behind at lunchtime by Pilgy, Head of the Juniors, and having my ears pinged with elastic bands. Pilgy kept a tin of elastic bands in his desk drawer for precisely that purpose. He needed a whole tinful, he explained to me once, so that he had exactly the right size and thickness of elastic band for every boy and every occasion.
Rennie Vickers writes:-
I started at RGS in September 1947 and PLJ was to teach Form 2C Maths & Algebra. (We had Bulldog Clark for Geometry).
At the beginning of his first lesson, which was either on our 1st or 2nd day at the school, he walked into the deathly quiet classroom of very nervous schoolboys, sat down at his desk, looked around the room, for what seemed liked ages, and finally said "I like to make little boys cry!".
Then he described and showed how he punished miscreants by "elastication".
He was a very good teacher and I really enjoyed his lessons and Maths in general throughout the rest of my school days, although PLJ didn't teach me after that first year.
When it came to 1952 and I was due to leave school, PLJ was also the careers master and after a short talk he recommended that I apply for a post in the County Treasurer's Department at the Bucks County Council in Aylesbury. I'm pleased to say that, following the interviews, my application was successful and helped establish my working career in accounts and management.
The last time I met PLJ was in the Red Lion Hotel in High Wycombe around 1960. I was with a group of lads having a few drinks in the bar and he was attending a function in the ballroom. We stood side by side in the Gents for a couple of minutes. He recognised me and we had a chat about things - as you do in such circumstances.
A true gentleman to whom I have a lot to be thankful.
Tudor Olsen remembers these conversations:-
Pilgy – “ You were talking Jones (R.C. Jones).
“No Sir“ answers RC.
Pilgy walks down the aisle, pulls out the length of “donkey“ elastic he always carried in his right hand jacket pocket (it looked as if it came from a boys confiscated catapult). He twangs RC behind the ear.
“That is 10 horse power for talking“, with another bigger twang “That’s 40 horse power for lying“.
On another occasion –
Pilgy to a boy whose name escapes me – “Do you think old Pilgy is daft boy?“
The answer “I’d prefer not to answer that Sir“.