Warrington Woman Pays Tribute to Trio of Family War Heroes on VE Day
The incredible story of a man who escaped the clutches of a Nazi firing squad is being brought back to life as a Warrington woman pays tribute to a trio of family war heroes.
Corporal Tom Jones was one of the nation’s very first SAS (Special Air Service) soldiers – a World War Two legend whose unimaginable bravery won him international military honour.
SAS soldiers were trained to survive the most hostile of situations, learning and developing skills that could very much mean the difference between life and death.
Carol Kilgannon, from Orford in Warrington, got in touch with Warrington Museum & Library regarding their search for World War Two heroes to tell the fascinating story of her great uncle during the war.
She said: “One day, Tom – known as Ginger Jones – was sent on a mission.
“He was part of a parachute jump into occupied France but was captured by the Nazis straight away and was taken as a prisoner of war.
“I remember my dad telling me how the soldiers were put into a lorry and driven round and round in circles to disorientate them, before being executed by firing squad.”
Tom and the other prisoners were shot but his unfathomable bravery and intense training dealt him a cunning escape from death.
Carol said: “Somehow Tom survived. He lay down in a ditch and pretended to be dead for five days until he was rescued by the French Resistance.”
Thanks to his courage, Tom – who was originally from Wigan – survived the war but it wasn’t until decades later that his remarkable story was uncovered and rewarded.
He was finally presented with the Croix de Guerre – a high-ranking French military decoration celebrating distinguished acts of heroism.
Other notable recipients of the Croix de Guerre include President Eisenhower, who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during the Second World War, Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
However, Tom’s story isn’t the only one Carol remembers as she also talks of her grandfather George Porter’s service with South Lancashire Regiment during World War Two and also her father Norman Robert Porter’s own fascinating story.
She told Warrington Museum & Library: “My dad didn’t fight in the Second World War but he did join the South Lancashire Regiment in the 50s, serving in West Germany.
“He was actually one of the last soldiers to keep watch over Rudolf Hess.”
Hess was a leading member of the Nazi party and Deputy Führer between 1933 and 1941.
Often representing Hitler at rallies and public engagements, Hess was eventually named second in line to succeed Hitler as Führer in 1939.
“My dad was my hero for many reasons and he’s got this amazing story.
“He, my grandad and my great uncle all had amazing stories but they’re no longer here to be able to tell them.
“It makes me feel really proud and I still get emotional about it.”
Emma Hutchinson, managing director of Warrington Museum & Library, said: “This is such a remarkable story about true war heroes and we’re delighted that Carol has decided to share it with us.
“Discovering family histories is such a vital part of the work that goes on at Warrington Museum & Library and we’re honoured to be able to share this astounding story on the 75th anniversary of VE Day.”
As Carol decorates her home with Union Jack bunting in preparation for VE Day, she calls on people to reflect and to remember our nation’s heroes, the stories they told and the legacy they’ve given us.
She continued: “To me it’s really important to talk about these stories because there aren’t many people left to tell the tales.
“My grandad and great uncle were really lucky and came back home but thousands didn’t.
“It’s really, really sad but that’s why they need to be remembered, especially by younger generations.
“It could have all been so different.
“They can’t just be forgotten after all they went through to give us our today.”
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