Remembering blind veterans on St. David’s Day

To mark St. David’s Day we are featuring one of our Welsh blind veterans – William Matthew Jones, who was from Nantymoel, near Bridgend in Glamorgan.

Matt, as he was known, was born in 1898 and left school at the age of 18, enlisting as a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, and serving in France. In August 1918 at Lens he was hit by an exploding Howitzer shell which resulted in the loss of one eye and severe damage to the other.

Welshman Matt

Matt joined Blind Veterans UK (then known as St. Dunstan’s) the following month, and came to our headquarters in Regent’s Park. Here he learnt Braille reading, writing and typing to high standards that enabled him to gain a post at Ogmore and Garw Urban District Council when he left Regent’s Park in 1920.

Happily a year later the sight in his right eye had improved to some extent and Matt decided to resume studies which had been interrupted by the war. He gained entry to the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, and graduated in 1926 with a BSc in Physics. He then went on to become a science teacher at the county school in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire.

Matt was twice-married and had one son. After periods of ill health he died in February 1982.

This photograph of Matt is a formal studio portrait shot from 1920 and is one of several of this type that we have, although this is unusual in being personally signed. He can be seen proudly wearing his Silver War Badge.

To discover more about our Historical Photography Project click here.