H. Jones

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H. Jones
'H' Jones.jpg
Lt. Col. Herbert Jones VC
Birth nameHerbert Jones
Born(1940-05-14)14 May 1940
Putney, London, England
Died28 May 1982(1982-05-28) (aged 42)
Goose Green, Falkland Islands
Buried
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1960–1982
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Unit Devonshire and Dorset Regiment
Parachute Regiment
Commands held 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment
Battles/wars Operation Banner
Falklands War
Awards Victoria Cross
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Relations Rupert Jones (son)

Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Jones, VC, OBE (14 May 1940 – 28 May 1982), known as H. Jones, was a British Army officer and posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC). He was awarded the VC after being killed in action during the Battle of Goose Green for his actions as commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment during the Falklands War.

Lieutenant colonel, is a rank in the British Army and Royal Marines which is also used in many Commonwealth countries. The rank is superior to major, and subordinate to colonel. The comparable Royal Navy rank is commander, and the comparable rank in the Royal Air Force and many Commonwealth air forces is wing commander.

Victoria Cross highest military decoration awarded for valour in armed forces of various Commonwealth countries

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces. It may be awarded posthumously. It was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been personally presented by the British monarch. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

Contents

Background

School Yard, Eton College Eton College Quadrangle.png
School Yard, Eton College

Jones was born in Putney, the eldest of three sons of Herbert Jones (1888–1957), an American artist, and his Welsh wife, Olwen Pritchard (1902–1990), a nurse. He attended St. Peter's Preparatory School in Seaford, Sussex and Eton College. He joined the British Army on leaving school and on graduation from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst on 23 July 1960, was commissioned into the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment as a second lieutenant. [1]

Putney district in south-west London, England

Putney is a district in south-west London, England in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is centred 6.1 miles (9.8 km) south-west of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.

St Peters School, Seaford

St Peter's School, Seaford was an independent boys' Preparatory School in Seaford, East Sussex, England, that ran from 1903 until 1982.

Seaford, East Sussex coastal town in East Sussex, England

Seaford is a coastal town in East Sussex, on the south coast of England. Lying east of Newhaven and Brighton and west of Eastbourne, it is the largest town in Lewes district, with a population of about 23,463.

He was promoted to lieutenant on 23 January 1962, [2] captain on 23 July 1966, [3] and major on 31 December 1972, [4] At this time he was brigade major at HQ 3rd Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland. As such he was responsible for the efforts to find Captain Robert Nairac who had been abducted by the Provisional IRA. Nairac and Jones had become friends and would sometimes go to the Jones household for supper. After a four-day search, the Garda Síochána confirmed that Nairac had been shot and killed in the Republic of Ireland after being smuggled over the border. [5] On 13 December 1977 he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services in Northern Ireland that year. [6] On 30 June 1979 he was promoted lieutenant colonel, [7] and on 1 December 1979, he was transferred to the Parachute Regiment. [8] In the 1981 New Year Honours he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). [9]

First lieutenant is a commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces and, in some forces, an appointment.

Major (Maj) is a military rank which is used by both the British Army and Royal Marines. The rank is superior to captain, and subordinate to lieutenant colonel. The insignia for a major is a crown. The equivalent rank in the Royal Navy is lieutenant commander, and squadron leader in the Royal Air Force.

3rd Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom) military unit, British Army

The 3rd Infantry Brigade was a Regular Army infantry brigade of the British Army, part of the 1st Infantry Division. Originally formed in 1809, during the Peninsular War, the brigade had a long history, seeing action in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, and during both World War I and World War II.

Falklands War

Memorial to H. Jones, outside Darwin settlement, marking the spot where he was killed. H Jones Memorial.jpg
Memorial to H. Jones, outside Darwin settlement, marking the spot where he was killed.

During the Falklands War he was in command of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA). During the Battle of Goose Green, an attack against entrenched Argentinian positions, with his unit pinned down by heavy fire from MAG machine guns and FAL automatic rifles, he led a charge against the nearest position. [lower-alpha 1] He was killed while doing so but the Argentinian unit surrendered shortly afterwards. For his actions he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. [10]

Falklands War War between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982

The Falklands War, also known as the Falklands Conflict, Falklands Crisis, Malvinas War, South Atlantic Conflict, and the Guerra del Atlántico Sur, was a ten-week war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over two British dependent territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands, and its territorial dependency, the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It began on Friday, 2 April 1982, when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands in an attempt to establish the sovereignty it had claimed over them. On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.

Battle of Goose Green engagement of the Falklands War

The Battle of Goose Green was an engagement between British and Argentine forces during the Falklands War. Goose Green and its neighbouring settlement Darwin on East Falkland lie on Choiseul Sound on the east side of the island's central isthmus. They are about 13 miles (21 km) south of the site where the major British amphibious landings took place in San Carlos Water on the night of the 21st to the 22nd May 1982.

FN MAG Belgian 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun

The FN MAG is a Belgian 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun, designed in the early 1950s at Fabrique Nationale (FN) by Ernest Vervier. It has been used by more than 80 countries, and it has been made under licence in several countries, including Argentina, Canada, Egypt, India and the United Kingdom.

Command of 2 PARA passed to Major Chris Keeble, and Jones was buried at Ajax Bay on 30 May. After the war his body was exhumed and buried at the Blue Beach War Cemetery in San Carlos on 25 October.

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Patrick Benedict Keeble, DSO, FCMI is a retired officer in the British Army, most noted for his service in the Falklands War of 1982.

Blue Beach Military Cemetery at San Carlos

Blue Beach Military Cemetery at San Carlos is a British war cemetery in the Falkland Islands holding the remains of 13 of the 255 British casualties killed during the Falklands War in 1982, and one other killed in early 1984. It is situated close to where 3 Commando Brigade had its initial headquarters after landing on 21 May 1982.

San Carlos, Falkland Islands human settlement

San Carlos is a settlement in northwestern East Falkland, lying south of Port San Carlos on San Carlos Water. It is sometimes nicknamed "JB" after a former owner, Jack Bonner. The settlement consists of a number of properties including a dwelling with a small cafe which also provides craft facilities. As noted in the history section, there is a small museum that pays homage to the Falklands Conflict as well as local nature and culture.

Ex-TA Para officer and military theorist Spencer Fitz-Gibbon wrote in 1995 that despite his undoubted courage H. did more to hinder than to help 2 Para, losing sight of the overall battle picture and failing to allow his sub-unit commanders to exercise Mission Command, before his fatal attempt to lead "A" Company forward from the position where they had become bogged down. [11]

Margaret Thatcher said 'his life was lost, but his death was the turning point in the battle.' The battle demonstrated the UK's increasingly unquestionable military superiority, quelling concerns about possible defeat, and lead to the release of 112 civilians who had been imprisoned in the local community hall for the best part of a month.

VC citation

On 28th May 1982 Lieutenant Colonel Jones was commanding 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment on operations on the Falkland Islands. The Battalion was ordered to attack enemy positions in and around the settlements of Darwin and Goose Green. During the attack against an enemy who was well dug in with mutually supporting positions sited in depth, the Battalion was held up just South of Darwin by a particularly well-prepared and resilient enemy position of at least eleven trenches on an important ridge. A number of casualties were received. In order to read the battle fully and to ensure that the momentum of his attack was not lost, Colonel Jones took forward his reconnaissance party to the foot of a re-entrant which a section of his Battalion had just secured. Despite persistent, heavy and accurate fire the reconnaissance party gained the top of the re-entrant, at approximately the same height as the enemy positions. From here Colonel Jones encouraged the direction of his Battalion mortar fire, in an effort to neutralise the enemy positions. However, these had been well prepared and continued to pour effective fire onto the Battalion advance, which, by now held up for over an hour and under increasingly heavy artillery fire, was in danger of faltering. In his effort to gain a good viewpoint, Colonel Jones was now at the very front of his Battalion. It was clear to him that desperate measures were needed in order to overcome the enemy position and rekindle the attack, and that unless these measures were taken promptly the Battalion would sustain increasing casualties and the attack perhaps even fail. It was time for personal leadership and action. Colonel Jones immediately seized a sub-machine gun, and, calling on those around him and with total disregard for his own safety, charged the nearest enemy position. This action exposed him to fire from a number of trenches. As he charged up a short slope at the enemy position he was seen to fall and roll backward downhill. He immediately picked himself up, and again charged the enemy trench, firing his sub-machine gun and seemingly oblivious to the intense fire directed at him. He was hit by fire from another trench which he outflanked, and fell dying only a few feet from the enemy he had assaulted. A short time later a company of the Battalion attacked the enemy, who quickly surrendered. The display of courage by Colonel Jones had completely undermined their will to fight further.

Thereafter the momentum of the attack was rapidly regained, Darwin and Goose Green were liberated, and the Battalion released the local inhabitants unharmed and forced the surrender of some 1,200 of the enemy.

The achievements of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment at Darwin and Goose Green set the tone for the subsequent land victory on the Falklands. The British achieved such a moral superiority over the enemy in this first battle that, despite the advantages of numbers and selection of battle-ground, the Argentinian troops never thereafter doubted neither the superior fighting qualities of the British troops, nor their own inevitable defeat.

This was an action of the utmost gallantry by a Commanding Officer whose dashing leadership and courage throughout the battle were an inspiration to all about him. [10]

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, London.

Memorials

Jones is buried in the Blue Beach War Cemetery under a headstone which is topped by the Parachute Regiment's insignia and also features an image of the Victoria Cross. The headstone includes the quotation "He is not the beginning but the continuing of the same unto the end." A street in Stanley was named H Jones Road in his memory in addition to Jones Avenue in Mount Pleasant air base. A memorial stone to all those killed at the scene of the battle, near Darwin, also bears his name. His name is also on the South Atlantic Task Force Memorial in St Paul's Cathedral, London, on the wall with the names of the fallen in the Falklands Memorial Chapel at Pangbourne College, and the Parachute Regiment Memorial at their headquarters in Aldershot; he also has a memorial in the cloisters of Eton College and a plaque on a footpath at Kingswear, Devon. The memorial board from St Peter's School, carved with the name of Jones can be seen in Seaford Museum. In addition the 'Colonel H' Public house in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk is named in his honour. There is a wooden plaque memorial in Kingswear parish church and a copy of the citation is on view near the memorial.

San Carlos Cemetery San-Carlos-Cemetery.JPG
San Carlos Cemetery

Family

Jones's widow, Sara, was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for charity work (she is involved with a number of charities related to the armed forces), [12] [13] [14] and since 2003 has been a Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire. [15] Both of their sons, Rupert and David, served as infantry officers in the Devon and Dorsets (now merged into The Rifles). [12] [16] [17] Rupert commanded the 1st Mechanised Brigade from 2012 to 2014, [18] [19] and was promoted to major general in 2016, making him the youngest general officer in the British Army at the time.

Notes

  1. According to Dan Snow and Peter Snow, "The Argentine corporal in that trench, Osvaldo Olmos, remembers seeing Jones charge past him alone, leaving his followers in the gully below. Olmos said he was astonished at Jones's reckless bravery: his shots, fired from behind, may have been the ones that brought Jones down." (20th Century Battlefields (Random House, 2012.) p. 282.)

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References

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  2. "No. 42576". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 January 1962. p. 588.
  3. "No. 44060". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 July 1966. p. 8266.
  4. "No. 45867". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1973. pp. 91–92.
  5. Wilsey, John (2003). H Jones VC. Arrow Books. pp. 154–158. ISBN   0-09-943669-8.
  6. "No. 47405". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 December 1977. p. 15575.
  7. "No. 47911". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 July 1979. p. 9350.
  8. "No. 48031". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 December 1979. p. 15939.
  9. "No. 48467". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1980. p. 6.
  10. 1 2 "No. 49134". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 October 1982. p. 12831.
  11. Fitz-Gibbon, Spencer. Not mentioned in despatches : the history and mythology of the Battle of Goose Green. Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 1995. ISBN   0-7188-3016-4
  12. 1 2 "This page is dedicated to the memory of: Lieutenant Colonel H. JONES, VC OBE". South Atlantic Medal Association. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  13. "Westminster Abbey address by Mrs Sara Jones" (PDF). Army Benevolent Fund. Archived from the original (pdf) on 27 February 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  14. "Falklands fallen remembered 25 years on". RAF news release. Royal Air Force. 14 June 2007.|accessdate=2008-03-11
  15. "No. 57113". The London Gazette . 14 November 2003. p. 14106.
  16. "No. 51080". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 October 1987. p. 12388.
  17. "No. 58381". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 July 2007. pp. 9549–9550.
  18. "1st Mechanised Brigade ready for Afghanistan". Ministry of Defence. 14 February 2013.
  19. Senior Army Appointments Archived 5 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading