b. 14/05/1940 Putney, London. d. 28/05/1982 Goose Green, Falklands.
Herbert “H” Jones (1940-1982) was born on 14th May 1940 in Putney, London, the eldest of three sons born to an wealthy American father, also called Herbert and his North Wales born wife, Olwen (nee Pritchard). His father was an artist and his mother was a nurse. When his mother and father married in 1938 they were living in a small London flat, but decided that they wanted to settle in Devon. They spent a great deal of time looking at houses and it wasn’t until 1940, 2 weeks after Herbert the younger was born that they moved into The Grange in Kingswear. Herbert the elder was too old for military service (he was 52 in 1940) and was anyway still an American citizen, so he was not called up.
Herbert did not stand aside from the war effort and was a member of the local Home Guard, though it had taken a great deal of time and effort to overcome the bureaucracy to allow an American to join. H had two brothers: Tim (born 11th February 1942) and Bill (born 16th February 1945). H’s father Herbert Jones was a great anglophile and was granted British nationality in June 1947. He wanted the very best for his children and so his sons did not go to the primary school in the village but to a private school, Tower House School, across the river at Townstal Pathfields in Dartmouth.
When H was eight years old he was sent to a boarding preparatory school, St Peter’s in Seaford, Sussex. There, when he put his mind to it, he excelled academically. The school was a feeder school for Eton where he went in September 1953. His academic performance at Eton was undistinguished, but he was able, with the help of a crammer in London to pass the army entrance exam and in 1958 he went to Sandhurst from where he graduated on 23rd July 1960.
Sadly, his father didn’t live to see his eldest son pass out from Sandhurst, having died in 1957 aged 69. H was commissioned into the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. After Sandhurst, H served in Cyprus, Plymouth, British Guiana, Aldershot, Northern Ireland, Germany and other places around the world. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 23 January 1962, Captain on 23 July 1966, and Major on 31 December 1972. In 1964, he married Sara, and they went on to have two sons, named David and Rupert. By the time of his promotion to Brigade Major, he was based 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. Nairac was eventually awarded a posthumous GC. On 13th December 1977 he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services in Northern Ireland that year. On 30th June 1979 he was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel, and on 1st December 1979, he was transferred to the Parachute Regiment. In the 1981 New Year Honours he was promoted to Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
On the outbreak of the Falklands War in May 1982, Lt Colonel Jones was appointed to command 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. On the 28th May 1982, 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 particurarily 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 reconnaisance party to the foot of a re-entrant which a section of his Battalion had just secured. Despite persistent heavy and accurate fire the reconnaisance party gained the top of the re-entrant at approximately the same height as 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 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 devastating display of courage by Colonel Jones had completely undermined their will to fight further.
Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Jones VC, OBE, was initially buried were he fell at Ajax Bay on 30th May 1982, but his body was later reinterred in Blue Beach War Cemetery, Port San Carlos, Falkland Islands on 25th October 1982. He left his widow, Sara and his two teenage sons. Sara described her husband’s actions as “he would never ask people to do something he would not do himself. He would not have thought he was a hero. He would have thought all the chaps were heroes. He just happened, sadly, not to come home. He might be my hero, but I don’t expect him to be everybody’s hero.” Both his sons began their military careers in their father’s first regiment, the Devon and Dorsets (since abolished). David is now in telecommunications. After his command of the 4th Battalion, the Rifles, Rupert went to a staff job at the MoD. He was awarded the MBE in 2002, on the 20th anniversary of his father’s death. Lt Colonel H Jones’ medal group was donated to the National Army Museum, Chelsea, where Sara Jones is a patron. They are currently on display.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM, CHELSEA.
BURIAL PLACE: BLUE BEACH CEMETERY, PORT SAN CARLOS, FALKLAND ISLANDS.
Herbert "H" Jones' medals at the National Army Museum
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
2 Para Memorial, Goose Green, Falkland Islands
National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas
Darwin Memorial on the spot, "H" Jones fell
Aldershot Military Cemetery, Aldershot
Kingswear, South Devon
The Colonel "H" Pub, Lowestoft
Eton College Memorial
Kingswear Church (Steve Lee)
Kingswear Ferry Landing (Steve Lee)
The Keep Museum, Dorchester (Terry Hissey)
RMA Sandhurst Chapel (Thomas Stewart)
Falklands Memorial, St Paul's