Col Herbert “H” Jones (1940 – 1982)

Born in Putney on May 14th 1940, he was christened Herbert but much preferred the simple initial “H”.

From earliest memories Jones had never wanted a career in anything except the army and had enjoyed all things military, including war gaming. He was also an enthusiastic sportsman with a real passion for physical fitness. He rowed for Eton, skied, sailed and took part in motor-racing whilst in the army.

After five years with the Devon and Dorset regiment Jones was seconded to the 3rd battalion, the Parachute regiment, where he commanded the mortar platoon. Over the years he worked his way steadily up the ladder of success, earning an MBE whilst serving as a brigade major in Northern Ireland and finally achieving his ambition of commanding 2 Para – The Parachute Regiment, affectionately known as the “Paras”.

Jones moulded 2 Para into a formidable fighting unit with an enthusiasm for soldiering that matcheded his own. He was described as a person who did not recognize compromise and was an impatient man being very easily angered when thwarted. On military exercises he would normally found in front, frequently with the leading section, and always pushing to keep things moving. On numerous occasions, exercise umpires had ruled him ‘dead’. There is no doubt that the way he finally died was typical of the man.

When the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, decided to send forces to retake the Falkland Islands from the invading Argentinian forces in 1982, Jones abandoned a skiing holiday to travel straight to the Ministry of Defence in London to persuade the authorities that 2 Para must be sent to the Falklands without delay. The top brass listened and his battalion became part of the 3rd commando brigade, an élite formation commanded by Brigadier Julian Thompson. On 28 May 1982 Jones led 2 Para attacking an Argentinian position at Goose Green. It was the first land battle of the campaign, ordered from London who felt it essential for political reasons. After a difficult two mile night march the battalion was held up in daylight by a strong enemy position on a ridge covering the settlement of Goose Green. Colonel “H” was worried by the delay to A company, which was pinned down in a gorse gully. He moved forward under fire to join them. For over an hour he tried to organize mortar and artillery fire support to get the attack on the move, becoming increasingly upset that his efforts were getting nowhere. Eventually, he stood , bellowed ‘Follow me!’, and dashed to his right up a gully to try to get behind the enemy lines. Sadly, few of his men heard his shout other than his bodyguard, Sergeant Norman, who followed close behind him. Colonel Jones was shot as he made a courageous solo charge on an enemy trench, dying a short while later. Within fifteen minutes the enemy position was taken. For his gallantry and leadership Colonel “H” Jones was awarded Britain’s highest military honour, the Victoria Cross.

There was no doubt about his personal courage, disregard for danger, and forceful leadership that won him the V.C., which is displayed in the National Army Museum in London. His body is buried at Blue Beach military cemetery on the Falkland Islands..

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