Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Jones VC OBE - Command 2nd Bn, The Parachute Regiment




LIEUTENANT COLONEL HERBERT JONES OBE, COMMAND 2ND BN, THE PARACHUTE REGIMENT




For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 11 October 1982 ]. Darwin, East Falklands, 28 May 1982, Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Jones, OBE, Command 2nd Bn, The Parachute Regiment.

On 28th May 1982, Lieutenant Colonel Jones was commanding 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment on operations on the Falklands 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 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 devistating 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. They achieved such a moral superiority over the enemy in this first battle that, despite the advantages of numbers and selection of battle-ground, they never thereafter doubted either the superior fighting qualities of the British troops, or 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.

There is some discussion surrounding the award in the case of Lieutenant Colonel Jones; the award was 'Very Strongly Recommended' by Land Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet ( Lieutenant General Sir Richard Trant, KCB ) but only 'Strongly Recommended' by the Task Force Commander ( Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, KCB ).


The Committee records:

Jones' action was reckless and that at a critical moment in the attack he needlessly risked his life and showed a lack of judgement rather than conspicuous bravery. It is clear from the citation, however, that his desperate act which epitomized the determination, drive and offensive spirit which exemplified his leadership of 2 Para was committed at what was the critical and pivotal moment of the battle; that its effect upon the enemy so inspired his own Battalion that they went on to achieve a feat of arms which defied all accepted military theory. It sent the tenor for subsequent British land operations and gave the enemy a marked sense of inferiority in combat.

In conclusion the Committee records 'It is considered that Lieutenant Colonel Jones is deserving of the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross. The alternative award is the Militry Cross ( Posthumous ). The Victoria Cross was subsequently awarded, the announcement made in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 8 October 1982.

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Iain Stewart, 9 July 2018