Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Jones, known as H. Jones, was killed in the Battle of Goose Green during the Falklands War and was given a posthumous Victoria Cross for the part he played in the conflict.
The commander of 2 Para, the Parachute Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Jones, known as H. Jones, was born on 14 May, 1940, to wealthy parents. He enlisted in the Army following schooling at Eton and there he gained a reputation for being something of a leader. He was promoted within the Army and, in 1982 when the Falklands conflict began, he had been moved up to the position of 2 Para.
He began the attack on Goose Green on 27 May 1982. Known as one of the major conflicts of the Falklands War, the battle planning started when 2 Para arrived at San Carlos Bay on 21 May before heading south to Sussex Mountain, where they offered protection to 3 Brigade. Many Argentine men were known to be stationed at Darwin, which lay to the south of San Carlos Bay and Goose Green, which posed a major threat to the British soldiers. As they planned to move from west to east, ending up at Port Stanley, any chance of a rear attack from the Argentines was a major issue.
The British needed a major win to buoy up the public back home following many losses of men and ships – including the Atlantic Conveyor - and Goose Green was seen as that opportunity. However, while H Jones was certain an attack was necessary, the head of 3 Commando Brigade, Brigadier Julian Thompson, was less sure, thinking that instead the enemy could be held so that it was unable to travel across the isthmus separating Goose Green and the rest of the East Falklands. Army seniors, including Army corporal John Geddes, while extremely complimentary about Jones, describing him as “a cracking bloke, the best boss I ever had in the army”, queried his decisions regarding the battle and his posthumous receipt of the Victoria Cross. Geddes, felt that Jones failed in a number of ways during the battle, including striving for glory for 2 Para as a unit, something which may have altered his decisions.
In terms of positioning, Geddes felt that Jones should have been located close to the back of the battle in order that he would gain a better overall picture of the conflict. This, Geddes believed, would have allowed Jones to plan accordingly. Although his command team – and his bodyguard - was unaware of his plan, Jones called for a heavy machine gun to take position up a gorse gully. The message “Sunray is down” over the radio meant that Jones had been hit. He died on 28 May, 1982. Jones was buried at Blue Beach War Cemetery on the Falklands.
While some were critical of Jones’ decisions, claiming he failed in his leadership of his unit when it came to this battle, many supported him. Brigadier Thompson supported his choices, saying that he “very strongly recommended” Jones for his Victoria Cross.
The citation that went with the award of his posthumous Victoria Cross read:
“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 11 trenches on an important ridge. A number of casualties were received. In order to read the battle fully and 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 time as the enemy positions.
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 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.
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."
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