Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by wooger, Mar 28, 2005.

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  1. Fouund the following in the Daily Telegraph today. No doubt someone is trying to rehash this old debt. Hot-headed, possibly. Brave, definitely

    The best-known Victoria Cross award of the post-war era was surrounded by controversy from the earliest days and questioned at the highest levels of the military, newly-released documents have revealed.

    Lt Col Herbert Jones, universally known simply as 'H', was awarded the VC for charging Argentine positions defending the settlement of Goose Green during the first land battle of the Falklands conflict.

    Lt Col Herbert Jones
    He died in the act, but his men, the 2nd Bn Parachute Regiment (2 Para), went on to take all of their objectives against heavy odds.

    Some time later, authors and historians began to report doubts about the award, suggesting that his actions were ill-judged and rash, much to the anger of his friends and many former comrades.

    But files show that even by the time the first recommendations for medals were received in London, less than six weeks after the final recapture of the Falklands, these doubts were already circulating.

    The VC is awarded only on the recommendation to the Queen by the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary and they act only on the recommendation of the VC committee for the relevant service. This committee is made up of three senior officers and the deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defence.

    In turn, they act on the recommendations made through the chain of command, when senior officers can offer various levels of support for an award, from simply recommending them to strongly, or very strongly recommending them.

    The new papers show that Lt Col Jones's citation was "very strongly recommended" by the overall commander of Land Forces for the campaign.

    But his superior, the Task Force commander Adml Sir John Fieldhouse, had given it "only" a recommendation. The files also show that the committees considered awarding him a posthumous Military Cross instead.

    Papers composed by or for Lt Gen Sir Roland Guy, the Military Secretary of the Army and secretary to the VC committee, give an insight into why this may have happened.

    Sir Roland wrote to his colleagues about Lt Col Jones on July 24, 1982: "It can be argued that [his] action was reckless and that at a critical moment in the attack he needlessly risked his life and showed a lack of judgment rather than conspicuous bravery.

    "It is clear from the citation, however, that his action, which epitomises the determination, drive and offensive spirit which exemplified his leadership of the Battalion, was committed at what was the critical and pivotal moment of the battle; that its effect upon the enemy and his own battalion was decisive and that such action was necessary at that moment to break the stalemate which had already lasted an hour or more."

    Sir Roland did not include in his recommendation the remarks of his deputy, who had written: "The fact is that Jones's single-minded determination to get on, to close with and destroy the enemy so inspired his own battalion that they went to achieve a feat of arms which defied all accepted military theory.

    "It set the tenor for subsequent British land operations and gave the enemy a marked sense of inferiority in combat. There is no doubt that his VC, if approved, will also, inseparably, be 2 Para's VC."

    A similar approach had already been taken by a tri-service committee set up specially by the MoD "to adjudicate on overall standards [inserted] & to monitor the number of awards by grades to each service" arising from the conflict.

    They wrote of Lt Col Jones: "His was considered to be the key action at a moment of stalemate which probably unlatched the gate to further momentum and ultimate success.

    "There could be a view that his action was hot-headed and ill-judged but this did not detract from the conspicuous bravery he showed." Maj Gen [then Brig] Julian Thompson, his commanding officer, said: "In my opinion, a commanding officer does occasionally have to put his life on the line. I do not in any way think H was doing the wrong thing when he died.

    "I know that he was an impatient man, but that does not in any way detract from what he did."

    He told The Telegraph: "I think it was perfectly fair of them to describe that as 2 Para's VC. They were given a bloody awful job by me and were given no support and they won that battle with no support."

    Major Chris Keeble, then the executive officer of 2 Para, who took command when Lt Col Jones died, said of his commander's "reckless" charge: "At that moment we had to get going to sustain the momentum.

    "There is no question about it, it was a horrible, beastly battle and our momentum had to be sustained.

    "It was the first land battle of the campaign and it really mattered. Things had not gone well at sea. We needed a victory both militarily and politically. We needed to break the enemy's will.

    "It's summed up in the vignette of H's action. This is virtue and integrity that is at stake.

    "It's not performance management. It's valour. I know we live in an age of performance management, but this is a completely different lens we are looking through.

    "This is a man living up to what he stood for, for what the battalion stood for, for what the Army stood for."
  2. What the man did was possibly reckless to those who were not there. Some of the doubts now raised centre on H being CO. Was he supposed to lay there and see his attack fail with further losses - failure would mean that all deaths had been futile.
    The conduct needed for a medal of this stature to be awarded is invariably bordering on what the vast majority of people would consider reckless. Even if one accepts the 2 PARA VC argument, so what? Malta GC, RUC GC. He was the boss - this was well known to his men. He would not ask them to do anything that he himself could/would not do.
    It seems to be the curse of fame that heroes will be the subject of criticism down the line but none of this Monday morning quarterbacking will detract from what was done on the day at the moment of courage. Let him lie.
  3. Reckless ! very PC. A brave man who did the business when it was required.
    Old soldiers will remember all the tales that did the rounds at the time.
    the man showed courage when it was needed and paid the ultimate price Leading his troops to victory.
    Well done Jones VC.
  4. Can only agree with both of you on that.
    Always someone on the sidelines willing to pick at the corpse of a very brave man. usually from the press.
  5. It's all part of being British. We are a nation of jealous sceptics who hate to see anyone succeed and we just love a scandal particularly when it invloves people falling or being perceived to fall from great heights...........and when they hit the ground, we love nothing more than to put the boot in, particularly when they cannot defend themselves.

    There was a rumour flying round that he'd been shot in the back by his own troops a few years back. WHere do stories like that come from.....jealous officers, politicians or stupid squaddies?

    I wonder what crap the young man who won this most recent award will have to endure later on in life or shall we do the British thing and wait until he is dead and cannot defend himself.

    Any leader of men who leads from the front is a leader of men indeed.

    These aren't footballers we're talking about here. These are peole who in most part are either forgotten or unheard of in this PC driven country of ours. Those who criticize most are those least likely to do anything for anyone else other than themselves.

    There aren't many Jones' and McKays around in Whitehall or Fleet St..

    There are times when I am ashamed of being British.
  6. I think Biscuits has hit the nail on the head there.

    The first VC ever won was by a Royal Navy bloke (I can't remeber his name). During a naval bombardment a cannonball landed next to him on the deck. In those days the cannonballs were very much like the cartoon ones, with a fuse hanging out of the top. He picked it up and hoyed it over the side, saving the lives of those around him. I think most of us would have done the same thing in that situation.

    It doesn't mean he wasn't a brave lad but what he did made all the difference to his bit of the battle.
  7. Well said AB... Everyone should read your message and ignore the original poster, there have been so few of these medals won that no one should criticise a recipient especially one who was awarded the medal posthumously and cannot defend themselves, not that they ever should have to!!!

    Respect to All those heroic men who have done what none of the rest of us have done, gone above and beyond, immensely!, the Call of Duty!

    Enough Said...
  8. "H" Jones, an incredibly brave man leading an incredibly brave battalion.
    Let this brave warrior rest in peace.
  9. I don't know of any cases of people being awarded the VC or other high awards who didn't deserve them, but there have been plenty of instances of people who should have got high awards but didn't. Carping about Jones's VC is pointless: it isn't as if he awarded it to himself after all; and he isn't around to defend his actions. This article strikes me as being highly tasteless, at best, and I'm surprised the Torygraph ran it.

    Regrettably however, the fact that H Jones got a VC doesn't stop his son being a total c0ck.
  10. Didn't know his son was serving.
  11. COS 12 Bde.
  12. Well, you learn something new every day don't you?
  13. Every year the D and D's run H Jones, Normaly in the form of a patrols comp over a few days and it was always a beast, As 'H' spent 20 yrs in the D and D's he is thought of highly within the Bn.
    His son is not a bad bloke, A future CO i should think.
  14. I was reliably informed that this rumour was started by someone in 1 PARA, purely out of jealousy and their amour propre at not "going to a party way down South".
  15. He suffers from a problem that his father had: he is impatient and unable to control his temper when under pressure. In my view these are gross failings though others may disagree with me. Will he have the juice to command when the D and D are folded into the LI? I suppose it's possible but I suspect he is more likely to wind up commanding a training unit or something similar.