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Objects of special interest – Medals awarded to Henry Mitchell Jones, VC

Henry Jones Medals

These medals are among the most significant objects in the museum collection.

From left to right, the medals are the Victoria Cross the Crimea Medal 1854-56 with two clasps – Sebastopol and Alma, the French Legion of Honour and the Turkish Crimea Medal 1854-56 awarded to Henry Mitchell Jones.

Henry Jones was awarded the Victoria Cross for valour while a lieutenant with the 7th Royal Fusiliers at the Siege of Sebastopol (Sevastopol) during the Crimean War. After leaving the British Army, he became a career diplomat, serving the British Government for many years.

1831. The son of Robert Jones, Esq., Henry Mitchell Jones was born on 11 February 1831 at Crumlin in County Dublin, Ireland.1

Badge of the 7 Fusileers1849 - 1854. On 10 April 1849 Henry Mitchell Jones was commissioned as an ensign in the 18th Regiment of Foot,2 also known as the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment which was a British line infantry regiment stationed in India.

Seventeen months later, on 9 September 1850, he transferred to the 60th Regiment of Foot with the rank of second lieutenant.3 The 60th Foot, also known as the King's Royal Rifle Corps, was a British light infantry regiment consisting of two battalions, the 1st Battalion being in India and the 2nd Battalion in Ireland.4 It is probable that Henry Jones was posted to the 1st Battalion as his former regiment was in India at the time of his transfer.

On 17 March 1854 he was promoted to lieutenant upon transfer to the 7th Regiment of Foot, a British line infantry regiment also known as the 7th Royal Fusiliers.5

As part of a an Allied Anglo-French-Turkish force of 63,000 troops, the 7th Royal Fusiliers embarked at Varna, Bulgaria in late August 1854 to attack Russian forces at Sevastopol, a major Russian sea port on the Crimean Peninsula.

the Black Sea
the Crimean Peninsula

Battle of the Alma

On 14 September 1854 the 7th Royal Fusiliers landed at Yevpatoria in the Crimea, about 115 km north of Sevastopol. Five days later, the march on Sevastopol began.

On 20 September 1854 Russian troops held a defensive line on the south-side of the Alma River. After a three-hour battle, the Russians were driven out but at a cost of 3,300 Allied casualties, one of whom was Henry Jones. He was severely wounded by a bullet in the lower jaw while carrying the Queen’s Colour.

J.P. Kelleher of the Fusilier Museum, London has compiled the following from regimental records about the wounding of Henry Jones and another officer as the Alma River was crossed ……….

"Up the bank, immediately responsive to the call rose the Colours of the 7th, carried by Lieutenants Coney and H. M. Jones, indeed it is said that Lieutenant Jones was actually the first man on the bank; scarcely a moment had elapsed before they were both badly hit, for they were almost under the very muzzles of the Russian skirmishers.6"

1855 - 1856. The next notable action involving Henry Jones was on 7 June 1855 when the first serious assault was made on Sevastopol. Valour displayed by Henry Jones during the assault led him being awarded the Victoria Cross instituted early the following year.7

The VC citation reads ……… "For having distinguished himself while serving with a party which stormed and took the Quarries before Sebastopol, by repeatedly leading his men on to repel the continual assaults by the enemy during the night. Although wounded early in the evening, Captain Jones remained unflinchingly at his post until after daylight the following morning.8" (He was promoted to the rank of captain later, on 19 August 1855).9

Sevastopol fell to the Allies in September 1855, more than three months after the first major assault on the city. The 7th Royal Fusiliers remained in the Sevastopol area until returning to England in late June 1856.

Upon arrival in England, the regiment took up camp at Aldershot, Hampshire, about 70 km south-west of London.

In August 1856 the French Imperial Legion of Honour with the degree of Knight was awarded to Henry Jones. The award was made by the French in appreciation of his distinguished services before the enemy during the Crimean War.10

Henry Jones

1857 - 1863. The award of the Victoria Cross to Henry Jones was gazetted on 25th September 1857, by which he had resigned his commission in the British Army.11

Tracking of Henry Jones' movements for over five years after his resignation has proved elusive although it is known as mentioned below in these notes that he travelled abroad. He re-joined the British Army on 19th December 1862 when appointed as a cornet in the 16th Lancers, a cavalry regiment stationed at Canterbury in Kent, in south-east England.12

The Dublin Evening Mail featured an article about Henry Jones on 20 December 1862 …….. "It is with much pleasure that we observe in the 'Gazette of last evening, the reappointment to the army as Cornet, by purchase, in the 16th Lancers, of Henry M. Jones, Esq., formerly a Captain in the Royal Fusiliers. This gallant officer, who is a son of the late Robert Jones, Esq., of Springfield, county of Dublin, served with the Royal Fusiliers in the Eastern Campaign of 1854/55, and was present at the battle of Alma, where he was severely wounded; the assault on the Redan; and on the 8th of September, where he was dangerously wounded, as mentioned in despatches.

He received the Crimean medal and two clasps, and the Turkish medal; is a Knight of the Legion of Honour, and 'for distinguished bravery' before the enemy on 7 June 1855 was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The service of so distinguished an officer, and, we are proud to add, an Irishman, as Mr Jones calls for no comment. We can only express hope that he may regain speedily that rank in his profession which he formerly had, and the duties of which he discharged with such credit to himself and advantage to his country."13

Just one month later, on 23rd January 1863, Henry Jones transferred from the 16th Lancers to the 1st Regiment of Dragoon Guards.14

On Monday 22nd June 1863 at Canterbury Barracks, Henry Jones was formally presented with the Victoria Cross by the Cavalry Depot Commandant, Colonel W.N. Custance, CB.15

The following extract from the 27 June 1863 edition of The Kentish Chronicle explains why Henry Jones had not been presented with the Victoria Cross earlier….

"Since then he has sold out of the army and been abroad, and hence the reason of his not receiving the Cross with his gallant comrades some time since, at the hands of Her Majesty. He has, however, now again joined the army as a Cornet ..."16

1863 – 1898. By July 1863 and then aged 32, Henry Jones had again left the British Army to begin a career with the British Diplomatic Service. Under the name Henry Michael Jones, his career as a diplomat spanned 35 years with appointments as:
Consul in the Feejee (Fiji) and Tonga Islands 1863 - 1868;17
Consul-General at Tabreez (Tabriz), Persia (now Iran) 1868 – 1875;18
Consul-General at Christiania (now Oslo), Norway 1875 - 1880;19
Consul-General at Philippopolis (now Plovdiv), Bulgaria 1880 – 1889;20
Minister Resident and Consul-General at Bangkok, Siam (now Thailand) 1889 - 1894;21
Minister Resident and Consul-General at Lima, Peru 1894 – 1898;22
Minister Resident and Consul-General at Quito, Ecuador from 1895).23

During his service in Norway, Henry Jones was prominent in the British and Foreign Bible Society of which he was made a Life Governor in 1880.24

1916. Henry Michael Jones, VC died at Eastbourne, East Sussex on the south coast of England on 11 December 1916, aged 85 years.

Henry Jones Grave
Henry Jones Grave

Epilogue. On 4th October 1917, Lieutenant Oliver Saint Michael Jones, the only child of Henry Michael Jones, VC, was killed in action at Poelcappelle, West Flanders, Belgium during the First World War. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, 9 km north-east of Ieper, West Flanders.

Oliver displayed qualities of the type that that led to the award of the Victoria Cross to his father more than half a century earlier. Oliver Jones was an officer of the 9th Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters (The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment). His Commanding Officer wrote about him ……………

He was killed instantaneously during the advance. He has always behaved with great gallantry and at the time of his death was well in front of his men, with his steel helmet in his hand, cheering them on. He had set a splendid example of courage and bravery to all around, and his loss has been a great and a sad one to the Battalion, for he was regarded with great affection by officers and men ... He was a real gallant English gentleman, and a true friend to all his comrades. He was buried close to where he fell.25

Born C1877 in Norway,26 notes about former students and staff of Harrow School, London show that Oliver was a student there from 1890 to 1893. The notes also show that during the Second Anglo – Boer War 1899 – 1902, Oliver Jones served as a trooper in Thorneycroft’s Mounted Infantry, was severely wounded and that he later served (1900 – 1903) as a second lieutenant in the 6th Dragoon Guards.27


Endnotes

1. Kelleher, J.P., The Royal Fusiliers – Recipients of the Victoria Cross, Fusilier Museum London, p. 3 of 23 in pdf file.

The name of Henry Jones’ father appeared in The Dublin Evening Mail, Ireland, 20 December 1862, p. 2.

2. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 20966, 10 April 1849.

3. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 21151, 8 November 1850.

4. Nesbit Willoughby Wallace, A Regimental chronicle and list of officers of the 60th, or The King's Royal Rifle Corps, London, 1879, p. 279 of 390 in pdf file.

5. Recorded in The Gazette (Edinburgh Gazette), issue 6370, 21 March 1854.

6. Kelleher, op. cit., p. 6 of 23 in pdf file.

7. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 21846, 5 February 1856.

8. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 22043, 25 September 1857.

9. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 21773, 31 August 1855.

10. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 21909, 4 August 1856.

11. Kelleher, op. cit., p. 21 of 23 in pdf file.

12. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 22691, 19 December 1862.

13. The Dublin Evening Mail, Ireland, 20 December 1862, p 2.

14. Recorded in The Gazette (Edinburgh Gazette), issue 7296, 27 January 1863.

15. Brevet Colonel (later Major General) William Neville Custance, CB.

16. The Kentish Chronicle, Canterbury, Kent, England, 27 June 1863.

17. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 22762, 14 August 1863.

18. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 24300, 14 July 1868.

19. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 24178, 5 February 1875.

20. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 24906, 20 November 1860.

21. The Leighton Buzzard Observer, Bedfordshire, England, 19th February 1889, p. 8.

22. Recorded in The Gazette (Edinburgh Gazette), issue 10629, 7 December 1894.

23. Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 26640, 5 July 1895.

24. Canton, William, A history of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Vol III, London, p. 329.

25. Harrow School, London, Harrow Memorials of the Great War, Volume V, 1920, p. 142 of 250.

26. Family Search website.

27. M.G. Dauglish and P.K. Stephenson, Harrow School Register 1800 – 1911 (3rd Ed.), p. 726 of 1064.

Thorneycroft’s Mounted Infantry was a colonial unit raised in South Africa in 1899 by Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) A.W. Thorneycroft of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. [From Australian War Memorial website – Photograph P09311.002].


Prepared by: K.J. McKay, July 2016

 

 
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