This Day In History

  • 1691 Castleton’s Regiment (later 1st East Lancashires) embarks at Portsmouth for active service in Flanders as part of the largest English Army sent abroad since the days of Henry the Eighth.
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Lieutenant Richard Basil Brandram Jones VC

Richard Basil Brandram Jones VC

Richard Basil Brandram Jones VC

Richard Jones was born in Honor Oak, Lewisham, South East London,  on 30 April 1897 and educated at Dulwich College.

When the First World War broke out he was 17 years and 4 months old. He immediately volunteered for active service and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 8th (Service) Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, in October 1914. Two months later he was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant. He went with the battalion to France in September 1915 and was appointed Sniping Officer.

In May 1916, 21 days after his 19th birthday, his battalion was in the line at Broadmarsh Crater, on Vimy Ridge, France, and with his platoon he was holding a crater recently captured from the enemy. What happened next is best described in the words of the citation to his posthumous Victoria Cross:

“About 7.30 P.M. the enemy exploded a mine forty yards to his right, and at the same time put a heavy barrage of fire on our trenches, thus isolating the Platoon. They then attacked in overwhelming numbers. Lt. Jones kept his men together, steadying them by his fine example, and shot no less than fifteen of the enemy as they advanced, counting them aloud as he did so to cheer his men. When his ammunition was expended he took a bomb, but was shot through the head while getting up to throw it. His splendid courage had so encouraged his men that when they had no more ammunition or bombs they threw stones and ammunition boxes at the enemy till only nine of the platoon were left. Finally they were compelled to retire.”

Richard Jones’s body was never recovered. He is one of the 35,000 British Commonwealth servicemen  commemorated on the Arras Memorial who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, and have no known grave.

His Victoria Cross is preserved in Dulwich College, London.