This Day In History

  • 1775 In the early hours a small British force, including the Grenadier and Light Companies of the 47th (later 1st Loyals) and 59th (later 2nd East Lancashires), sets out from Boston, Massachusetts for Concord, some 20 miles away, to destroy a colonial munitions depot. At dawn at Lexington they are confronted by the local militia and the first shots of the American Revolution are fired. A further engagement follows at Concord where about 500 Militiamen defeat three British companies and force the British column to begin its return march to Boston. Reinforced at Lexington by a relief force including the rest of the 47th, the march is carried out under sustained fire from concealed insurgents, and the American War of Independence has begun.
  • 1854 47th Regiment (later the 1st Loyals) disembark at Scutari, opposite Constantinople, to join the 2nd Division, part of the British Army concentrating in preparation for the Crimean War. They are quartered in the huge Turkish barracks there, later to become famous as the British base hospital where Florence Nightingale effected her nursing reforms.
  • 1880 2nd Afghan War. Battle of Ahmed Kel. 59th Regiment (soon to 2nd East Lancashires) is hard-pressed on the right of the British line.  The Regiment forms square around its colours. It is the last occasion on which colours are carried by a British regiment on a victorious field. Afterwards 1,000 dead lie in front of the British line, with 600 around the 59th's position. The shell-torn colours are now displayed in the Sergeant's Mess of the 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.
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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.