Medals of the Month | April |Captain Henry Jones VCBy The Cove March 25, 2020
This month we look at the medals of Victoria Cross recipient Captain Henry Jones.
Although Captain Jones never served in Australia, this is a very special set of medals. The Victoria Cross awarded to Jones was one of the first ever gazetted.
His relatives migrated to Australia in the post-war years and his grand-children donated his medals to Army Museum of New South Wales (AMNSW) Foundation. As such, we are now the proud custodians of not only his medals, but also his story.
Henry Mitchell Jones, the son of Robert and Charlotte, was born on 11 February 1831 at Crumlin, County Dublin, Ireland.
Henry Jones commissioned on 10 April 1894 in India, by purchase, as an ensign in the 18th Regiment of Foot (Royal Irish Regiment) which was a British line infantry regiment. In 1850, he transferred to the 60th Regiment of Foot (King's Royal Rifle Corps) with the rank of second lieutenant. In 1854, Henry was promoted lieutenant upon transfer to the 7th Regiment of Foot (7th Royal Fusiliers).
In late August 1854, as part of an Allied Anglo-French-Turkish force of 63,000 troops, Henry embarked with the 7th Regiment of Foot from Varna, Bulgaria. The force sailed to Yevpatoria, in the Crimea, in preparation to attack Russian forces at Sevastopol, a major Russian sea port. On 14th September 1854, the Allied Anglo-French-Turkish forces marched on Sevastopol.
On 20 September 1854, Henry took part in the Battle of Alma River. Russian forces were driven from their positions but at a cost of 3,300 Allied casualties. Henry Jones was severely wounded by a bullet in the lower jaw while carrying the Queen’s Colour. He was Mentioned in Dispatches for his actions. Henry carried the bullet in his jaw for 30 years until he complained of a toothache and had the bullet removed.
On the 7th of June 1855, during an assault made on Sevastopol, Henry was slightly wounded in the shoulder at the ‘Quarries’ and a day later was wounded in the chest by a shell splinter. For the valour he displayed during these assaults, Henry Jones was nominated for the Victoria Cross.
Henry was promoted to Captain on 19 August 1855. In 1856, he was awarded the French Imperial Legion of Honour with the degree of Knight in appreciation of his distinguished services before the enemy.
The Victoria Cross was first instituted as an award for valour by Queen Victoria, under warrant, on 29 January 1856. It was gazetted on 5 February and backdated to 1854, to recognise acts of bravery carried out during the Crimean War.
Henry Jones resigned his commission three months prior to the notification of the award of his Victoria Cross.
His 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.”
On 22 June 1863 Henry Jones was formally presented with the Victoria Cross by the Cavalry Depot Commandant, Colonel W.N. Custance, CB, at the Canterbury Barracks in Kent, South-East England.
Henry Jones was appointed Consul in the Fiji and Tonga Islands in 1863, Consul-General at Tabreez in 1868, at Christiania in 1875, and at Philippopolis (now Plovdiv) in 1880. In 1889 he was appointed Minister Resident at Bangkok and in 1895 he was transferred to be Minister Resident and Consul-General at Lima and at Quito. He retired from the Diplomatic Service in 1898 and died in Eastbourne, Sussex, on 18 December 1916.
For more detail about Henry Jones VC visit the Army Museum of New South Wales web site.