Sgt. R. Jones

Sgt. R. Jones

1012895 Sergeant Francis Reginald Jones,
Flight Engineer, 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit,
RAF Lindholme, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Handley Page Halifax MKII Bomber

Francis Reginald Jones was universally known as Reg. He was born in Mansfield on 22nd May 1920. His parents were William Henry Jones and Harriet Gertrude Bell, who had married in Mansfield at the end of 1915, but by the time of Reg’s birth were living at Barwick Terrace, on Leeds Road. At that time, the address was within the Scholes Ward for electoral purposes, but now it lies within the Barwick Ward.
The Jones family lived at Barwick Terrace until 1939, when they moved to Sandbed Lane in Manston where William Jones worked as a sawmill manager. They came back to Scholes during the war, and the family lived in a house named ‘Northova’ on Main Street. They lived there when the news that Reg had been killed came through.
After Reg Jones left school, he became a motor driver and mechanic which would have prepared him well for service as a RAF flight engineer.
At the time of his death, 1012895 Sgt, Flight Engineer, Reg Jones was undergoing a course of instruction at 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit, which was based at RAF Lindholme, a few miles east of Doncaster. The site of the RAF station is now shared between the estates of HMP Moorland and HMP Lindholme.
Reg Jones was the only Englishman in his crew of six training to operate Handley Page Halifax Mk II heavy bombers. His five crewmates were all Australian, and none of the six men had any previous operational flying experience before they came together as a crew.
The Distant Triple Peaks of Yr Eifl (Gwynedd Archaeological Trust)

The Australian men and, it is very likely, Reg Jones, were trained for their respective roles in Canada under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). The plan was set up to allow the training of sufficient numbers of aircrew to allow the Royal Air Force to expand its capability and to make good the losses that were anticipated. The intention was to provide an environment of safe skies in which to train so that for their initial training the men under instruction could concentrate solely on the roles they had volunteered for (all aircrew during the Second World War were volunteers). The BCATP launched in April 1940 and by the time it closed almost exactly five years later, 159,340 trainees of all disciplines had completed elementary training at one of the BCATP schools. So successful was the programme that its rate of induction and training began to be wound down from mid-1944 after its students had formed a surplus of aircrew.
The men arrived at No. 11 Base at RAF Lindholme for their heavy bomber conversion with 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit on 31st July 1944.
On 3rd September 1944, the crew was flying a Handley Page Halifax Mk II, serial number JD417 on a training flight. It isn’t known what time the aircraft left RAF Lindholme, but in the early afternoon the aircraft was diverted to RAF Valley on Anglesey to try to escape the weather, which was worsening. The Halifax was due south of Anglesey, flying north when it was engulfed by a storm. What happened next is unknown, and speculation is pointless, but at 15:06 that afternoon, the bomber, now heading south, was heard to crash into the north side of Garn Ganol, the central and highest peak of the three mountains that make up Yr Eifl, north of Pwllheli, after it had flown over a local farm. All six men were killed instantly.

A mountain rescue team was despatched from RAF Llandwrog at Caernarfon to recover the men’s bodies, and to secure the crash site. Later, when RAF sent a salvage team to recover the wreckage of the aircraft, one of the men was seriously injured in a fall from a cliff face.

The Australian men were:

424379 Flying Officer Maxwell Cox, Pilot, age 27.

423363 Pilot Officer Lindsay George Walker, 2nd Pilot, age 21.

421114 Warrant Officer John Albert White, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, age 24.

433753 Flight Sergeant Keith Penwick, Air Gunner, age 19.

433631 Flight Sergeant Roy Walmsley, Air Gunner, age 19.

They now lie buried in Section A of Blacon Cemetery in Chester.

The Jones family brought Sergeant Reg Jones home to Scholes, and he is now buried in All Saints Churchyard.
Reg Jones' Grave in Barwick Churchyard