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George Jones KBE CB DFC (1896 - 1992)

AMSHL Sir George Jones KBE CB DFC
Born in Rushworth, Victoria (Australia)map
Husband of — married 15 Nov 1919 in Victoria, Australiamap
Father of and
Died in Mentone, Victoria, Australiamap
Profile last modified | Created 4 Jan 2021
This page has been accessed 112 times.

Contents

Biography

Notables Project
George Jones KBE CB DFC is Notable.

Air Marshal Sir George Jones KBE CB DFC was a senior commander in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), rising from private soldier in the First World War to Air Marshal in 1948, and served as Chief of the Air Staff from 1942 to 1952, the longest continuous tenure of any RAAF chief. He significantly influenced the Air Force's development during and after the Second World War, receiving credit for building up the RAAF's strength to 70 squadrons by 1945, playing a personal part in improving education within the service, including the establishment of RAAF College and RAAF Staff College, and encouraging local industry to design and build trainer aircraft for the RAAF and produce more sophisticated combat aircraft under licence from overseas manufacturers.

Formative years

George Jones was born on 18th October 1896 at Rushworth, Victoria (Australia). He was the sixth son and youngest of ten children of Henry Jones and Jane Smith. [1] His father, a miner, died in an accident three months before the birth, leaving his family in poverty. He was brought up in a strict Methodist household and for his entire life rarely touched alcohol. He attended Rushworth State School, graduating at fourteen years of age. He then took an apprenticeship as a carpenter before moving to Melbourne, where he became a motor mechanic. He worked in several garages before commencing a part-time course in fitting and turning at the Working Men's College of Melbourne. His studies were curtailed by the outbreak of war, by which time he had accumulated three years part-time military service, firstly in cadets and later in a militia unit, the 29th Light Horse Regiment.

First World War

George Jones KBE CB DFC is an Anzac who served in World War One.
Roll of Honor
AMSHL Sir George Jones KBE CB DFC was wounded at France during The Great War.

In May 1915 Jones enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, embarking for Egypt in August with the 9th Light Horse Regiment. He landed at Gallipoli the following month and served there until the end of the campaign in December. After briefly transferring to the Imperial Camel Corps, Jones applied to join the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) in October 1916, taking a drop in rank from Corporal to Private to do so. Initially employed as an air mechanic in the No. 1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps (AFC), he undertook flying training in 1917 and was posted to No. 4 Squadron AFC as a Second Lieutenant in France. He was badly wounded by a bullet and petrol burns in combat with a German fighter in March 1918; nevertheless, he achieved seven victories to become an ace, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for 'the greatest daring and ability in aerial fighting with destroying seven enemy aircraft'. [2]

Between wars

George Jones KBE CB DFC is a Military Veteran.
Served in the Royal Australian Air Force 1921-1952
He became the longest-serving Chief of Air Force

After a short spell in civilian life following the First World War, he joined the newly-formed Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1921, and rose steadily through training and personnel commands prior to the Second World War; including a posting as Chief Flying Instructor at Point Cook.

He married Muriel Cronan, a clerk who also played piano professionally, on 15th November 1919 at Victoria. [3] The couple had two sons, Ronald (1920-62) and Ian (1934-90). Jones was described by family members as being a somewhat distant husband and father, dedicated to his career and rarely given to obvious displays of emotion. [4]

Second World War

Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, Jones was raised to temporary Group Captain. In March 1940 he assumed responsibility for Australia's part in the Empire Air Training Scheme, establishing many schools, acquiring hundreds of aircraft, and overseeing the training of thousands of airmen. His performance in this role led to him being promoted to acting Air Commodore and appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). [5] On 5th May 1942, as Australia's position before the all-conquering Japanese was most perilous, Jones was appointed Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), the RAAF's senior position. He was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in June 1943. [6]

Post war

After the Second World War, Jones had overall responsibility for transforming what was then the world's fourth largest air force into a peacetime service that was also able to meet overseas commitments in Malaya and Korea. When he was eventually promoted to Air Marshal in 1948 the RAAF was made up of approximately 8,000 staff, compared to 175,000—the world's fourth largest air force—he had commanded in 1945 as an Air Vice-Marshal. Jones proposed recruiting women into a new service to replace the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force that had been disbanded in September 1946. Blocked initially by the Labor government of the day, it came into being in 1950 as the Women's Royal Australian Air Force.

Following his retirement from the RAAF on 22nd February 1952, Jones continued to serve in the aircraft industry, as Director of Coordination with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) from 1952 to 1957 and a member of the board of Ansett Transport Industries for almost twenty years.

He was created Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1st January 1953 New Year Honours. [7]

Jones ran unsuccessfully for political office, failing to gain pre-selection as the Liberal candidate for the seat of Flinders in 1952, failing to be elected to the seat of Henty at the 1961 federal election for the Labor Party and failing to be elected in the Corio by-election of 1965 as a candidate of the Liberal Reform Group.

Muriel passed away in 1969, aged 71 years. George married again in 1978 at Brighton, Victoria, to Gwendolyn Claire Bauer; automatically entitling her as Lady Jones. Gwendolyn died two years later.

Sir George published his autobiography, From Private to Air Marshal, in 1988.

Final flight

Sir George Jones passed away, aged 95 years, on 24th August 1992 at Mentone, Victoria and his ashes have been placed with those of his second wife in Cheltenham New Cemetery whilst he is mentioned on the plaque with his first wife. [8] He was Australia's last surviving First World War ace. [9] A memorial plaque on the War Memorial in High Street, Rushworth, recognises his remarkable life. [10]

Both sons predeceased Jones; one died from cancer and the other, who was mentally unstable, was killed in a shoot-out with police.

Sources

  1. Victoria Birth Index #30807/1896
  2. Australian Honours: DFC; accessed 4 Jan 2021
  3. Victoria Marriage Index #8420/1919
  4. Helson, Peter. 'Ten Years at the Top' (PhD thesis). University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2006. OCLC 225531223
  5. Australian Honours: CBE; accessed 4 Jan 2021
  6. Australian Honours: CB; accessed 4 Jan 20221
  7. Australian Honours: KBE; accesed 4 Jan 2021
  8. Billion Graves; accessed 4 Jan 2021
  9. Wayback Machine; accessed 4 Jan 2021
  10. Monuments Australia, Memorial Plaque: Sir George Jones; accessed 4 Jan 2021

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