JONES, Anthony Leonard. Pilot Officer (42843)
10 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
Died 6 November 1940, aged 20.
Anthony's birth was registered in Erpingham, Norfolk in Q2 1920. He was the second child of Frederick Leonard Jones and Blanche Lucy (née Burrows). The family background is more than a little complicated.
His father had been born in Spalding, Lincolnshire in 1889 and, after education at Spalding Grammar School, became a Journalist and moved abroad. In 1912, he became editor of the "Malay Mail" in Kuala Lumpur. On 11 October 1915 at St Georges's Church, Penang, Frederick married Blanche Lucy Burrows, originally from Norfolk. The first child, Margaret Elizabeth, was born in in the Federated Malay States during 1917 but, as noted above, Anthony's 1920 birth was registered in Norfolk. 3 May 1921, the 32 year old Blanche - together with the 3 year old Margaret and 7 month old Anthony - sailed from London on the SS Glenluce to return to Port Swettenham, Malaysia. The manifest notes that her last address in the UK had been 8 Buxton Road, Norwich - perhaps her parents' address.
The readily available records are not clear about quite what happened next. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records note that, in addition to Anthony's being the "son of Frederick Leonard and Blanche Lucy Jones" he was the "nephew and ward of Esmond V Jarrold, of Ewell, Surrey". This must the connection which led to Anthony's inclusion in the Borough's Book of Remembrance but, as noted below, there is also some more immediate family connection.
Anthony's uncle and guardian, Esmond Vavasseur Jarrold, was born in Norfolk in 1887. In Q3 1913, he married Elsie J Burrows. They had two children: daughter Vivien J, born in Norwich in February 1915; and son David J E, born in Mutford, Suffolk in Q3 1928. The family subsequently moved to the Borough. There is an early 1930s record of them living at "Ferncote" Woodcote Side, Epsom. By 1936 they had moved to "Roxley" 87 The Green, Ewell. They were recorded there in the September 1939 Register. 52 year old Esmond is listed as "Leather Goods - Director". Both 44 year old Elsie and their 24 year old daughter are listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is one currently closed record at the address, presumably covering 15 year old David. (Esmond was still at 87 The Green when he died on 30 August 1960.)
A reasonable presumption is that, while Anthony's father continued living and working in Kuala Lumpur (in modern-day Malaysia), Anthony had been sent back to the UK and put in the care of his uncle Esmond.
Anthony is not found in the September 1939 Register (probably because he was already in uniform). It is a surprise to find his mother and sister recorded in the Register living alone at 74 Alexandra Road, Epsom. (It is not currently known how ling they had been resident there.) 51 year old Blanche is listed with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties" and 22 year old Margaret as a "Model". On 26 September 1939, a few days before the Register was taken, Anthony's father Frederick is recorded setting sail alone to return to Kuala Lumpur (where the family's address was 88 Circular Road). The ship's manifest notes that he had been staying at 74 Alexandra Road. Blanche also returned to Kuala Lumpur, perhaps after Margaret had married Dennis B Panting, registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District Q2 1940. (We shall return to Frederick and Blanche - who were also WW2 casualties - at the end of this article.)
From 23 October 1939, Anthony was granted a Short Term Commission of 4 years as an Acting Pilot Officer. He advanced to Pilot Officer on probation, 20 April 1940, and that position was confirmed on 14 August 1940. He was posted to 10 Squadron, part of the RAF's Bomber Command and stationed at RAF Leeming In Yorkshire. The Squadron was equipped with the Armstrong Whitworth AW.38 Whitley - which, as illustrated below, flew in a distinctively nose-down attitude. (Until the arrival of the four-engined Avro Lancaster in February 1942, the Whitley was the RAF's heaviest bomber.)
An Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley V bomber, circa 1940
RAF official photograph - public domain
We know of two occasions when Anthony nearly met his end. On the night of 5/6 August 1940, He was the second pilot aboard Whitley P4952 which took off from RAF Leeming at 20.48 hours on an operation to bomb the Dornier aircraft factory at Wismar. The aircraft was struck by a flak in the front turret, but the pilot was able to take evasive action which saved the aircraft from further damage. None of the crew was injured and the Whitley landed safely at Leeming 04.25 hours.
On the night of 20/21 September 1940, Anthony was the pilot of Whitley P5001 KA-S which, at 21.17 hours, took off from RAF Leeming on an operation to bomb primary targets of Hamm, Soest and Ehrang around Cologne. They dropped their bombs on railway lines at one of the primary targets around 01.00 hours in a series of three attacks. The aircraft's port wing was hit by anti-aircraft fire, but the damage was relatively slight and, at 05.15 hours, the Whitley landed safely back at Leeming where the flak damage was quickly repaired.
On the night of 5/6 November 1940, Anthony was again piloting Whitley P5001 KA-S on an operation to Milan. (Two of the other four aboard had also survived the 20/21 September flight.) They reported that the operation had been completed at 23.59 hours, but the aircraft was last heard from transmitting distress signals. It crashed into the sea about 10 miles east of Kent's North Foreland, killing all on board.
Their bodies were never recovered. 20 year old Anthony and his four crewmates (the youngest of whom was only 18) are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, among the more than 20,000 airmen and women who were lost in WW2 operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe, and who have no known grave.
The RAF's Runneymede Memorial
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
To return to the fate of Anthony's parents, Frederick and Blanche were back in Kuala Lumpur when, on 8 December 1941, the Japanese declared war on the UK and invaded Malaya. Like other civilians, they sought to escape from the advancing Japanese Army, and managed to made their way to Singapore at the south of the Malayan peninsula. By 7 February 1942, the Japanese had advanced to the outskirts of Singapore Island and the civilians there looked for boats to take them away.
Frederick and Blanche found passage on the HMS Giang Bee. This coastal steamer was completed in Rotterdam in 1908 as the Reijnierz. In 1939, she had been sold to the Chinese-owned Heap Eng Moh SS Co and renamed Giang Bee. She was requisitioned into naval service in April 1941 for use as a patrol vessel, hence the HMS. Captain Lancaster, in command of the ship, initially refused to take civilian passengers because he saw the dangers attached to a craft designated as a warship. However, at 10 pm on Thursday 12 February 1942, the Giang Bee left Singapore Harbour with up to 350 refugees who were mostly women, children and the elderly. All her Malay crew had been ordered ashore in Singapore before she left, so that the crew consisted of a handful of RNVR. personnel and some passengers who volunteered to be stokers etc.
HMS Giang Bee (in her former guise of the "Reijnierz")
Photograph with thanks to the Muntok Peace Museum
The Giang Bee was bombed and suffered damage during the day of 13 February, and in the evening, after a long stand-off in the Banka Strait with a Japanese destroyer, was shelled and sank quickly. The ship had only four lifeboats - with space for barely a tenth of the crown on board - and two of them had been seriously damaged by the day's bombing. Many - including the 52 year old Frederick died in the sinking.
Blanche, however, survived and was interned in the Palembang women's camp on Sumatra. Circumstances for Japanese-held civilian internees were barely less harsh than those for Prisoners of War. Blanche succumbed to the conditions and died on 8 December 1944, aged 58. With many other casualties from the camp, she is buried at Muntok on nearby Banka Island.
Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018
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