01 February 2009

Victoria Cross: L. W. Jones


Commander, Royal Navy; commanding HMS Shark

Born: 13 November 1879, Petersfield, Hampshire
Died: 31 May 1916, aboard HMS Shark, North Sea

Citation: On the afternoon of the 31st May, 1916, during the action [off Jutland], Commander Jones in HMS ‘Shark,’ Torpedo Boat Destroyer, led a division of destroyers to attack the enemy Battle Cruiser Squadron. In the course of this attack a shell hit the ‘Shark's’ bridge, putting the steering gear out of order, and very shortly afterwards another shell disabled the main engines, leaving the vessel helpless. The Commanding Officer of another Destroyer, seeing the ‘Shark's’ plight, came between her and the enemy and offered assistance, but was warned by Commander Jones not to run the risk of being almost certainly sunk in trying to help him. Commander Jones, though wounded in the leg, went aft to help connect and man the after wheel. Meanwhile the forecastle gun with its crew had been blown away, and the same fate soon afterwards befell the after gun and crew. Commander Jones then went to the midship and the only remaining gun, and personally assisted in keeping it in action. All this time the ‘Shark’ was subjected to very heavy fire from enemy light cruisers and destroyers at short range. The gun's crew of the midship gun was reduced to three, of whom an Able Seaman was soon badly wounded in the leg. A few minutes later Commander Jones was hit by a shell, which took off his leg above the knee, but he continued to give orders to his gun's crew, while a Chief Stoker improvised a tourniquet round his thigh. Noticing that the Ensign was not properly hoisted, he gave orders for another to be hoisted. Soon afterwards, seeing that the ship could not survive much longer, and as a German Destroyer was closing, he gave orders for the surviving members of the crew to put on lifebelts. Almost immediately after this order had been given, the ‘Shark’ was struck by a torpedo and sank. Commander Jones was unfortunately not amongst the few survivors from the ‘Shark’ who were picked up by a neutral vessel in the night.

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