05.08.1942 No. 61 OTU Spitfire 1a X4642 Sgt. George Douglas Jones
Date: 5 August 1942 (Wednesday)
Unit: No. 61 Operational Training Unit
Type: Spitfire 1a
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Rednal, Shropshire
Location: Bryneglwys, Denbighshire, Wales.
Pilot: Sgt. George Douglas Jones 1138497 RAFVR Age 20 - Died from injuries.
There was nothing that the young Air Cadet liked better than hiking about and exploring. Living at Ruthin, Denbighshire he was surrounded by hills, valleys and open moorland in which he could indulge his passion. The area held several sites of air crashes dating from the Second World War and these, quite naturally, were a magnet to the young lad's curiosity. He kept a log of his expeditions and on 14 February 1979 he recorded "Wreck hunt for Spitfire at Bryneglwys. No findings - no serial number available"
14 April 1979 was Easter Saturday and the young lad was back at Bryneglwys for another look and this time he struck boyhood gold. His log reads: "Wreck hunt for Spitfire at Bryneglwys. Perspex from canopy found".
Clutching his precious find he made his way home and as these things inevitably do, the Perspex found its way into his parents' loft along with his expeditions log book.
Many years later the fragment of Perspex along with his now yellowing log book were retrieved from his parents' loft by the erstwhile Air Cadet and though in the interim he had learned much about its origin and the circumstances that led to it being on the moors near Bryneglwys its now somewhat middle aged finder harboured an unfulfilled desire to learn more about the pilot, his family and any living relatives.
In March 2017 Simon Gerrard contacted Aircrew Remembered with his problem and despite the chances of success appearing at best slim, researcher Roy Wilcock took up the challenge.
REASON FOR LOSS
Spitfire X4642 based at No. 61 Operational Training Unit at RAF Rednal Shropshire, crashed at Bryneglwys, Denbighshire, Wales at 0845 on Wednesday 5 August 1942
The flight was authorised for altitude flying practice and experience in the use of oxygen.
The weather at the time and place of the flight was fine with slight cloud at 30000 ft and a light north- westerly wind. Visibility was good.
Whilst flying at 25000 ft the pilot decided to carry out a dive to test the new engine. On pulling out of the dive the aircraft went into a 'spiral spin' and broke up in the air throwing the pilot out. He landed by parachute but later died from injuries received.
The Spitfire crashed at 0845 hrs at Bryn Eglwys, Denbighshire, Wales.
Sgt. George Douglas Jones had 206 hrs 25 mins flying experience including 8 hours on Spitfire aircraft.
Two ballast weights were carried in the tail. No rear oxygen bottle was carried.
Propeller DH 529 No. 517214.
Mods. 334, 338, 370, 459, 525 and 569 were not incorporated.
It was concluded that the accident was caused by aileron instability and subsequent failure of the mainplanes [sic] under torsion loading. RAE [Royal Aircraft Establishment] examination has revealed that both the front spar to "D" nose rivets and the "D" nose seam rivets on the port wing were below specification.
The foregoing details are taken from Fighter Command, Flying Accident - Precis of Proceedings of the Court of Enquiry (National Archives Ref: AVIA 5/21/W/1291 1259647)
Douglas Jones was taken to Wrexham hospital with serious injuries and the following morning, on receipt of the news that his son was dangerously ill, his father immediately flew to England to see him. On 11 August however, Douglas sadly succumbed to his injuries and died.
PHOTOGRAPHS URGENTLY SOUGHT
We have been unable to locate photographs of neither Sergeant George Douglas Jones nor his Spitfire X4642. If you can help with either, please contact our HELPDESK
THE FALKLAND ISLANDS SPITFIRES
In 1940 the Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands voted a donation to Britain of over £70000, and expressly asked that £50000 of this amount be used for the purpose of the purchase of Spitfires. At the time the cost of a Spitfire was around £5000 so ten fighters were designated as 'Presentation Aircraft' and bore the name FALKLAND ISLANDS on each side of the fuselage beneath the cockpit. (Details courtesy Alan Tew, member of the Falkland Islands Philatelic Study Group and the Spitfire Society)
X4642 was one of the ten Falkland Islands Spitfires. Built at Eastleigh in 1940 and powered by the Merlin III engine the Spitfire first flew on 19 October 1940 and the following day was sent to No. 6 Maintenance Unit at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. A week later the aircraft was assigned to No.609 (West Riding) Squadron at RAF Middle Wallop in Hampshire.
On 24 February 1941, X4642 was transferred to No. 66 Squadron at RAF Exeter in Devon and 6 weeks later on 7 April to No. 57 Operational Training Unit at RAF Hawarden in Flintshire, Wales.
On 6 October the aircraft was transferred to No. 306 Squadron at RAF Speke but after only nine days the plane was transferred again to No. 61 Operational Training Unit at the time based at RAF Heston, Hounslow, Middlesex. No. 61 OTU moved to RAF Rednal, Shropshire on 15 April 1942.
On behalf of Aircrew Remembered, Roy Wilcock would like to thank Jo Storrs Hon. Secretary of The Friends of Malew Church for her courteous help in his initial enquiries and for kindly providing contact details for the Rev. James McGowan Vicar of Malew, Santon, Ballasalla & St Marks. Ballasalla Isle of Man and the Rev. David Shirtliff, a Methodist Minister on the Isle of Man.
Our grateful thanks to the Rev. James McGowan for kindly searching his registers for details of George Douglas Jones' family, providing burial details and photographs of his grave and headstone and general enquires made on our behalf on the Isle of Man.
Our gratitude also to the Rev. David Shirtliff for invaluable information gleaned from conversations with some of the older residents of Castletown associated with the Methodist Church.
Our thanks also to Mr Ivor Ramsden, Director of the Manx Aviation and Military Museum for kindly providing the newspaper cuttings regarding Douglas Jones.
We would also like to thank the staff of the RAF Museum Archive and Library for their work in providing technical and service information of Spitfire X4642 and confirmation that the perspex canopy fragment matches the Spitfire design.
Many thanks also to Stephen Hayter, Executive Director, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba Canada. http://www.airmuseum.ca
On 29 May 2018 Aircrew Remembered was contacted by Simon Gerrard with the good news that the shard of perspex from Spitfire X4642 and the story of its loss have now taken their rightful place on display in the Falkland Islands Museum located at the historical dockyard site in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.
In August 2018 commemorative panels (as pictured below) were commissioned by Simon Gerard and are now on display at the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust, Historic Dockyard Museum, Ross Road, Stanley, Falkland Islands and at the Manx Aviation and Military Museum c/o 47 Fuchsia Grove, Ballasalla, Isle of Man, British Isles.
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE PILOT
Sgt. George Douglas Jones known as Douglas, was born on 30 September 1921 at 56 Murray's Road, Douglas, Isle of Man the son of George Herbert Jones ( a Grocery Manager) and Elizabeth Jones nee Niblock. When his birth was registered on 25 October 1921 his mother gave her address as The Bunghey, Marown, IOM.
Douglas was educated at the Douglas High School (St. Ninian's) Isle of Man. After leaving school he worked as an assistant in his father's grocery shop at 8 Malew Street, Castletown.
He enlisted in the RAFVR on 24 January 1941 at No. 3 Recruit Centre, RAF Padgate, Warrington, Cheshire and was placed on the Reserve.
Five months later he was called for aircrew training to No.1 Receiving Wing at Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon. Here he was issued with his kit and given inoculations before being posted to No. 8 Initial Training Wing at Newquay for basic training i.e. drill, physical training, discipline and lectures in theory of flight, engines, meteorology, navigation and signals. Some training on the Link trainer was also given. After eight weeks basic training at Newquay he was promoted to Leading Aircraftsman and posted to No. 50 Group Pool at RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire. No. 50 Group Pool undertook some of the initial flying training using DH 22 Tiger Moths borrowed from No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School.
He embarked for Canada on 21 November and posted to No. 39 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Swift Current, Sakatchewan on 2 December (arriving there on 6 December)
No. 39 SFTS officially opened on 15 December 1941 so he was one of those on the inaugural course. His 16 week pilot training course however, seems to have been calculated from 2 December 1941 to 27 March 1942 so it would seem that the period from 2 December to 14 December was included and probably spent receiving ground instruction and lectures. Training at Swift Current at the time was on North American Harvards but these were later replaced with Airspeed Oxfords when the school changed over to the training of bomber crews.
The photograph below is of one of the Harvard Trainers used for pilot training at No. 39 SFTS when Douglas was undergoing pilot training.
The flying instructors and flight line ground crew were all RAF whilst ground instruction staff were a mixture of Service and local civilians; only the Link Trainer instructors were entirely Canadian.
On 27 March 1942 Douglas was awarded his Flying Badge and promoted to Sergeant. Is he perhaps one of those receiving their wings in the photograph below?
Further details of No. 39 Service Flying Training School at Swift Current, Saskatchewan can be seen here
Douglas Jones returned to the United Kingdom where he was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth on 12 May 1942. On 30 June he was posted to No. 5 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Ternhill, Shropshire where he would necessarily have trained on the Unit's preponderance of Miles Magisters with perhaps a little time on Hawker Hurricanes if he was very fortunate. After two weeks there he was posted, on 14 July, to No. 61 Operational Training Unit at RAF Rednal where he commenced his training on Spitfires in preparation for operational service.
In response to enquiries about the family of George Douglas Jones the Rev David Shirtliff informed us that through his enquiries he had learned that:
George H. Jones was a grocer and lived in a flat above the shop at 8 Malew Street.
He was known as 'Dibby' Jones and ran the Sunday School at Malew Street Methodist Church. There is a photograph of him in the vestry of the current Castletown Methodist Church. His death in 1957 was as a result of injuries sustained in a fall in the flat.
There is no recollection of anyone ever knowing of a Mrs Jones. Dibby had a housekeeper at the time of his death, a Mrs Surveyn (sp?).
As far as he could ascertain he had no other children, and it was believed that he was not originally from the Isle of Man.
So as far as residents were aware Sgt George Douglas Jones had no siblings or other family members on Island.
Following further research Roy Wilcock discovered the following details in 1st World War Army Attestation papers.
George Herbert Jones of 13 Richmond Street, New Brighton, Cheshire (now part of Wallasey, Merseyside) attested on 16 February 1916 aged 24 years and 30 days. His mother, named as next of kin, was Catherine Jones. He later failed on medical grounds and so did not serve in the armed services.
These details would indicate a date of birth of 17 January 1892 which would fit with his age at death in 1957.
The birth of George Herbert Jones was registered at Liverpool in the March quarter of 1892.
The marriage of George Herbert Jones and Elizabeth Niblock was registered at Birkenhead in the December quarter of 1917. George Douglas Jones was their only known child.
Elizabeth Niblock was born at Birkenhead in 1896 and had three sisters: Hester Niblock born Birkenhead 1894 (married David H. Davies 1919) Mona Niblock born Birkenhead 1899 (married James A. Davies 1921) and Irene Niblock born Wallasey 1907 (died 1921)
Elizabeth Niblock's mother was born Elizabeth Esther Callin in Peel, Isle of Man c 1872 hence the Isle of Man connection.
She married John Andrew Niblock at Birkenhead in 1893.
If you are a relative of George Herbert Jones or the Niblock family or have any further information please contact us via our HELPDESK
FUNERAL SERVICE AND BURIAL DETAILS
Taken home to his native Isle of Man, Douglas Jones' funeral took place the following Sunday 16 August 1942 at his local Methodist Church in Malew Street, Castletown. Attended by a very large gathering of townspeople, the service was conducted by the Rev. T.M. Middleton MA followed by interment at Malew Churchyard where the 'Last Post' was sounded at the graveside by Mr. T.S. Cubbon, bandmaster of the Castletown Metropolitan Band.
Douglas Jones' grave at Kirk Malew (St Malew) Churchyard Extension Row B Grave 22 was bought for George’s funeral. The grave deeds register records the ‘owner’ as George Jones of 8 Malew Street Castletown. The Grave was last opened in the 1957 for the burial of George H. Jones who at the time still lived at 8 Malew Street Castletown. (Details kindly provided by the Rev. James McGowan)
George Douglas Jones is commemorated on the Isle of Man National War Memorial, Tynwald Hill, Main Road, St John's, Isle of Man; on the Castletown War Memorial, Market Square, and on the St Ninian's High School War Memorial, Douglas.
Answering your country's call,
You flew both day and night;
Courageously you gave your all
And flew into Eternal Life.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock and Simon Gerrard for all the relatives and friends of George Douglas Jones - June 2017
With thanks to the sources quoted below.