John Herbert Jones
- Born: 27 Dec 1923, Croydon Park, New South Wales, Australia
- Marriage (1): Mavis Irene Watkins in 1947 in Mary Immaculate Church, Waverley, New South Wales, Australia
- Died: 11 Dec 1980, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia at age 56
Another name for John was Jack Jones.
John, or Jack as he was always known, was a Junior Assistant in the General Post Office in Sydney when he signed up with the Australian Military Forces at the Martin Place Recruiting Centre on the 12th December 1941. His older brother Doug had already signed up and was serving in the Middle East. His mother had died a year earlier and his father's business had folded too so these were very trying times for the family.
When he enlisted, Jack was about two weeks short of his 18th birthday, which might explain why he recorded his birthdate as 24th April 1922 when it was actually the 27th December 1923. The former date meant that he was over the age of 18 and did not require his father's consent, although this would have changed if he had waited just another couple of weeks! He recorded his religion as Roman Catholic and named his father, James Hardie Jones of Seymour St, Croydon Park as his next of kin. He had light brown hair and blue hazel eyes.
Jack was given the Service Number NX 78573 and assigned to the 9th Pioneer Training Battallion which was based in Dubbo. He arrived there on the 15th December 1941. In April of 1942, his training completed, he joined the 7th Military Division HQ which at that time was based in Darwin in the Northern Territory. Darwin at this time was enduring a number of Japanese aerial bombing raids which had started in February and which continued until November of 1943. One of the most damaging attacks occurred on the 16th June 1942 when fuel tanks by the harbour were bombed along with other buildings and infrastructure in the town. Jack was one of the many people who lived with this frequent threat, and with the fear of an imminent Japanese invasion.
In September of 1942 Jack was assigned to the 2/11 Australian Army Troops Company and was assigned to various Postal Units, reflecting his pre-war experience as an employee of the GPO. The following month he was promoted to the rank of Acting Corporal and was confirmed in the rank of Corporal on the 10th March 1943. This was quite an achievement for a young man who was just 19 years old. In May he fractured his leg in an accident in Katherine and was evacuated to the 121 Australian General Hospital. He rejoined his unit at the end of June, and at the end of July his unit left the Northern Territory after they were assigned to the NSW Line of Communication Area.
From August to October of 1943 Jack had a couple of spells in hospital suffering from Pneumonia, finally rejoining his unit on the 11th October after getting over it.
In January & February of 1944 Jack's unit was in Cairns and got himself into a spot of trouble after taking some 40 days of unauthorised leave (he was AWOL). Perhaps he was belatedly celebrating his real 20th birthday which had passed on the 27th December. In May he faced a court martial and punished with a forfeiture of 40 days pay, 40 days of "Field Punishment" and demoted back to the rank of Private. He spent 40 days at the 2 Australian Corps Field Punishment Centre which was located at Wasp Creek, near Coomera on what is now the Gold Coast, before rejoining his unit.
By July of 1944 he was with the 9th Australian Division Postal Unit and at the end of March 1945 he and his unit was on their way to Morotai Island, disembarking there on the 7th April 1945. Morotai is a small island in the northern-most part of the Indonesian archipelago. The island had been selected by General Douglas Macarthur to be his major air and naval base to support the campaign to liberate Mindinao in the Phillipines. The successful campaign to secure Morotai commenced on the 15th September 1944 and continued until the war ended in August 1945. At the time Jack's unit landed there operations were mostly involved with mopping up the remaining stranded Japanese forces on the island. However, the main reason that the 9th Division was in Morotai was to make plans for the invasion of Tarakan along with the 26th Infantry Brigade.
Tarakan is a small island off the coast of Borneo, which was occupied by the Japanese. It was the location of a highly-prized oil field, which was vital to the Japanese war effort, a fuel storage depot and a strategic airstrip. The assault on the island commenced in the early hours of the 1st May by units of the 26th Infantry Brigade. By the 5th May they had secured the valuable airfield, although it had been sabotaged by the Japanese forces who subsequently retreated into the interior.
Jack had left Morotai on the 4th May and his unit was on Tarakan soon after. On the 30th June he was transferred to the 26th Infantry Brigade Postal Section. He was to remain in Tarakan until the end of the year. Over this time the 26th Brigade was undertaking the difficult task of sweeping the island to capture the remaining Japanese forces, some 1700 in number, who had established defensive positions in the heavily wooded hills in the interior of the island. Between June and the middle of August when the War ended the 26th Brigade suffered 36 casualties in this endeavour. At the War's end 300 Japanese soldiers remained at large, only surrendering when the war had ended.
The war ended in August 1945 and Jack left Tarakan with his unit, which was in the process of being disbanded, on the 22nd November, disembarking at Morotai two days later. He spent his first Christmas and New Years after the end of the war at Morotai and then, on the 7th February 1946, he left Morotai on the Stamford Victory bound for Kure in Japan, arriving one week later. He was assigned to the 8th Base Postal Unit. Shortly after he was promoted for the second time in his career to Corporal, and then just a day later to Lance Sergeant.
Jack was to continue serving in Japan until the 1st April 1947 when he boarded the Manoora to head home to Sydney, arriving on the 15th April. One week later on the 22nd April 1947 Jack was discharged from the army. He was the recipient of the Pacific Star, the Defence medal, the War medal and the Australia Service Medal.
He had met his wife-to-be Mavis in Japan and they married soon after returning to Australia.
In 1949, far from where they had met in Allied-occupied Japan, Jack and Mavis were living at Warri Street, Ardlethan in the Riverina area of New South Wales. Jack was a bus proprietor and Mavis attended to home duties. Jack was also the Captain-Coach of the local rugby league football team. Living not far away on a property named Waterview in Grong Grong was Jack's eldest sister, Phyllis, who had married local farmer John Sullivan and settled there.
By 1953, Jack and Mavis were back in Sydney and living at 33 Wiley Street in Waverley, where they lived until 1970 when they moved to 10/5 Tipper Avenue, Bronte, New South Wales. For many of those early years Jack's occupation was recorded in the electoral rolls as "Clerk", and he was possibly working for an insurance company. Later he became a truck driver, working for Geo. Clayton & Son, delivering fruit and vegetables from the trains at Darling Harbour to the nearby City markets.
Noted events in his life were:
• He resided at the time of enlisting in the AMF on 12 Dec 1941 in 49 Seymour St, Croydon Park, Sydney, , New South Wales, Australia.
• He had a residence on 5 Feb 1953 in 33 Wiley St, Waverley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
• He resided at at the time of his father's death on 27 Mar 1955 in 33 Wiley St, Waverley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
• He had a residence on 9 Aug 1977 in 10/5 Tipper Ave, Bronte, New South Wales, Australia.
John married Mavis Irene Watkins, daughter of James Alfred Watkins and Irene Alice Bracewell, in 1947 in Mary Immaculate Church, Waverley, New South Wales, Australia. (Mavis Irene Watkins was born on 6 Jun 1920 in 33 Wiley St, Waverley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and died in 2014 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.)