JONES, Ralph

Service Number: N244527
Enlisted: 3 September 1939, Crookwell, New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 22nd Garrison Battalion
Born: Gorleston-On-Sea, England, 26 September 1900
Home Town: Crookwell, Upper Lachlan Shire, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action (by escaping Japanese POWs), Cowra, New South Wales, 5 August 1944, aged 43 years
Cemetery: Cowra War Cemetery, NSW
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Cowra Breakout Memorial
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World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1939: Enlisted Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Private, SN N244527, Crookwell, New South Wales
5 Aug 1944: Involvement Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Private, SN N244527, 22nd Garrison Battalion, Homeland Defence - Militia and non deployed forces

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

Ralph Jones was born at Gorleston, England on 26 September 1900 and emigrated to Australia in the 1920s, having previously served in the British army. He was employed as a labourer when he enlisted at Goulburn, NSW, on 24 February 1942 as private N244527. He was posted to the 22nd Garrison Battalion stationed at the prisoner of war camp near Cowra, NSW.

Private Ralph Jones, GC, 22nd Garrison Battalion, was posthumously awarded the George Cross for bravery ands devotion to duty during a mass breakout at No. 12 POW Camp, Cowra, on the morning of 05 Aug 1944 at around 2am, the Japanese internees of the camp staged a mass breakout and swarmed toward the Vickers Machine gun operated by Jones and Private Ben Hardy. Both men refused to retreat and manned their gun until overwhelmed by the prisoners and killed. For their conduct, both men were awarded posthumous George Crosses. The George Cross was presented to his brother in Britain.

The citation for Jones’s award reads:

"On the night of the 4th-5th August, 1944, [Private Ralph JONES] was on duty at the No. 12 Prisoner-of-War Camp, Cowra, as a member of a Vickers M.G. [Machine Gun] Crew, guarding the Compound in which were interned the Japanese Prisoners-of-War.

There were over 1,100 Japanese prisoners in the Compound at the time, and they staged a mass outbreak never before witnessed in the history of the British Empire.

Private JONES displayed outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty in his fight to death against an overwhelming onslaught of fanatical Japanese who stormed out over the perimeter armed with knives, baseball clubs and other weapons and bore down on the M.G. crew. Private JONES stood his ground and continued to work his gun until bashed to death by the Japanese who were worked up to a state of frenzy with the objective of either wiping out the Garrison or getting wiped out themselves.

This soldier met his death in the true British spirit of sacrifice for his country."

The award of his George Cross was not announced until September 1950. It was accepted by his brother Walter, on behalf of his mother, from King George VI at Buckingham Palace on 14 February 1951.