Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.
The March issue of the magazine has a two-page write-up on the life and bravery of Commander Loftus William Jones, who was awarded the VC for outstanding bravery during the Great War.
Jones, who was born in Southsea, Hampshire, came from a family with a strong naval tradition. After being educated at Eastman’s Royal Naval Academy in Fareham, Hampshire, he rose quickly through the officer ranks and, at just 23, was in command of his own ship, the destroyer HMS Sparrowhawk in 1903. After further appointments, he was elevated to commander in June 1914.
His VC action came on May 31 1916 when HMS Shark, captained by Jones, was providing protection from enemy submarines, along with three other destroyers and two light cruisers.
Under a heavy fire from the German fleet, the Shark was hit and a shell fragment destroyed her bridge helm. The enemy, whose bombardment was murderous, was using shrapnel, some of which struck Commander Jones in the thigh and face, leaving him to stem the flow of blood with his hands.
Jones and his men fought to the bitter end and one shell blew Jones’s right leg off above the knee. Shortly before Shark sank, some survivors climbed aboard two rafts: only six survivors from the 91-strong company were rescued.
Jones, aged 36, was not among the survivors: his posthumous VC was announced on March 6 1917. His widow, Margaret, received his gallantry medal from George V later the same month.
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past five years have been largely based on excerpts from four of his books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes and Heroes of the Skies. His sixth bravery book, Victoria Cross Heroes Volume II, was published on November 8.
For the foreseeable future, Lord Ashcroft’s “hero of the month” articles will concentrate on men who were awarded the VC during the First World War. Lord Ashcroft is a military historian who has lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.
- Lord Ashcroft’s latest article appears in the March issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.