Jones, Joseph Reginald

I found Joseph Reginald Jones when I was researching other WW2 servicemen in our local papers.    As far as I can tell, he is not remembered anywhere locally.

Joseph Reginald Jones was born, according to the UK, British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960, on the 28th October 1922, the son of David Thomas and Mabel Jones, (nee Davies) at Halkyn.   He was their only child.

I managed to contact David Howard Burgess, who was on Ancestry and he was very kind and agreed for me to use the photos on his Family Tree and sent me Reg’s family history, he could tell it better than I , so many thanks to him: –

“Joseph Reginald Jones was born in Halkyn on 28th October 1922 to David Thomas Jones and his wife, Mabel Salisbury Jones. They had married on 16 May 1921 at Christ Church, Rhes y Cae. From an early age Joseph Reginald was always known as Reg.

 Reg’s mother, Mabel Jones, nee Davies, was born on 27 October 1899 in Manchester as her mother, Margaret Ellen Davies, (always known as Maggie) was not married and went away from Halkyn for the birth. I have a copy of her birth certificate confirming her names were Mabel Salisbury, born to Margaret Ellen Davies on 27 October 1899. Her father is not named on the birth certificate. Until she was 60 and entitled to a state pension Mabel always thought her birthday was 3 November. The error was then discovered, so that explains the incorrect birth date on the 1939 register!

 She was brought up in Halkyn by her grandparents, Joseph and Jane Davies, and was only a few years younger than my grandmother, Annie Davies, so they were really like sisters all their lives rather than aunt and niece.

 Mabel’s husband died in 1925 leaving her a widow with Reg as a young boy. She then had another son, Thomas Leslie Jones, who was born in Halkyn in 1927 but she did not name his father or re-marry. She moved with Reg and Leslie to Chester to seek employment and lived there until her death in 1992. Reg and Leslie went to school in Chester and Leslie lived there with his mother all his life.

 Reg was the same age as my father, Howard Burgess, and they were first cousins. My mother, Norma Smith, was brought up two doors away from Reg and his mother in Chester. My grandmother, Maggie Smith, and Mabel always spoke Welsh with each other.

 My mother remembered that Mabel was in my grandparents house when the telegram came to say that Reg was missing, presumed lost at sea, and she was devastated. I have a copy of the newspaper cutting from the Chester Observer dated 12 December 1942 which reads:

 “Mrs Mabel Jones, 18 Neville Road, Boughton, has been officially notified by the Admiralty of the loss of her eldest son, Joseph Reginald Jones, A.M.O. 1st class, Fleet Air Arm, who is missing, presumed killed in action. He was 20 years of age, and a native of Halkyn, Flintshire, coming to Chester with his mother after the death of his father. Before joining up he was employed by Brookhirst Switchgear Co. Ltd. He joined the Royal Navy over two years ago. An old chorister at St Oswald’s Church, he was also an enthusiastic member of the 13th company of Boy Scouts. He was educated at the Victoria Road and the College schools.”

 Mabel’s husband had been buried in Halkyn Churchyard in 1925 and Mabel added Reg’s details to the gravestone, confirming that he had been killed in action on November 15th 1942, aged 20 years. In 1992, Mabel was buried in the same grave following a funeral service in Chester and I was at her burial.

 I knew Mabel very well and she discussed a lot of the Davies family history with me and passed on the family Welsh Bible to me, which contains details of members of the family.

 You are very welcome to use the photographs on my Ancestry site for your story.

 Also, you mention Fred Bunter*.  Mabel’s mother Maggie (Margaret Ellen) Davies** married Fred on 23 January 1904 in Liverpool. As you know from his story on the website he died in 1916 when his ship was torpedoed.”

*Please click on the link to read his story on the Flint pages researched by Peter Metcalf.

**Margaret Ellen’s brother John Davies, is named on the Halkyn WW1 War Memorial, please click on the link to read his story.  The family had, like many others suffered through the two World Wars.

According to the newspaper cutting I have, Chester Chronicle 19 Dec 1942. Page 2 Col. 5, Reg enlisted circa 1940, when he was 18 years old.  He was to find himself in the Fleet Air Arm and reached the rank of Air Mechanic 1St Class on H.M.S. Avenger in 1942 when it was attacked whilst on Operation Torch.

Please see the websites below which may help give an idea what Reg and his comrades went through leading up to their deaths.

HMS Avenger (D14)

HMS Avenger was a Royal Navy escort aircraft carrier during the Second World War. In 1939 she was laid down as the merchant ship Rio-Hudson at the Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Company yard in Chester, Pennsylvania. Launched on 27 November 1940, she was converted to an escort carrier and transferred under the lend lease agreement to the Royal Navy. She was commissioned on 2 March 1942.


Avenger’s capacity allowed for a maximum of 15 aircraft. In September 1942, she took part in what was the largest and most successful Russian convoy to date. Upon her return home, after observing a number of design faults, Avenger’s captain drew up recommendations for future escort carrier design. In November 1942 she took part in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, where she suffered engine problems. While leaving North Africa to start the journey home Avenger was sunk by the German submarine U-155 on 15 November 1942 at 3:20am GMT, 9 hours after leaving Gibraltar for Britain, with a heavy loss of life among her crew.


Operation Torch

HMS Avenger, HMS Biter, and HMS Victorious left Scapa for Greenock on 16 October 1942. Avenger still had the two Sea Hurricane squadrons on board, with two new aircraft armed with 20 mm cannon. Avenger was tasked with providing air cover for one of the convoys carrying the British assault force for Operation Torch.[18] Once off North Africa she would join the covering force for the landings, with HMS Argus, three cruisers, and five destroyers. On arrival on 8 November 1942, the Supermarine Seafires from Argus and Avenger’s Sea Hurricanes provided air cover for the landings.[18] Between 8–10 November Avenger flew 60 fighter missions. On 9 November, she had a near miss by a torpedo from an He 111, and from 10 to 12 November she was laid up with engine problems before sailing for Gibraltar.[18] HMS Avenger was torpedoed and sunk with a heavy loss of life (516 perished) by U-155 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Adolf Piening on 15 November 1942, just west of Gibraltar.[5] Struck by only one torpedo, she quickly sank. Only twelve members of her crew were rescued.[1

British Escort carrier – HMS Avenger (D 14)

Type:     Escort carrier (Avenger)

Tonnage              13,785 tons

Completed         1942 – Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co, Chester PA

Owner  The Admiralty

Date of attack    15 Nov 1942        Nationality:      British

Fate       Sunk by U-155 (Adolf Cornelius Piening)

Position                36° 15’N, 7° 45’W – Grid CG 8665

Complement     526 officers and men (514 dead and 12 survivors).

Convoy MKF-1Y

Route    Gibraltar (14 Nov) – Clyde


Launched as motor merchant Rio Hudson of the C-3 type for Moore-McCormack Lines Inc, New York NY. In July 1941, delivered incomplete to the US Navy for conversion to the escort carrier USS Avenger (CVE 2), fitted with 15 aircraft. On 26 Dec 1941, sold to the Royal Navy and commissioned as HMS Avenger (D 14).

At 09.55 hours on 13 Sep 1942, U-589 (Horrer) fired a spread of two torpedoes at HMS Avenger (D 14) (Cdr A.P. Colthurst, RN), escorting the convoy PQ-18 and after 3 minutes 35 seconds two detonations were heard. It is likely that Horrer made his claims as a result of hearing detonations caused by torpedoes from U-408 (von Hymmen), which was attacking the convoy almost simultaneously.

 Notes on event               

At 04.14 hours on 15 Nov 1942, U-155 fired a spread of four torpedoes at convoy MKF-1Y about 120 miles northwest of Gibraltar and heard three detonations, but was not able to made visual observations. The Ettrick and HMS Avenger (D 14) were sunk and USS Almaack (AK 27) was damaged.

HMS Avenger (D 14) (Cdr A.P. Colthurst, RN) was hit by one torpedo, which ignited her bomb load and blew out the centre section of the ship. She sank within two minutes. The survivors were rescued by HNoMS Glaisdale (L 44) (LtCdr T. Horve) – further search for more survivors proved fruitless.

On board – We have details of 526 people who were on board.

Convoy routes

Convoy route MKF

Code     MKF

Route    Mediterranean to UK, fast

Area      Mediterranean and North Atlantic

Notes    Initially returning troop convoys from Operation Torch, later as fast convoys from Egypt through the Mediterranean.

Convoys  Date                   Losses


MKF-1X                   Nov 1942          1 ship sunk with a total of 20,107 tons.

MKF-1Y                   Nov 1942          2 ships sunk with a total of 25,064 tons.

MKF-3      Dec 1942           1 ship sunk with a total of 7,057 tons.

3 MKF convoys successfully attacked in the war.

4 ships were sunk with a total of 52,228 GRT.


Type – IXC

Ordered               25 Sep 1939

Laid down           1 Oct 1940           AG Weser, Bremen (werk 997)

Launched            12 May 1941

Commissioned  23 Aug 1941        Kptlt. Adolf Cornelius Piening (Knights Cross)


23 Aug 1941        –              Feb, 1944                             KrvKpt. Adolf Cornelius Piening (Knights Cross)

Feb, 1944             –              14 Aug 1944                        Oblt. Johannes Rudolph

15 Aug 1944        –              Nov, 1944                            Ltn. Ludwig-Ferdinand von Friedeburg

Nov, 1944            –              Dec, 1944                             Oblt. Johannes Rudolph

Dec, 1944             –              20 Apr 1945                         Kptlt. Erwin Witte

21 Apr 1945         –              5 May 1945                         Oblt. Friedrich Altmeier


10 patrols

23 Aug 1941        –              31 Jan 1942           4. Flottille (training)

1 Feb 1942           –              14 Aug 1944          10. Flottille (active service)

15 Aug 1944        –              5 May 1945           33. Flottille (active service)

Successes            25 ships sunk, total tonnage 126,664 GRT

1 warship sunk, total tonnage 13,785 tons

1 auxiliary warship damaged, total tonnage 6,736 GRT

Fate – Surrendered on 5 May 1945 at Baring Bay near Frederica, Denmark.

Transferred from Wilhelmshaven to Loch Ryan, Scotland on 22 June 1945.

Operation Deadlight (post-war Allied operation, info)

Sunk on 21 Dec, 1945 in position 55.35N, 07.39W

Mabel was to suffer the death of her son Reg after suffering the death of her husband David Thomas Jones 17 years before.

Sadly it seems that Reg’s name is only on the LEE-ON-SOLENT MEMORIAL, so it would be lovely if he could be remembered in the village he was born in.





Learn more about the other soldiers on the Halkyn Memorial

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