H JONES VC: The Life and Death of an Unusual Hero

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H JONES VC: The Life and Death of an Unusual Hero, John Wilsey, Hutchinson, London, 2003, 320 pages, $18.99.

John Wilsey's H Jones VC: The Life and Death of an Unusual Hero is an unusual book as military biographies go. Some readers might wonder why the life of lieutenant Colonel Herbert "H" Jones is of sufficient interest to be the subject of a biography. As the last person to win the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Falklands War, he was notorious in British Army circles and much better known for the actions that led to his death than for a distinguished life.

Despite his lack of training as a writer or a historian, Wilsey has crafted a well-written and researched biography of fellow soldier Jones. Using primary sources, including letters Jones exchanged with his wife, Wilsey develops a vivid portrait of the man and the professional soldier and explains Jones' final action-the single-handed charge against an entrenched Argentine position that earned him the Victoria Cross.

Jones's story, which is interesting and moving, describes a particular British officer at a particular point in history. It also describes the modern British regimental system and Jones's successful rise. Perhaps no one is more qualified than Wilsey to provide that account. Wilsey served with Jones in the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment and subsequently became the Joint Commander of all British Forces in the former Republic of Yugoslavia.

The book climaxes with an account of the battles around Darwin and Goose Green, which are also described in Mark Adkin's Goose Green: A Battle is Fought to be Won (Trans-Atlantic Publications, Philadelphia, PA, 1992) and Spencer Fitz-Gibbon's Not Mentioned in Despatches: The History and Mythology of the Battle of Goose Green (Lutterworth Press, Cambridge, UK, 2001). …


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