Henry Mitchell Jones

(11/02/1831 - 18/12/1916)

Today is the 193rd anniversary of his birth of Henry Mitchell Jones VC (also known as Henry Michael Jones and Alma Jones), who epitomises Irish gallantry and diplomatic service in a remarkable life that spanned from February 11, 1831, to December 18, 1916. Born in Crumlin, Dublin to Robert and Charlotte in Springfield (Herberton Road), he embarked on a distinguished military career, later transitioned to a prominent role in the British Diplomatic Service.  He was awarded a Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces .Henry was also awarded France’s highest military award the Legion d’Honneur, the Crimea Medal with Inkerman and Sebastopol clasps and the Turkish Crimea Medal.

Jones commenced his military journey on April 10, 1849, joining the 18th Regiment of Foot before commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant to the 60th Regiment of Foot, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps, within 18 months. In 1854, he became a full Lieutenant in the 7th Royal Fusiliers, a regiment that saw active service during the Crimean War from 1853 to 1856. The 19th century conflict pitted France, Turkey and Britain against Russia in the Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea..

Notably, at the Battle of the Alma on September 20, 1854, Jones, carrying the Regimental Colours, exhibited immense bravery despite sustaining severe gunshot wounds to the jaw. Remarkably, he carried the embedded bullet for thirty years until it was discovered during dental treatment. His valour during the Siege of Sevastopol on June 7, 1855, earned him the Victoria Cross for leading his men in repelling enemy assaults throughout the night, despite being wounded early in the engagement. Several officers who served with him supported his
claim to have been wounded eight times and broke out of hospital twice to get back into action. The delayed gazetting of the award until September 1857 and a perceived lack of acknowledgment led Jones to resign his commission as Captain.

“Captain Mitchell Jones of the 7th Regiment, was severely wounded during the battle of the Alma and the assault on the Redan on 9 September 1855 and was awarded the VC for his courage while serving with the party which stormed and took the Quarries on 7 June 1855. He repeatedly led his men to repel the continual assaults of the enemy during the night and although wounded early in the evening, he remained at his post until after daylight the following morning.”

Transitioning from military service to diplomacy, Jones entered the Diplomatic Service in 1857. Henry re-joined the Army in late 1861 but resigned his commission within two years to join the Diplomatic service. His diplomatic career included appointments as Consul in the Fiji and Tonga Islands (1863), Consul-General at Tabreez (1868), Christiania (1875), and Philippopolis (now Plovdiv) in 1880. In 1889, he assumed the role of Minister Resident at Bangkok and, in 1895, transferred to be Minister Resident and Consul-General at Lima and Quito.

Jones retired from the Diplomatic Service in 1898, having served for over four decades. Prior to his death, Jones had claimed that his longevity was dueto ‘eighteen holes of golf before lunch, eighteen after lunch, and a couple of glasses of whisky’. He passed away in his home at 25 Gildredge Road in Eastbourne, Sussex, on December 18, 1916, at the age of 85. The only Crimean War holder of the Victoria Cross to survive him was Surgeon William Sylvester. A year later, tragedy struck as his only son, Oliver, was killed in action while serving with the 9th Battalion Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiment (The Sherwood Foresters) on October 4, 1917.

Henry Jones’s medals including his Victoria Cross are held by the Army Museum of New South Wales, Victoria Barracks, Sydney, Australia.

Henry Jones’s legacy endures through his courageous military service, diplomatic contributions, and the recognition bestowed upon him, including the Victoria Cross and France’s Legion d’Honneur. His medals, including the prestigious Victoria Cross, are preserved at the Army Museum of New South Wales, Victoria Barracks, Sydney, Australia, serving as a testament to his extraordinary life.

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Connection with area: Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross who was born in Crumlin