Ralph Jones (GC)

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Ralph Jones
Ralph Jones GC AWM 081386.jpg
Born 26 September 1900
Gorleston, England
Died 5 August 1944(1944-08-05) (aged 43)
Cowra, Australia
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Australian Army
Years of service 1918–20
Rank Private
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards George Cross
Gravestone at Cowra War Cemetery

Ralph Jones, (26 September 1900 – 5 August 1944) was an English-born Australian soldier who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for the gallantry he showed when Japanese prisoners of war staged an escape attempt on 5 August 1944 in Cowra, New South Wales.

Early life[edit]

Jones was born at Gorleston, Norfolk, England and educated there until the age of 14. He served in the British Army at the end of World War I and in the army of occupation on the Rhine, Germany, until invalided home in April 1920. He emigrated to Australia about 1926.[1]

Second World War[edit]

On 15 January 1942, Jones was mobilised and, in February, was posted to the prison camp at Cowra.[1]

Cowra breakout[edit]

Main article: Cowra breakout

On 5 August 1944, the Japanese prisoners at the camp, armed with improvised knives and bats, stormed the guard posts with what a military court of inquiry termed "a suicidal disregard of life." Two hundred and thirty-one prisoners were killed during the ensuing fighting and 108 wounded. All of the escapees were recaptured within days. Jones was killed in the outbreak, as was Private Benjamin Gower Hardy, who was also awarded the George Cross. Private Charles Henry Shepherd was the third victim of the fighting at the camp, while Lieutenant Harry Doncaster was ambushed and killed while recapturing the escapees. The court of inquiry found that the Australian soldiers had ceased fire as soon as they had reestablished control of the camp, and that many of the dead had either killed themselves or been killed by fellow prisoners, while many of the wounded had self-inflicted injuries.[2]


  1. ^ a b Gordon, Harry (1996). "Jones, Ralph (1900–1944)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 27 March 2008. 
  2. ^ "Fact sheet 198 – Cowra outbreak, 1944". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 27 March 2008.