Serial Number: NZ411217
RNZAF Trade: Navigator/ Air Bomber
Date of Enlistment: 16th of February 1941
Rank Achieved: Sergeant
Flying Hours: unknown (no log book seems to exist)
Operational Sorties: unknown
Date of Birth: 14th of October 1919, in Smethwick, Staffordshire, England
Personal Details: The son of Charles and Dagmar Jones, and one of five children, with his siblings being Charles Magnus Jones (1911-2003); Juanita Dagmar Jones (1912-1991); Xenia Jones (1922-?) and Inez Veronica Jones (1926-?).
Rex attended St Peters Convent School in Cambridge and Marist Boys High School in Hamilton. He was keen on rugby, swimming, horse riding, tennis and music. Upon leaving school he worked for Cambridge Borough Council as a librarian, then he joined the Post Office. In this job he worked at Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland. When he applied to join the RNZAF on the 24th of February 1940, he was with the Post and Telegraph Department in Hamilton.
Service Details: Rex joined the RNZAF on the 16th of February 1941, as an Air Observer. He commenced his ground training at RNZAF Levin.
On completion of his initial training, he was to embark for Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme. He spent his final leave at home in Cambridge. This report on his farewell from the town following his initial training was published in the Waikato Independent on the 14th of July 1941.
AIRMEN AND SAILOR
GATHERING AT TOWN HALL
Five Cambridge airmen and one sailor were honoured at the dance arranged by the Cambrdge Inter-Zone Patriotic Committee, and held in the Town Hall on Saturday evening.
They were Pilot-Officer C.O. Hooker, Leading Aircraftmen R.N.H. Jones, L.G. Kelly * and M.F. Dillon, Mr K.C. Ward who is joining the Fleet Air Arm, and Mr J.C. Wilson, who is entering the Navy.
On behalf of the district the Mayor, Mr Edgar James, extended to the guests his sincere appreciation of what they were about to undertake. "We cannot all go as they are going," he said, "but we must measure up to the standard by sacrifice, and prove ourselves worthy of these men."
Mr R. Newcombe, president of the Returned Soldiers' Association, wished the guests of honour the best of luck and every success.
Wallets were presented by the Mayoress, Mrs Edgar James, and Pilot Officer C.O. Hooker returned thanks on behalf of the guests.
Members of the Returned Soldiers' Association were in attendance and formed a guard of honour during the presentation ceremony.
* This and also the newspaper from the 11th of July 1941 noted the name L.G. Kelly. This was in fact Clarence Lloyd Kelly, who was known as Lloyd.
The same farewell was reported on in The New Zealand Observer dated the 23rd of July 1941, under the social page Waikato Doings. It read;
DANCE: A dance was staged recently for several lads in training for the Air Force and Fleet Air Arm. It was a truly successful affair, with presentations to each. An energetic committee was responsible for the evening's entertainment, and included Mrs R.J. Neely, Mrs G.C. Vosper,Mrs Edgar James Mayoress), Mrs W. McLennan, Heather Pierce and Alison Mills, who was over from Hamilton and looked attractive in a frock of black ring velvet.
Rex embarked aboard the Dominion Monarch on the 22nd of July 1941, and on arrival in Canada on the 18th of August, he was posted to No. 10 Air Observer's School at Chatham, New Brunswick. On completing his course there successfully he then moved on the 9th of November 1941 to No. 6 Bombing and Gunnery School at Mountain View, Ontario for further instruction.
He completed training and received his Air Observer's brevet wings on the 20th of December 1941, and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. At the end of the month he was posted to No. 2 Air Navigation School at Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick.
On the 31st of January 1942 he embarked from No. 1 "Y" Depot at Halifax, Nova Scotia, aboard a troopship bound for the Unted Kingdom. He arrived in march 1942 and was sent to No. 3 Personel Reception Centre at Bournemouth for quite a period awaiting a posting. His posting eventually came through and on the 12th of May 1942 he joined a course at No. 9 Air Observer's School.
In June 1942 he proceeded to No. 11 Operational Training Unit at Bassingbourn, Hertfordshire. On completing this vital part of training he was posted to an operational squadron, No, 115 Squadron at Marham, on the 9th of September 1942. This was a Wellington bomber squadron.
It is not known how many operatioanl sorties Rex flew with the squadron, his log book does not exist.
Details of Death: On the night of Friday the 2nd/Saturday the 3rd of October 1942, Rex was involved in an air raid on Krefeld, Germany which involved a total of 188 RAF aircraft. Nine of these bombers were lost, including Rex's Vickers Wellington III, coded BK271/A.
He was flying with No 115 Squadron, RAF, from Mildenhall in Suffolk, as part of 3 Group. Rex's bomber took off at 18:45hrs and was brought down southwest of the target area near Dusseldorf. All five crew died. He was aged 22
Buried at: Rex and his crew are buried at Reichswald Forest Cemetery, 5km southwest of Kleve, Germany
Connection with Cambridge: Rex grew up and woked in Cambridge before the war
Note: Details of this airman's death were sourced from the excellent volumes of 'For Your Tomorrow' by Errol Martyn.
Below: Family photos kindly supplied by Bruce Lee James, a relative of Rex, shows - Top: Rex's parents with brother Charles and sister Juanita before the family moved to New Zealand; and bottom Rex (right) with his father and one of his sisters
Thanks to Bruce Lee James for his assistance with this page