Ralph Jones

Born: Norton Canes, Staffordshire, 19th November 1922
Age at signing up: 18
Service: 6th Airborne Division
Rank: Paratrooper

War Service:

15th January 1942 Ralph joined the 14th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, at Caister on Sea, Norfolk, for infantry battle training and a driving course.

1st January 1943 the 14th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment became 103 Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery.

9th May 1943 Ralph joined the 4th Air Landing Anti-Tank Battery, Royal Artillery. He practised landing from Hotspur gliders on Salisbury Plain military training area.

9th July 1943 the 4th Battery became part of the 6th Airborne Division and this is where Ralph really started his military career.

Ralph volunteered and was selected for Parachute training, detached for two weeks to RAF Ringway (now Manchester Airport), where he completed the required number of jumps to qualify as a Paratrooper. In the evenings he was able to meet his girlfriend, later his Wife Lois, who he had met when based in Hale.
The dropping zone for the trainee Paras was located in Tatton Park where a memorial to these brave men can be found.
6th June 1944, The Invasion of France, D Day
‘Operation Tonga’ a successful airborne forces operation by the 5th Parachute Brigade, British 6th Airborne Division, during the night of the 5th/6th June 1944 part of Operation Overlord.
Parachute and glider-borne troops, commanded by Major-General Gale. landed behind enemy lines on the eastern flank of the invasion area, near to the city of Caen, to secure the beachhead against enemy tank and infantry attacks. Their objectives included two strategically important bridges over the Caen Canal and Orne River, enemy artillery batteries, roads and villages. Then to ‘hold until relieved’ by the forces landed by sea.
Click to read Ralph’s D-Day story in his own words:
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24th March 1945, The invasion of Germany – Rhine Crossing:

‘Operation Varsity’ A successful airborne forces operation launched by Allied Troops, part of Operation Plunder, the Anglo-American-Canadian assault under Field Marshal Montgomery aiming to cross the River Rhine and from there into the heartland of Northern Germany.

Varsity’s objective was to secure a bridgehead in Western Germany by landing two airborne divisions on the eastern bank of the Rhine near the village of Hamminkeln and the town of Wesel. More than 16,000 paratroopers and several thousand aircraft were involved, making it the largest airborne operation in history to be conducted on a single day and in one location.

Click below to read more of Ralph’s story in his own words:

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Ralph eventually ended up in Stalag11b at Fallingbostel, near Hanover, where paratroopers captured at Arnhelm were held. After six weeks as a Prisoner of War and as the British 7th Armoured Division approached, the Germans handed over control of the camp and British sentries were posted. Field Marshall Montgomery was one of their first visitors bringing English newspapers and cigarettes.

Ralph was flown back to RAF Lydd in Kent sitting on the floor of a bomber again, but this time without a parachute! All repatriated Prisoners of War were given leave and then Raslph was posted to Haverfordwest where he celebrated VE Day with the locals. His new RA unit was then sent back to occupied Germany where they were based in the Hartz Mountains, back to the Arctic conditions, amongst snow covered mountains.

In March 1946 Ralph accepted an offer of a discharge from The Army.

Ralph had a remarkable life and passed away peacefully at 11am on Remembrance Sunday 2016.

Read more to see what medals Ralph was proudly awarded for his service.

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‘Still got a bullet stuck in my stomach, bit of an annoyance.’