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Jones, Allan Murray (1895–1963)

by Keith Isaacs

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Allan Murray Jones (1895-1963), airman and company director, was born on 25 February 1895 at Caulfield, Melbourne, son of John Albert Jones, a pharmacist from Wales, and his English-born wife Emily Gertrude, née McIsaac. Preferring to be known as Murray Jones, he was educated at Melbourne High School and then began study at the Melbourne College of Pharmacy.

Jones joined the Victorian Cadet Corps as a second lieutenant in the 47th Battalion in June 1912 and just before World War I interrupted his pharmacy course to join the army. On 16 June 1914 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant, 46th Infantry, Australian Military Forces. He applied for training at the Central Flying School, Point Cook, Victoria, and received his pilot's certificate on 15 June 1915. On 1 July he was seconded to the Australian Flying Corps, A.M.F., as a lieutenant. With Lieutenant (Air Marshal Sir Richard) Williams he completed an advanced flying course in preparation for service in Mesopotamia. The posting did not eventuate and on 5 January 1916 Jones, as a lieutenant in the Australian Imperial Force, joined the newly formed No.1 Squadron, A.F.C.

The squadron arrived in Egypt in April and between June 1916 and November 1917 Jones was constantly in action against German and Turkish forces in the Sinai Desert. In B.E. 2c, 2e, 12a and Martinsyde aircraft, he developed a reputation for flying prowess and daring and aggressive tactics. In 1916 he was mainly involved in desert reconnaissance and was promoted captain and flight commander in December. In February 1917 he was in a bombing raid on Beersheba, destroying three German aircraft, and next month near Gaza took part in the squadron's first serious aerial combat. On 6 April while escorting a patrol after the 1st battle of Gaza he fought off five enemy planes before his own machine was damaged and forced to land; although the Germans bombed his grounded aircraft he escaped unhurt. After an engagement with a German scout over Rafa in May he was again forced to land and this time was hospitalized in Cairo where 'large pieces of petrol tank' were removed from his leg. He was awarded the Military Cross in April for 'carrying out a raid on a hostile aerodrome. He descended to a height of 500 ft [152 m] under very heavy fire and destroyed two hangars'. He was twice mentioned in dispatches for his Middle East service.

Jones took over as commanding officer, No.2 Squadron, A.F.C., in France in May 1918. 'If we had one officer outstandingly suited for such an appointment, it was Murray Jones', Williams recalled in his autobiography. Under Major Jones's inspired leadership the squadron emerged as one of the finest on the Western Front. It was equipped with S.E. 5a fighters, and was one of seven squadrons comprising the 80th Wing, Royal Air Force. Lieutenant-Colonel L. A. Strange, the officer commanding the wing, recorded in his Recollections of an Airman that Murray Jones was 'a quiet, unassuming fellow, but a most resolute leader … No.2, A.F.C., accounted for over 100 machines in one way or another in four months'. Jones was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in June 1918. No.2 Squadron operated until the Armistice and Jones was again mentioned in dispatches and awarded a Bar to his D.F.C. for service on 10 November when 'he led his whole squadron on a low bombing raid against an enemy railway station. Descending to 100 feet [30 m] he remained at this low altitude till all his machines had completed the attack, though subject to heavy fire from machine-guns'. He was officially credited with shooting down seven enemy aircraft.

Returning to Melbourne in May 1919, Jones was registered as a pharmacist on 14 April 1920. On 9 March 1921 he married Phyllis Adelaide Brown at Christ Church, South Yarra. When invited by Williams, he gave up pharmacy and on 31 March was commissioned in the (Royal) Australian Air Force as a flight lieutenant and honorary squadron leader. In January 1922 he was appointed commanding officer, No.1 Station, R.A.A.F., Point Cook, a position he retained until he resigned his commission on 30 June 1924. For the next five years he was an orchardist, then on 10 May 1929 joined the Department of Civil Aviation as superintendent of flying operations. 'He was an excellent pilot and able administrator', recalled Arthur Butler, adding that during Jones's term of office 'the greatest expression of flying activities, up to that date, occurred in Australia'.

Jones resigned from the department on 21 July 1931 to become general manager of de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd. Thirty-two years later he was still with the company, having progressed to chairman in 1953 and deputy chairman of Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd in 1960. 'Murray Jones firmed and widened greatly the de Havilland spheres of service to Australia, and made possible manufacturing developments which vitally helped our war effort, and added an important industrial echelon to our Air Arm', Norman Ellison commented in Aircraft, March 1957.

Survived by his wife, son and two daughters, Jones died of cancer at his Double Bay home, Sydney, on 8 December 1963 and was cremated after an Anglican service. His estate was valued for probate at £54,788. Sir Hudson Fysh observed that 'If anyone lived a full life it was Allan Murray Jones and none of us will forget his infectious laugh with which he would preface the suggestion for a party or some dare, or some shrewd observation on a business topic. He was a kindly, friendly soul, a characteristic which cloaked shrewd judgement and efficiency'.

Select Bibliography

  • F. M. Cutlack, The Australian Flying Corps: in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War, 1914-1918 (Syd, 1923)
  • L. A. Strange, Recollections of an Airman (Lond, 1933)
  • L. W. Sutherland and N. Ellison, Aces and Kings (Syd, 1935)
  • C. A. Butler, Flying Start (Syd, 1971)
  • K. Isaacs, Military Aircraft of Australia, 1909-1918 (Canb, 1971)
  • Reveille (Sydney), Nov 1934, Feb 1938
  • Aircraft (Melbourne), Mar 1957, Jan 1964
  • King Cole, Merry Old Souls (manuscript, privately held).

Citation details

Keith Isaacs, 'Jones, Allan Murray (1895–1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/jones-allan-murray-6868/text11899, published in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 1 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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