Son pays tribute to Newport's ‘reluctant war hero’
9:12am Tuesday 15th October 2013 in News
AN UNSUNG war hero from Newport has died, leaving an inspirational legacy to those closest to him.
Vivian Jones was formerly in the Merchant Navy, serving on Atlantic Convoys, in the Far East and on D-Day operations, but never received a medal for his sterling work.
In 1942 he was aboard the Queen Mary when it collided with HMS Curacao, which was in pursuit of a German U-boat, killing 338 men.
He sailed on the Empress of Russia when in October 1943 she made a special trip to Gothenburg to exchange prisoners of war.
In support of the of D-Day invasion, Mr Jones used to go across with ammunition from Britain to the beaches and bring back the bodies of the fallen soldiers.
His son, Derek, said reliving his experiences was tough: “I think it was a bit harrowing for Dad. They would see lifeboats in the water but they couldn’t stop because the submarines would have sunk them. They threw things over the sides of the ships as they went by.”
Great-grandfather Mr Jones, who died aged 89, could have had a medal by writing off for one, but Derek said: “He was a reluctant hero.”
Mr Jones’ family feel lucky to have had him at all, according to Derek, because at one time the ship he was meant to have sailed on was sunk at sea. At the shipping federation office in Newport, two friends were queueing up and they wanted to go together, to which kind-hearted Mr Jones agreed.
It was a tragic ending
After the war Mr Jones, who always regarded himself as a man of Pill, came back to Newport and worked for British Steel.
Mr Jones was a private man, but the few tales he told will be remembered for years to come, said Derek. “He was proud to walk through Newport in his leather shoes he got from India until he realised they were cardboard when it rained. That raised a smile,” he said.
After a fall in the spring Mr Jones’ health deteriorated and he died last Wednesday. His funeral service is tomorrow at 2.45pm at T J Davies and Sons, followed by an interment at St Woolos cemetery.
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