Bro Robert Thornton Jones AFC died on the 1st July 2009 aged 86
To the Brethren of St David’s Lodge No 2950 he was a very reserved and respected member for just over 64 years and was awaiting his 65th Anniversary in both Freemasonry and the Lodge in March 2010
He was born in Gwalchmai, Anglesey, North Wales in December 1922 to a seafaring family but his passion was flying and in 1942 he joined the RAF to train to be a pilot. The war being in progress he soon gained his wings and was selected for fighter training. This involved him being sent to America to be trained to fly all the different types of American war planes where he excelled himself with distinctions.
Back living in England his ambition to be a fighter pilot was short lived because of his qualifications in flying where required for him to be a flying instructor, such was the need to get as many young men as pilots.
He married his wife Maureen in 1944 and his home address was in Wallasey, Cheshire. He was by this time involved with flying the Oxford, Wellington and Halifax bombers and in 1945 he flew over Germany with the 640 Squadron.
On the 19th January 1945 his father Capt. W.Jones proposed him as a member of the Lodge. The ballot proved favourable for his membership on the 16th February 1945. He was initiated into the Lodge on the 16th March 1945, passed to the second degree on the 18th May 1945 and raised at an emergency meeting on the 27th July 1945.
Bro R.T.Jones continuously subscribed to his mother Lodge but due to his career his attendance was minimal. He would attend important functions and Installations whenever possible. He would, when the opportunity arose, visit other Lodges both in this country and abroad.
He attended the Lodge on the 15th September 1995 to celebrate 50 years in Freemasonry and in the Lodge and the occasion was enjoyed by all.
On the 15th April 2005 Bro R.T.Jones celebrated his 60 years membership which he shared with Bro R.Evans 65 years membership of the Lodge.
Both Brethren where honoured by the presence of the Assistant Provincial Grand Master W.Bro D.K.McCormick P.S.G.D.
Preparations where well in hand to mark both Brethrens celebrations in March 2010 but these have now been amended.
He was given Honoury Membership of the Lodge in December 2008
To the Brethren of St David’s Lodge No 2950, Bro R.T.Jones was a country member who in later years was only seen at his celebrations.
He rarely spoke about his past except that he told us he was a Pilot during the war and continued as a commercial pilot until his retirement.
He finally settled in Holyhead not far from his old maternal home.
At his funeral which was held in St Gybi’s Church, Holyhead, on 8th July 2009, members of the Lodge who attended noticed the following.
There was a large amount of RAF uniformed personnel in attendance.
The church was full to capacity with several mourners standing outside
As the coffin entered the church with military dignity there was a flypast
of aircraft from the nearby Valley RAF Base with one of the aircraft flying as low as it could over the church.
The music played was the theme from the film, The Dambusters.
His eulogy was given W.Bro Air Commodore M.J. Milligan C.B.E.
He was then taken to Bangor Crematorium where the Last Post was rendered by an Officer from Valley RAF Base.
What we where about to learn from this eulogy was a privilege to hear.
When the war was over Bro R.T.Jones transferred from Bomber Command to Transport Command and into 76 Squadron flying DC3 Dakotas mainly in India.
By 1949 he was flying and instructing pilots on the 4-engined Hastings,
This was an aircraft that he flew regularly for the next 10years.
In September 1953 he was instructed to fly a secret cargo to Australia which took him 45 hours. It involved several stops on route including Ceylon, Singapore, Woomera and eventually an outback airport called Emu. His cargo was a Nuclear Bomb for testing.
He was awarded Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.
In March 1957 he was once again instructed to fly another secret cargo to Christmas Island, mid Pacific. This route took him via Labrador, Alberta and Hawaii. His cargo was another Nuclear Bomb for testing.
He was again awarded the Q.C.V.S.A. for the second time.
Coupled with his other services to the RAF as a pilot, flying instructor and his dedication to all aircraft safety he was awarded one of the highest honours that can be bestowed to a peacetime aviator the Air Force Cross.
He completed his career with the RAF by a posting to the Royal Australian Air Force to assist in the introduction of the new C130 Hercules into their Air force. He held this post for 2 years and returned back to England where he retired in 1962 after 20 years in uniform.
Having now retired from uniform he still wanted to keep up his love of flying and for the next 4 years was back home in Llanbedr, Wales.
This involved him flying remotely controlled target drones over the Cardigan Bay but the desire to fly was his only goal.
In 1967 he was headhunted by Marshall’s as Test Pilot for Hercules Aircraft but after 2 years in 1969 he was given the opportunity to fly with the British Aircraft Corporation in Saudi Arabia as an instructor on Cessna’s and eventually with Skymaster Jets.
After over 5 years of working with several different flying clubs which included 2 years in Montego Bay he was headhunted again by Short Bros. Belfast. This time instead of the glamorous airplanes of before he was testing the infamous Skyvan which resembled a three ton truck with wings. He spent most of his time between Belfast and the Yemen and finally in June 1984 he brought his active flying career to a close.
He still maintained his interest in flying for a long more time.
In 2003 the City Livery Company and the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators sponsored him for the Certificate of a Master Air Pilot which was awarded to him by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
For a man who started of his career during the war when secrecy and silence was the order of the day. Joining Freemasonry over 60 years ago when it was not discussed as open as today. Transporting Nuclear armaments worldwide under strict secrecy. Testing and Instructing both RAF and Commercial Aircraft against other competitors. It is not surprising that he spoke very little about his exploits but what a story he could have told.
W.Bro David Charles Jones PPrGSWorks
St David’s Lodge No 2950
Province of West Lancashire.