The incredible story of Edward and Dorothy Jones and their 102 descendants
At face value Edward Jones was one of more than 3.500 people killed during the Troubles '“ targeted by the IRA because of his job as a prison governor.
However Mr Jones’ amazing story, and that of his surviving family who number more than 100, shows the true heartbreak of lost lives during the Northern Ireland conflict.
In January of this year, his widow – Dorothy, 98 – received a belated service medal on behalf of her late husband, for his part in the Norwegian campaign in World War Two – 78 years after the event.
The Arctic Star medal was added to the former Irish Guardsman’s collection of military accolades as well as his BEM for his 33-year devotion to the prison service.
A month before he was due to retire from his position as assistant governor at Crumlin Road Prison he was shot dead by the IRA.
Edward Jones joined the Irish Guards in 1935, following in the footsteps of his father who had fought with the 36th Ulster Division in the Battle of the Somme.
During the Norwegian campaign in May 1940 he was on the HMT Chobry – a Polish ship – along with many other troops of the Irish, Welsh and Scots Guard Regiments, when the ship suffered a direct hit from a Luftwaffe bomber.
Amid a blazing inferno over 600 men were transferred by puffers – local fishing boats – using gangways and ropes to a the HMS Wolverine which came to the aid of the stricken Chobry.
Guardsman Jones was one of the many brave selfless men responsible for helping some of the injured troops off the doomed ship, whose courage was finally recognised with the award of a service medal this year.
Originally from Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh, Mr Jones returned to Northern Ireland and moved to the Carrick area after the Second World War.
Following his military service Mr Jones joined the prison service at HM Crumlin Road Prison. In April 1974 he was awarded the BEM for his devotion to the prison service.
Having lived a life of devotion to his work and his family, which by now included 10 children, he was targeted by republicans because of his profession.
In October 1977 a bomb destroyed the front of the family home and two years later on September 19, 1979 he was shot dead by IRA gunmen yards from the prison gates. He was 60 years of age and was a father of 10.
Mr Jones was killed on his youngest daughter Margaret’s 18th birthday.
His son Tony said: “The front of the house was blown out before that in 1977. The bit that annoys me is he was not afforded any more protection or moved to another house.
“He was so loyal and brave and protective of his family that he kept on with his work.”
His son Kenneth added: “He wanted to set out an example to his staff who were under pressure in prison. He was such an example to us as children. He still is.”
The late Edward Jones and his wife Dorothy have 102 descendants, all of them still living.
They have 10 children, 31 grandchildren, 57 great grandchildren, four great great grandchildren and another one on the way.
Evylena said: “We’ve had big family get togethers but we’ve never had all 102 under the one roof. God willing if mummy reaches 100 we’ll try to get as many of us as possible together.”
Kenneth said: “In those days 10 children wasn’t really that many. There were families who had 14. Four or five would have been the average in Downview Gardens where we grew up.”
Mr Jones was one of 29 prison officers murdered during the Troubles. Prior to his 33 years service, he had led a distinguished military career.
“It was very rare he talked about it,” said Tony. “He would sometimes talk about the boom, boom of the guns on the ship that were firing away at the Luftwaffe. They had made him deaf in one ear.”
His daughter Dorothy commented: “He told a story about them lying in wait in camouflage – they saw these figures coming towards them and they were about to fire. It turned out to be Norwegian ladies bringing the soldiers hot chocolate because they were freezing, lying in the snow.”
Kenneth said: “It was only when we saw a book called ‘Up The Micks’ that highlighted this Norwegian medal to us. We got in touch with the relevant people because we thought mum would have been entitled to a posthumous medal for our dad.”
“Mummy was so proud,” said her daughter Evylena.
“She is living in a private nursing home now. She has dementia and her mind is back in time. Sometimes she’ll talk about her daddy as though she’s in her teens. He was in the Grenadier guards. He died of brain haemorrhage at age of 32 when she was only 10.
“Other times she’ll ask for her Eddie (her husband).”
Mr Jones’ widow Dorothy was born in England and grew up in army accommodation. She met her husband as a nurse for disabled adults, when she used to take a shortcut through his barracks at Caterham, Surrey.
Evylena said: “We are thankful that she doesn’t remember he was murdered. She was never the same after it. None of us were.”
“She’s been an example to us all as well,” said Tony. “There was no bitterness in her. She is a woman of strong Christian faith. She carried a heavy burden, but carried it with great gracefulness.”