Veteran Harry, 91, marks day for the forces

War veteran Harry Jones, 91, was aboard HMS Protector when it was torpedoed during the Second World War. Mr Jones pictured attending Armed Forces Day at The National Arboretum, Saturday 30 June 2012.
War veteran Harry Jones, 91, was aboard HMS Protector when it was torpedoed during the Second World War. Mr Jones pictured attending Armed Forces Day at The National Arboretum, Saturday 30 June 2012.

The last known surviving crew member of a ship torpedoed in the Second World War visited the National Arboretum for Armed Forces Day.

Harry Jones, 91, is the last surviving member of the HMS Protector Association, an organisation of former crew members of the ship which was torpedoed in 1941.

Harry, who lives at Five Gables care home in Ringstead, travelled to Alrewas, Staffordshire, to take part in the events to mark Armed Forces Day on Saturday, June 30.

Harry made the trip with his daughter Jenny and son-in-law Colin, who live in Oundle, and Freda Brackley from Five Gables.

The staff at Five Gables also made Harry his own special HMS Protector cake and hung up banners to mark the occasion.

Harry’s daughter Jenny said: “The National Arboretum held a big event for Armed Forces Day with a march and the laying of wreaths.

“The Olympic torch had just been, it was just leaving when we got there.”

Harry said: “We loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Harry was in the crow’s-nest of the HMS Protector when three Italian planes attacked it in the Mediteranean in 1941.

Jenny said: “The captain did call for abandon ship but they cancelled it because they managed to get back into port under their own steam. The ship was laid up for the rest of the war in Mombasa.

“Dad got blown out of the crow’s-nest. One person was killed, one injured, and dad was injured.”

She said three torpedoes were let off and the captain managed to avoid two but the third one hit the HMS Protector.

After the ship was torpedoed Harry, who was 20 years old at the time, spent about three months in a military hospital on the banks of the Suez Canal.

Harry’s son David said his father had even seen the ship sailing by on the Suez Canal while he was in hospital. He said: “He was in hospital and someone said ‘you want to look at this funny ship’ and he looked and saw his ship go by.”

He came out of hospital and went back to Devonport. From there he travelled to India and to the Caribbean. By the time he marked his 21st birthday Harry was in Trinidad.

After the war HMS Protector was refitted and eventually used until 1978, after which it was decommissioned.

Last year another ship took the name HMS Protector.

Harry is originally from Abertillery in Wales. He is a great-great-grandfather and was married to the late Doris.

Harry lived in Southgate in north London and moved to Northamptonshire to be near to Jenny in 2008.