Operations in Afghanistan

Sergeant Andrew James Jones killed in Afghanistan

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Sergeant Andrew James Jones of the Royal Engineers was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday 18 September 2010.

Ministry of Defence crest
Sergeant Andrew James Jones (All rights reserved.)

Sergeant Andrew James Jones (All rights reserved.)

Sergeant Jones was killed in action during a vehicle-mounted ground domination patrol in the Bolan district of Lashkar Gah alongside Trooper Andrew Martin Howarth. He was serving as part of Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, and was providing security to the people of Helmand province by denying insurgents’ freedom of movement.

Sergeant Andrew James Jones

Sergeant Jones was born in Newport, South Wales, on 8 January 1975, and attended Lliswerry Comprehensive School before choosing to join the Royal Engineers. He completed basic training at the Army Training Regiment Bassingbourn in February of 1998, before passing out of the Royal Engineers Combat Engineering Course in August of the same year.

He deployed to Kosovo with 31 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 32 Engineer Regiment, before being posted to the Royal Engineers Armoured Trials and Development Unit in Bovington Camp, Dorset. After this Sergeant Jones was posted to D Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, as an Engineer Reconnaissance Troop Sergeant in February 2009.

His service with D Squadron saw him conducting demolition on ranges in Scotland, leading a team over the Yorkshire Three Peaks in 24 hours and overseeing the site reconnaissance and placing of bridges for The Queen’s Royal Lancers Battle Group in British Army Training Unit Suffield, Canada, in 2009.

For his deployment to Afghanistan earlier this year he was placed in 1st Troop, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, and immediately made a name for himself as a tirelessly efficient, sharp-witted and boundlessly enthusiastic individual; his performance on Operation HERRICK 12 was second-to-none.

Sergeant Jones was quick to fit into regimental life in Catterick; his sense of humour and dulcet Welsh accent made him popular with the troops and in the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess. An avid supporter of the Welsh rugby team, he was never more at home than when arguing over a referee’s decision in a test match against England.

Above all, Sergeant Jones was a family man. He spoke endlessly of his wife Joanne, and children, Natasha, Caitlin and Liam, and of his plans for the future. While his professional focus was unquestioned, his heart remained with his family for the duration of his tour in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Jones’ wife, Joanne, said:

Andrew was a happy, funny and caring man. He was a loving husband, father and son, and he will leave a gaping hole in our lives.

Lieutenant Colonel Martin Todd, Commanding Officer, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

Sergeant Andrew Jones had been attached to The Queen’s Royal Lancers for 18 months, during which time he gained a peerless reputation as a tough, resolute soldier and leader. He was in every way an outstanding representative of the Royal Engineers in whom he displayed an abiding pride. He brought their strong professional ethos and a wide range of specialist skills to our ranks.

In Afghanistan he was always to the fore, particularly when his engineering skills and experience were called for in clearing safe passages for men and vehicles. His courage and good-humoured leadership inspired all those in his troop, particularly when the going was hard.

He died serving his Corps and country while protecting ordinary Afghans. A proud Welshman who exhibited all the fortitude of his countrymen, he was at heart a devoted family man. The anguish of his wife, Joanne, and their three children is impossible for us to fathom. We can only express our profound sorrow as we share in their grievous loss.

Lieutenant Colonel Lincoln Jopp, Commanding Officer, Combined Force Lashkar Gah, said:

All of us in Combined Force Lashkar Gah have been deeply struck by the deaths of Sergeant Andrew Jones and Trooper Andy Howarth. Both were stalwarts of Fondouk Squadron and both were tremendous characters who had made an impact well beyond the squadron.

They died on patrol thwarting the insurgents and protecting the people of the southern Bolan area, providing the freedom for local nationals to go about their daily lives. It was vital work and both men were doing it brilliantly.

“The whole of the Scots Guards Battle Group, every man and woman, join me in sending our deepest and most sincere condolences to Andrew’s wife and three children, and the families of both men. Their grief must be immeasurable and we grieve with them. We Honour our Fallen.”

Major Ben Cossens, Officer Commanding Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

In the short time that I knew Sergeant Jones he made a lasting impression on me. He was a tremendous soldier and a tireless and committed engineer.

He was excellent fun and was able to draw a smile during even the most sombre periods over the last few weeks. He was an absolutely essential part of my team and will be sorely missed.

The thoughts and prayers of everyone in Fondouk Squadron are with Sergeant Jones’ wife Joanne and children Natasha, Caitlin and Liam. Our lives are richer for having known him; he will always be remembered.

Major Jim Walker, formerly Officer Commanding Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

Sergeant Andy Jones was a specialist, a Reconnaissance Engineer embedded with the squadron, but he was an important part of the team and an integral part of 1st Troop.

A proud Welshman and dedicated father, he was charming and methodical. He had an eye for detail, often noticing the incongruous and reporting it back, protecting his troop and the Afghan people. His engineer skills were first class, submitting some comprehensive reports, always showing high standards and calling for the same from those in his Corps.

His efforts made life for the boys better and improved their day-to-day life. He loved his time with the squadron and was keen to remain with the regiment as long as possible. He was a trusted comrade and a truly valued friend. He gave his life doing the job he loved and protecting the Afghan people and he will be remembered as a loving father and a truly gentle man.

Captain Will Pope, Second-in-Command, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

I first met Sergeant Jones when I began the role of Squadron Second-in-Command back in September last year. The formation of a new squadron in the midst of build-up training for Afghanistan was a particularly hectic time for all of us, but Sergeant Jones had an admirable ability of being able to take absolutely anything I threw at him in his stride.

He had the respect and admiration of all those under his command and rapidly earned the trust of all those in the chain of command above him.

His appearance at the office door and his soft Welsh accent would inevitably be there to inform me of an impending possible drama which he had already sorted and implemented a plan to resolve, or some brilliant method in which to improve the training on offer to the boys in the squadron. I valued his opinion highly.

Here in Afghanistan, he continued on exactly the same, highly impressive path. A broad grin never far from breaking out, he got involved in everything he could and seemed totally unflappable.

His dedication to his troop was only exceeded by the love he held for his family. His wife Joanne and his three children meant the world to him; he was so excited by the prospect of getting home to see them.

Sergeant Jones was a great man, he was an incredible ambassador for the Royal Engineers who he represented brilliantly. Our thoughts and our prayers are with his family at this difficult time.

Captain Ollie Thornton-Flowers, Intelligence Officer, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

Sergeant Jones was a husband, father and Sapper. Although on attachment to the regiment he was someone that you would want in your troop.

He was the most professional Sergeant I have known, with a natural ability to turn his hand to anything. A Welshman, and we all knew it, I thank him for never holding a grudge against my xenophobic jokes. He has had a truly bright future cut short by such a tragic event.

His place will never be filled, nor would the squadron wish it to be. My thoughts are with Joanne and their children, Natasha, Caitlin, Liam, at this sad time.

Lieutenant Johnny Clayton, 1st Troop Leader, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

Sergeant Jones was an outstanding soldier and an asset to any unit he worked with. I was privileged to have had him with mine.

Andy was a fiercely proud Royal Engineer and enjoyed bringing his individual skill set into our unit. He was always first to volunteer for patrols and actively sought out ways to use his knowledge to help both the soldiers around him and also the people of Afghanistan.

A professional soldier and all round great guy, he looked after the younger, less experienced members of the troop and they looked up to him. He cared deeply about the men he worked with and they returned this in abundance. He was a proud Welshman and we would often share long hours arguing the merits of Welsh rugby.

He died doing a part of the job he loved most, getting out and getting stuck into the task. The troop has lost a patriarch and I have lost a friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Lieutenant Rob Campbell, 2nd Troop Leader, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

Sergeant Jones always seemed to be chuckling, or smiling; a great guy to simply chat to, but whatever his view on a subject it tended to be more towards the positive.

An amazingly outgoing soldier, who took a great deal of pride in not only his job but also in the care and well-being of those he commanded. He was a character impossible to forget, and one who will be sorely missed.

Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Leon Mattear, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

Sergeant Jones was quiet by nature, to those who didn’t know him well, a keen rugby player and an active member of the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess.

He was regarded very highly within Fondouk Squadron for his expertise and experience and was always on hand to help out with any engineering tasks, be it bridge-laying or counter-improvised explosive device countermeasures; an utterly dependable Senior Non-Commissioned Officer, an asset to the squadron and the regiment.

He will be deeply missed by his friends and family within the regiment, but by no-one more so than his wife and three children; our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time of pain and sorrow.

Warrant Officer Class 2 (Squadron Sergeant Major) Tony Gould, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

Sergeant Andy Jones was a loyal friend and a hugely trusted Senior Non-Commissioned Officer in the squadron. He leaves a huge void in our ranks, but we will remember him always for his stories and the banter about his homeland in Wales.

We shared many a joke and tales of his children and wife and how much he loved them. His turnout and bearing was first class and the support he gave me when needed was given with compassion and meaning. Thank you Andy; you are gone, but will never be forgotten.

Staff Sergeant (Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant) Tony Round, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

Sergeant Andy Jones came to the squadron to form part of the Operation HERRICK 12 deployment. It was in this early period I first got to know him, not only as a member of the squadron, but also as a friend.

He would often approach me with weird and wonderful requests for engineering kit he required for his work, knowing that I did not have a clue what it was he required. It would soon transpire that he was a huge fan of ‘wind-ups’.

Andy was an extremely professional soldier; although he didn’t wear the motto in his beret he was very much a Queen’s Royal Lancer. I will sorely miss the rugby banter we had between our two countries. My thoughts go out to his family - his wife Joanne and his three children. Rest in Peace brother; gone but never to be forgotten.

Staff Sergeant Nicholas Robinson, Royal Engineers, Support Headquarters Troop, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

I first met Andy Jones when we were both serving in 31 Armoured Engineer Squadron [AES], 32 Engineer Regiment. Shortly after completing the training year we went to Kosovo together. It was here that I first got to know Andy as a person.

As a young Sapper in the squadron Andy loved the ethos of ‘work hard, play hard’, especially at weekends when the squadron bar was open. It was a good test of our friendship when England played Wales at rugby; when England won he would sulk for about five seconds before getting another round of drinks.

Andy always said that 31 AES was the best Engineer Squadron he served with; the lads and the officers took a shine to him and made him feel welcome.

Our paths crossed again when Andy was posted to The Queen’s Royal Lancers in January 2009. He had changed from the young Sapper I remembered to a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer, and was now also married and the proud father of two daughters and a son.

The Lancers are a family regiment and Andy soon found his place in that family. One of the first things Andy did with the regiment was the regimental troop test exercise, a military skills competition.

Andy was part of the winning team and loved telling everyone that the team only won because they had an engineer presence in the team. Being in the winning team also held Andy in good stead; it earned him immediate respect from his junior ranks. He was always keen to pass on his experience to the young lads. He would also listen to the lads and cared for those placed under his command.

My thoughts are now with Jo and the kids and the rest of Andy’s family. Rest in Peace mate, you will be missed by all.

Sergeant Kristoffer Haystead, 5th Troop Sergeant, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, said:

I met Andy in January 2009 when he came to the regiment. I immediately hit it off with him because that was the type of person Andy was; he liked everyone. No-one had a bad word to say about him, he was the nicest guy you could ever meet.

As a soldier, he defined the term Engineer Reconnaissance; he was the utmost professional at all times. He was a family man and loved his wife and kids very much.

We had endless chats about our families and how we missed them, he would always listen, would never turn you away and was always there for his friends, right or wrong. What always made me smile is how he was when he got to the regiment. Always happy, always smiling, and in the mess was a real character who always made everyone he talked to smile.

Wherever Andy was, with his crew, a member of the squadron, or anyone else, he always looked after them and took care of them. Loved by all the members of Fondouk Squadron, he loved them and the regiment in return. He loved serving alongside soldiers from The Queen’s Royal Lancers in what he came to call his other family.

I will miss Andy very much and am sure the whole of Fondouk Squadron and The Queen’s Royal Lancers will miss him dearly.

Sergeant Andy Armitage, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), Light Aid Detachment, Fondouk Squadron, The Queen’s Royal Lancers. said:

A colleague and true friend. Knowing you was an honour. Speaking to you was inspirational. We really got to know each other a few weeks ago. That week was filled with memories of laughter. You told me that you saw REME as your brothers. And your love for your family; thoughts go to them at this time. You will be missed mate, but never forgotten.

Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, said:

I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Sergeant Andrew Jones. His colleagues praise him as a tough, resolute soldier, a skilled engineer and an inspirational leader of men.

His sacrifice, protecting our national security, will not be forgotten. I extend my deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones.

Published 21 September 2010