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David Jones

60952 Warrant Officer Class II David Jones

15 Feb 1914 - 8 Jan 1999

David Jones served at Fort Dorset in the Coastal Artillery before World War II, then went on active service and fought in Italy and North Africa with the 14th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment and 5th Field Regiment. He was mentioned in dispatches in December, 1944, for outstanding services in the field. During World War II, he reached the rank of Warrant Officer Class Two, and took part in many campaigns. After the war, he was appointed Master Gunner's Tech Storeman and served as BSM at Fort Balance.

Whilst in Italy, David was introduced to the benefits of earth construction, when he and his regiment sheltered from enemy fire and the weather behind 400 mm thick earth walls. He brought his interest home to New Zealand and went on to become a pioneer of modern rammed earth housing. He started by building a garage of large rammed earth blocks, and developed improved techniques in association with the Christchurch University College of Engineering. He developed a ramming machine to speed up construction and to improve consistency. He built his own home on his 0.8 hectare property in Wanganui and lived in it with his wife Averill for the rest of his days. He initiated and helped with the construction of many other rammed earth buildings, including the wharenui and wharekai at the Whangaehu Marae in 1985. He ran numerous workshops in the North Island and Nelson, and published a book, Nga Whare Uku - The Houses of Earth and How to Build Them, of which some copies are still available.

David had a wide range of interests, and he and Averill provided a friendly base for many visitors and gunner friends over the years. He recalled details of practice firings (under Capt Anstuss of WWI experience) of the Mark 21's at Fort Dorset before WWII against targets towed by HMNZS TUI, and of dropping a 100 pound round on his foot at 0600 hours on the day that war was declared, so that Gnr van der Pump took over as gun layer soon after when Hon Lt Chris Gallaher fired at the SS City of Delhi coming up harbour. David recalled that Vandy led by 3 clicks and fired the first round which went in front of the boat and skipped on into Day's Bay. The ship continued on its way (they did not know that war had broken out) until Gallaher fired another round ...

At the Sangro River before the crossing, he remembered a 25-pounder pre-breech premature explosion caused by an error of drill which caused great distress.

Another of his stories concerned life in the regiment at El Alamein, firing ammunition from India with faulty fuzes which exploded prematurely or not at all, where the enemies were yellow jaundice and malaria, flies, heat, dust, and the Germans last of all. They used bee veils against the flies, and the flies settled in black clouds on the camouflage nets until disturbed by gunfire, when they swirled around and settled again. They had up to seven Stuka (Ju87) raids a day against the gun lines.

He remembered a young Wally Ruffell at 14 Wing RNZA at the Army Schools, Trentham early in 1938, and a very earnest Lt Col Thornton in Italy, among a host of other names. He kept in touch with friends and was a long-term member of the Old Comrades' Association, the Four Seasons theatre (life member), the NZ Smallfarmers Association (life member) and the Earth Builder Association of New Zealand (life member).

David's wife, Averill, passed away 10 March 2001 after a long illness. David and Averill are survived by their daughters Averill, Sue and Denise and their families.

Angus Rivers
March 1999, and March 2001

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