The private air marshal

Peter Helson

A Gallipoli veteran who became a decorated ‘ace’ of the Australian Flying Corps; a controversial chief of the RAAF who was only the second Australian to fill this post; the last chief of any Allied military service in the Second World War to pass from the scene. These are elements of the life of Air Marshal Sir George Jones.

Although Jones left a personal memoir, it provided little insight into the private man. In this new book, Peter Helson seeks to highlight elements of Jones’ background, personality and character, against which to assess his record as a commander.

Jones’ tenure of the RAAF’s top job was unique in the annals of the Air Force. Plucked from obscurity in mid-1942, he was an Air Vice-Marshal when the heads of the other Services were all two grades higher. He oversaw a doubling in the size of the RAAF, although he was not promoted to Air Marshal until 1948.

Helson’s account of Jones’ performance also examines his wartime feud with his senior operational commander, Air Vice-Marshal Bostock. The issue of divided command epitomised by this rift is just as relevant today as it was during the Second World War.

Soft cover, photographs, 404 pages.