About The Book

Under a Bomber’s Moon is the true story of a New Zealand navigator-bomb aimer with the Royal Air Force and a German night fighter pilot as they fight for success and survival over night time Germany during the bitterest years of the Second World War. In early 1944, after completing one tour of operations and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross for his exploits, the New Zealander, Colwyn Jones, was killed during a raid on Berlin.


About The Night War Over Europe

During the Second World War the night sky over Europe was one of the most lethal places to wage war. By 1945 almost half of the airmen who flew with Bomber Command and a third of the Luftwaffe night fighter crew pitted against them had been killed. Many German cities became moonscapes of rubble, their inhabitants the first to experience the reality of ‘total war’ – itself a glimpse of the destructive potential of the nuclear age about to explode in the Far East.


Meeting the Royals

Col Jones's patriotism was no more clearly expressed than in his loyalty to the Royal Family. The following episodes, not included in Under a Bomber's Moon, describe his meeting all of them, firstly soon after his arrival in Britain and secondly when he received the Distinguished Flying Cross from King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

Jones’ letter to his Mother, 12 June 1941.

We have been to Windsor Castle. The Castle is closed to the public, but it is one of the privileges accorded the services. We took a chartered bus. Isn’t it a wonderful place? When I remembered that the keep dated from the time of William the Conqueror, I could hardly believe that mere stone could have stood for so long. The marvel of it is that every part is still used today. The portion once used by Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote The Canterbury Tales, is now occupied by the King’s Private Secretary.

I think I was more struck by the Chapel of the Garter than by the Abbey. What a wonderful place it is. There is told the story of Britain. We saw those banners of the highest order of British chivalry hanging there and we realised that we were in the presence of evidence of the continuity of 500 years of British history.

But the greatest thrill of all I have not told you. We met the Queen and the Princesses. They were to have come out of their apartments on to the walk to meet us, but it was rainy and cold, so we went into the Royal Apartments and she received us in the Crimson Drawing Room. As we filed into the room the Queen shook hands with us and had a word with us. I shook hands with my usual firm handshake and, Mother, to my horror I heard her hand creak. What a terrible thing wasn’t it? I hurt my heel slightly on the boat coming over and was limping a little. The Queen asked me about it. I suppose she thought I had been wounded. I have had a lot of consideration from Londoners who apparently thought the same thing. It’s dam’ embarrassing. I’m thinking of putting a placard on my back reading: “I was not wounded. This was the result of a mishap.”

Anyway, we all filed past and then she moved among us and chatted. She is really wonderful, and nothing that has been said of her charm is over-rated. I remember reading that she always makes the person to whom she is speaking  feel that he or she is the only one in whom she is really interested. It is a fact. Her eyes sparkle, and she takes a great interest in what is said to her.

The Princesses chatted with us. The Princesses were dressed in a sort of a salmon pink affair, with the skirt and tunic separate. They are a nice pair of children, and quite natural. Remember the canard that Margaret Rose was deaf or something? There’s nothing to it. She’s a charming little girl, with a merry face and laughing eyes. Elizabeth was perfectly self-possessed. I suppose it is her life-long training; but it must be an ordeal for a 15 year-old child to meet so many strangers. She gave each of us a postcard inscribed as you will see. I am sending it home to you, as well as a guide to the Castle.

I suppose you have seen photographs of the Royal Family with their dogs. Three of the dogs were with the Queen and the Princesses in the room. They were playing about and some of the boys were petting them. This was just after we had met the Queen, while we were standing about. Suddenly one of the dogs barked. It was the most unexpected thing which could have happened, because even dogs should behave with dignity before the Queen. But that was an end of formality. There was a gale of laughter and I think we all forgot to be self-conscious though each was deeply sensible of the high honour paid.

This sounds like a lot of tosh when you read it over; but it was a great occasion for all of us. It was an honour which I don’t suppose will be our fortune again.  Even the least susceptible of us came away impressed and charmed. Having seen the greatness of England’s past, we then came upon the living personification of England’s greatness now. What a responsibility. Yet in some certain though indefinable way, we were sure the responsibility was not misplaced. What a dam’ good job the Duke of Windsor is out of the way. God, when I thought that some wanted Mrs Simpson to be Queen, the thought is almost treason. We came away with the thought that while one frail woman could bear the great burden which is hers, we for our part would do our humble best.

After a while she and the two Princesses went out of the door together, and the last we heard was the barking of their dogs.

On February 9 1943 Col received the Distinguished Flying Cross from King George VI at Buckingham Palace, in a ceremony he described to his mother in a letter on 22 May.

I have been to Buckingham Palace for my gong. You go to the Palace at 10.15am and you don’t get away until about 12.30 or 1pm, according to the number being decorated. You can take two people in with you to the palace, so I took in two chaps, one from here and one from the old squadron, who got leave for the occasion. Investitures always take place on a Tuesday, so we went up to London on the Monday night. Those who are guests, who must have numbered some 400, sit in a large room in the front of which is a dais, with a gently sloping ramp leading up to it. On the dais stands the King, dressed as an Admiral, and up the ramp march those who are to meet him. Beefeaters in their traditional uniform lined the wall of the room, and the approach to it.

Those who are to be decorated go into another room, where they wait until the ceremony begins. After you have been waiting in this room for what seems hours, in marches the master of ceremonies, who calls out the names in a certain order. You fall in, in long queues in the order in which your name is called out, and you must not shift from that order.

The first name he called out was a young nurse (I think), very close to whom I happened to be standing at the time. When she heard her name called out first of all in some 200 names, she whispered to herself (but just loud enough for those standing near to hear) “O, my God!” I could not help laughing; but it was a bit of a trial for her to go first. Women have to curtsy, you know, and she must have dreaded the thought of being first. As it happened she did everything very gracefully.

All the RAF names were called near the end and we were all together. When my turn came near I actually began to feel nervous; and when my name was called, “Flight Lieutenant F.C. Jones, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Bomber Command,” I was definitely very nervous. I felt as though I was going to begin a boxing match. My knees trembled. However, it was soon over. They pin a small hook affair in your tunic, just where the medal will hang, and the King simply hooks the clasp of the medal over the pin. It is no trouble at all. He asked me how long I had been over here and how I liked it. I made the appropriate replies, and before I realised it, I had shaken hands, bowed and the next name was being called. Then I raced away, or so it seemed to me, glad it was all over. The King has a nice, firm handshake; but he must get tired of shaking hands with some 200 people every Tuesday. Still, who would be King?

When I got there, I realised what small fry mere DFCs are. There were hundreds of them.

The band of the Welsh Guards played all the time. That was rather nice. When the last gong had been awarded, there was a little silence, and then everyone rose as the band played [God Save] The King. Standing there in the palace and watching the man for whom that hymn or prayer was made, I realised perhaps most forcibly of all the times I have heard it played, what the National Anthem meant. You could have heard a pin drop. It seemed that everyone was holding his breath. The last note faded away and the King turned, passed through an archway and the ceremony was over.

We then all filed from the room, out into the courtyard and hence out through the gates. Just outside, I found a chap named Geoff Cheek waiting for me. He was with me in the dinghy. I was glad to see him.

Copyright: underabombersmoon.com