Claude Jones was a south Londoner who worked in the city before the war in a bank and lived in Maldon. In 1939 he was convicted of theft from his employers. He subsequently joined the R.A.F. and was killed in a flying accdent in Northamptonshire in May 1941. His home at the time was in Hayes Close, Chelmsford. An elder brother was killed in France in June 1940 while also serving with the R.A.F.
Claude was born in the Lewisham registration district in 1917, the son of Hugh Jones and Jean Jones (nee Wilson). He had an elder brother, Edwin Jones, born in 1915.
Prior to the war Claude worked as a bank clerk in London and lived in Maldon. In the summer of 1939 Claude appeared before magistrated in London. A Chelmsford newspaper reported:
"YOUNG MALDON MAN ACCUSED IN LONDON
On Thursday, at the Mansion House, London, belore Ald. Sir William Coxen, Claude Jones, 22, of High Street, Maldon, a clerk, was charged with stealing from a safe in the office ot his employers, Roger Cunliffe, Sons and Co , banters, Clenynts Lane, E.C., £1,000 in Bank England notes [equivalent to approximately £57,000 in 2015.
Det.-insp. Gankersheer, of the City Police, said the accused had been employed by the prosecutors for five years, and had borne an excellent character. On the evening of June 28 he was left alone in the office to complete some work. On the following morning it was found that the manager's desk had been torced open, and the keys of the strong room taKen. The safe had also been forced, and £1,000 in notes taken. A latch had been removed from a window overlooking the street.
The Clerk: So it looked like a case of breaking in?
The Inspector: We could see that it was not. Next day Jones went to a cloakroom at Liverpool Street Station, where he received a package, and the same evening he was arrested at the King's Head Hotel, Maldon, and £985 of the money was recovered.
The accused said: "I have been a fool." Mr. d'Arcy Edmondson, for the accused, said this was but a momentary lapse owing to his having got into debt. He only used £15 of the money, and his relations had seen that that was made good. He had always been anxious to get into the Air Force.
Claude JONES, Sergeant, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed in an aircraft crash in Northamptonshire. Aged 24
Mr. W. fhoday (Clerk of the Court): He does not seem to realise that he had committed serious offence, and made a blot upon his personal character.
Mr. Edmondson: He appreciates his position now and it has had terrible effect upon his mother
Ald. Sir William Coxen: I do not want his mother brought into this; whatever she has suffered he has brought upon her.
Mr. John Brown, the City Probation Officer, said Jones seemed too frightfully conceited, and had expressed the wish to be an officer in the Air Force or Army, but that, of course, was impossible now. The Magistrate: Well, we have gone very thoroughly into this case, and I am going to be lenient, and bind this young man over for 12 months, and I hope this will be warning to him."
During the Second World War Claude served in the R.A.F. as Sergeant 953904. On 8th June 1940 Claude's brother, Hugh, was killed in France while serving with 21 Squadron R.A.F.
On 20th May 1941 Claude was one of three crew on board a Wellington bomber (serial number W5712) which was being flown on its delivery flight from 37 Maintenance Unit, Burtonwood in Lancashire.
The aircraft crashed into the ground out of cloud at Arthingworth near Market Harborough in Northamptonshire killing all three men. Claude was 24 years old. The others killed were 29 year-old Sergeant (Pilot) 513451 James Lambert (whose father had been killed in the First World War) and 44 year-old Warrant Officer 340275 John Burke.
At the time of his death Claude's home was at 30 Hayes Close, Chelmsford, having previously been in Maldon.
Today Claude lies in Wittering (All Saints') Churchyard in Northamptonshire (Row C. Grave 2).
He is commemorated on Maldon’s war memorial.
30 Hayes Close, Chelmsford was later the home of Bryan Desmond Uprichard Kane.