Heroic Worthing veteran dies

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A NAVAL veteran, whose World War II heroics were recalled in a book, has died, aged 95.

Geoffrey Holder-Jones, of Cumberland Avenue, Worthing, passed away peacefully earlier this month surrounded by family.

The remarkable story of his World War II heroics was told in a book written by Tim Parker, Signalman Jones, which was released earlier this year.

It told the story of how Mr Holder-Jones joined HMS Adventure at the beginning of World War II and was lucky to survive when the cruiser minelayer struck a mine in the Thames Estuary in November, 1939.

He was asleep when the explosion ignited a magazine of bullets, killing 16 and wounding more than 60 people, and was thrown from his hammock, in pitch darkness, only to fumble his way to safety, guided by the harrowing sound of a man screaming.

Later, Mr Holder-Jones skippered HMS Wastwater through the freezing North Atlantic seas and received a report a U-570 had surfaced and wanted to surrender after coming under attack.

Having already been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for bravery after his role in making a German magnetic mine safe, Mr Holder-Jones then ordered “full steam ahead” and escorted the boat to Iceland, which made him and his crew the centre of attention there.

Following a decorated career, which also included service in the warmer waters of the Caribbean, Mr Holder-Jones went on to become a head teacher and volunteered at Worthing Hospital, with his wife Gladys, for about 25 years.

Tim Parker said he met Mr Holder-Jones in June, 2008, at a dinner at Lancing College to commemorate the time when the college had been taken over by the Royal Navy as a Stone Frigate – a training school for young naval officers.

Mr Parker added: “Geoffrey was both an ordinary man and extraordinary man. I am privileged to have met him and shared his friendship. I shall miss him.”

A service of thanksgiving for his life was held on Friday at St Mary’s Church. Ilex Way, Goring.