Author: Maj (Retd) Rick Henderson, Museum Director
SSgt Jones receives his MBE in 2005.
It is with great sadness that I have to inform you all of the passing of former SSgt Kelvin ‘Roger’ Jones MBE on the 20 Nov 2020. Roger passed away peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his family, after a short battle with cancer. Roger was born on 14 February 1949 and in his own words, “was always going to join the army”. He enlisted in 1964 as a Vehicle Mechanic joining intake 64C at Carlisle Apprentice College. He was a talented athlete and represented the college at cross country and steeple chase. Unfortunately the steeple chase did cost him a tooth – whilst wearing a brand new set of running spikes, his foot stuck on the top of the water jump and he fell face first into the bottom of the jump.
In 1967 he joined his first unit the Gordon Highlanders LAD in Minden where he developed his passion for working on the 430 series. Roger caused a bit of a stir at his next posting with 4th Guards Brigade HQ and Signals in a camp shared with 5th Innskilling Dragoon Guards because of his Triumph TR6 sports car. With so many officers in the camp, the gate guard upon spotting the Triumph approaching would salute thinking it must be an officer, Roger would just wave back. He was summoned for a chat with the RSM who asked him to change his car, but Roger decided to keep his prized possession.
Roger married his wife Christine in 1975 and in 1977 they welcomed a new addition to the family with the birth of their son Colin. Whilst serving with 10 Field Workshop in Tidworth, on one of his trips home at lunchtime, Roger found the road blocked off by the Military Police. Upon enquiring as to why he couldn’t get home, Roger was informed that there was a suspect car across the road. Roger peered down the road to see his father in law’s Morris Traveller. Apparently, his father in law was notorious for not putting the handbrake on and the car had travelled from the layby and out onto the road.
After another spell in Germany in Duisburg with 6 Squadron Royal Corps of Transport he returned to the UK and was posted to SEME Bordon. During his service he completed two tours of Northern Ireland and also visited Belize and Gibraltar as part of the PRE team.
Roger’s running career was curtailed after injuring his leg whilst serving in NI, but he excelled at the sport of rallying. He was awarded Corps colours and became part of the Army team. In one particular event in Scotland, Roger and his navigator came last but were awarded the ‘Spirit of the Rally’ by their fellow competitors. This was due to the fact if they came across a competitor who had gone off the road and were stuck in a ditch they would stop and using an exhaust gas filled air bag tried to get them out.
Whilst working at Bordon Roger instructed on short courses for stripping, assembling and conducting Battle damage repair for the modified ‘pinkie’ Land Rovers. His can do attitude was rewarded with a number of invites to Hereford.
Roger lived and breathed the Corps and was soon involved with the fledgling Museum vehicle collection housed at Bordon. Roger attended shows all over the country and sometimes abroad displaying vehicles from the collection and proudly promoting the Corps and Museum. He even managed to get a five year continuation of service and was given the task of looking after the Museum’s collection. Having spent so long working for SEME, Roger’s mischievous side came to the fore once again. He decided to create a parking sign labelled LSEME to reserve a space at the WO and Sgts’ Mess. It was years before anyone asked why he had his own spot and what it stood for, to which he replied, “Longest Serving member of SEME”.
SSgt Jones speaks with REME’s Colonel in Chief, HRH Prince Phillip, during the opening of the Vehicle Hall named in his honour, 1997. E:09.0994.015
He left the Army in 1994 after a career spanning 30 years. His time serving the Corps and Museum was not over, he immediately became a Civil Servant employed as a vehicle fitter at SEME Bordon. Roger was quickly seconded to the Museum and carried on looking after the collection. His outstanding contribution to promoting the Museum and Corps was recognised in 2005 when he was awarded an MBE, something he was rightly proud of.
When the Corps relocated to Lyneham and Roger’s post as a Civil Servant was taken as a cost saving measure, his knowledge of the collection coupled with his enthusiasm and can do attitude meant he was soon reemployed as a Corps employee and continued his work at Lyneham.
If you ever met Roger, you would quickly discover what a truly helpful and generous character he was. His desire to help others saw him become a member of the Bucknell Lodge of Freemasons, raising significant funds for charities. Roger rose to the esteemed rank of Past Provincial Duty Grand Registrar and he held the appointment of Director of Ceremonies.
Although a Vehicle Mechanic, recovery was very dear to his heart and his close association with this trade group resulted in him being made an honorary Recovery Mechanic. He was even invited to attend the march past at the Cenotaph in 2019 as part of the RBL Recovery Mechanics branch.
Roger was one of kind, there is so much more that could be said about him: his hoarding, his socialising, his own amazing personal military collection. He was a great ambassador for the Corps and Museum for 57 years. He was a true gentleman, a real character and a fantastic friend to many, he will be greatly missed.