May 28 1942 — Australia
Max J. Jones WWII Airman
The first to go into the service was my mother’s brother, Max Jones. He was first because he had joined the Army prior to Pearl Harbor. He married Mary Louise Miller on December 29th 1941, just three weeks after Pearl Harbor. There was no U.S. Air Force at the time only a U.S. Army Air Corp. He was already in the Army and had just gotten his pilot’s wings as shown in the following photo. He shipped out about a week or so later.
After Pearl Habour he probably was immediately sent to the Outback of Australia as part of what we believe to be the 5th Air Force, 9th Fighter Squadron, and 49th Fighter Group. Once there, they carved out airfields on cattle ranches called "stations" with strange sounding names like Koolpinya, Burrundie, and Humpty Doo.
The young pilot’s mission was to stop the Japanese advance to Australia.1 Much has been written about the young Royal Air Force pilots who sacrificed everything during the Battle of Britain at the first of the war in the European Theater. They were the ones Winston Churchill immortalized when he said "Never have so few done so much for so many." Quite simply, at the start of the war they were expected to prevent Germany from invading England while England prepared for the war. The young American and Australian pilots were also expected to do the impossible by stopping Japan’s advance at the Australian coast line while America geared up not only for
1 Thomas A. Bailey, An American Pageant, p. 880-881
war but a two ocean war. Like their Royal Air Force counterparts they were ill equipped and supplied and suffered the same extremely high causalities, but were successful in preventing the Japanese from gaining a foothold in Australia.
After Pearl Harbor, the U.S., despite cries from the public of "get Hirohito first," was unprepared to fight both a European War and a Pacific War simultaneously. President Roosevelt and his advisors pursued a strategy of "get Hitler first". The concept was that France and Britain needed to be saved first, prior to aggressively pursuing the Pacific War. Consequently our Uncle, Max Jones, as well as the other young men sent out there at that time, had very little backing in the way of men and supplies.
The full service records for WWII soldiers are still not available so I can’t be sure of his exact unit but the time frame and locations fits the 49th Group. If not this unit it would have been some similar unit. This is from the web page of the 49th Group’s 9th Pursuit Squadron.
Our Uncle Max died on May 28th, 1942 in Australia. That was about six months after the start of the war. He was only twenty-two. The exact nature of his death, which is classified as a non-combat death, is unknown even today but reportedly involved a plane crash. His sister and our Aunt Betty Sauer indicated they heard that his plane crashed as he was ferrying troops to bases in Australia. Our grandparents would for the remainder of the war hang a gold star in their window signifying that they had lost a son in the service of his county. Soon afterwards, his brother Tommy joined the Army and then a sister, Eileen, would join the Women’s Army Corp (known as the W.A.C.s).