After the war, Dennis was posted to 135 Maintenance Unit RAF at Gebal Hamsee in Egypt, and then to RAF Shallufa. He probably served with 104 Sqdn, which was based at Shallufa around that time, operating Lancasters. It was during his time in Egypt that Dennis and Joyce became engaged.
Dennis returned to England and married Joyce in 1946:
104 Sqdn disbanded in April 1947, which may have triggered Dennis’s demob on 27 February that year. He sailed home on the “Devonshire”.
He and Joyce went on to have 3 daughters; Janet, Margaret and the youngest Glynis.
Dennis retired in 1995 at age 70.
In 1999 Dennis contributed photos and words to two books, “We Never Blamed the Crews; The Story of the Flooding of Walcheren Island, October 1944”, and “Aiming Point Walcheren; The Bombardment of Gun Emplacements and Strong Points, Walcheren Island, October 1944”, both by Paul Crucq. They featured testimony from several 75 (NZ) Sqdn aircrew and ground crew who were involved in the controversial operations to breach the dykes, and flood and bomb German gun batteries on the island, key to sea access to the recently captured city of Antwerp. “Dog” had been flown on the Westkapelle op’ of 3 October by the Scott crew, and on the Flushing op’ of 21 October by Sam Wilson and his boys.
By now Dennis was 74 and retired. He mentioned the story to Paul who contacted a fellow researcher in New Zealand, Arthur Arculus. Arthur wrote to Dennis and placed notices in the NZ Bomber Command Association (NZBCA) and Returned Services Assn (RSA) newsletters.
In October 1999 Arthur received a response from NZBCA member, former 75(NZ) Sqdn wireless operator and ex-President of the 75 Sqdn RAF/RNZAF Assn, Randal Springer – George Nairne was his wife June’s cousin! Randal and June had met Gloria once when she visited George’s family in Palmerston North.
Unfortunately, and despite June’s efforts, the family had over time lost contact with Betty, who had re-married. June did provide two precious photos however; one of George and his wife Betty, and one of George and his mother Alice.
Then the RSA newsletter (February 2000 issue) produced an even more exciting outcome, with Arthur receiving a phone call on 19 February from Gloria Heather Donnithorne of Stoke, near Nelson – the little girl in the photo!
Gloria was very pleased to make the contact, and keen to talk to Dennis. Arthur called Dennis to give him the exciting news, and then Gloria called Dennis, and later wrote to him with photos of her family – she had married Lester at age 21 and had four children, her oldest son bearing a strong resemblance to her father George. By the time she talked to Dennis she had 11 grandchildren!
Joyce passed away on the 2nd of February 2002.
Dennis decided to follow up on a lifetime ambition to travel to New Zealand and in 2003 he finally met up with his old friend George Nairne’s daughter, Gloria, the little girl in the photo. That must have been a very emotional reunion. He also donated skipper’s log books and other 75 (NZ) Sqdn memorabilia to the Air Force Museum.
At the age of 79 years Dennis remarried a single lady 12 years his junior and they had a very happy marriage until his death in February 2014.
“Dad was proud to be a part of the 75 NZ squadron and always wore his lapel badge at every occasion. He never forgot the comradeship and the colleagues he lost. He would be so proud to see the articles on his ‘Kites’ and crews and I would like to thank Chris Newey for writing this article and making sense of all the snippets of information and photographs. It has completed the story of this important part of his life.”
Ake ake kia kaha.
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Glynis Bakker, for her input, and permission to reproduce photos and material from the Dennis Jones collection. Personal correspondence, Dennis Jones with Arthur Arculus, 1999. Thanks to Paul Crucq, NZ researcher (the late) Arthur Arculus, and 75 veteran and ex-75 NZ Sqdn Assn President, (the late) Randal Springer and his wife June, for their help in Dennis’s search for Gloria. Also to Keith Springer for permission to reproduce the photo of Colin George Nairne. Wood crew photos thanks to Phil and Bruce Newey, and Doug Williamson. Extract from “Aiming Point Walcheren; The Bombardment of Gun Emplacements and Strong Points, Walcheren Island, October 1944”, by Paul M. Crucq (Vlissingen : ADZ, 2000).