- Lind, L.J.
- Biographies and personal histories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 1971 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Flying the American flag, Bonhomme Richard put to sea on 14th August 1779, accompanied by a mixed fleet of American and French vessels. The squadron was to sweep the British coast for shipping.
On 23rd September off Flamborough Head, Jones fought his most famous battle. Bonhomme Richard engaged the British 44-gun frigate, Serapis.
In a ferocious battle fought at point blank range, Bonhomme Richard was battered beyond recognition. With five feet of water in her hold, half the crew killed or wounded and most of her guns out of action, the captain of Serapis called on the Americans to surrender. It was then that John Paul Jones shouted his famous epithet: `I have not yet begun to fight”.
In the face of murderous fire, Jones rallied the survivors of his crew and boarded the Serapis. Fighting with cutlass, pistol and pike, they overcame the crew of the gallant British vessel.
On his return to France, Jones was presented with a gold hilted sword by King Louis XVI, and the American Congress adopted a resolution extending the thanks of the nation to their first Admiral.
When the revolutionary war ended, Jones remained in Paris to negotiate prize money claims. Whilst engaged in this task, he was offered the rank of vice admiral in the Russian Navy.
He accepted the offer, but his service with the Czar was short. He was expelled from Russia for participation in intrigues.
In both France and Russia, John Paul Jones was active on revolutionary committees. One committee which met in Paris in 1791-1792 listed in its members, Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Bobby Burns, John Paul Jones and Thomas Muir. The latter was later tried in Edinburgh for sedition and sentenced to seven years transportation to Botany Bay. His subsequent rescue by American naval personnel in 1796 almost sparked another war with Britain.
Admiral John Paul Jones died in Paris on 18th July 1792. Despite his fame and the many rich prizes he had captured, Jones died almost a pauper. His body was brought to the United States in 1906 and interred at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
The following inscription is carved in the floor in front of the sarcophagus:
`John Paul Jones, 1747-1792;
US Navy, 1775-1783.
He gave our Navy its earliest traditions of Heroism and Victory.
Erected by the Congress, AD 1912.’
Four ships of the U.S. Navy have honoured the name of their first Admiral, but only one, the present, has borne his full name, John Paul Jones.