Obituary: Capt John Treasure Jones

John Treasure Jones, seaman: born Haverford West 18 August 1905; married 1933 Belle Lees (three sons, one daughter); died Chandlers Ford, Hampshire 12 May 1993.

JOHN TREASURE JONES was a survivor of the Second World War whose ship was torpedoed and sank under him, and who then lived to climb the ladder of success in the post-war merchant navy. He commanded some of the world's greatest ocean liners, including, as her last Master, the greatest of them all, the Queen of Queens, the legendary Queen Mary herself.

Born in 1905, one of eight children of a Welsh farming family, Treasure Jones left school before his 16th birthday to begin an apprenticeship with the JC Gould Steamship Co of Cardiff. In 1923 he joined the Royal Naval Reserve. He served for a six-month training period as a midshipman on the battle-cruiser HMS Hood, then joined the White Star Line and studied at the Cardiff School of Navigation for his Master's certificate.

But these were depression days, passenger shipping was in deep financial trouble and no jobs were on offer to newly qualified ship's Masters. Treasure Jones worked at whatever could be found, from labouring on the family farm to being an assistant superintendent stevedore in Liverpool docks. He went back to sea in 1937 as war clouds gathered over Europe, and when war finally erupted he was to be found serving aboard the White Star liner Laurentic as a Lieutenant-Commander RNR, the ship having been commissioned into the Royal Navy as an armed merchant cruiser.

On 3 November 1940 while on patrol in the North Atlantic she went to the assistance of a merchantman which had been torpedoed, and the Laurentic herself was attacked and sunk.

Treasure Jones was in the water for some hours before being picked up. He went to sea again in command of the corvette Sunflower, escorting convoys across the Atlantic, and he was mentioned in dispatches in 1943. At the end of the war he was in command of the 49 Escort Group and again mentioned in dispatches. He was promoted Captain RNR in 1945 before rejoining the Cunard-White Star Line in 1947. His first liner command was the Media, where I met him, travelling as one of his passengers. It was to be the first of many meetings aboard his ships.

Treasure Jones went on to command the Saxonia, Sylvania, Carinthia, and, to complete the set, was relief captain of the Ivernia (I was a guest at dinner while she lay at anchor in Cobb Bay en route for Montreal). He also commanded the lovely second Mauretania for her last two years before bringing her to the breakers in Scotland in 1965. He told me that when he left her in the junkyard he could not turn to look at her for fear of being turned into a pillar of salt.

He was then given command of the Queen Mary, and he and his ship spent their remaining time at sea together until he brought her on her most ambitious voyage, around Cape Horn to Long Beach in California in November 1967, when they both went into retirement. He asked me to visit the ship on the day before she was decommissioned. She was empty and most of her crew had been flown back to Britain; her great public rooms still had deflated balloons, and tattered paper decorations hanging where they had landed after her final gala night.

Treasure Jones retired to his home in Hampshire. He and his wife Belle entertained one to tea with homemade cakes, and scones spread with the jams that he made himself. The talk would be of great ships, his children, and his grandchildren; and when I was researching my book Liners In Art, to which he wrote a foreword, his suggestions were eagerly sought and often taken.

John Treasure Jones was active to the end of his days: he played cricket well into his eighties, and was on the golf course a couple of days before he died.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?