Through all the Changing Scenes of Life, ed Susan Harrison

Through all the Changing Scenes of Life, ed Susan Harrison

The Memories of William Edward Jones (1880-1965)

This book contained three journals written by William Edward Jones in the early 1960s, when he was in his eighties. They focus on largely on his military career, which began in 1899 and ended in the Home Guard of the Second World War. The journals were discovered some years later by his granddaughter Patricia Tasker, and have now been edited for publication (something that Jones makes clear he had in mind as he was writing).

Jones was recalled to the navy just before the outbreak of the First World War, and spent the first half of the war serving on the battleship HMS Venerable. He was present at the Spithead Review of 1914, took part in the early bombardments of the Belgian coast, then went to Gallipoli, where he served on-shore for some time. From Gallipoli he went to Taranto to take part in the blockade of the Adriatic before returning home where he served in smaller ships. Finally he was selected for the naval force that went to northern Russia, where he stayed well into 1919.

It soon becomes clear why visits to her grandfather might have been something of a trial for his granddaughter. He was not at ease in the 1960s, and was clearly happy to express his often strongly held opinions – we soon learn that he disliked rock and roll, jazz, un-official strikes, the 'modern' education of the 1940s and the Welsh language. On a more positive note he also disliked bullies, loved music and played a variety of instrument. One suspects that the younger man was rather more likable than his stern older self, and his dislike of the aging process probably played a part in that.

Jones's memories provide a fascinating view of the Royal Navy at a time of great transition – he was trained on three-deckers that would have been familiar (at least in external appearance) to Nelson (and that in one case dated back almost to his time!). At the same time the navy was experimenting with turbines, was about to produce HMS Dreadnought, and was introducing the first naval aircraft. He then served throughout the First World War, the Navy's first real test of strength since the Napoleonic Wars. He is an opinionated but also informative and valuable eyewitness to these momentous events, and his memoirs are of great interest.

The First Edition
1 – The Early Years
2 – Navy Life
3 – Invalided Home
4 – Royal Duties
5 – Time and tide waits for no man
6 – Back on Civvy Street
7 – More Caerleon Life

The Second Edition
8 – The Onset of War – A Return to the Sea
9 – The Dardanelles & Gallipoli
10 – Away from Gallipoli

The Third Edition
11 – Pastures New
12 – Murmansk
13 – Homeward Bound, 1919
14 – Civilian Life, 1921-1945
15 – The Scenes of a Life
16 – 1954 – Dreams Realised and Memories Recalled
17 – How the Years Roll On

Author: William Edward Jones
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 214
Publisher: SHBB
Year: 2011

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