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John Treasure Jones

The Last Great Cruise of The Queen Mary


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Story by: The Queen Mary Archivist

Date added: 25 Jul 2017

Born and raised on a small farm in Pembrokeshire, Wales, John Treasure Jones went to sea when he was fifteen. For the first four years he was indentured as an apprentice, surviving the oceans in a small tramp steamer. Slowly, however, he worked his way up to become Captain of the most famous ocean liner afloat, Cunard's RMS Queen Mary.

During the Second World War, as a Commander in the Royal Navy Reserve, he was torpedoed in the Atlantic and mentioned twice in Despatches. In the post-war years he mixed with film stars and royalty, commanding several of the famous Cunard liners, such as the Saxonia, Mauretaina and Queen Elizabeth.

In 1967 he took his final command - Queen Mary on her last voyage - a 12,000 mile trip from Southampton to her retirement home in Long Beach, California.

In his autobiography he recalled the arrival in Long Beach :
Then came the dawn of, that never to be forgotten day, the 9th December 1967 when the Queen Mary arrived at Long Beach. This was the day all California and, in particular, Long Beach had been waiting for. This day they were all out on the cliffs, hilltops, beaches and the water to greet “Their Queen Mary”. Mayor Wade had asked me very early on in the voyage if I would arrive at daylight off Newport Beach and proceed as close inshore as possible to the eastern end of Long Beach Breakwater and then proceed as far west as Firmin Point before picking up my Pilot and entering harbour. This I did, keeping just outside the ten fathom line up to LB, then half a mile off the breakwater. Shortly after 7am we were off Newport Beach and were met by a Great Armada of boats of all sorts, shapes and sizes. Unfortunately the wind suddenly sprang up to gale-force and made things somewhat uncomfortable for our welcomers in the small craft who found difficulty in trying to keep up with us. Though I quickly reduced revolutions to 8 knots from Newport, a ship of this size carries her way for quite a distance. The gale-force winds did not last long but the wind still remained strong for the final approach. I am quite sure that no ship has ever had such a reception as Queen Mary did that day at Long Beach. Never have I seen so many craft on the water at the same time and covering such as area. One had to be there to believe it. It was estimated that there were 4 to 5 thousand craft in all; all well-disciplined and behaved. What a sight they were and not one caused me any moment of anxiety. Thanks to all of them and the efficiency of the Coast Guards who made perfect sheepdogs. The US Navy was not to be outdone and also had their Nuclear Cruiser Long Beach out there to greet us.
At 09.56 I stopped and Pilots Jacobsen and Aultman boarded and at 10.22 we entered the breakwater and headed for our berth. The Pilots and tugs did such a fine job that at 11.30 we were secured in berth. The tugs assisting us were Sea Otter, Rival, Escort, Long Beach and Terminal Island – my thanks to the captains of them all.
At 12.07 I personally put the telegraphs to ‘Finish with Engines’. The Queen Mary’s engines had turned for the last time; the shafts were then disconnected from the engines and the ship was made immobile.
Thus ended the Final Voyage of Queen Mary and my own sea-going career.

Captain Treasure Jones died in 1993, but his manuscript was found and published under the title Tramp to Queen in 2008.
The History Press
ISBN 978 0 7524 4625 7

Edited extracts from this book have been published in RMS Queen Mary – The Final Voyage.
Ferry Publications
ISBN 978 1 9112 6810 9

Details of this book can be viewed with this link

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