Wednesday, 29 September 2010

My grandfather and his brother in law -1st World War

On the left is my grandmother Hannah's brother Ivor. I know very little about his early life except that he was born on an arable farm in a village just to the north of Carmarthen. In this photo he is probably home on leave from the 1st World War battlegrounds and having a photo taken with his sister's new husband Henry Charles.

Henry Charles, my grandfather spent the years 1914- 1922 in Iraq keeping a steamship with important supplies going up and down the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. In his diary for 1918 he logs the daily events of these journeys the people and arab villages that he sees on the banks of these two important rivers. he talks about the problems with his steamship and there are many notes on the mathematical calculations he did to work out the volume of steam needed etc. However, his diary also records the names and addresses of his close relatives, friends and comrades AND most importantly he logs his letters home to the two important women in his life -his mother and his wife-the latter at home in Swansea with two children to bring up.

He stayed on in Iraq until 1922 before he came home reportedly arriving home so the elder members of my family reminisced at Cardiff Docks
wearing his Sam Browne belt and riding on horseback!

And what did he return to ? His job back on the Great Western Railway -union rep...
and of course the General Strike in 1926. A difficult time.

And Ivor-he had a sheep farm up in the Black Mountains for many years.
He lived a lone life, never marrying just his sheepdog Tan for company and it was thus that as a child we knew and loved him.

A 1950s retirement in Dorset consisted of a drink in The Retreat at lunchtime - a chat with the other old men - a bet on the horse races in the afternoon and the occasional spot of fly fishing...

Here is an extract from my grandfather's diaries 1916-1917

Inland Water Transport

Royal Engineers

B Coy



8, Morby Street, Carmarthen

Left Sandwich on Sunday night 9.30 pm on 5th November 1916 Arrived at Devonport 9.00 am

On board RMS Saxon left Devonport 11 am on 8th November 1916 arrived at Ascension Island Saturday 18th November at 6.30 am left at 1.30 pm on the 18th.

Arrived at St Helena 11.30 on 20th November left at 5.30 pm on the 20th.Ship’s sports held on Tuesday.

Arrived at Capetown on Saturday 25th at 7.30 left at 11pm went ashore at 2pm till 7.30 on town Piquet arrived at Port Elizabeth 27th November at 6am left at 7.30 pm not allowed ashore arrived East London 5.0am on the 28th left at 1.30pm

Arrived Durban at 11 am on the 29th.Disembarked at 3pm.Proceeded to Camp on sea very new fence excellent YMCA embarked on the Arcadian at 9.30am left Durban at 5.30pm

5th December called at Dar- es - Salam Zanzibar arrived at Bombay on 21st December at 7.50 went ashore to YMCA went into the city on the Saturday for three hours had a good time. Left Bombay on Christmas Eve at 5.30 pm bright sunny day. Boiled bacon and two eggs for breakfast. Dinner boiled beef which was rotten and then soup Xmas Pudding Tea tinned mutton and pickles.

Arrived at the top of the gulf on Saturday 30th December at 7am transhipped from the Arcadian to the Rurneu at 12pm arrived at Basrah on Sunday 31st December at 1pm anchored in the river until 1st January 1917 Disembarked at 9am and proceeded to rest camp at Ashar.

Monday 1st Jan 1917

First day in Mesopotamia transhipped from ship onto lighters and proceeded up river to depot. Viceroy Pier landed at 9am no work one parade allowed out at 4pm-7pm

Tues. Jan 2nd 1917

Parade 9am allowed out 4-7pm in the town went to pay office drew 20 rupees

Wed. Jan 3rd 1917

Paraded at 9am foot drill 10-11 rifle drill 2pm picked for guard

Mounted watch 6.30 on all night

Sat 6th January

06 Joined T20 as engineer in charge-twin screw boat oil driven engine 3 native drivers and 3 firemen Swansea skipper

This week my first in Mesopotamia has been very interesting on the whole have had good weather conditions.


  1. Jeni. Lovely photo of Grandad and Uncle Ivor. Do you have any images of Grandad's brother Edward Frank Jones DCM MM?
    I've got picturs of his grave at Delsaux Farm but no pictures of the man himself.

  2. No unfortunately no photos- its a pity isn't it- just his medals in Salisbury Military Museum