Queen Mary’s Last Captain

Queen Mary’s Last Captain


John Treasure Jones, Queen Mary’s last captain (barring some type of unexpected major miracle), entered the world on 18 August 1905.

Queen Mary's Last Captain
Capt. John Treasure Jones, Queen Mary’s last captain.

Born into a Welsh farming family, Treasure Jones left school before reaching 16 for an apprenticeship at J.C. Gould Steamship Co. of Cardiff. In 1923, he joined the Royal Naval Reserve. As a midshipman, Treasure Jones served a six-month training period on the battle cruiser HMS Hood. He then joined White Star Line and received his Master’s certificate.

As the Great Depression devastated the global maritime industry, Treasure Jones returned to work on his family’s farm. He went back to sea in 1937. At the start of World War II he served on the former White Star liner Laurentic, converted into an armed merchant cruiser, as a Lieutenant-Commander RNR.

On 3 November 1940, as Laurentic was heading to aid of a torpedoed merchantman, she herself was attacked and sunk. Treasure Jones spent several hours in the water before being rescued.

Treasure Jones rejoined Cunard-White Star Line in 1947. His first liner command was Media. He went on to command Saxonia, Sylvania, Carinthia and, for good measure, was Ivernia’s relief captain.

Treasure Jones commanded Mauretania (1938) in her final two years and he brought the liner to the breakers in Scotland in 1965. He later told a friend that when he left he could not bear to turn to around for one last look out of fear of being turned into a pillar of salt.

After briefly serving as master of Queen Elizabeth (1940), Treasure Jones in 1965 took command of Queen Mary. In 1967 he guided the great liner on her 39-day marathon from Southampton, around Cape Horn, to Long Beach, California. Upon arrival, on 9 December 1967, both the liner and her captain entered retirement.

Capt. John Treasure Jones died on 12 May 1993 in Hampshire, England.

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