The Life of Gordon
These transcribed diaries and records are by Lt Cyril Gordon Jones, always known as Gordon, or often by his Service friends as “Jonah”. He was born on 27th September 1884 the eldest son of a family of five children. His father, H W Jones, a prominent and adversarial Solicitor in Colchester was the grandson of a Peninsular War veteran, wounded at Waterloo, who later settled in Colchester. He was a well known yachtsman, owning a succession of vessels including “Gardenia” in which he won a silver cup for a race from Ramsgate to Boulogne, normally a regular sail for him and his son to replenish his wine cellar. It is no surprise that Gordon had a healthy respect for his father, “The Guv’nor.”
At the age of about eight years old Gordon was sent away to boarding school, Bengeo, in Hertfordshire, followed by boarding at Haileybury from 1899 to 1902. He was therefore away from home, at least in term time, for about eight years. Leaving Haileybury he joined his father in the family law firm and after five years articles and training was admitted as a Solicitor in 1903, becoming the third generation of the family in the firm.
In the summer he was expected to join the Guv’nor in the current yacht; here pictured in Ramsgate Harbour in about 1905, as a young man with his mother and sisters. None of them could foretell that in a few years, just across the Channel on the battlefields in Belgium, Gordon would take an active part in events which would consign this comfortable way of life to the dustbin of history.
The Great War broke out on 24th July 1914 when his younger brother, Douglas Doyle Jones was on holiday in Dresden. He would shortly be interned in the prison camp at Ruhleben, where he remained in increasingly harsh conditions for the duration of the war.
On the 24th September 1914 Gordon married Brenda Blaker at St Johns Church at Buxton. Brenda was 23 years old and her family were in mourning following the death of her father four weeks previously, his widow possibly taking a cure at the Spa in Buxton. The wedding therefore was a small quiet ceremony, blighted already for both families by the outbreak war, death and the internment of Douglas. Gordon’s father said he was too busy at the office to go to his son’s wedding.
These events do not seem an auspicious start to married life; their honeymoon consisted of a short stay in a hotel at Bedford, where they “went for a row on the River and watched the soldiers drilling.” Later Gordon noted “I was away for less than a fortnight, but I was promised a proper honeymoon leave ‘when the war is over’ this promise however has never been fulfilled and I don’t expect it ever will, the war is still going on and by the time it is over the promise will have been forgotten.”
It was just before his marriage that Gordon started his lifetime habit of keeping a diary. He wrote in a black manuscript book: “I have thought that it would be interesting to keep a diary commencing at the time of my marriage. I shall not attempt to write it every day but from time to time I shall enter noteworthy events and give a general resumé or history of what happens”. He continues to describe the wedding, “The Church part of the affair only lasted about ten minutes, and we were very pleased when it was over. I remember Brenda wore an awfully nice white dress, which took my fancy, also an equally pretty hat which was black with a large white feather.” After a note about the ceremony and small family gathering at Buxton nothing further appears in this book until 1920.
For a short while after the wedding Gordon resumed work at the office and continued his spare time interests especially rough shooting and wildfowling. He recorded his shooting results (and the weather) in small black note books. It was at this period that on 18th March 1915 Brenda’s younger brother, Lt Wilfrid Blaker R N, a gunnery officer in H M S Inflexible, was killed at the Dardanelles.
Later that year Gordon decided to join the Royal Flying Corps, his notes (in his shooting diary) mention that on 28th November 1915 he joined up at Roehampton as a Balloon Officer; from that date onwards he recorded a diary entry for every day of his war service until he was wounded and discharged from hospital on 25th January 1918; after leave he was, on his own application, granted light duties.
The decision to join the RFC as a Balloon Officer must have been difficult enough for him but doubly so for his wife. She was 24, her life was already devastated by the death of her brother and now, in the early stages of pregnancy, her husband would be going to the front where his duties would be hazardous.
His initial training as a Balloon Observer was in London and on completion he was sent to the Front in Belgium, arriving at his unit on 2nd February 1916. He went on to serve with the RFC Special Reserve in Flanders attached to the 2nd Kite Balloon Wing at Loker near Bailleul.
His first child, Penelope Brenda, (from her birth called Pen) was born in 1916, with celebrations recorded in his diary.
On 9th April 1917 Lt Jones was mentioned in the Despatches of Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haigh for action with No 2 Kite Balloon Section RFC “For gallant services in the field.”
In November 1917 he was wounded when, after parachuting from his balloon, he landed in a shell hole and suffered "...a spiral fracture of the lower end of fibula, right leg."
On 1st April 1918 the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service were combined to form the Royal Air Force. Lt Jones was commissioned in the new service, his Commission carries the serial number 13 and was signed by the King.
In the RAF he was attached to the Directorate of Kite Ballooning, working on equipment development, including the use of Observation Balloons from ships.
He returned to civilian life and the family legal firm in 1919. His father died in 1925 when Gordon became senior partner.
He and Brenda had two more children, Hazel and Michael.
He died on 17th February 1964, living in the same village near Colchester in which he and Brenda started their lives together after the wedding in 1914.