Timothy David Jones (Grandson)
I remember first reading these diaries when I was twelve or thirteen years old. My mother had obtained the diaries from my grandfather before he passed way with the intention of typing them up to be more readable. Reading them, I was as amazed then as I am now. Of course, every family has ancestors who were heroic and braved out incredibly brutal times. The difference here is that Leslie Bickham managed to keep journals through these turbulent times that others could not.
This is only part of his journals and covers his second round trip to America in the winter of 1942/ 1943. This was during what the Kriegsmarine called the "Second Happy Time" when German submarines were very successful against Allied ships. He was sailing in a Petrol tanker which was a prime target for German Submarines.
I have read that night time bombers of that era have said that each mission was hours of boredom interrupted with minutes of sheer terror. Surely then the crews of the Merchant Navy in those times would have experienced weeks and months of boredom culminating in hours and days of terror.
His entries have an innocent honesty. He does not falter in writing about his privations, failings and ailments aboard ship and one can imagine the boredom amongst the crew. Sometimes this is quite amusing. He seems to describe many of his worries and regrets for his past and includes his concerns for the ship's situation. One thing that he does not convey in his writings is his fear or terror but maybe that is a true measure of the man.
Today's reader should realise that this was written in a politer and more respectful generation when words, inference and innuendo were not the same as today.
Finally, I have fond memories of my mother, Margaret Anise Jones (Margo), struggling with an old mechanical, sticky key, type writer night after night lovingly typing his journals. She has written a beautiful but short account of her father's life which I have included at the end of his diary so as not to give the reader any early preconceptions.
I'm sure that he dedicated his journals to 'Margo'.
I would like to dedicate this reproduction of my Grandfather's journal to my Mother.
Margaret Anise Jones
Who possessed all of the loving kindness of her father