University of Oxford
7 files

Tales of Two: A Father Who Returned and a Father-in Law Who Did Not

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 20:02 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Contributor's (Arthur's) father-in-law John Arthur Venn (1917-1942)

The contributor's father-in-law John Venn was in the war prior to his own father, due to John being younger. He enlisted on March 5th. 1940. He got married during the beginning of the war in 1940; and his daughter, Arthur's wife, was born in September 1942. John served in the M.T. Division and did an NCO (Non-Commission Officer's) course, before serving in the Transport Division as a driver. About two years into his service (likely around 192), John started developing an illness: tuberculosis. As a result, he was considered unfit for regular physical duties, receiving a certificate of discharge on January 8th, 1943 for "ceasing to fulfill the army's physical requirements." However, his military conduct was noted as being "very good." He ultimately passed away from the disease after his discharge in early 1944 when his daughter, the contributor's wife, was an eighteen-month-old baby.

Contributor's own father Joseph Edwin Jones (July 25th, 1905-October 7th, 1980)

Meanwhile, the contributor's own father enlisted at Carlisle on January 6th, 1943. Prior to enlisting, Joseph was a glazier (glass installer). Prior to heading off for service, he was married with seven children, Arthur (the contributor) being the youngest at the time. Thus, this left his wife with a large household to manage--ultimately, there would be eight children with the youngest sibling born while Joseph was off serving. During the war, he served with the Royal Engineers as a stevedore, unloading boats and handling materials. He arrived in Europe about six days after D-Day. In France, he was involved with building the Mulberry Harbour, a substantial harbour. Once that was built, the troops moved on. Joseph then travelled through France, helping build bridges along the way. Amidst this period, he faced his closest brush with death: while building a bridge in France, he fell over; and being unable to swim, he nearly drowned.

Fortunately surviving, Joseph journeyed on and arrived in Belgium in late 1944 after its liberation; he remained there until 1945, residing with a Belgian family. In fact, the contributor's family kept in touch with the Belgian family for many years after the war, before the connections slowly faded away. He was due to be transferred to the far East (Burma); however, the war finished in the far East before that could materialize. Therefore, with the conclusion of Joseph's war service in Belgium, he was discharged after the war; upon which he returned to civilian life and his former trade as a glazier.

In closing, the contributor Arthur relays a striking childhood memory with a remembrance of the day his father returned home from service. About four years old when his father left, he was about seven years old during his return. Arthur closes by recalling the playful memory of how, upon his return, his father found his young (but older) son Arthur playing with a water tap which he should not have been playing with - thus, was the beginning of their reunion.


Item list and details

For both John Arthur Venn (father-in-law) and Joseph Edwin Jones (father) 1. John Arthur Venn: Army Book 64: Soldier's Service and Pay Book, which includes a page with his discharge certificate inside 2. Interior of Army Book 64: Soldier's Service and Pay Book showing instructions to soldiers. 3. Cover of Army Book 64 with the Ministry letter detailed below enclosed within 4. Letter from the Ministry of Pensions showing a payment for his funeral (July 1944) 5. and 6. Joseph Edwin Jones: photographs of him in Belgium with members of the Belgian family who he resided with 7. John Arthur Venn: photograph of his wartime wedding in 1940 (couple in the centre)

Person the story/items relate to

John Arthur Venn (father-in-law) and Joseph Edwin Jones (father)

Person who shared the story/items

Arthur Jones

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

His father-in-law and father

Type of submission

Shared at Liverpool Central Library, Merseyside on 2 March 2024.

Record ID

120254 | LIV007