Lt-Col Douglas Champion-Jones was the second generation of a Royal Engineering family, his Uncle was Capt Walter Parke Jones, OC of the 5th Company during the Zulu War 1897. Douglas was born in 1877 and commissioned in 1896. Before the First World War he served in Malta and Jamaica, did Ordinance Survey work in Southampton and telegraphy work in Ireland.
Whilst serving as a Lt-Col in the First World War Lt-Col Douglas Champion-Jones painted street scenes in France and Belgium. Landscape or ‘panoramic’ drawing was one of the main subjects taught at the Royal Military Academy as it was linked to map-making. Lt-Col Douglas Champion-Jones’ son, Brig Montague Champion-Jones was also a Royal Engineer and painted watercolours of the POW camps in which he was imprisoned during the Second World War, including Colditz.
The Royal Engineers Museum holds the beautiful watercolours painted by both father and son along with a diary belonging to Lt-Col Champion-Jones covering the 12th of August to the 22nd of November 1914.
The diary covers the time of the First Battle of Ypres, of which Champion-Jones was a part. The diary records the poor state of the French Cavalry horses and gives insight into the constant threat of attack from German troops that the allies were facing. The 2-11-1914 entry includes a description of how, after being on duty early in the morning, Champion-Jones had gone to the dorms to sleep when a shell blew out all the windows; he comments: ‘I thought it high time to get up, informed that the staff were moving and office being packed up…’.