Names and Faces from the Past.

Lionel Wainwright - Chief electrical superintendent.

Lionel passed away on November 1990 at the age of 79. He was still living in Cardiff at that time.

Regretfully we have to note that Mr. L. H. R. Wainwright, our Chief Electrical Superintendent, will be retiring at the end of March 1978.
Mr. Wainwright joined the Company as an "Assistant" in 1932, in the depths of one of the worst depressions the Shipping Industry has ever experienced. The post itself was highly controversial at that time, as it carried a salary of only £6 per month. It was initiated by the late Mr. W. G. Liley as a means of increasing the work force on a vessel, and despite the controversial name it enabled many men to commence a sea­going career, when no other position was available.
Mr. Wainwright's second appointment after only six months was as Junior Engineer moving up steadily to Chief Engineer on the Santa Clara Valley.
His record after that reads like an adventure story. The Santa Clara Valley was bombed and sunk by German aircraft during the evacuation of troops (and mules) from Greece in 1941. In 1943 the new ship Fresno City was sunk by torpedo in Mid-Atlantic on its maiden voyage.

Transferring to the Eastern City in August 1943, Mr. Wainwright served a continuous period of 59 months on that vessel. During the war period the vessel was fitted with a rocket-launched Hurricane fighter and was always stationed at the outer corner of the convoy to provide free flying space for the Hurricane when it was launched to fight off enemy air attacks. This exposed position, plus the fighter aircraft, made it a priority target for submarine attack, and the fact that vessels all around the Eastern City were sunk is probably a reflection of poor marksmanship on the part of the German submarines. Reprinted from the Reardon Smith Newsletter March 1978 issue 98.

When war finished life should have been more tranquil, but in 1960 the Eastern City sustained massive damage when she ran on to the Great Inagua Reef, due to an in­correct depth shown on a chart. With this repaired, she later went ashore in the Port of Magador, virtually breaking in two, and was brought home, out of Class, with steel girders holding the two halves of the ship together. The generator was run from an oil barrel, topped up by hand, every watch, with diesel oil. In a bitterly fought law case, we were awarded the full costs of the repairs on the basis that the Eastern City had been sent to an unsafe port.
In 1955, only 5 days after being appointed as Chief Engineer to the Victoria City, she was sunk in a collision, coming down the North Sea from Hamburg, during daylight, and in fine clear weather.
It is sobering to think that some of the Masters involved in the above events never regained their health, and probably a tribute to Mr. Wainwright's resilience.
It is also an indication of how things have changed, to note that we have on record a letter of appreciation to Mr. Wainwright written in 1948 and advising that having now served for 9 years as Chief Engineer with the Company we were increasing his salary from £62 to £64 per month.
Mr. Wainwright had always taken a keen interest in electrical work, so in 1967 he came ashore from the then "new" Eastern City and took the place of the late Mr. W. Speight. As the extent of electrics and elec­tronics on vessels increased, further appointments were made to the Electrical Department, and Mr. Wainwright became Chief Electrical Superintendent, and with his special knowledge of mechanical as well as electrical matters he has raised the standard of the electrical installation and maintenance in the Fleet to its present high level.
Those who served with Mr. Wainwright will always remember his strong and forth­right approach to good watch-keeping and maintenance. He would spend time freely helping and teaching anyone who worked hard, and no doubt because of this, four of his young trainees subsequently became Superintendents. Nothing less than 100% effort was tolerated.
We wish Mr. Wainwright, a long, happy and well-earned retirement.
Reprinted from the Reardon Smith Newsletter March 1978 issue 98.

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