HMS Conway - Click here to return to the menu HMS Conway 1859 - 1974

© Alfie Windsor 1998
HMS Conway - Click here to return to the menu

Notable Old Conways


Senior Officers RN, Army & RAF

Other Notable Conways

International Sportsmen

Conway Gold Medal Winners

Chief Cadet Captains & Kings of the Woods

Conway & Titanic


Senior Officers RN, Army & RAF

Conways achieved very senior ranks in all three armed services, and in the Royal Navies of several Empire/Commonwealth countries.

Navy - Admirals

Rear Admiral Harry Mervyn Kemmis Betty (1882-84) promoted late in 1921.

Rear Admiral (E) Frederick Stewart Billings FS CBE (1913-14)

Vice Admiral D S Boyle RCN (1939-40)

Vice Admiral Sir David Brown KCB (1941-45)

Vice Admiral Leslie Newton Brownfield CB CBI (1915 -17) Naval Attaché to Thailand 1939-41, commanded battleship Ramilles, later President of the Admiralty Interview Board, Admiral Superintendent, Devonport.

Admiral Sir Sackville Hamilton Carden KCMG (1868-70)

Vice Admiral Sir David Clutterbuck DSC KBE CB (1926-29)

Admiral Collins

Vice Admiral Sir Archibald Day KBE CBE CB DSO (1913-14).

Vice Admiral T B Drew CB CVO OBE (1902-03)

Rear Admiral J P Edwards CB LVO (1942-44)

Rear Admiral Douglas Henry Everett CB CBE MBE DSO (1911-13)

Admiral Franklin (cheating a little as he was Conway's 4th Captain Superintendent and promoted on retirement)

Rear Admiral CB Mayo CB CBE (1923-25)

Rear Admiral G D Moore CBE RAN (1910-12)

Vice Admiral Sir Charles E Morgan DSO CB KBE (1902-05) Commanding Reserves from December 1945

Rear Admiral Ronald Gordon Murray CBE CB (11-12)

Rear Admiral H S F Niblett (1865-66). The first OC to achieve Flag Rank

Admiral Sir Richard Peirse (1873-75)

Admiral Sir Charles Thomas Mark Pizey KBE, CB, DSO DL RIN (1912-15)

Rear Admiral N E Rankin CB CBE (1955-58).

Admiral Sir A R Rattray CB KBE RIN (1906-08)

Vice Admiral Sir C W R Royds (1890-92)

Rear Admiral KM Saul RNZN CB (1943-44)

Rear Admiral R W Timbrell CF DSC CD RCN (1935-37)

Vice Admiral Sir Peter Woodhead  KCB (1954-57) Deputy Supreme Commander Atlantic.

Navy - Commodores

It should be noted that until 1992, Commodore RN was not a rank but a senior appointment. From 1992 it formally became a RN rank.

Commodore H J Anchor RN (1909-11) Comodore Ocean Convoys circa 1939-42

Commodore D T Ancona RN (1951-53)

Commodore D A Casey RNR (05-07) OBE CBE DSC (WWI)  DSO (WWII)  ADC Commodore of Ocean Convoys in 1940

Commodore (Coastal Convoys) Lt Cdr Chambers (18-20) RNR

Commodore J P Dobson DSC RD RN (1915-17)

Commodore J C K Dowding CBE (1904-06).

Commodore E Frankcom OBE RN (18-20) service in WWI East Coast convpys

Commodore Richard Garstin OBE, CBE CdeG RIN (1900/02)  returned from the Retired List of the RIN in 1942 to become a Commodore of Ocean Convoys in 1942.

Commodore Herbert Joseph Giles OBE RD RNR (1897-99)

Commodore C G Greenfield GG RD RN (1943-45)

Commodore Richard Thomas Hale (35-38) OBE RNZN RNR

Commodore A Hambly DSO RN (1881-83)

Commodore George Hunt DSO DSC RAN (1930-32)

Commodore (Coastal Convoys) Lt Cdr K J T Hutchins RNR

Commodore Henry Douglas King (1891-93) PC CB CBE DSO VD RNVR, Minister of State

Commodore H R Lane RNR OBE (14-16)  Commodore of east Coast convoys during World War 2. He was also Marine Superintendent of Cunard and Elder Dempster, and ADC to King George V1 in 1951

Commodore MGB Manning AFC FCMI RN (1962-66)

Commordore Mare CIE RIN (1905-07)

Commodore Geoffery T Marr DSC RD RNR (1922-24)

Commodore William Marshall RNR CB DSO (1889-91) The first Old Conway to hold the apointment of Commodore RNR. He was an ADC to the King (including at the opening of Gladsteon Dock) and also Commodorere of White Star line from January to May 1930.

Commodore C E Mason RN (1914-16)

Commodore M A Medland RCN (1928-30)

Commodore Thomas Maxwell Stuart Milne-Henderson CIE RIN (1903-5)

Commodore I I B Morrow RCN (1937-39)

Commodore C B Osborne RD RN (1908-10)

Commodore R V Peel RD RN (1890-92)

Commodore (Coastal Convoys) Cdr C W C Pinkney RNR

Commodore (Coastal Convoys) Cdr W H Poole RNR

Commodore C W R Royds CMG RN (1890-92) in command of the RN Barracks at Devonport. Previously 1st Lt of Scott's Discovery and later Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Commodore J F Ruthven FRGS AINA RNR (1864-65)

Commodore (Coastal Convoys) Lt Cdr S Scallon (18-20), RNR

Commodore G E Sutcliffe RNR (1889-01) Commodore Ocean Convoys

Commodore R G Thelwell OBE RD RNR (1911-13) promoted to Cmdr in 1951. Also ADC to HM The king 1947-49.

Commodore Edward Unwin VC CB CMG (1878-80)

Commodore J Whayman CBE DSC RD RNR (1920-21)

Commodore S N White RD RNR (1899-01) Also served in Booth Line fro 37 years. RNR ADC to he King


Major General G W Barber CB CMG DSO Australian Army (1882-4)

Hon. Brigadier General Robert Herbert Wilfred Hughes RE CB, CSI, CMG, DSO, RD  (1885-6)

G Nicholson (1887-88) was promoted Brigadier General in 1919.

Air Force - Air Marshalls

Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard E C Peirse KCB, DSO, AFC RAF (1905-07)

Air Vice Marshall H G White CB CBE RAF (1910-12)

Air Vice Marshall Sir Geoffrey Worthington (1917) RAF

Air Vice Marshall Sir William M Yool CB CBE (1908-10)

Air Force - Air Commodore

A Air Commodore Charles Frederick Hallyburton Grace StO RAF MiD (1918-1920

Air Commodore David Neal Roberts CBE AFC RAF (1920-22)

Air Commodore Frederick John Rump CBE RAF (1927-9)

(Acting) Air Commodore Theodore Quintus Studd TQ DFC DL RAF (1909-11)

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Commodores Of Shipping Companies (Conway Years in brackets)

Bengal Pilot Service

Captain J H Colquhoun (1923-25)

Bibby Line

Lt Cdr G H Harris RNR (1868-69) completed 5 years as Commodore when he retired in 1918 after 48 years at sea, 32 in command.

Booth Steamship Company

Commodore Jackson Whayman CBE DSC RD RNR (19-21) years as Commodore not known

British India Steam Navigation Co

Captain D Gun-Cunninghame (15-17)   ?? to 1961

Captain J Cavenduish-Horner (1910-13) From Oct 1954 to June 1955

British Tankers

Captain Vivian Funge Smith (1921-2)

Canadian Coastguard Service

E S Brand (32-34

Canadan Pacific

E W S Roberts (20-22) Retired as Coomodore in 1967

W E Williams (1939-41)

Ceylon Imperial Lighthouse Service

G Stapleton (1878-80)

Clan Line

Francis J Stenson (1892-99) ADC RD    1939-40

H J Anchor (09-11) OBE RNR    1956 to 58

Cunard Line

Captain Sir Robert Beaufin Irving (1890-92 approx) KB, OBE, RD, RNR 1877-1954

Captain Sir Arthur Henry Rostron KBE RD RNR (1885-6)

Captain G T Marr (1922-24)

Commodore R V Peel RNR (1890-92)

Commodore Robert G Thelwall (11-13)

Captain W E (Bil) Warwick CBE RD RNR (26-28) (note he insisted on Bil not Bill)

Captain W E (Ron) Warwick (56-8)

Captain J E Woolfenden (24-26)

Mogul Line

Captain A George Roberston (1898 - 1900)

Neilson Bulk Carriers

Mike Rowe (1957-60)

New Zealand Shipping Co

Their equivalent to Commodore was simply called "Senior Master". In 1975 it was Frank Graham Bevis (22-24)

Nigerian Marine

Captain R H W Hughes CB CSI CMG DSO RD RNR (85-87) He was also an honorary Major General!


Captain Robert Royan (44-46), The line's first  Commodore

Orient Steam Navigation Co

Capt J J Ruthven (1864-65). Was Commodore for 23 years to 1911! By his retirement he had sailed at least 2,250,000 miles.

Pacific Steam Navigation Co

Capt J C Evans RNR (17-18). Years as Commodore ?? to 1964

Palm Line

Cap J F Pugh (26-27) certainly in 1969

P&O Shipping Co

Captain WL Brown (1865-67)

Captain E H Gordon (1865-67) was Commodore for several years to 1915.

Captain G L Langbourne (1865-67)

Capt G M Montford (1876-78) Feb 1918 to 1921

Royal Fleet Auxiliary

Cdr Henry Owen L’Estrange (1926-28) DSC RD RNR. In 1971 he was appointed Commodore of the R.F.A. He was due to return to Ireland in February 1973 to retire to his home in Sligo, had he not died in December 1972 on board his ship RFA Stromness in the Singapore naval base.

Captain Gordon Butterworth (42-43) was head of the RFA from 1981 to 1985 (Including the Falklands War) when he retired.

Royal Mail Lines

Captain E W E Morrison 1926 to 1938

Captain D A Casey OBE DSO DSC (05-07)  ?? to 1949

Captain G A Bannister OBE (1908-11) from 1951 to 1953

Unicorn Fleet

Mike Robinson (49-51)

White Star Line

Commodore Herbert J Haddock, CB, RD, RNR (1875-77), see entry below. Years as Commodore not known but The Cadet confirms he held the post. He retired in 1931 aged 70 so it is likely he immediately proceeded Marshall.

1930 January to May Commodore William Marshall CB DSO RD RNR (1889-91) he died in post. He was also the first man to hold the apointment of Commodore RNR. He was an ADC to the King. There is an obituray here

1930 to ?? Commodore H Douglas King CB CBE DSO VD MP RNVR (1891-93)


Other Notable Conways

Many other Conways have gone to become well known names and international celebrities. We welcome suggestions and links for this section, please contact us with details using this Feedback link.

Cyril Abraham (1928 - 30)

Novelist and Playwright. Writer of the famous television series the "Onedin Line" and the "Blazing Ocean" dedicated to all Conways who lost their lives at sea during the 2nd World War

Alfred Wright Adcock (1898-9)

He was born in 1885 in Nottingham and joined  Conway at 13, and on leaving joined the Merchant Marine. A second officer of the Indrabarah (Tyser Line) he performed two rescues when the vessel went aground on the Rangitikei coast (NZ) in 1913, and as a result was decorated by King George V at Buckingham Palace, and also received rewards from the Royal Humane Society and the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society. News story

During WWI he was First Officer on troop ships. He left the Merchant Navy in 1923 and emigrated to New Zealand, where he took up farming. He gave this up due to ill health, and subsequently worked for the City Council of Palmerston North. He retired in 1955, and died in 1957.


Wing Commander Robert S Allen DSO, DFC (28-31)

Born in Manchester in 1914, Robert Allen was educated at Westfield High School, Manchester and HMS Conway and joined the RAF as a pupil pilot in 1935. He was promoted to squadron leader in 1939. During June 1940 whilst en-route to bomb a target, he observed an He III and despite "bad weather conditions and intense darkness" he maneuvered his aircraft to enable Sergeant Williams (WOP/AG) to fire at the enemy aircraft and shoot it down. Soon after the same tactics were employed against a Ju87 with the same result. Squadron Leader Allen then continued to his objective and bombed the target successfully. He was flying Hampdens with No.49 Squadron at the time, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for this action. The award of the bar to his DFC followed in October 1940 while still with No.49 squadron. Following promotion to Wing Commander, he then went to No.106 Squadron at RAF Coningsby and on 24th July 1941, whilst flying AE19Wing Commander Allen led a daylight attack through heavy anti aircraft fire and fighter opposition against the German battle cruiser Gneisenau, which was in dry dock at   Brest. For his leadership on this operation he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). After leaving No.106 squadron, he served on the Air Staff Mission in China between 8th July 1943 and mid August 1945. On 13th February 1945 he was awarded the Cloud and Banner decoration (Special Rosette) an award confirmed by the President of the Nationalist Government of China. After leaving the RAF, he became a publican. He died in 1982.

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Lt Henry Warington Smyth Baden-Powell RNR KC Admiralty Court   (1861- 1864, cadet number 187),

Always called Warington, He was the eldest brother of the more well know Lord Baden-Powell. Warrington was the founder of the Sea Scouts

His brother said of him: "It was under his guidance that I, when a youngster, began my Scouting as a Sea Scout. He was himself both a sailor and a boy at heart and so his teaching told. I have never forgotten those breezy times and the things that I learned under him have had their life-long value for me. Since the first edition of this book its author has passed to Higher Service, but to the end he remained as he had lived-a sailor and a boy. It was largely thanks to his interest in boys and in seamanship that Sea Scouting became popular in the early days of our movement, so that when the Great War came suddenly upon the nation the Sea Scouts proved able at once to take over the duties of the Coastguards when these were called away to man the fleet. Thus the Scouts watched our Coasts from John O'Groats to the Land's End during the whole period of the War. Also they provided a considerable contingent of signallers, cooks and bridge boys to man the auxiliary fleet. They so acquitted themselves that at the end of the war they received the public thanks of the Admiralty and of His Majesty the King himself."

Early in his career he qualified as a Master Mariner and was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Reserve. Warrington was also a great exponent of the sailing canoe or canoe yawl. In 1871, at the age of 24, he paddled and sailed a canoe on a cruise around the Baltic Sea that included stops in Germany, Denmark and Sweden as described in his book, Canoe Travelling, published in 1871.


W. H. Baker (years not known) Burning of the Volturno (extracted from the Liverpool Mercury, Oct 18th 1913)

"The awful tragedy in mid-Atlantic by which 136 persons lost their lives through the burning of the emigrant ship Volturno [3602 tons] has startled and horrified the public almost as much as did the awful Titanic, 18 months ago. The heavy death-toll is due to the fact that the fire broke out during a raging-tempest, so that although the Volturno had more than sufficient boats to carry those onboard, they could only launch with a grave risk of being dashed to pieces or swamped when in the water. That so large a proportion of those on board were rescued was due to the fact that she had wireless installation. Her pleas for help were heard widely over the Atlantic, and 11 liners immediately converged on her but heavy seas effectually prevented rescue work. Volturno launched 7 boats, the first boat swung under the stern and the propeller literally smashed her to matchwood, cutting the unfortunate occupants to pieces. 3 more were dashed to pieces as she rolled in the great seas, 2 reached the water safely but were swamped, killing all onboard. Under such terrible conditions rescue work seemed impossible. Many attempts were made to send rescue boats but all failed. Volturno's master became desperate and called for volunteers to show the other captains that it was not impossible to launch their boats. One got as far as the Gosser Kurfurst, but the boat was smashed and was almost lost. Volturno's master sent a final desperate message, "My God, Can't stand this long. Our boat has gone. Send me some boats." The Captains of the other boats replied, "We have tried our best. The sea is too heavy and no boat could live in it."

Baker (2nd Officer of the Leyland steamer Devonian) lauched a boat and eventually managed to get a lifeboat alongside. He later frecalled: "Early in the morning following our arrival on the scene of the disaster I determined to make an attempt to reach the burning vessel, 'Neck or nothing, let us go' I said to the men, and a crew of eight agreed to go out on the boisterous sea, and amidst perilous conditions. When we were near to the vessel we could see there would be a rush by those on board to escape. We called to those in charge to keep back the men, who were pressing forward, and to let us save the women and children first. Officers used their fists to drive the men back, and some of them went down like ninepins. The work was carried out with the most considerable danger. Sparks were flying, the heat on the sides of the vessel was intense, and the smoke was blinding. From time to time some relict of the fire, such as a disjoined derrick, or piece of the funnel would tumble into the water, and might have easily injured rescuers and rescued alike. We could see the smoke coming up between the beams of the deck, and the men were almost standing in flames. During the night the scene was horrible. Shrieking was continuous and several of the women held up their babies and outlined them in the blaze, and begged of us to come and rescue them." Although Baker made several more rescue trips no other boats dared make the same journey until a tanker appeared and spilled oil onto the raging waters.

He was awarded the Marine Medal of The Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society, the Board Of Trade Sea Gallantry Medal and the medal of The Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York. He was also presented with a solid silver tea service by Leyland Line.



Earl of Balfour (1941-44)

The 4th Earl of Balfour, who died on June 27 aged 77, was once the only viscount to be an able seaman in the Merchant Navy.

In the pre-1999 House of Lords, he was also known as the bane of the parliamentary draftsmen. This was because, being dyslexic, and hence often having to consult a dictionary, he scrutinised each bill with absolute objectivity, detecting mistakes that skilled proofreaders had missed.

On one occasion he raised 53 objections to a government housing bill, chiefly on grounds of misspellings and typographical errors, but also citing graver flaws such as transposed sentences. Fifty of his objections were accepted - believed to be a record - and the Bill withdrawn. The government minister who had introduced the Bill remarked that, though he congratulated His Lordship, it was through gritted teeth.

Gerald Arthur James Balfour, the son of the 3rd Earl of Balfour, was born on December 23 1925. The earldom was created in 1922 for the former Tory Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, Gerald's great-uncle. Arthur Balfour had succeeded his own uncle, the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, in the premiership in 1902 and held it till 1905. The Balfours before that had been lairds for generations of Balbirnie, in Fife.

Gerald was educated at Eton and the training school HMS Conway. Gerald's father had also hoped to join the Royal Navy but, he too being dyslexic, had misspelled his forename and surname on his entrance paper, and was not admitted.

During the Second World War Gerald served in the Merchant Marine. On his first voyage he was torpedoed by the Japanese, and spent a week in an open boat in the Indian Ocean before being rescued.

On the death of his grandfather four months before the war's end, Balfour inherited the courtesy title of Viscount Traprain. He continued in the Merchant Navy after peace came, serving as deck-hand aboard the four-master 3,200-ton barque Pamir in a voyage carrying tallow, wool and clothes from well-wishers in New Zealand to Britain's "Displaced Persons" - as the homeless were then called. At that time he wore a beard and was known to his shipmates as "Gerry".

Among his later distinctions, Balfour was President of the Cape Horners, originally an association exclusively of people who had rounded Cape Horn before the mast, that is to say as ordinary crew members of tall ships. (Latterly, yachtsmen have been admitted.)

In his Merchant Navy days Balfour was a member of the New Zealand seamen's union. By the late 1960s, he was more sympathetic to capitalism, and was chairman of a Scottish bottled water company exporting to places as far away as South America. In June 1969 he became chairman of Bruntons, a Musselburgh steel wire manufacturer, but resigned eight months later after a boardroom dispute. He also farmed in East Lothian, where lay the family estate of Whittinghame, near Haddington, and during the 1960s and early 1970s sat as an East Lothian County Councillor.

In later life Balfour turned increasingly to public debate. In the House of Lords he spoke on soil erosion in the Middle East, urging the government to enlist Israeli politicians and Zionist funds to fight it. There was a dual family element in this: his aunt, Lady Evelyn Balfour, had founded the Soil Association; moreover, that Israel existed at all was largely due to his great-uncle, the 1st Earl, who as Foreign Secretary in Lloyd George's Coalition Government had, in 1917, issued the Balfour Declaration, announcing support for a Jewish national state.

Gerald Balfour also aired his views in The Telegraph's letters' page. These opinions were so wide-ranging as would provoke today the charge "unfocused"; yet they were largely sensible. In the 1970s he criticised the Wilson government's public housing policy. He argued that the 1965 and 1974 Rent Acts had deliberately reduced the availability of privately rented accommodation, obliging tenants increasingly to take what was offered by local authorities and housing associations, yet with no security of tenure.

He had a knack of anticipating the future. In the early 1980s he was urging that telephones be metered, so that users could judge how big a bill they were running up. In the mid-1980s he called for reform of the rates, arguing that the local authorities' role in providing services should be reduced and central government's increased. A few years later, along with erosion of councils' powers by Whitehall, came the Poll Tax.

In the late 1990s Balfour was on a four-man Parliamentary Commission in Scotland that had to adjudicate in a dispute between Glasgow's Burrell Collection trustees and Glasgow Council's museum director. The latter wanted to be able to exchange items from the Collection with those of other places to boost falling attendance figures.

The trustees feared that breaking the terms of the bequest, which forbade such dispersals, would put off potential future donors. All four Commissioners were hereditary peers, which enraged progressives. That the 4th Earl of Balfour was also a Freemason, and had called the handgun ban after the 1996 Dunblane Massacre a "news-media-inspired panic", damned him further in liberal circles.

Balfour was, in fact, far from a diehard Conservative. The Bill he caused to be withdrawn was one put forward by the John Major administration. Nor was he opposed to the people's will: in one of the last debates in the old House of Lords before most hereditaries were ejected, he stated that it was not for their lordships to oppose Scottish devolution since it had been voted for. Yet he was certain the Bill needed amendments and improvements.

Kyrle Bellew (1866-67)

He left Conway in 1867 after a two years course and eventually became a well-known actor of his day. He had an eventful career at sea. During one voyage to the Far East he was swept overboard and picked up for dead in the Bay of Bengal, but survived. Some years later he was washed overboard in the English Channel, picked for dead, but again survived. He spent a short while ashore before the sea called him back. This time his ship was burned and he spent three weeks in an open boat. He then spent some time in the Austrian Army, presumably some distance from the sea. He immigrated to Australia where he had a short career as a public speaker. He was swept up in the New South Wales gold rush but left stranded. Described as having, “a fine appearance and a singularly beautiful voice”, he formed a troupe of actors and worked his way back to Melbourne. Now, at the grand age of 19(!), he decided to become a full time actor. One of his old sea captains allowed him to work his passage home – the ship was nearly lost rounding Cape Horn during exceptionally icy conditions. 10 days after arriving back in London he was on the stage. He became a member of Henry Irving’s troupe based at the Lyceum. In 1884 he teamed up with another Old Conway, Frederick John Fagus, who was a celebrated novelist and playwright under the pen name Hugh Conway. His novel Called Back was, “one of the most remarkable successes of the last 100 years”. It proved so popular he turned it into a stage play and it ran at the Prince of Wales Theatre from 20th May 1884 for the rest of the year. Kyrle Bellew played the lead. Hugh Conway died in Monte Carlo in 1885 and is buried in Nice. There is a literary scholarship in his name at Bristol University and a stained glass window in his memory at St Stephens Church, Bristol, where he grew up. Bellew meantime formed his own successful repertory and toured the world for 10 years before returning to Australia where he became involved in some successful mining ventures. He died on November 2 1911 in Salt Lake City. More details are here.


Rear Admiral (E) Frederick Stewart Billings FS CBE RN (1913-14)

Joined RN in 1914; World War I 1914-1918; World War II 1939-1945; Fleet Engineer Officer on Staff of Commander-in-Chief, HMS Malaya, Mediterranean 1945-1947; Assistant Engineer-in-Chief (Personnel), Admiralty 1947-1948; Fleet Engineering Officer (Submarines) 1948-1950; Manager, Engineering Department, HM Dockyard, Portsmouth 1950-1954; retired 1954; director of engineering firm 1956-1962. Awarded Commander of the Order "Al Merito" by President of the Republic of Chile for services to the British Naval Advisory Staff, Chile. Gazette 40298 of 12.10.1954 shows him as having the CBE and placed on the Retired List.


Lt Col WH Brinkley (1929-31)

Green blindness prevented a naval career so Bill Brinkley entered Sandhurst in 1932 and was commissioned to the Norfolk Regiment in August 1932, joining the 2nd Battalion in Devonport prior to 6 years service with the 1st Battalion in India. He served during Northwest Frontier operations, then in Delhi and Bangalore. After attending Staff College Camberley he rejoined the 1st Battalion in Scotland and trained for the D-Day landings in Normandy. He was wounded on a patrol in Normandy and was evacuated to England. He trained recruits at the Regimental Depot Norwich and became a GSO II Instructor at the Staff College, Quetta in March 1945. His peacetime service took him to less peaceful places. Evacuated from India on Independence in 1947, he rejoined the Battalion for service during the airlift of Berlin, followed by a period in Hong Kong when the New Territories were threatened by the Chinese Army.   When this threat receded, he was posted to Seremban, Malaya for anti-communist operations! He became 2IC of 1st Battalion The Suffolk Regiment in Trieste and led its families during the evacuation to Wuppertal due to trouble between Yugoslavia and Italy. Later he moved to the Headquarters of the British Commonwealth Force Korea in Kure, Japan. He was appointed to command 1st Battalion The Royal Norfolk Regiment for anti-Eoka operations in Cyprus. At the end of Eoka activity the Battalion moved to Iserlohn, Germany where he relinquished his tour of command.


The Brooke Smith Dynasty (1893-1971!)

The Brooke Smith family are Conway legends with five family members, over three generations, serving as cadets.

Captain Louis Brooke Smith RNR (1893-95) was the patriarch. He sailed in clipper ships with Carmichaels & Stewarts obtaining his extra master’s square rigged certificate in 1903. He served in the Boer War and the first world war. He was a founder member of the Honorable Company and marine superintendent of the Meteorological Office for 19 years and organised the system of weather observations by ships at sea and the shipping weather bulletin. He was elected a Younger Brother of Trinity House in 1919. His eldest son John (25-27), fifth son Frances (34-36) and sixth and youngest son Guy (44-46) as well as grandson Bruce (61-63) all followed him to Conway.

John - ‘Brookie’ was the Ship’s second longest serving officer, joining in 1940 and retiring in December 1971 (Mr George Hunt who retired due to ill health in April 1916 with 36 years service was our longest serving memeber of staff. John was born on 14th February 1911 at Fretwell in Yorkshire. He left Conway as a senior cadet captain with an extra certificate. He was appointed Midshipman RNR and joined Alfred Holt & Co, later moving on to the New Zealand Shipping Co. By 1939 his eyesight deteriorated to such an extent that his sea-going career was over, however as a Lieutenant RNR he was mobilised during the war and transferred on a short-term loan to the Ship. The loan lasted 31 years. “As a divisional officer he was superb. Very smart in dress, encouraging, very strict but always fair. His austere countenance hid a great shyness but he gained the greatest of respect.” He had an extraordinary knack of appearing at the scene of any crime or misdemeanour when you least wanted him to, hence his earlier nickname of ‘Spooky’. He wore round glasses and a smile never seemed to be far from his face. “He was slow to rouse, almost gentle most of the time but very forceful when he detected slackness or ill discipline.” Captain Hewitt promoted him from divisional officer to chief officer and arranged for him to be awarded the honorary rank of Lt. Cdr. RNR. He was in the Ship for her transits from the Mersey to Bangor in 1941, from Bangor to Plas Newydd in 1949 and from Plas Newydd in 1953 when the Ship was lost. He found the loss deeply distressing and he did more than any person to ensure that the very best of Conway traditions continued. He served as chief officer until 1969 when Cheshire abandoned the title and he was obliged to become a housemaster. He served faithfully but was unhappy about the changes and the loss of long held traditions. He loved the old Ship and Conway was his whole life. He retired at the end of 1971 to Brook Cottage in Haskerton. He died on 23rd December 1990 and was buried in the local churchyard

Lt. Cdr. F.H. Brooke Smith GC RD RNR (34-36) was a cadet in the Ship on the Mersey. A Sub-Lieutenant Royal Naval Reserve he was torpedoed in the second world war and then volunteered for mine disposal duties. In December 1940, having previously defused 16 mines, a mine fell on the fire-float Firefly in the Manchester Ship Canal, landing inside the deck locker alongside the engine-room. It failed to explode. When Sub-Lieutenant Brooke Smith arrived to deal with it, he found it was firmly wedged, but by using a rope he was able to pull the mine slightly clear of the engine-room casing and then, lying on the sloping engine casing, head downwards, he managed to place a safety gag in the bomb-fuse. The clock of the fuse then started to tick, but he stayed where he was and finally managed to stop it before the inevitable explosion occurred. He had dealt successfully with many unexploded bombs, but this was the first time that he had used a safety gag on a bomb-fuse and he had to do so in most difficult circumstances as he was compelled to work by touch, without being able to see the bomb fuse at all, and his chances of succeeding and of escaping with his life were regarded as very small. He also dealt with mine in allotments 50 yards from Short & Masons aircraft factory in Macdonald Rd, London. Later, he participated in training divers for Suez Canal clearance. After the war he was a senior officer in passenger lines between New York and Bermuda. He was killed in a road accident near his home in Woodbridge. His medals are on display in the Imperial War Museum in London.

Guy (44-46) was a cadet in the Ship at Bangor at the same time that his elder brother John was an officer. One evening as duty officer John read “The following cadets are on slack party – Adams , Baker, Brooke Smith…” a great cheer went round the Ship. Both brothers took this in good heart. After Conway, Guy went to sea but later joined the British South African Police in Rhodesia before retiring in South Africa. Bruce (61-63) was a cadet in the Camp when uncle John was chief officer but by now Brookie must have been accomplished at dealing with family members as cadets. Bruce was senior cadet captain focsle in the summer term of 1963 before going to sea with the Royal Mail Line. He later joined the RAF becoming an instructor teaching pilots to fly.



L B-S (looks spookily like somneone else we all knew and loved)









Vice Admiral Sir David Brown KCB RN (1941-45)

A gifted and incisive RN staff officer who twice played a crucial background role in making the 1982 victory in the Falklands war possible.

Deep defence cuts made by the secretary of state Denis Healey, during Harold Wilson's Labour administrations of the late 1960s, had effectively confined the Royal Navy to the north Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Under Edward Heath's Conservative government of the early 1970s, Brown, as Director of Naval Operations and Trade, successfully argued the case for annual naval forays to such areas as the far east and the south Atlantic. This revival of the old custom of "showing the flag" would remind the world of Britain's abiding foreign interests, such as the Falkland Islands. It also meant that recruits could once again be attracted by the slogan, "Join the navy and see the world". The future Admiral of the Fleet Lord Lewin, who was chief of the defence staff at the time of the Falklands war, was then vice chief of naval staff, and pushed Brown's idea through the Ministry of Defence. A series of deployments a long way east (and south) of Suez ensued.

Ironically, it was under Margaret Thatcher's first administration that another massive defence cut - including slashing the fleet and removing the last vestige of an already exiguous presence in the south Atlantic - led the Argentinian military junta to think that the Falklands were theirs for the taking. Thatcher's defence secretary, John Nott, who had proposed severely reducing the fleet, including the sale of the two aircraft carriers then in service, believed that nothing could be done once the Argentinian army had taken the inhospitable archipelago 8,000 miles from Britain. Thatcher was furious but frustrated. There was much wringing of hands until Admiral Sir Henry Leach, the chief of naval staff, marched into parliament in his full uniform to seek out the ministerial conclave. Lewin was on an official visit to New Zealand and Leach was acting as his deputy. He persuaded Thatcher that the navy could dispatch a task force "by the weekend" to take back the Falklands. Three nuclear attack submarines set off at once, while the bulk of the surface fleet was sent to the south Atlantic, along with some 3,000 Royal Marines and paratroopers in commandeered liners. By this time, Rear Admiral Brown was in the key post of Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Operations), and it fell to him, alongside Lewin, to brief the daily meetings of the war cabinet in London on events in the south Atlantic. His briefings impressed Thatcher and all who heard them.

The son of a naval officer, Brown was born in London on 28 th November 1927, and joined Conway. He was at, or near, the top of his intake in several subjects, won prizes and was a cadet captain. Poor eyesight meant that it took him five attempts to get into the navy. His determination won him a place in the last week of the second world war, at the age of 17. He became a specialist in anti-submarine warfare and commanded eight vessels, from a gunboat, via minesweepers, to frigates and a frigate squadron, and finally took charge of one of the latest guided missile destroyers.

His inability to suffer fools gladly extended to the top of the service, and probably explained why such a gifted officer never made full admiral. He ran a tight ship, drove his juniors hard, dismissing several, but did not suck up to his superiors, as tough taskmasters sometimes do. He was once called aboard HMS Vanguard, Britain's last battleship and the flagship of Admiral Sir Philip Vian, the C-in-C, Home Fleet. Vian was furious because Brown's ship had failed to dip its colours in salute to him as it entered harbour. After being bawled out at considerable volume, Brown was cool enough to tell Vian that, as a ship's captain, he was entitled to be piped aboard the flagship - and had therefore not been properly saluted either.

Brown saw active service as an operations officer in the confrontation with Indonesia in the 1960s, and held several staff posts, including with Nato. His last position was as Flag Officer, Plymouth, before he retired in 1985 with a KCB. He was the last flag officer of the Royal Navy to have served afloat in a ship of the line. He became a company director and, for a time, was chairman of the governors at Broadmoor hospital. Always a keen fisherman, he gave a lot of time to angling organisations, as well as to Trinity House.


Lt Patrick S Campbell RN (1906-1911)

Lt Campbell spent four years and a term in Conway – a very long sojourn compared to the norm at the time of two years. The reasons for this long course are not known. In 1920 he was appointed Captain of the Terra Nova for Lachlan Cope’s Antarctic Expedition. The plan was to sail to Wellington, New Zealand and thence to Macquaric Island where a geological survey was planned. The main purpose was to undertake a five year circumnavigation of Antartica to complete a new detailed chart of the whole continent, and to “fill in the gaps” left by Scot, Shackleton and Mawson.


Admiral Sir Sackville Hamilton Carden KCMG RN (1868-70)

Sackville Carden joined the Royal Navy direct from Conway in 1870 and was the first Conway cadet to achieve flag rank. Prior to the first world war he saw active service in the Egyptian and Sudan campaigns of 1882-84 and the Benin expedition of 1897. He was promoted Captain in 1899 and Rear-Admiral in 1908. His first command was Nile’s sister ship London. At the outbreak of war he was moved from his position as superintendent of the Malta dockyard to command the Mediterranean fleet. Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, asked him to produce a strategy for the Dardanelles campaign. He proposed a three-stage operation: the bombardment of the Turkish forts protecting the Dardanelles, the clearing of the minefields and then the invasion fleet travelling up the Straits, through the Sea of Marmara to Constantinople. Carden argued that to be successful the operation would need 12 battleships, 3 battle-cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 16 destroyers, six submarines, 4 sea-planes and 12 minesweepers. Lord Kitchener and Churchill liked the plan and on their advice Prime Minister Asquith approved the operation. Carden commanded the naval forces and launched the first attack on 19th February 1915 which was successful but fell ill on 18th March and had to be replaced. His plan was amended to include major troop landings much further south, resulting in the disaster known as Gallipoli.

Resigning from the British Navy two years later with the rank of full Admiral, he lived in retirement until his death in 1930.


Commodore D A Casey Royal Naval Reserve (05-07) CBE DSO DSC ADC

Commodore D.A.Casey was born on 25.10.1889 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, his father was the bank manager for the Bank of Ireland in Clonmel and was eventually sent to work in Dublin where he then went to a local Dublin school, shortly after he was then sent to St.George's, Weybridge. At sixteen he joined the Merchant Training Ship HMS Conway. He passed out from there in second place. He joined the shipping firm Robinsons who specialised in trade with Chile. He joined the R.N.R. staying with it until 1968. When WW1 broke out he reported to the sbmarine base in Gosport. He stayed with the submarine service throughout WW1 either in submarines or as Navigator in the destroyer HMS Trident and HMS Ithuriel.

After the war he returned to the Royal Mail Lines, running from the UK to the East Coast of South America. In 1936 he became Marine Superintendent at Southampton running the whole of the sea going operation of the Royal Mail Lines. He had been promoted to Captain in the RNR, and when war was declared joined up full time. He was given the task of supervising all sea-going traffic in the Weymouth and Poole area. His biggest challenge was trying to arrange berths for all the ships that returned back from Dunkirk.

His expertise with his peacetime role was used with the convoys that were coming over, he was promoted to Ocean Commodore. In total he sailed with over 19 convoys mainly across the Atlantic, one being from Scotland to Murmansk. This involved 60 ships and they had to avoid air attacks from off the coast of Norway, and were also shadowed by a U boat, successful weaving among icebergs made it impossible for the U Boat to attack. He went to India on 1st December 1944 as Deputy Sea transport Delhi, he was released on 17th July 1947 as rank of Commodore.

He was later promoted to RNR ADC to King George VI. He had met the king before when as a Midshipman they both went on the submarine K3, the submarine on a test run ended up hitting the seabed and a number of the crew went flying, it took 20 minutes for the submarine to be freed and in dry dock gravel had to be dug out of the torpedo tubes. He retired from the Royal Mail Lines in 1949, with the rank of Commodore as Captain of their flagship "Andes". He had moved to the Isle of Wight in in 1942 and to Ryde in the 1950's. He died on the 20th July 1968

C.B.E. London Gazette 1.1.1942:  Awarded for co-ordinating port facilities in the Poole, Weymouth sea lanes at the time of Dunkirk.

D.S.O. London Gazette 21.7.1942:  Awarded for bravery, seamanship and resolution in bringing the convoy through to Murmansk in the face of relentless and determined attacks by enemy aircraft and U boats.

D.S.C. London Gazette 25.10.1916. In recognition of services in submarines in enemy waters.

D G Chapman (1922-24)

Represented Great Britain in the 4 by 400 m at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.


Michael Anthony Chodzko (1925-28) (Actor stage name Michael Anthony)

He was born in Jersey, the son of a master mariner and distant relative of Joseph Conrad. He joined Canadian Pacific from Conway and went on the stage in 1933. His acting career was broken by war service when he was twice mentioned in despatches and as a navigator with Everards from 1971-76. A strongly built man and 6 feet tall, he had arresting blue eyes. He was a successful stage and film actor and singer but pre-dated the television age. Noel Coward called him "Jolly Slyboots". He drew the attention of the Lord Chancellor for one of his performances. Looking fetching and holding a bunch of flowers, he began singing "Jolie garcon c'est moi, oui oui?." The Lord Chamberlain ruled that he could perform the piece only if ??he should remain still and make no movement on stage associated with what are commonly known as pansies?. This performance hardly matched his real life persona as he was married twice and had a daughter.


Vice Admiral Sir David Clutterbuck RN (1926-29)

Deputy Supreme Allied Commander North Atlantic in the 1950s. Past President of the HMS Newfoundland Association

Obituaries from The Times (click here) and The World Naval Ships Forum (click here)


"Hugh Conway" the pen name for Frederick John Fargus (1861-2)

An accident at Conway affected his hearing so he could not go to sea. He joined the family business in Bristol and began writing. His works included A Life's Idyll (1879) - a book of poetry, A Family Affair (novel), Living or Dead (novel), A Cardinal Sin (novel) and an opera Iduna. His best known work though was a novel Called Back published in 1883. It was an international best seller, described as " of the most remarkably successful books of the last 100 yearsŠ.". It was turned into a popular play and a music hall burlesque called The Scalded Back. A stained glass window in St Stephen's Church Bristol and a marble memorial (with a portrait of him in raised relief) in the west wall of the north transept of Bristol Cathedral commemorate his memory. A copy of the book, a profile and obituaries are at:


Captain W.H. Coombes (1907-09)

From the end of the war through to the General Strike in 1926 many deep-seated grievances in the Merchant Navy surfaced. Merchant Navy officers felt undervalued, underpaid and underrepresented. They formed their first union, the British Merchant Service League in 1919 but this failed in 1921. Captain Coombs left the sea in 1921 determined to improve their status and circumstances. He formed the Navigators and General Insurance Company to enable officers to insure themselves against the loss of their professional certificates following an official enquiry into the loss of a ship, a collision or other accident. They introduced Emergency Travel Indemnity Insurance to cover costs of emergency travel for husbands, wives and children. It was advertised in the Cadet and heartily endorsed. In 1925 he wrote and paid for the publication of a book, The Nation’s Keymen in which he argued the case for the professional status and role of the Merchant Navy officer.

His work inspired others and he was instrumental in the formation of The Honourable Company of Master Mariners. In in 1928 he was influential in the formation of the Officers’ (MN) Federation through which many British and Commonwealth officers’ associations worked together on key issues. In 1932 he formed The Watch Ashore to represent officers’ wives(see image andweb site here) .

Determined to make the Government improve the lot of officers, he organised a 23,000 signature petition which resulted in the creation of the Merchant Navy Officers’ Pension Fund and the Central Board for the Training of Officers for the Merchant Navy. In 1935 he formed the Navigators & Engineers Officers Union.



The Craven-Phillips Brothers

One gave his life in horrific circumstances for his country, the other was honoured by the King for his dedicated service.

Commander (E) George Hutchison Craven-Phillips RN (1925-27)

joined the RN in 1922. From 7th April 1926 to 21st March 1928 he served in HMS Enterprise when she took the Prince of Wales on a world tour. He was posted from Enterprise to Erebus the cadet training ship and turret drill ship at Devonport for duty with Special Entry cadets. He served with the Fleet Air Arm early in the war at H.M.S. Nasar (RNAS Sembawang) near Singapore. He is listed as Killed in Action in HM Motor Launch 433 on 15 February 1942 along with the CO and her crew, if not all hands. He was probably escaping from the advancing Japanese Army in ML433 and heading towards Batavia in company with other assorted craft. She was “Lost by gunfire from Japanese surface vessels off Banka Strait”.

Commander (E) Percival Hutchison Craven Phillips

Joined Conway in May 1919 (listed under Phillips) and left in December 1920 thereafter passing into the Royal Navy otherwise than by Direct Entry. He was awarded the OBE in the King’s Birthday Honours of 1944. It seems George and Percival were brothers - or perhaps cousins, both specialised in engineering in the regular Navy, becoming Commanders (E) RN, there is confusion about: their hyphenated name, the spelling of “Phillips” with one or two “l’s”. However their father was a Lt Col Phillps and their mother was a Craven-Phillips. There is a total lack of any further information about the survivor: where he was serving, for instance.






Commander George Witheridge Couch (1911-13)

He left Conway and joined the barque Inveramsay as midshipman but was called up in July 1914. He joined the Conway as second officer in 1926 and I believe became Chief Executive Officer in 1934 until the outbreak of WW2. He is beleived to be the youngest person ever to achieve an extra masters certificate - at the age of 23. That topped his Extra Passing Out Certificate. C R E Sergenat (years not known) gained his at the age of 23 but was slightly older than Couch. In the 1930s he commisioned the ship's carpenter to produce a model of the ship, similar to the model the carpenter had made in 1932 for the King.


E. Howard Davies (1933-1935) and ex Staff

Co-Designer of the GP 14 Sailing Dinghy, over 200,000 registered worldwide.


Vice Admiral Sir Archie Day RN KBE CBE CB DSO (1913-14)

He was born in Norwich in 1899 and joined the RN direct from Conway. During WWI he served in HMS Lowestoft, HMS Britannia, HMS Courageous and in the destroyer HMS Welland.

After the war he spent two terms at Cambridge University studying Hydrographic surveying. He was a made an hereditary Freeman of the City of Norwich in1920.From 1922 to 1939 he held an number od surveying appointments. He was promoted to Captain in 1940 becoming Assistant Hydrographer in 1943.

In 1949 he wa promoted to Rear Admiral and became Flag Officer Commanding British Naval Forces in Germany and Chief British Naval Representative in the Allied Control Commission.

Was Chief Hydrographer to the Navy from 1950 to 1955 so his name will be found on many old charts. After leaving the Navy he completed the Hydrographic Survey of Lake Nyasa in 1955-1956. He was Co ordinator of Operations for International Geophysical Year in 1957-1958, Acting Conservator, River Mersey 1961-1970, Chairman, Dover Harbour Board 1965. He died in 1970.


Edgar Claude Donovan Croix de Guerre (1900-01)

Frustrated by slow promotion (he had a Master's certidficate but only served as 2nd Mate) he left the sea and took a job in the Hull Labour Exchange. On the outbreak of WWI he joined the Public Schools batallion of the RNVR as an Ordinary Seaman wher he was assigned to the land based Hawke Batallion of the RN Division He was sent to Gallipoli and later transferred to RN Siege Guns Service in Flanders where he was killed during a fierce bombardmnent and awarded the Croix de Gueree posthumously. For a more detailed story of his life and an explanation of how he came to be represented in a stained glass window click here.


Vice Admiral T B Drew RN CB CVO OBE (1902-03)

Awarded OBE in WW1 for pursuit of Goeben and Breslau in the light cruiser Gloucester

Douglas V. Duff (1914-15)

Novelist and writer of Boys Adventure stories his brother Lord Duff owned the Vaynol Estates opposite Plas Newydd.

He was born in Rosario de Santa Fe in the Argentine in 1901. He entered Conway in 1914. At the age of 15 in the year 1916 he joined the Merchant Navy as a cadet for he was determined to go to war. He was sent to the “ Thracia” trading between Liverpool and the Mediterranean. "On March 27th, 1917 the Thracia was torpedoed in the Bay of Biscay. At the age of 15 and a half my father was sole survivor and, for a while, was posted as “killed in action”.'After recovering at the family home in Ireland he went back to sea. This time he served as a midshipman and, in an encounter with German U boats, he had his leg broken.

After recovering he went to sea again in June 1918 and was again torpedoed. He was still only 17 years old at the time. Next he was sent to the Black Sea and was involved in the rescue of many fugitives from the Bolshevists. This was a part of his life he never talked about except to say it was “indescribable”.

When shipwrecked from the Thracia he had made a vow to dedicate his life to God if he was saved. Thus he entered the noviciate of a teaching order of monks at Deeping St James in Lincolnshire. However, after 22 months he left, for he discovered that he had no vocation for that kind of life. In addition he found that he had no liking for the discipline and that he resented the vow of celibacy.

For a review of his life and books click here



After this he joined the Royal Irish Constabulary. As a keen young constable he tried to arrest Michael Collins in the main thoroughfare in Dublin. Collins told him not to be so stupid because he was surrounded by bodyguards who would kill him before he'd taken a step!

He left the RIC when it disbanded in 1922 and joined the Palestine Police. Eventually he made his way up through the ranks until he was in command of the police in Jerusalem .He met his first wife, Janet Wallace, who was a nursing sister in Nazareth. He first heard of her when she was reported as repelling an attack on her hospital with a broom !

After Palestine Douglas expected to get a post in the Jamaican Police but he had contracted malaria and was not fit for that sort of tropical duty. He needed to earn a living and so took up writing and journalism - at one time he was sent to interview Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopa.

As the Second World War inevitably approached he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Supplementary Reserve. This later became the RNVR. At first he took command of “Grey Mist” as part of the Dover Patrol. Next he was appointed to the Staff of Admiral Andrew Cunningham, Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet. Under Cunningham he carried out various duties, serving as Naval Officer in charge at Derna, and then as officer in command of the Western Desert Flotilla's Schooner he called "Eskimo Nell" breaking the blockade of Tobruk.

He was next put in command of HMS Stag (N) whose duties included netting the Suez Canal. In 1943 he was transferred home and appointed Staff Officer Operations (2) in Falmouth. From there he went to the Irregular Warfare Department of the Admiralty stationed at Teignmouth. He was demobilised in November 1945. He continued writing, broadcasting and television work until his death in 1978.

He wrote about 100 books in his lifetime as well as 2 autobiographies ‘ May the Winds Blow’ and ‘Bailing with a Teaspoon’ which are both still available on used book sites on the Internet. His The Sea Whelps is a fictionalised account of his time as a Conway cadet.


Iain Duncan Smith (1968-72)

Iain Duncan Smith was born in April 1954. He joined Conway in January 1968 when he was nearly 14. During his sojourn he was a Focsleman, a drummer in the band, captain of the cricket team in 1972, won "colours" in the first XV in the Autumn 1971 term and played for the hockey team. He won the Lawrence Holt prize for History in 1972 and left with 3 A levels and 8 O levels.

From Conway he went on to Perugia University in Italy, then to Sandhurst and so to the Scots Guards, with whom he served from 1975 to 81. He then retired from the Army and went into Industry. He was a Director of GEC/Marconi from 1981-88; a Director of Bellwinch Plc from 1988-89 and Publishing Director of Jane`s Information Group from 1989-92

He contested Bradford West in the 1987 General Election. He was Vice-Chairman of Fulham Conservative Association in 1991. The following year he was elected Member of Parliament for Chingford.He sat on the Standards in Public Life (Nolan) Select Committee and the Members' Interests Select Committee. He was a member of the Administration Select Committee and a former member of the Health Select Committee. From 1992-97 he was secretary of the Conservative Back Bench Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Committee and a member of the Conservative Back Bench Defence Committee. He was also on the Conservative Central Office General Election Campaign Team. Following boundary changes he was elected Member of Parliament for Chingford & Woodford Green in May 1997 with a majority of 5,714. From June 1997 he was Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security. In June 1999 he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Defence. He led the Conservative Party from 2001 to 2003. He is along standing member of the Cabinet. His website can be found here.


HMS Conway - Iain Duncan Smith at HMS Conway

Captain Sir Malcolm Edge KCVO (1947-49)

Former Deputy Master of Trinity House and Vice President of the Maritime Volunteeer Service. He represented the Honourable Company of Master Mariners at a sitting of a Parliamentary Committee enquiring into the disastrous oil spill caused by the
Amoco Cadiz grounding on the Britanny coast in 1978. He had several years command experience of very large tankers in BP and gave evidence about the manoeuvrability of VLCCs.


Captain Walter Elliot RN MP (1923-27))

Played rugby union for England. MP for Carshalton from February 6, 1961 - December 6, 1973. Raised a petition in the House of Commons to try and prevent the closure of the Conway when he was a Conservative MP.

Conway speech from Hansard


Frederick John Fargus (1861-2)

Hugh Conway was the pen-name of Frederick John Fargus (1861-62). An injury while in Conway meant he could not go to sea so he became an author instead. His third book, Called Back, was published in 1883 and described as a “sensational novel of murder, amnesia, Siberian exile, political assassination and detection”. It was an immediate huge best seller with over 350,000 copies sold, “one of the most remarkable successes of the last 100 years”. Reviewers anticipated that Hugh would displace Wilkie Collins, Stevenson and even Conan Doyle as Britain’s top writer.Unfortunately Hugh died young at the age of 37 so his potential was never realised.

Rear Admiral Douglas Henry Everett RN CB CBE MBE DSO (11-13)

During WWI he served in Zealandia and Resolution. He was Fleet Signal Officer Nelson, 2 Battle Sqn, Home Fleet 1932-1933, and attended the RN Staff College, Greenwich in 1934. He was Staff Officer (Operations) to Commander-in-Chief, China Station, HMS Kent from 1935 to 1937; then Executive Officer Ajax 1937-1940. During World War II he served at the battle of the River Plate. He was Chief Staff Officer to Force V, planning the invasion of Sicily 1942-1943; commanded Arbiter (aircraft carrier) in the Far East 1944-1945. After the war he was Commander-in-Chief, Hong Kong 1945-1947; commanded Duke Of York 1947-1949; Flag Officer, Ground Training 1949-1951; President of Admiralty Interview Board 1951-1952. He   retired in 1952.


Terence Fisher (Approx 1916-8)

He was one of Hammer Fims most prolific and successful horror fim directors - if you shuddered through it, he probably directed it. He directed most of their Dracula and Frankenstein films plus others on werewolves and Sherlock Holmes. There is an interesting profile here. Hisfirst film as adirector was The Wicked Lady in 1947, his last film Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell was released in 1974. He died in 1980.


Cmdr. Roy Francis RN (years not known)

Roy's personal passionate dream, hard work and sheer determinationled him to build the mile long 101⁄4" gauge beach railway at Wells. In 1979 he started to construct the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway on the four miles of old Great Eastern track bed from Wells to Walsingham. Work was completed in 1982 and on 6th April services began on schedule making it the longest 101⁄4" narrow gauge steam railway in the world.


Captain Richard Garstin OBE, CBE RIN (00/02)

Returned from the RIN Retired List in 1942 and became a Commodore of Ocean Convoys. Sadly, he was lost when SS Stentor, the Vice-Commodore’s ship in Convoy SL-125, was torpedoed by U-509 on 27the October 1942, and suffered many casualties. Strangely, his name is missing from the World War 2 Honours and Memorial Boards - although he appears on the Liverpool Naval Memorial.


Venerable Simon Golding (61-63)

Archdeacon for the Royal Navy and an Honorary Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen since March 17 1997. He was made an Honorary Canon of Gibraltar Cathedral in 1998. He was appointed Chaplain of the Fleet and Director General of the Naval Chaplaincy Service on June 1 2000.Born in Chelmsford on March 30 1946 his childhood was spent in India and he was educated in India and the United Kingdom. He attended St Xavier's School, Jaipur - the Junior School, Felsted - the Bishop's School, Poona and HMS Conway before starting a careeer at sea with BI.


Major Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams GCMG CB (1880-83)

This cadet went on to prove that Old Conways could be successful soldiers and diplomats. After his period in the Ship he went to sea in the clipper Knight of Snowdon. In 1878, after five years at sea, he came ashore and joined the army as a Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Regiment. His life became a mirror of empire. In 1884 he was in the Border Police in Bechuanaland and later commanded the British garrison there. In 1893 he was caught up in the conflict with the Matabele and commanded the British forces advance from Bulawayo. He fought and beat the Matabele army at the battle of Sengazi. Joining forces with two other columns, the Matabele were finally defeated and he became Resident Commissioner in Bechuanaland. During the Boer War he commanded the Town Guard in Mafeking throughout the siege. He was nearly killed by shelling twice and one occasion he was buried in the rubble of his office when a shell burst overhead. After the war he became Governor of the Orange River Colony. In 1911 he was made High Commissioner for Cyprus and Governor of Queensland (1915-1920). He laid the foundation stone for Brisbane City Hall. He service was rewarded with the KCMG, CMG and CB. He was returning to the UK from Queensland when he died of pneumonia in Cape Town on April 12th 1920.

He was the first President of the Conway Club (1910-20) - an absentee landlord for five of those years!


Vic Green (1940-42ish)

Vic entered Conway from the Liverpool Institute about 1940 and on leaving joined the Navy as a Midshipman RNR. He was a notable character with a strong Liverpool accent and much respected by his contemporaries as a colourful "hard man. What follows is hearsay:"During the Battle of North Cape in December 1943 resulting in the sinking of Scharnhorst, Vic Green's action station was in the TS (Transmitting Station). This was the 'brain' behind the gunnery control system where all intelligence was fed: own course and speed, enemy bearing and range, etc. - all was passed through a large hand-cranked mechanical calculator to determine the settings for the guns. Situated deep in the bowels of the ship. the TS was manned in Sheffield, as in many ships at that time, by members of the Royal Marine Band. It was claustrophobic and the noise of battle pushed a young bandsman over the edge and he began to panic. Vic dealt with him by means of "physical restraint and verbal persuasion" and calm was restored to this vital element of Sheffield's capabilities. For his rapid reaction, resourcefulness and determination, Midshipman Vic Green was officially Mentioned in Dispatches and thereafter entitled to wear an oak leaf cluster on his war medal.   As Doug tells the story, Vic's inate ability with his fists saved the day!"


Mr John Gurdon (1876-78)

He was described in 1912 as the man with a triple personality “Sailor, City Man & Poet”. In his years at sea after Conway he circumnavigated the world four times rising to be Chief Mate in sail. He came ashore to become the private secretary to the Governor of the Bahamas, Sir Ambrose Shea. After that post he managed a sisal farm on the island before returning to the UK to live at Richmond. He became the Director of well known and successful rubber company. He also started writing poetry and his first work was a tragedy called Erinna. He published at least two more anthologies of poems “Dramatic Lyrics” and later ”Enchantments” of which the Director of the Poetry Society said “ Mr Gurdon’s lyrics show scholarship, a fine ear for harmonics and luxuriant fancy. It is the work of a man who has lived before he has written”. Other critics praised him highly claiming he was “as good as Swinburne”.


Bermuda Flag

Commodore Herbert J Haddock, CB, RD, RNR (1875-77)

Commodore Herbert James Haddock was born in 27th January 1861 [copy Birth Certificate – March quarter Rugby 6d 438] at 29 Warwick Street, Rugby, Warwickshire.

He was in fact, the first Captain of the Titanic. He commanded her in Belfast before her delivery to the White Star Line. White Star decided at the last moment, on April 1 1912, to make Captain Edward John Smith master for her first voyage - perhaps because it would be Smith's last cruise. Haddock took command of the Olympic from Smith (until 1915) and was a few days behind her when the Titanic went down. Captain Haddock testified to the American inquiry and later also attended the British Board of Trade inquiry. He was also master of Cedric in 1903 and Oceanic from 1907

He was one of the first boys to be appointed Midshipman RNR. In 1888 he was serving temporarily in HMS Edinburgh at Malta.

The White Star Line nearly suffered another disaster seven weeks after the Titanic went down when Haddock, though faulty navigation, narrowly avoided running the Olympic onto rocks near Lands End. For the next few voyages he was closely monitored by a White Star Line official. Haddock was in command of the Olympic during her failed effort to rescue HMS Audacious in October 1912. Olympic was then laid up prior to conversion to a troopship, and the Admiralty placed Haddock in charge of a dummy fleet of merchant ships, stationed at Belfast. According to Mills' HMHS Britannic: The Last Titan, Harold Sanderson tried to have Haddock re-assigned in 1915, to command the Britannic when she entered service as a hospital ship, but could not succeed in convincing the Admiralty to release Haddock from his Belfast duties.

Haddock was thought not to have rejoined White Star after WWI but his obituary in The Cadet records that he was Commodore of White Star Line at some point. He was awarded the CB in 1902, and made ADC to HM The King in 1915. He retired 1931 age 70. He died in October 1946 aged 85 and is buried in St Mary Extra Cemetery, Portsmouth Rd, Sholing, Southampton - Plot D030/016.

His younger brother James Rudolf – also attended Conway July 1879 to July 1880, brother Sidney George went to HMS Marlborough at Portsmouth, and there was a third brother John Cecil.

My thanks to Chris Bussell of Southampton for most of the above information. He is researching Haddock's life so if you have any more information please email Chris at


Captain Henry Broderick Harvey (1894-5)

He trained as Cadet aged 14 iin Conway, before serving in his first ship, the Liverpool barque Red Gauntlet; whilst serving as Chief Officer in the Union - Castle Line Steamer Crawford Castle, Harvey played a leading role in a daring rescue of S.S. Willy

At 8.15am, Sunday 1.10.1911, the steamship Willy (862 tons), of the Coaling Agency of W.H. Berghuys of Amsterdam, was observed flying signals of distress in the North Sea. The ship bound from Newcastle to Amsterdam had sprung a leak due to the horrendous conditions, apparent for the last 24 hours.

The Cawdor Castle (Captain E.W. Day), which had set sail that morning, came upon the Willy in her state of distress, and despite the hurricane like conditions that were raging, determined to send a lifeboat out to her. At 10.50am the lifeboat was launched, under the command of Harvey, crewed by six Able Seamen (E. Jones (Quartermaster); J. Avis; W. Yapp; C. Anderson; M. McDonald and E. Franklin), 'With characteristic British courage.....they stuck manfully to their oars, and gradually lessened the distance between them and the disabled steamer'.

The perilous seas continued to play havoc with the rescue attempt. Firstly a Dutch crewman, aware of how grim the situation was, dived overboard, only to be swept further away, causing immense difficulties for the lifeboat to rescue him; and shortly following his pick up, two men attempting to get a ladder to the lifeboat fell overboard. Captain Day brought the Cawdor Castle to windward of the lifeboat, and sheltered it from the wind, thus finally enabling the craft to reach the stricken Dutchmen.

Harvey loaded ten of the crew, and made with his load back to the Cawdor Castle. However having struggled to make a length away from the Willy, shouts came across to him that she was sinking fast and that unless he came back for the rest of the crew, then they would surely go down with her. Thus loaded with the last six Dutch crew members the lifeboat finally started to return to its mother ship. Given the conditions and the fact that she was so heavily laden it was deemed too dangerous to attempt to turn the craft round, thus the oarsmen had the particularly arduous task of having to back water.

Within 15 minutes of rescuing the crew, at 12.50pm, the Willy heeled over and sank head first into the North Sea, 'At 1.15pm the lifeboat reached the ship, badly damaged and half full of water, with crew and survivors completely exhausted.....I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of the Chief Officer and the lifeboat's crew, who showed great gallantry." (Newspaper Cutting, Interview with Captain E.W. Day refers). The battle against the waves had lasted two and a half hours, and the badly damaged lifeboat had to be abandoned. On arrival in Cape Town, the Mayor of the City (Sir F. Smith), presented the crew with their Lloyd's medals and certificates; Day and Harvey subsequently recieved the Dutch gold medals upon their return to England. Harvey recieved Lloyd's Silver medal for Saving Life at Sea, 36mm. (H.B. Harvey, Chief Officer, S.S."Cawdor Castle" 1st October 1911.), the Netherlands, Gold Medal for Saving Life, 60mm. x 32mm., reverse impressed 'H.B. Harvey', in J.M.J. Van Wielik, Haag, case of issue, with bestowal document dated 24.12.1912 and the Netherlands, South Holland Lifeboat Institution of Rotterdam's Gold medal, 44mm., reverse engraved 'H.B. Harvey 1911'

Early in the Great War, Harvey was appointed to his first command, the S.S. Hova (afterwards re-named the Crawford Castle), 'When the Hova was off Cape Sidero, Crete, on one voyage, carrying 1,000 tons of coal for the British Fleet in the Persian Gulf, she was attacked by a German submarine. Fortunately, the torpedo was seen in time, and, thanks to smart handling by Captain Harvey, the ship was so manoeuvred that the torpedo missed the stern by six feet. Captain Harvey's next encounter with a U-boat had more serious results, for his ship, the Leasowe Castle, was struck by a torpedo which carried away the rudder. Fortunately, however, the propellers were not harmed, and the vessel eventually reached Gibraltar.' (The Journal of Commerce & Shipping Telegraph, 28.7.1934, refers).

Captain H.B. Harvey served in 39 vessels during his 36 years service with the Union-Castle Line, and retired in 1934 after 50 eventful years at sea.






Captain Sir Edward James Headlam RIN Kt, CSI CMG DSO

He was of Conway's many members of the Royal Indian Marine. There is a detialed family web-site at


Captain Eric Hewitt RD RNR (1919-21)

Last Captain of a Royal Navy floating Ship Of The Line (1949 - 1953) and of the Conway in 1949 - 1968).

Eric Hewitt completed his Conway training in April 1921, achieving the rare accolade of a Double Extra Passing Out Certificate. Accepted into the RNR he spent six months with the fleet before completing his Merchant Navy apprenticeship with Glen Line. He passed his second mates certificate in June 1924 and moved to Royal Mail Lines. He obtained his first mates certificate in 1927 just before his 23rd birthday and his masters in 1930. He married Marjorie the same year. He was called up to the RNR in 1939 and served with distinction throughout the war much of the time on convoy and anti-submarine duties in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. He was mentioned in despatches for his role in protecting a convoy under extremely heavy air attack. He took part in the invasion of Sicily in 1943 and the Normandy landings. In 1945 he was in Singapore controlling the sea transport arrangements of the whole Far East. In May 1947 Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten brought him Delhi to supervise the withdrawal by sea of British forces from India. He was confirmed in the rank of Captain RNR at the early age of 40. He became Conway’s Staff Captain in March 1948 and Captain Superintendent in 1949. He established Conway’s new routine on shore and afloat at Plas Newydd, and saw her through the dreadful loss of the Ship in 1953. He masterminded the next term in tents and the creation of the hutted camp. When the New Block finally opened in 1964 after ten years of struggle, he had achieved a minor miracle. Conway had been rehoused in modern buildings, with extensive laboratory and classroom accommodation and excellent playing fields. He worked tirelessly with the Headmaster and Committee to extend and improve technical and academic training so Conway supported the shipping industry’s needs. He was ably assisted by his wife ‘Fanny’, indeed TEW Browne believed it was her determination and support that motivated him through Conways’s most difficult times. The Cadet magazine acknowledged “their steadfast championing of Conway’s cause over 20 eventful years and the ever-constant service so freely given to the Ship we all hold we all hold in such affection.” He was not always popular with cadets, as his early nickname of ‘von Hewitt’ demonstrates, but every cadet from 1949 to 1968 will acknowledge his positive influence over their lives. If the Ship was our old wooden mother he was our stern father. In 1968 they retired to Penmon overlooking the strait and he became a part time coastguard. Fanny died in 1984. Eric died on 13th December 1995, aged 91, as a result of inhaling fumes from a fire at his home. Nearly four hundred people attended his Memorial Service.


Sir Bushby Hewson (1917-19)

High Court Judge. Edited British Shipping Laws Volume2 (Carver's Carriage by Sea, Volume 1)


Capt W B Huddleston RIM (1880-82)

In 1892 he was awarded the Stanhope Gold Medal through the Royal Humae Society (RHS). It was awarded at the end of every year for the most conspicuous act out of all those receiving RHS awards in the year. 1890 his vessel the RIM survey steamer Investigator was in the Bay of Bengal when the Gunner, having just hooked a large shark, fell over board into shark infested waters. Without hesitation Huddleston jumped into the water to rescue him knowing that the Gunner could not swim. Only after some struggle to get the Gunner back on board, and with the sharks turning their attention to him, did Huddleston think of his own safety and scramble out of the water.


Captain / Brigadier General, Robert Herbert Wilfred Hughes CB CSI CMG DSO RD  (1885-6)

Robert Hughes was born in 1872 in West Derby, Liverpool.  He married Kathleen Chapman from Louth, Lincolnshire.  R. Hughes served in the Merchant Service between 1887 and 1899.  In 1903 he joined the Colonial Civil Service Marine Department and later discovered the important deep water harbour Port Harcourt, in Nigeria.  He achieved distinction in piloting HMS Challanger during the bombardment of Duala.

he held the temporary rank of Brigadier General, Royal Engineers during the Gallipoli Campaign for which he was awarded the CMG in 1917.

He retired in 1930.  He served in South Africa, Cameroon and in the Colonial Civil Service Nigeria. Officer of Legion of Honour.  died on 23/03/36.

Blair Hughes-Stanton (approx. 1915-17)

A painter, wood engraver, draughtsman and teacher; born in London, son of painter Sir Herbert Hughes-Stanton, President of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours. He was educated at Colet Court and joined Conway at thirteen. Unable to master spelling and punctuation and after failing to get into the Royal Navy, he studied art . First at the Byam Shaw School ( 1919-22 ), then the Leon Underwood School of Painting and Sculpture , the Royal Academy School (1922-2 5 ) and later full time (1923-25). At Underwood's school he met Henry Moore and they formed a group including Eileen Agar, Gertrude Hermes and Ralph Chubb. In 1925 the group broke away from the Society of Wood Engravers and formed the English Wood Engravers Society. Hughes-Stanton married Gertrude Hermes in 1926. He succeeded John Maynard as head of the Gregynog Press in 1931 and with his second wife, Ida Graves, established the Gemini Press. He won an international prize for engraving at the Venice Biennale in 1938. During the war he worked in camouflage with the Royal Engineers, afterwards he was sent to Greece (he was captured, became a POW and was shot in the face). After the war, commissions for private press books dried up and his war wound seriously affected his three dimensional vision. He found work teaching at Westminster School of Art 1947-8 and from 1948 Hughes-Stanton was a lecturer in printmaking and drawing at the Society of Wood Engravers, St. Martins and The Central School of Art. He latterly lived in Manningtree, Essex. His wood engravings were the subject of a book, The Wood Engravings of Blair Hughes-Stanton by his wife Penelope.


Captain George Hunt DSO DSC RAN (1930-32)

George was born in Scotland in July 1916, At the age of 14 he commenced  training at HMS Conway. During the period 1930 he served variously with the Royal Navy in cruisers and merchant shipping companies such as The Blue Funnel Line as a junior officer. 1937 saw him serving in a cruiser with the RN. As part of the preparation for war in 1938 he was selected along with 100 others to serve full time with the RN.In 1939 he was a survivor from the submarine Unity when she was rammed and sunk in the North Sea. In 1940 he was appointed second in command of HM Submarine Proteus. During the period 1940/41 Proteus sank 12 ships and eventually the submarine "retired hurt" after a collision with an Italian destroyer. In 1942 he qualified for Command and later that year took Command of HMS Ultor until the end of 1944. During that period Captain Hunt sank 28 ships, was awarded 2 DSOs, 2 DSCs and was Mentioned in Despatches twice. George Hunt rose to the rank of Commodore and eventually retired in 1960 when he joined the RAN Emergency List at the rank of Captain. During his final years in the RN he served as "Teacher" in the Submarine Service which meant he had the responsibility for training and qualifying submarine Commanding Officers. Other appointments included "In Command" of a Destroyer and the 7th Frigate Squadron an appointment in the NATO Area, Chief of Staff to Flag Officer Submarines and finally Senior Naval Officer West Indies as a Commodore (One star).

He settled in Queensland in 1963 joining the RANEM as a Captain. Since coming to Queensland he served with the Company of Master Mariners, and has been President of the United Services Institute. George was elected Patron of the Submarine Association of Queensland in 1990.


Commodore Henry Douglas King PC CB CBE DSO VD RNVR MP (1891-93)

After leaving Conway he joined the Drake Batallion of the Royal Naval Division and fought at Cape Helles in the Dardenelles campaign for which he was awarded the DSO. He then fought with the French in Flanders for which he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. After the war he became MP for N Norfolk and S Paddington. He was Financial Secretary to the War Office, Secretary to the Mines Department of the Board Of Trade. In 1910 he bought an old vicarage in Upper Sheringham, now a hotel, which was his home until he died in 1930 as a result of an accident at sea off Cornwall.

Captain Eustace Oliver Knowles, OBE, RE (previously RIM) (08-09)

He was awarded the OBE in 1918 “for distinguished services in connection with Military Operations in Mesopotomia” and is buried in Basra War Cemetery. Aged 27 when he died in 1920.

Cdr John D E Lewis RD RNR (1930-33)

The Naval Historical Collectors & Research Association have launched an annual award in memory of the late Admiral Lord Lewin for the best publication by a member. The first award was won by John Lewis for his article 'Under Two Ensigns Or Every Dog Has His Day'.


Lieutenant Arthur Glynne Lewis (1895-97).

Arthur was the eldest son of Sir Henry and Lady Lewis, of Pendyffryn, Upper Bangor. He was educated at Friars School, Bangor, Bala Grammar School and underwent a course of training in HMS Conway. His career in the Merchant Service, in which he obtained his Master's Certificate was full of incidents. He was wrecked three times, was present at the great fire at Baltimore, and took part in the Spanish Phillipino War, and the South African War. On the outbreak of the Great War he joined the Seinde Cavalry Regiment and went to India in November 1914. He later returned to France with 30th Lancers and was part of the Indian Expeditionary Force in August 1915. In 1916 he returned to India in 1916 and was at Baghdad in March 1917, and was wounded in May, and died on JuIy 10th the same year.


Captain John Thurston Ling OBE (years not known)

SS Adviser (Charente Shipping Co) was torpedoed by U-178 after the ship had left Durban en route to Trinidad at 01.45 on 15th November 1942, having been stalked since sailing at mid-day the previous day. She was sailing independently carrying a cargo of graphite. Ling was master and his citation records that:

“The ship was torpedoed in darkness. She was badly damaged, and the Master and his crew took to the boats and stood-by some distance away. Having assured the safety of his crew, the Master endeavoured to re-board the vessel. At the second attempt he was successful. As the ship was still in a dangerous condition the Master returned to the boats. Several hours later however, he re-boarded with all hands. The following morning two tugs arrived and, taking the vessel in tow, brought her safely to port in spite of bad weather.

The Master displayed outstanding coolness and courage. After he had ensured the safety of his crew he was the first to re-board the ship, in spite of the dangerous conditions. It was due to his determined efforts that the damaged-vessel was brought to safety. The Third Engineer Officer displayed devotion to duty of a high order. When the ship was re-boarded, he went into the flooded engine-room and, under the most hazardous conditions, raised steam. This considerably assisted the tugs in working the ship astern for three days in heavy weather until port was reached. His courageous efforts undoubtedly contributed largely to the saving of the vessel."


Rowland Owen Lloyd (1893-5)

He was awarded Square Rigged Certificate of Second mate at the age of 19. In 1916 he received the Order of St Stanislaus of the 3rd degree for saving many ships loaded with amunitions from a fire whilst iced up at Alexandrovsk, serving as Lieut. R.N.R. on the H.M.S. Albermarle. In 1919 he was awarded an O.B.E. for his bravery in saving many lives after the Irish Mail boat the Leinster was torpedoed in the turbulent Irish sea on 10th October 1918, whilst Captain of the Torpedo-Boat Destroyer Mallard.


Captain Cyril Harrington Grier Loriard MC (Conway sometime between 1900 and 1910).

He Served in the British Army in WWI but was already a Ships Captain before he went to the Army and was then commander of a range of large passenger / trading ships operating between Australia, New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. His MC was awared "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when directing traffic under heavy shellfire. His great coolness and judgement had a marked influence at a time when excitement would have added to the danger and difficulties caused by heavy congestion on a narrow road."


Captain Edward Robert McKinstry CBE RD RNR (1876-78)

Captain McKinstry died in April 1943. He had been in Conway under Captain Franklin joining the first term in Nile. “During my two years I was off the good conduct list for six months. No shore leave, had to man all liberty boats, pump water into and out of the bilges, and pump fresh water into the tanks.” As a senior cadet he was promoted cadet captain but still fell foul of the system “I was often Captain of the Slack Party and that was the hardest job of the lot, rounding the others up and clapping them on the pumps but the greatest difficulty was keeping them there.” Although he fell foul of Conway rules throughout his course Conway developed the man. Leaving Conway in July 1878 he was also appointed midshipman RNR and joined the British Ship Owners Company and his first passage was in British Peer, a full rigged sailing ship. Later he transferred to British Merchant commanded by another Old Conway Captain Moloney. In June 1885 he passed his Extra Master’s exam at the very young age of 24, the first man to do so under new national rules that allowed the certificate without two years experience in command. He moved to the Pacific Steam Navigation Company and then White Star Line as fourth officer of Adriatic a crack Atlantic liner. White Star took only the best. He rose fast and by 1889 was first officer in Teutonic, a ship that could be quickly converted to a 12 gun light cruiser. Half the crew had to be Royal Navy reservists so his RNR appointment from Conway was a great help. Participating in naval manoeuvres at Spithead he jumped overboard and rescued a man who had fallen overboard; the fourth time he had rescued someone from the sea. In 1892 he was in command of Teutonic at the age of 31. He also commanded White Star’s famous Britannic and Germanic. It was rumoured in Conway that whilst ashore he had met a young lady and told that he would soon be a Captain and that when he was, he would return and marry her. True to his word when he was Captain he returned and married her. They set up home near the mouth of the Mersey. Whenever his ship arrived home he blew certain blasts on his siren to announce his return! “One might say of this active splendid man that he had every fine quality that fits a sailor.”


David Blagdon Marks (known post Conway as David Blagdon) (1961-62)

After Conway he became an actor renaming himself David Blagden (his middle name) as there was already a David Marks actor. He was the sailing advisor to the film "Swallows and Amazons" and is credited as playing the part of a policemen in the same film.he also played in a number of other suporting roles. He was a yachting TV presenter and an accomplished yachtsman, the most notable feature of his yachting career was in the Very Willing Griffin. The smallest boat ever to comepete in Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race (in 1972). His diminutive Hunter 19 "Very Willing Griffin" survived many Atlantic storms and finished the race. His book "Very Willing Griffin" describes his life.


A hunter 19

Commodore Geoffery T Marr DSC RD RNR (1922-24)

Last person to command both the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.



Commodore William Marshall CB DSO and Bar  RD RNR (1889-91)

Commodore Marshall was born on April 10, 1873, at Bolton, England. He
served his apprenticeship in the White Star sailing vessels after being
in the cadet ship Conway for two years. After being third and second
mates of the clipper Copley, be obtained his extra certificate as a
master and entered the company's steamship service as fourth officer of
the Cevic, which finally became his first command. He was widely known to transatlantic travelers, he had commanded all of the
important White Star liners, including the Teutonic, Megantic, Cedric, Olympic and Majestic. He was also the first man to hold the apointment of Commodore RNR. He was an ADC to the King in 1926. There is an obituray here

John Masefield OM D Litt LL.D Litt D (1891-94)

John was born in Ledbury, Herefordshire where the family solicitor's business continues to this day. He was orphaned young and brought up by an aunt. It was aboard the Conway that Masefield's love for story telling grew. While in the ship, he listened to the stories told about sea lore. He continued to read, and felt that he was to become a writer and storyteller himself. After Conway he went to sea but to his great regret had to come ashore – he suffered extreme seasickness. His poem Roadways explains his calling for the sea.

After many years in New York he returned to the UK. He served as a medical orderly in the Great War even though old enough to be exempt from military service. He became Poet Laureate in May 1930 and was judged to be "everyone's poet and a poet's poet". He wrote many poems about the sea and a considerable number of verses especially for the Conway including The Gulls, for the masting of the new figurehead in 1938 and to commemorate the centenary in 1959. The latter words were inscribed on the lintel of the main entrance to the New Block. He wrote of his Conway years in his book New Chum published in the UK and USA (see Bibliography); and was her official historian producing two editions of The Conway in 1933 and 1953. He was President of the Conway Club 1930 – 34. He is interred in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Poet Laureate:

The Masefield Society, The Frith, Ledbury, Herefordshire, HR8 1LW, UK. They hold a Masefield festival in the first week of June in Ledbury, his birth place.


Lt Frank Henry Mason RNVR RBA RI (1888-90)

Born at Seaton Carew, County Durham in October 1876. It was during his time as an engineer at sea after Conway that he discovered his interest in painting. In order to devote more time to this subject he returned to shore and, whilst engaged in engineering and shipbuilding at Leeds and Hartlepool, he studied under Albert Strange at the Scarborough School of Art. He travelled abroad extensively and painted many subjects in watercolour. He was elected a Member of RBA in 1904 RI in 1929. Exhibited at the RA from 1900 and achieved a prolific output of artwork for the railways, designing many posters for the LNER, Great Western and NER railways.. He became an official war artist during the First World War whilst serving as a Lieutenant in the RNVR in th North Sea. In the latter part of 1915, Mason commanded Motor Launch 33 in the Suez Canal zone. Between the wars he painted many commissions for shipping company especially Everards. During the Second World War he worked for the Directorate of Camouflage, Naval Division. He was a prolific marine painter and his love of the sea is reflected in both his oils and watercolours. He specialised in subjects as diverse as commercial and naval vessels throughout the world to yachting regattas. Wrote the book Water Colour Painting with Fred Taylor. He continued to live in Scarborough and London, and painted until his death in 1965.


Rear Admiral RW Mayo RN CB CBE (1923-25)

When he laft Conway Rear-Admiral Robin William Mayo failed to get into Dartmouth and spent his first 12 years at sea with the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company before joining the Navy in the late 1930s.

The son of a farmer, Robert was born at Charminster, Dorset, on February 9 1909 and educated at Weymouth College and the training ship HMS Conway on the Mersey. He first served in Royal Mail ships, carrying passengers and cargo between Europe and the Americas.

In 1936 he had gained his master's ticket, and was loading chilled beef for Britain when he received a signal from the Admiralty seeking volunteers for the Royal Navy. Mayo had undergone training as a midshipman in the Royal Naval Reserve in the battleship Ramillies and the destroyer Venturous, and had qualified in submarines, but he was considered too old for submarine service by 1938, and had to specialise in anti-submarine warfare.

On the outbreak of war he was in the submarine depot ship Medway in Hong Kong, where he spent a year laying submarine detection equipment; he also managed a hole in one at the Royal Hong Kong Golf club.

He then became an anti-submarine training officer in Scotland before receiving command of the sloop Aberdeen and seven ships of the 56th Escort Group, based at Freetown, Sierra Leone. It was there that one of his former ships, the 22,000-ton armed merchant cruiser Asturias, had been torpedoed and beached. In June 1945 Mayo's force escorted the refloated Asturias to Gibraltar, with orders not to drop depth charges in case the underwater explosions weakened her bulkheads and sank her.

In 1947-48 Mayo commanded the destroyer Chevron on the Palestine Patrol, intercepting illegal Jewish immigrants being landed in Israel. In one incident Chevron and two other warships boxed in the refugee ship Abril, boarded her, and sent the immigrants to Cyprus for internment while they waited their turn in the quota queue. Mayo later covered the withdrawal of British forces from Palestine.

During the Korean War Mayo was executive officer of the carrier Theseus, in which he claimed to have introduced the custom of forming up the ship's company on the flight deck to spell out her name with their white caps.

He became the first captain-in-charge, Clyde, where he oversaw the safe arrival of the American nuclear Polaris submarines, and was appointed CBE.

In 1961 Mayo took over as captain of HMS St Angelo on Malta. On his watch the dockyard was handed over to private ownership, which led to his being stoned by protesters; but he had sufficient diplomatic skills to be asked to stay on as senior naval officer after the Flag Officer left.

Mayo's last appointment was in Norway, as naval deputy to the Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces, Northern Europe.

He retired with a CB in 1965. Determined not to take any paid employment after leaving the Navy, Mayo split his time between Campbeltown and Marlborough, until old age curtailed his travelling. He played a prominent role in local affairs and sailed his boat Askomel round Ireland. He also won prizes for the flowers, vegetables and shrubs from his large garden in Wiltshire. Robin Mayo was the oldest admiral when he died aged 98 on July 6 2007.


Above: Asturias Below Chevron

James Moody (1902-03)

14th April 1912 was The Night To Remember. The unsinkable Titanic struck an iceberg and sank with huge loss of life. The 6th Officer of the Titanic was James Moody six years out of Conway. Doubtless he would have been amazed at his good fortune to gain a berth in this, the most prestigious liner in a most prestigious shipping company. He was on watch on the bridge at the time of the sinking. He received the fateful message from the lookouts that there was an iceberg ahead - he had earlier told them to be on special lookout for them; and initiated the first avoiding action. When it became clear that Titanic would founder he was despatched with the other officers to organise the lifeboats. 5th officer Harold Godfrey Lowe had an encounter with Moody while they filled boats 14 and 16. Lowe remarked that he had seen five boats lowered, and one of the next two ought to have an officer. He suggested Moody as the junior officer should go but Moody answered, “You go. I will get in another boat” Lowe survived, Moody did not. Moody’s final actions were recalled by Geoffrey Marcus in The Maiden Voyage. “Chief Officer Wilde’s efforts to avert panic, maintain order and discipline, and get the last of the boats loaded and lowered to the water were valiantly supported by the youngest of the officers, James Moody. Long before this, the latter should by rights have gone away in one of the boats along with the other junior officers. But the seamen left on board were all too few as it was for the work that had to be done. Moody therefore stayed with the ship to the end and was the means of saving many a life that would otherwise have been lost.” After overseeing the safe loading of a number of lifeboats, he was last seen alone on deck.

There is a rose marble memorial plaque bearing James's name in the Church of St. Martin on the Hill, Scarborough. It bears the verse:

'Be Thou Faithful Unto Death and I Will Give to Thee a Crown of Life." There is also an altar set at St. Augustine's Church in Grimsby that is memory of James.

There is an additional monument to James Moody in Woodland cemetery, Scarborough, the existence of which was known only to a few members of the Moody family. The headstone refers to his role in the Titanic disaster, and commemorates Moody's sacrifice with the words 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' It was long forgotten but a recent article in the Yorkshire Post (see Bibliography) highlighted the poor condition of the memorial. It was badly overgrown and the commemorative cross had been broken off.

There is a very complete life on

Please also see the Friends of HMS Conway section for more information.

His family donated the Moody Cup, a sailing cup to be competed for annually by Conway cadets. It is on display in the Merseyside Maritime Museum at Liverpool. Old Conways keep his memory alive as once a year it is loaned to the Conway Club Sailing Association where it is awarded for the best sailing log of the year.


Sqn Ldr 'Boy' Mould RAF DFC (approx 1930)

Pilot who shot down the first first Luftwaffe aircraft to be shot down in France by Fighter Command in WWII. He was killed in action off Malta on 1 October 1941


Henry Edward Joseph Horatio Nelson (1909-11)

Became the 7th Earl Nelson of Trafalgar.


Lieutenant Philip Anthony Nedwill RN (approx. 1932-5)

Philip was the son of William and Elsie Nedwill of Cheadle Hulme. Philip was a regular naval officer and, when in training, had been Chief Cadet Captain, at HMS Conway. The London Gazette, 31 December 1940,  confirmed that Philip had been Mentioned in Despatches for earlier service. His promotion to Lieutenant with effect from 1 April 1940 was not confirmed until after his death. By 1941, Philip had trained as a pilot and was part of the Fleet Air Arm crew aboard HMS Sheffield. This was a cruiser involved in the sinking of the Bismarck on 27 May. During the day, it was accidentally attacked by friendly fire from aircraft flying from HMS Ark Royal. Only minor damage was suffered, but it is possible that Philip was injured and died two days later. He was 22. He is commemorated on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial.


Bruce Norton (years not known)

Chelmsford-born Bruce could trace his ancestry back to the time of William the Conqueror, his family coming from South Creak in Norfolk, and once while looking at the brasses in its parish church another visitor remarked that he could see a resemblance to a bearded knight. He was educated at St John's School, Billericay, and then he went to HMS Conway, where he trained to go to sea but decided to stay on land. He ran the Musketeers Wine Bar in Coggeshall before opening Langans Brasserie with Peter Langan. Standing over six feet tall and sporting a magnificent beard he was a gentle giant, one that customers - who invariably became good friends - would pour out their troubles to, and he never betrayed a confidence. Hailed as a "truly good man", few, however, knew the extent of his kindness for he was also a private and modest man. It was appropriate that he put his listening talents for the greater good, and was a telephone Samaritan, acting as chairman of its Colchester Branch. He was chairman of the Jean Norton Trust Fund for children with learning difficulties, particularly dyslexia.

However, he hankered for the sea, and ran his own small fleet of coasters between England and the continent, skippering often. He also converted two Thames barges into homes for his family. Bruce also ran a chandlers and boatyard at Heybridge Basin. He died in 2002.


Dennis Orme (1953-55)

At one time supreme leader of the Moonies in Britain. Dennis was married in one of the first mass marriages to include Western converts presided over by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, then a little-known Korean sect leader. Dennis later become the British director of the Unification Church, and the English tabloids were full of exposes about his "sinister sect.". He eventually became disillusioned and separated from Moon and the sect.


Admiral Sir Richard Peirse (1873-75)

Invented the Gunnery Control System for the Royal Navy used in all capital ships with large guns. he was C-in-C East Indies, during the First World War. Father of Air Chief Marshall Sir Richard Pierse (1905-07).


Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Edmund Charles Peirse KCB DSO AFC (1905-07)

Educated at Monkton Combe, Bath, HMS Conway and King's College, London. He was the son of Admiral Sir Richard Peirse (1873-75). He was commissioned into the RNR for service in the RFC Naval Wing and served with distinction as a pilot during the First World War, seeing much action along the Belgian coast, attacking submarine bases and winning the DSO in 1915. In 1919 he was awarded the AFC and a permanent commission as squadron leader in the RAF. He was later Deputy Director of Operations and Intelligence.

From 1930 to 1933 he was AOC British Forces in Palestine and Transjordan. He became Deputy Chief Of The Air Staff between 1933-1936; before promotion to VCAS (1937-1940). He was made an Air Vice-Marshal in 1936 and in the following year became Director of Operations and Intelligence at the Air Ministry, and then Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (from April 1940) this post was redesignated Vice-Chief of the Air Staff). In 1939, Peirse was made an additional member of the Air Council and promoted acting Air Marshal.

He was appointed C-in-C Bomber Command on 5 October 1940 to succeed Portal. During his tenure at High Wycombe he presided over the painful transition from an inadequately equipped bomber force into the heavy force that his successor Sir Arthur Harris would take forward to victory. He oversaw the introduction of the Stirling, Manchester and Halifax bombers. He was in command during a very difficult period for Bomber Command that saw heavy losses of aircrew and extreley inaccurate bombing. Air reconaissance showed that less than 3% of bombs were hitting thier targets. Indeeed 97% of bombs actually fell more than three miles from their targets. This was entirely outside Pierse's control as the technilogies available were incapable of the prcision bombing policy required. Late in 1941 the War Cabinet and senior air staff ordered Peirse to change to "area bombing' (aka "carpet bombing") with the express aim of targetting Germany's civilan population and infrastrurure in order to demoralise them. Pearce's  formal repsonse is not known but within a week of reciving the order to target civilians  he was transferred to command the allied air forces in South East Asia. He was replacxed by Bomber Harris who embraced the policy wholeheartedly.

He retired as an Air Marshal in 1945. Sir Richard Peirse died on 6 August 1970, aged seventy-seven.


Augustus Arthur Perceval (1868-70), (8th Earl Egmont, Viscount Perceval, Baron Arden, Lord Lovel & Holland)

He "enjoyed a varied and romantic career" before inhertintg his titles. He joined Conway from New Zealand and after training joined the White Star Line. After qualifying as second mate he sailed before the mast as an ordinary seaman. In 1881 he joined the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, and in 1887 he left them and took up post as "Keeper of Chelsea Town Hall". He was described as "amiable with a tendancy to put on flesh". However when one meeting in the hall became rowdy he turned a fire hose on innocent and guilty alike. He cleared the hall but lost his job (room shown in image). A rich aunt gave him £8,000 to help him out but he spent most of it on a banquet for the poor of the parish. He inherited his titles in 1897, alongt with an estate in ireland and Cowdray Park in Sussex.

Admiral Sir Mark C T Pizey CBE CB DSO DL (1912-15)

He was one of the Navy's finest destroyer Captains. He was mentioned twice in despatches in 1941 and was awarded a DSO in 1942. That year he was awarded as bar to  his DSO. In 1951 he was appointed to be C-in-C of the Royal Indian Navy and Chairman of the Indian Chiefs Of Staff. IN 1953 he was appointed KBE and in 1957 GBE.His last appointment with the RN was as C-in-C Plymouth.He was made an honorary Vice President of The Conway Club in 1993 but died shortly threafter. He presented the gavel and base used by the Club President.


Rear Admiral Neil E. Rankin CB JP CBE (1955-58)

Born 24 December 1940 and raised in East Lothian, joined the Britannia Royal Naval College in 1959, having previously been educated at Melville College, Clifton Hall, North Berwick High School and HMS Conway. Qualified both fixed and rotary wing pilot, a varied career ashore and afloat included being the first Fleet Air Arm pilot to fly the Harrier aircraft, commands of HMS Achilles, HMS Bacchante, HMS Andromeda, The Eighth Frigate Squadron and HMS Ark Royal. Retired as Flag Officer Portsmouth, having also held tri-Service command in the Falkland Islands as a Rear Admiral. Represented the Royal Navy at rugby, sailing and golf. Since leaving the service he was Chairman of Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd for three years between 1996 and 1999. He later became Chairman of Scottish Environment LINK. He is Chairman, The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust


Commander John L. Rigge RN OBE (1932-33)

He lived a most extraordinary 70 year life fighting in the Spanish Civil War and WWII. He was born in Shanghai and retired to Madrid in Spain. His life was so full of incident it is easier to point you to his own summary of his life for the Madrid Council Navy League which is here.


Gp Capt Basil Vernon Robinson DSO DFC RAF (28-29) 

He was 31 years old when he died after a short life, full of achievements which are nothing short of remarkable. His name appears on both World War 2 Honours and Memorial Boards.

After leaving Conway in 1929 we must assume he went to sea but later he joined the RAF as Acting Pilot Officer (Probationary). Obviously good at his job he eventually achieved the rank of Group Captain, RAF. His bravery and skills as a pilot, allied to leadership qualities in Bomber Command were soon recognised with the award of a Distinguished Flying Cross in 1941, a Distinguished Service Order in January 1942 (for his part in a raid on German naval units in Brest), and a Bar to his DFC in 1942; the citation is a story of breathtaking skill and courage:

“One night in November, 1942, during an operational sortie against Turin, this officer displayed great gallantry and determination when a dangerous fire broke out in his aircraft. Owing to the intensity of the flames and smoke which filled the cockpit, Wing Commander Robinson saw no hope of bringing the fire under control, and therefore ordered his crew to abandon the aircraft. While preparing to follow them himself, the fire abated. Undeterred by the difficulty of the flight which involved crossing the Alps and flying many hundreds of miles over enemy occupied territory, Wing Commander Robinson continued alone, completed the return journey, and landed his large 4-engined aircraft (a Halifax bomber - Ed) successfully in this country despite very adverse weather, accomplishing a most praiseworthy and skilful feat of airmanship.” . On 24th August 1943 Group

His luck finally ran out and he became one of the 3,700 Pathfinder air crew who lost their lives over Germany.

J C Kelly Rogers OBE FRAeS (1919-21)

In April 1939 April an Old Conway, Captain Kelly-Rogers, a pilot with Imperial Airways landed his flying boat Connemara on the Mersey and moored next to the Ship. He had reported a “slight engine default” off Holyhead and diverted to the safety of Liverpool where he was able to effect running repairs; a pint of oil from Conway. This remarkable co-incidence allowed a number of cadets to render assistance and be a given a conducted tour before he was able to safely continue his journey to Southampton. He had visited the Ship once before in 1932 in a Southampton flying boat. He was a pioneering flying boat pilot. In 1937 he flew the first Empire flying boat service down the River Nile to Kisumu on Lake Victoria. He then made the first night flight from Kisumu to Durban, South Africa. His most daring exploit was the rescue of the flying boat Corsair which had made a forced landing on the narrow River Dangu in the North East corner of the Belgian Congo. Corsair had been damaged in the landing and there was not enough clear water for a safe take off. Many attempts were abandoned but it was Kelly-Rogers who eventually got her airborne in 1940 and safely back to Juba.

After the visit to the Ship in April 1939 he piloted the first trans Atlantic flight by an Empire flying boat, the Capella. Then on 5th August 1939 he piloted the first ever trans Atlantic air mail flight. They had to carry so much fuel that passengers could not be carried and loads were limited to mail. The Foyles, Ireland to Botwood\, Newfoundland leg of the journey took over 19 hours!He piloted Winston Churchill across the Atlantic many times during the war. He finished his career in charge of Aer Lingus.


Sir Arthur Henry Rostron CBE KBE RD RNR (1885-6)

Arthur Rostron was born in Astley Bridge, Bolton, England to James and Nancy Rostron. Educated at the Bolton School from 1882 to 1883 and the Astley Bridge High School, Rostron joined Conway at the age of thirteen. After two years of training, he was apprenticed to the Waverley Line of Messrs, Williamson, Milligan. He joined Cunard in 1895.

He is best known as the Master of Carpathia and rescuer of nearly 700 Titanic survivors on the morning of April

15th 1912. As the result of his efforts to reach the Titanic before it sank, and his preparations for and conduct of the rescue of the survivors, Captain Rostron was lionized as a hero. Rostron testified about the events the night Titanic sank at both the U.S. Senate inquiry and the British Board of Trade's inquiry into the disaster. Titanic survivors, including Margaret Brown, presented Rostron with a silver cup and gold medal for his efforts the night Titanic sank. He went on to become Master of Mauretania and holder of the Blue Ribband for the west-east Atlantic crossing. After World War I was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He was Commodore of the Cunard fleet before retiring in 1931. There is a very complete life on (type Rostron in search box).

Captain Rostron is incorrectly stated in many books to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The error is found even in works by American authors, whom one hopes would be more familiar with their nation's highest military award. In fact, Rostron was not eligible for the award, nor had he done anything worthy of it. The Congressional Medal of Honor is reserved for persons of any nationality serving in the armed forces of the United States. What Captain Rostron received was a Congressional Gold Medal. This award dates from 1776 and the first recipient was George Washington. Each medal is awarded by its own individual Act of Congress and must be ratified by the President. Early medals were generally awarded for military valour, but after the establishment of the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1865, the award was extended to all manner of persons recognised as worthy. Recipients are as varied as Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Aaron Copland, Nelson Mandela and Frank Sinatra. The medals are of solid gold and bear on the obverse an image of the recipient. The reverse contains an image related to the action that merited the award. Rostron's medal was designed by John Flanagan, an American sculptor. Captain Rostron's award was proposed in the Senate on 28 May 1912 and was approved by a Joint Resolution of both Houses of Congress on 6 July. He was not the first British captain to be so honoured. That distinction belongs to Captain Creighton, who in 1866 was recognised for his role in the rescue of some 500 people from the wreck of the American steamer San Francisco. By the time he published his memoirs in 1931, Rostron was referring to his award as the Congressional Medal of Honour (sic) and this is probably the origin of the confusion. President William Taft presented Sir Arthur's Gold medal on March 1st 1913 at the White House. (Taft had lost the 1912 election but in those days the outgoing President did not retire until March 4th).

Captain Rostron was also awarded the American Cross of Honor. This decoration was given by the Society of the American Cross of Honor, an organisation devoted to recognising bravery in the saving of life in non-military situations. The medal was frequently awarded for rescues at sea. There was also British involvement and the gold version of the decoration was sometimes awarded on the recommendation of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. This is probably the reason for the medal being presented to Captain Rostron at the British Embassy, also on March 1st 1913. He was also awarded a medal from the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society and a gold medal from the Shipwreck Society of New York.


Vice Admiral Sir C. W. Rawson Royds RN (1890-92)

Scott's First Officer on the RMS Discovery during his first Antarctic Expedition. Described as “miraculously expert in the use of the microscope … a thorough seaman … musician … an agreeable and useful member of the expedition”Cape Royds is named after him and is also the location of Shakleton's hut. After a long Naval career he went on to become Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. There is a tablet to his memory in Brompton Parish Church.


Captain Henry Seymour-Biggs (approx 1900-1902)

Born in Bombay, India, Harry Biggs attended St. Mary's College there in 1888. At age 15 he ran away to sea and joined the cadet training ship Conway, maintained by ship-owners of the merchant navy in England. Later he took his apprenticeship on the sailing ship Bankhall. A sailor was paid one shilling, eight-pence a day then, and was responsible for loading and unloading all cargo by hand.

The captain of the Bankhall wrote to Harry Biggs' mother from Valparaiso on 29th November, 1895: "Dear Mrs. Biggs: I'm glad to inform you that Harry is turning out very well...and gets on very well with the other boys. he is a very willing obedient boy, not a lazy bone in him and likely to make a good sailor."

Harry Biggs sailed nine times around the Horn and on the Bankhall, eventually becoming her second mate. He obtained his Extra Master's Square-rigged Certificate in 1908, entitling him to command square-rigged sailing ships or steamers. Later he transferred to steamships and became third officer of the Lake Manitoba, the largest ship of the Beaver Line, which was bought out by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

During the Boer War, at the Battle of Majuba Hill, midshipman Seymour-Biggs, with sailors and a gunnery officer, rolled some guns up a strategic slope. A burst of gunfire killed the gunnery officer before they could get set up. As there was now no commissioned officer to order a return of fire, they had to withdraw.

On another occasion, a sailor caught his arm in a winch. There wasn't a medical officer present, so Biggs had to cauterise the wound with boiling tar.

In World War 1 he was commissioned to HMS Dwarf, and sent to the Cameroons. While ashore he took a young parrot out of a tree and named it Polly. It remained his close companion throughout his career and much of his retired life; so close, that during the Battle of Jutland in 1916, he kept it inside his jacket. It was a great old bird with a spicy vocabulary, as one might imagine.

After missions off the coast of Africa, Biggs returned to the United Kingdom and was in charge of mine-sweepers off the coast of Ireland. He was later an intelligence officer in the Shetland Islands, until the end of the war.

Captain Seymour-Biggs retired from the Royal Navy to Canada in 1923 to a house and garden in Victoria, B.C. He enjoyed his leisure for many years. One day in 1937 his furnace required repairs and he met the young man who wanted to join the RAF; Andy Southall. The meeting not only changed their lives, but the lives of hundreds of other young men.

When Canada's war machine eventually got rolling, entry into the R.C.A.F. became somewhat easier and suddenly one day Captain Henry Seymour-Biggs, R.N. (retired), had no need for his Victoria office.

You might expect that this man who had served in the Boer War and the Battle of Jutland, would now relax with a sense of accomplishment, to his garden in Victoria and wait for letters from his R.A.F. boys serving in many parts of the world - not so.

At age 65, this wiry little man went to Montreal, dyed his gray hair a youthful dark brown and enlisted in the merchant navy. He survived the sinking of two of his ships and after the war retired once again to home and garden in Victoria. He moved to Kamloops, B.C. where he died in 1952.

Journalist Frank Kelley wrote in the Victoria Daily Colonist in the early 1950's: "Captain Seymour-Biggs richly deserved some official recognition for the immense amount of work and time, to say nothing of personal expense, he put into a scheme (helping young lads enlist in the R.A.F.) that was to turn out so advantageously for the Mother country and the Dominion. In my humble opinion he was entitled to an MBE..."

Helped establish Canadians joining the RAF - "The Biggs Boys":

Kenneth Shoesmith RI (1906-08)

Kenneth was born in Halifax in Yorkshire, grew up in Blackpool. Despite showing early artistic talent he decided on a career at sea and became a Conway cadet. After Conway he joined the Royal Mail Line but continued his enthusiasm for drawing and painting. He was mainly self-taught but did take a correspondence course early in his career. Like many artists his style changed considerably during his life. In his early years he had a natural flowing style but he developed a more 'Art Deco' style later. At some point he left the sea and between the wars he worked for the publishers Thomas Forman. They produced all Cunard's postcards and Shoesmith created many very well known images for them. He also designed posters for a number of other companies including the Royal Mail Line.OCs wil now him best for his illustration that graces the cover of Masefiled's The Conway and for for his beautiful picture "The Training Ship Conway at Rock Ferry, in the Mersey" He painted 1st War Honours Board which hangs in Birkenhead Priory. He was prolific artist and his works included several large pieces for the old Queen Mary, including an altarpiece, The Madonna of the Atlantic for the Cabin Class Drawing Room (see left). He also produced the screen of harbour scenes that covered the altarpiece when the room was not in use as a chapel. These are still on display in the Queen Mary at Long Beach, California. He was famous for his marine posters advertising pre-war Trans-Atlantic Liners.His style of representing ocean liners became instantly recognisable and is still copied to this day. A collection of over 300 items of his work is in the Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

There was an article in the Spring 2011 The Cadet. (To view it online Club members can click here and then choose Members Only)

There is a Shoesmith Society to promote his works which features his Conway work. Click here

A very interesting and well illustrated biograp[hy was published in 2011. £5 per copy is donated to The Friends of HMS Conway. Click here for details.

Examples of his Conway images are here

Lieutenant Commander Bernard M. Skinner (1930-32)

Lieutenant Commander Bernard Skinner was Amethyst's Commanding officer during the "Yangtse Incident" in 1957. Wounded in the initial attack and dying from his injuries a day later, he was posthumously mentioned in dispatches

Captain Christopher Smith QGM (1953-55)

Christopher was one of the small group of cadets in the Ship when she grounded and he was one of the first ashore in the doomed attempts to refloat her. After Conway he served with a Dutch shipping line and then British companies before joining the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) in 1961. He obtained his master's ticket in 1965. As chief officer of the helicopter support ship Engadine, he was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for the decisive role he played in the salvage of a stricken merchantman in the Channel during a gale in December 1981. The 4,000-tonne motor vessel Melpol was ablaze and drifting in gale-force winds and heavy seas 35 miles southeast of the Isle of Wight. With the fire raging unchecked, Smith and PO Olley were winched onboard from a helicopter to assess whether she could be saved. Deciding she could Smith led a team of volunteers back onboard. They had been able to bring only limited fire fighting equipment with them. Below decks Melpol had been reduced to a tangle of twisted metal, with ladders and bulkheads melted in the intense heat. All electrical wiring had been burnt through, so the team had to rely on their own portable light sources. It took them almost eight hours to bring the blaze under control, during which time they extinguished fires in the engine room and accommodation areas. who after eight hours managed to extinguish the blaze. They then connected tows to two salvage tugs enabling the ship to be taken in tow and brought to safety. The official citation read “Chief Officer Smith displayed courage, leadership and professional skills of the highest order during this most difficult operation and by his resourcefulness enabled the ship to be saved.” Only four months later Engadine joined the Falklands task force as a support ship for helicopters during the campaign to liberate the islands from their Argentine occupiers. Engadine provided helicopter maintenance and accommodation for ground crew in San Carlos Water throughout the period of the intense Argentinean air attacks. In a 36-year career with the RFA Smith also saw service in many other theatres of international conflict, including the Gulf, Malaysia and Lebanon. He retired in 1997, eventually living in a 70 foot canal narrow boat with his wife and a very raucous parrot. He died in 2007.


Captain David Smith RN (1942-44)

Patron of the Conway Club. Elder Brethen of Trinity House, and former Warden and Chief Executive. Longest serving Conway Club Committee Member, over 50 years. Longest serving President of the Conway Club - over 10 years. Played a key role in securing major artefcats like the figurehead and bell.

He was aaldo the prime mover in the Trincomalee Trust

Lt Vincent Stephen RNAV (1867-68)

When he left Conway he served and qualified as master in tea clippers before transferring to steamers. He left the sea to be a tea planter in India but the sea called him back. As well time at sea he was an excellent electrical engineer. He worked with his half brother, Z de Ferranti in the formation and development of the Ferranti business. And also advised the London Electrical Supply Corporation and wrote two books on electrical subjects. A man of many talents he was also a member of the RNAV and while master of SS Drudge he conducted trials of the new Sims-Edison torpedo (see image) at Spithead. In 1894 he was lost overboard from Union Company’s SS Spartan (he was third officer) while delirious from a severe attack of typhoid. He was just 40 years old.


Pilot Officer George Edward Bowes Stoney, RAF (1927-28)

A hurrican pilot who lost his life during the Battle of Britain in August 1940. He had been a civil airline pilot before the war, probably after a Short Service Commission. Before his final sortie he recorded a graphic description of an action earlier in the battle.

Click below to hear his recording.


Captain Donald Stewart (1920s)

In 1944 he was on the Blue Funnel ship Automedon when it was raided by the Atlantic and subsequently sunk. After the other officers were killed he played a key part in trying to stop the Germans finding important secret documents which ultimately led to the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Details of his involvement are well documented and it would appear that he was very brave.


Ken Strange ( Conway approx. 1937-1939 )

At seventeen, just before World War II Ken finished two years in Conway and moved to the USA where the U.S. Navy sent him to officer's training at Swarthmore. He shipped out on the USS Ranger, which patrolled the North African coast, and, at 20, was made Chief Ordnance Officer on the USS Intrepid. During his tour of duty, the Intrepid and its crew survived a kamikaze attack in the South Pacific, returning on its own to San Francisco for repairs. He returned from WWII a changed man. Though he had physically survived the war, he was spiritually wounded. It was his Uncle Earnest, who loved him like a son, who urged him to pursue his art, above all else, or in spite of it. And so Ken applied and was accepted into the Boston Museum School. Raoul Dufy and his explorations of colour and line, were his greatest influence. His Seagulls painted in 1964 will have a special resonance for OCs. A retrospective of his life and works can be found here:

Gp. Capt. T. Q Studd DL DFC (1909-11)

His achievements were very special being CCC, Gold Medallist, a commissioned officer in all 3 services, the first person to fly from North Wales to Ireland (his flying license number was # 50 in the RFC). An interesting aside is that he taught Douglas Bader to fly !! He was OC RAF North Weald from 1934 to 1937 when it was home to 56 Squadron


Captain L.J.Thompson (1939-41)

Bowman of the No 1 Motor Boat that rescued the 45 crew from the s.s. Tacoma City which was blown up by a magnetic mine near the Conway in March 1941. During his voyage at the age of 18 on the Blue Star m.v. Dunedin Star he was shipwrecked and rescued from the notorious Skeleton Coast in SW Africa. These exploits are covered in the book and film 'Skeleton Coast'. In 2000 he published his own account of the adventure entitled 'The Loss of a Ship'. He served twice as President of the Conway Club, between 1986-90 and 1992-96, and has been chairman of the HMS Conway Trust from 1988 to 2005.


Captain John Thomas Walbran (1862 - 64)

John Walbran was born in Ripon, Yorkshire on 23rd March 1848. He left Ripon Grammar School at age 14 to become a Conway cadet at the same time Captain Mowll was appointed as Captain Superintendent. He was in the first group of cadets to complete their course fully under Mowll’s command.

He disappeared from the scene for 28 years, so little is known of the man except a brief reminiscence by one of his officers; “There was nothing pompous about the captain, he was a man of warmth and charm who was welcomed wherever he went”. In 1892, after a lifetime at sea, he assumed command of the Canadian government steamship Quadra and wrote himself into Canadian history. For the next 12 years, he patrolled the British Columbia coastline, making maps, servicing lighthouses, searching for missing ships and erecting beacons. He quickly became fascinated with local history, especially the origins of local place names. In 1896 he began writing a book on the subject ‘British Columbia Place Names (Their Origin And History)’. He researched existing print and manuscript material, but above all he tracked down knowledgeable locals and used his charm to coax anecdotal stories from them and collect vital oral history before it was lost. His book was a seminal work and made a distinctive contribution to the story of West Canada. For a man so committed to place names and dedicated to British Columbia, it is fitting that Walbran Park, Walbran Valley and Walbran Creek were all named in his honour.

Captain John T. Walbran produced a seminal work derived from his hobby of investigating place names. It has been said that any captain worth his salt on the B.C. coast travels with a well-thumbed copy of Walbran's book British Columbia Coast Names.

His first ship was the Bedfordshire. By 1881 he gained his master mariner's certificate in Liverpool. He arrived in British Columbia (B.C.) in 1888 as the first officer of the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company’s S.S. Islander. He took command of the S.S. Danube in 1890. It was soon bought and renamed Salvor by the B.C. Salvage Company. In 1891, Walbran joined the Canadian government's Department of Marine and Fisheries concerned with lighthouses, buoys, etc. He was sent to Paisly, Scotland for the building of the Quadra, a vessel he sailed to the West Coast and commanded from 1891 to 1908. Although he was mainly inspecting lighthouses and buoys, Walbran ran a tight ship in man-of-war fashion. His civilian seamen wore 'sailor-rig' uniforms, he 'shipped' a long sword, made sure his men were trained on 12 Martini-Henry rifles and held roll call and church services every Sunday morning. He was also a stipendiary magistrate. Walbran was well known as a storyteller and amateur historian. In 1901 he researched and wrote an important article about the first voyage of Captain Charles Barkley and his wife Frances Barkley in 1787 was based on his access to Frances Barkley's sea diary, a diary that has since disappeared. Specifically he makes clear how Captain John Meares later took credit for some of the original navigataional achievement of Captain Barkley, having had Barkley's ship's journal in his possession. Walbran retired from government service in 1903 and lived on the south side of James Bay where he diligently researched his book which appeared in 1909. Walbran died at age 64 in St. Joseph's Hospital, Victoria on 31st March 1913. He and his wife are buried in Ross Bay Cemetery.


The Warwick Dynasty (1926-57)

The Warwick family are another Conway dynasty with four family member attending Conway over two generations. Brothers William (26-28) and Norman (48-49), and William’s sons Eldon (55-56) and Ron (56-57). They had a unique family connection with Cunard.


Capt W E 'Bil' Warwick CBE RD RNR (1926-28) (note he insisted on Bil not Bill) Commodore WE ‘Bil’ Warwick CBE RD RNR (26-28), was junior cadet captain in Conway at Rock Ferry. Close to the end of his course a representative from the Mogul Line visited Conway to recruit apprentices to join a new ship being built in Scotland. Bil applied and was accepted. His Discharge Book shows him as joining the ship on the 25 October 1928 so he may have had to leave Conway a bit earlier than usual. Interestingly, the Discharge Book records him being signed on as a Junior Officer throughout his time as an apprentice. He went to India on the ship and did not return for several years having obtained his 2nd Mates and First Mates tickets before doing so. Eventually he returned to the UK and joined Cunard. He became master of the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary, and was the first master of the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1968. He later became the fourth Conway appointed as Commodore of Cunard in 1970 and retired in 1972.

Bil’s brother Norman Ralph Warwick (48-49) was in Conway for the final year at Bangor and the first term at Plas Newydd. He eventually went to sea in the Silver Line.

Bil’s son Eldon John Warwick (55-56) also attended Conway joining the year after the Camp was opened. He served his time with Brocklebanks and worked for several companies before retiring in 1997 after serving in command for about 20 years.


Bil’s younger son Commodore Ronald ‘Ron’ Warwick OBE RNR LLD FNI (56-57) was another Conway cadet. He first joined the Port Line and after obtaining his Second Mate’s Certificate in 1961, he spent the next several years sailing with various companies to gain experience of different types of ships. In 1967, he became chief officer of a cargo ship and by 1968 he had obtained his master’s ticket. He joined Cunard as a third officer in 1970. For one brief day in 1970 they both served in Queen Elizabeth 2 as she was moved in Southampton harbour. He was chief officer when Queen Elizabeth 2 was requisitioned by the government for service in the Falklands campaign and holds the rank of captain in the RNR. Ron first sailed as captain in 1986 in Cunard Princess, and also sailed in command of the Cunard Countess and Cunard Crown Dynasty before his appointment as master of Queen Elizabeth 2 in July 1990. He was the first captain of the new Queen Mary 2 and the fifth Conway Commodore of Cunard from 2003 to 2006 when he retired with 36 years of company service. Ron describes an encounter with a large wave during very bad weather in 1995 en route to New York in Queen Elizabeth 2. “The wind speed was recorded well over 100 knots … We were hove to and riding out 30-40 foot waves. It was a dark night … The sea was nearly white with foam and driving spray lashing the ship. The rogue wave was sighted right ahead looming out of the darkness and it looked like we were heading straight for the white cliffs of Dover. The wave seemed to take ages to reach us … it broke with tremendous force on the bow. An incredible shudder went through the ship followed a few moments later by two smaller shudders. The QII withstood the wrath of the ocean despite hundreds of tons of water landing on the bow. There was some superficial damage such as bent railings and buckled deck plating. No passengers or crew were injured. It can be quite difficult to gauge wave height but in this case the crest of the wave was more or less level with our line of sight on the bridge … 95 feet above the sea surface. This was the largest wave that I have ever encountered and I cannot begin to imagine what effect it would have had on a smaller vessel!” Canadian weather buoys nearby confirmed the wave’s height as 98 feet.


The Watts Dynasty (1949-58)

Ian Douglas Watts, (1949 - 1950), Ian was one of the cadets on the ship for the 49 transit.

Malcolm Douglas Watts (1949 - 1952),

Andrew Douglas Watts (1955 - 1958).

Capt. Matthew 'Chummy' Webb (1860-62)   

After Conway he served a three- year apprenticeship with Rathbone Brothers of Liverpool. Whilst serving as second mate on the Cunard ship 'Russia', travelling from New York to Liverpool, he attempted to rescue a man overboard by diving into the sea in mid-Atlantic. The man was never found, but Webb's daring won him an award of £100 and the first Stanhope Gold Medal ever awarded by The Royal Humane Society, and made him a hero of the British press.

In 1873 Webb was serving as captain of the steamship 'Emerald' when he read an account of the failed attempt by J. B. Johnson to swim the English Channel. He became inspired to try himself, and left his job to begin training, first at Lambeth Baths, then in the cold waters of the Thames and the English Channel.First man to swim the Channel from England to France. The route from France to England had much more favourable tides and so had been swum many times. Webb's route was much more difficult. It is estimated that with tidal drift he swam approximately 50 miles. He swam in his red Conway bathing shorts. After many other long distance races and endurance swims over many years he died attempting to swim the rapids below Niagara Falls. In Conway he was regarded as a long distance or endurance swimmer rather than a racer. The Captain Webb Memorial Shield (for swimming) was competed for annually by cadets, see Relics section. John Betjeman wrote a poem in his memory The Shropshire Lad

Sir Clive R Woodward (1969-74)

Now coach of the England Rugby Union team, previously an international rugby player. He was awarded the OBE in June 2003. He was knighted in 2004 for his services to rugby after England won the rugby World Cup. A summary of his career is here.

Vice Admiral Sir Peter Woodhead (1954-57)

Vice Admiral Sir Peter Woodhead served in the Royal Navy until 1994 including 15 years as a Fleet Air Arm pilot, command of four ships and the appointment of Chief of Staff to the Joint Service Commander of the Falklands Task Force during the 182 conflict. Subsequently he served as a Squadron Commander, Director of Naval Operations, Captain of an Aircraft Carrier and, as an Admiral, commanded both the 1st and 2nd Flotillas. His final appontment in the Navy was as the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic. On leaving the Navy he was appointed as the first Prisons Ombudsman from 1994 to 2000. He is currently Deputy Chairman of a Technology Company, a member of the Security Vetting Appeals Panel at the Cabinet Office, a Lay Preacher and is involved in eight charities primarily in the field of Crime Reduction and Homelessness. He was appointed to the Armed Forces' Pay Review Body in 2002.



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International Sportsmen

This section is a bit thin. I'm sure there are more than this so please let me know who they are.

John Bligh (1966-69) Rugby (schoolboy), England.

D G Chapman (1922-24) Represented Great Britain in the 4 by 400 m at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

Walter Elliot MP (23-26) Seven Rugby internationals for England between 1932 and 34.

E A Hamilton Hill (23-25) Rugby, England.

Jay ‘Birdie’ Hooper (1958-61) was a Maintopman, a talented sailor and a stalwart of the sailing group. He eventually represented Bermuda in the 1964 Tokyo and the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

G Matveieff (15-19) Olympic spring board diver in 1924

Dai Phillips (1968-71) Rugby, Wales.

Arthur Tudor Young (15-16) Born 14th October 1901 in Darejeling, India. Educated at  Tonbridge School, HMS Conway and Caius College, Cambridge. He was a regular Army officer, and died  at the age of 31 while serving as A.D.C. to the G.O.C. Eastern Command, India. He played Scrum Half for the RFU 54 times during the period 1924 to 1929. HIs debut match was Wales v England at Swansea on Jan 19 1924. He scored 6 tries.

Sir Clive Woodward (1969-74) Rugby, England.


Clive Woodward

Written by Hugh Godwin (tel: 07968 392688) of the Independent on Sunday for

the December 2003 issue of International Rugby News magazine.


Clive Woodward's road to success has not always been smooth. It might have led to a life in uniform, but almost from the off a love of sport and the application to it of business techniques have combined to sweep England's coach to World Cup glory.


The Early Days

Woodward's father was an RAF pilot, and while the family were stationed in Linton-on-Ouse near York, 10-year-old Clive watched on TV as Bobby Moore lifted the football World Cup at Wembley and attended York City matches at Bootham Crescent. But at 13 he went to HMS Conway on Anglesey, a boarding school originally intended to turn out members of the merchant navy. There, young Clive not only got into the athletics team but switched from round ball to oval and played alongside a fly-half called Iain Duncan-Smith in the school's first XV.


Chris Plummer, another old 'Conway Cadet', told IRN: "Clive was immensely talented as a sportsman. I am a couple of years older, and when I was 20 I remember telling one of our committee at Birkenhead Park, and a member of the RFU Committee, that he should look out for this lad. He was suitably unimpressed! Clive certainly did not need any assistance from me to further his rugby credentials. "He played in the Conway 1st XV when in the fifth form in 1972 and obviously right through the sixth. As 'Dunc' (later to be known as IDS) was

the stand-off he [Woodward] was a centre or generally able to play anywhere in the backs - a very good kicker. "He was a good all-rounder and well able to get on with the senior cadets. I can quite see the Conway training in his approach to leadership." The motto of the school was 'Quit ye like men, be strong'.


Exams, England and Emigration

On leaving school Woodward attended Loughborough University, where he gained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sports Science followed by a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education. " in my blood," he said in 2003.


From university Woodward joined Rank Xerox and began playing for Leicester. His England debut was as a replacement against Ireland in 1980 (Jonny Wilkinson would follow suit 18 years later), and he won 21 caps up to 1984, including 14 in the centres alongside Tigers club-mate Paul Dodge. Woodward toured with the Lions in 1980 (playing two Tests, one at wing, one at centre) and 1983.


He left Xerox in 1985 at the age of 29 and emigrated to Australia with his second wife Jayne Betts. There he was offered the post of national sales director for Portfolio Leasing, a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company. He played for the Sydney Premier Grade side, Manly, and enjoyed the less confined rugby lifestyle, albeit that he broke his jaw in a derby match against fierce rivals Warringah. "He was a good guy and a good rugby player," Manly's then coach, Rob Lane, recently told the Evening Standard, "but I bet he's still not much of a [surf] board rider."


On Board as a Coach

Returning to the UK in 1990, Woodward established his own leasing company, Sales Finance Ltd. Business and rugby were moving closer together - he was a man of his times. Having broken his leg twice while playing, Woodward turned his attention to coaching.


The Henley RFC website records: "Henley's fortunes stood still until Woodward became the first team coach in 1990. His introduction of the 'flat ball' philosophy was a pioneering event for British rugby and not only brought promotion in 1992 but captured the imagination of English rugby. As a result Henley gained a further promotion in 1994 to the National Leagues and after Woodward departed to coach London Irish, Henley won two further promotions in 1997-98 and 1998-99."


Over at Sunbury, the Irish also began playing more attractive rugby, though Woodward never quite immersed himself in the Exiles' easy-going philosophy. Kieron McCarthy, Irish's long-serving team secretary, recalled a fabulous weekend of carousing in France: "I think Clive actually smiled about six times". Woodward himself would joke after the World Cup win: "I ought to be knighted for coaching London Irish for three years!"


Next stop was Bath, and a short spell as a 'consultant' coach, which ended in August 1997 when Woodward was asked to become the first ever full time England coach, in succession to Jack Rowell.


He encountered an amateur way of doing things that had been partially eroded by previous manager Geoff Cooke, but needed more work yet. The epitome of the conflict between full-time players and part-time administration was the June 1998 'Tour of Hell'. A club v country conflict was inevitable. But under trying circumstances, Woodward proved himself a man of action. In Cape Town, before the inevitable fourth Test defeat out of four, he marched his squad out of the Holiday Inn hotel and into the Mount Nelson, booking 20 rooms on his personal credit card.


Spring 1999 brought wins over Scotland, Ireland and France to set up a Grand Slam. Against Wales at Wembley England raced to three tries by Dan Luger, Steve Hanley and Richard Hill, but Shane Howarth and, famously, Scott Gibbs crossed for Wales in a 32-31 upset. In the World Cup in the autumn England lost both the important matches, against New Zealand at Twickenham, and South Africa in Paris.


Strike-breaker Takes on the World

So the southern hemisphere's grip over England was as strong as ever. But Woodward had other ideas, some of them gained from an unlikely source. On his personal website - 'Clive Woodward's Winning' - the coach explained: "One of the keys to my success came from...a self-confessed 'crazy dentist' from Australia, Dr Paddi Lund".


Lund replaced his reception desk with a caf? bar and espresso machine. The patients' waiting room was abandoned in favour of personal lounges, with tea served on Royal Doulton china. England players became used to similar treatment when the team abandoned Bisham Abbey for their preparations in favour of the five-star Pennyhill Park hotel in Surrey. Woodward had two training pitches and a bespoke fitness room installed. All England players were given a laptop computer to receive the coach's frequent e-mails. Yet the close-knit harmony that would become a feature of the World Cup victory was almost obliterated in November 2000. England's players, seeking a better deal over match fees and image rights, threatened to go on strike. Woodward confronted his players and promised to field a second division team against Argentina if necessary. There were stories that younger squad members received 'back down or never play again' messages on their mobile phones. The strike was off.


Woodward banished Phil Greening to Sevens after losing the 2001 Grand Slam in Dublin, and Richard Cockerill all together when the Leicester hooker wrote a stingingly critical book. Not a word against Woodward has been seen in print since.


By June 2002, though another Slam had gone west in France, Woodward was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours. He won a concession of sorts with the still recalcitrant clubs by gaining 20 training days for England in the 2002-03 season. The World Cup build-up, estimated to cost anything up to ?30m, was under way.


Woodward kept innovating. He could not push through a new 'all-in-one' body suit for the World Cup, settling instead for the skin-tight Nike jerseys. The players were told to change their kit at half-time to concentrate minds for the second half. In the Twickenham dressing rooms an all-English haven was decorated with stirring slogans on the walls next to individual nameplates in oak.


In July 2003, now with a full squad, England went to New Zealand and Australia and won. Woodward agreed a four-year extension to his RFU contract. Next was the World Cup - and history made.


The Legacy

Though referred to as coach, Woodward is more of a manager or facilitator, giving the most important people - the players - the best chance of achieving their potential. Fools are not suffered, gladly or otherwise. Already the Lions chairman, Bill Beaumont, has said he wants his old England team-mate to lead the tour to New Zealand in 2005. Woodward's style of play? There was a brashness about England between 1999 and 2001, yet the Grand Slam was elusive. A more pragmatic approach marked the team of 2002 and 2003, and it won them the World Cup. England always had the most players, the most cash and, albeit largely untapped, the natural work ethic to become dominant worldwide. It could be argued that any coach with common sense and the backing of the RFU could have improved the bad old ways of England selection and preparation. The bald fact is that Clive Woodward made it happen.




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