William Lumsden

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William Lumsden
Born June 25th. 1896.
Died 17th February 1981
Occupation Marine Superintendent
Spouse(s) Married the sister of James McKelvie
Joined CNCo service January 22nd. 1918.
Left CNCo service September 5th. 1953


May 12th. 1912 Apprentice with Purdie, Glen & Co.

March 1915. Sailed as Bosun and 3rd Mate with Manchester Liners.

September 1916 - June 1917. Sailed with Clan Line as 4th. Mate.

January 22nd. 1918. Joined C.N.Co. Appointed 2nd Mate.

September 27th. 1919. Appointed 1st. Mate.

June 26th. 1923. Appointed Master.

May 14th. 1928. Appointed Assistant Marine Superintendent.

March 30th. 1936. Appointed Marine Superintendent.

September 5th. 1953. Retired after 35 years of service.

The following obituary appeared in 'Swire News'following Captain Lumsden's death in February 1981

The death at the age of 84 of Captain William (Bill) Lumsden,formerly Marine Superintendent of CNCo, was briefly recorded in the last issue of Swire News. The following obituary was contributed by Captain Graham Torrible.

Captain Lumsden who died in Jersey on 17th February 1981 joined CNCo towards the end of World War I and, on the crest of a post-war building programme, rose to an early command. He was a practical seaman to his finger-tips and was soon appointed ashore as assistant in the Marine Superintendent's Department. In those days this widespread department was in its heyday with some eighty steamers trading to practically every port in China (and beyond to Malaya and Korea) under its patriarchal wing. For some years he was Acting Marine Superintendent in Hankow, the home base of a flourishing fleet of tugs and lighters and several small ships built to supplement the extensive river trade from Chunking to the sea. These early years were the years of the Great Depression and Bill's practical know-how stood him in good stead where ‘save and make do’ was the order of the day. He devoted a lot of time, thought and energy to that side of his profession; to him the old-fashioned term Ship's Husband meant just that. World War II unlike its predecessor, had a profound effect upon the fleet. It kept its flag flying in the East until Pearl Harbour when it hurriedly scattered. One master recounts how he borrowed a school atlas from the 3rd Engineer and made Freemantle on it. Bill, by that time Senior Superintendent, was in Hong Kong and, together with as many as could get away, took ship to India where CNCo was reorganised. The end of the war meant a return to the East for the scattered fleet some from war service sadly depleted and faced with a very difficult future. Cabotage ruled out intercoastal trade in China, therefore a brave and successful approach was made to embrace Australasia and Japan into the scheme of things. In those very difficult years of change which followed the return to the East, Bill's energy and experience made a great contribution towards the return of normality. In his early years in the company he had married a girl from his home town of Dundee. They had no children but they were devoted to each other. In fact there were only three places where Bill was happy; at his desk, at home or mixing his latest concoction of paint under the critical eyes of his peers at Taikoo Dockyard. His philosophy, simple and often stated, was ‘‘If I have any spare time I go home”. In 1953 Captain and Mrs. Lumsden retired to live in Jersey and here Bill devoted his retirement years to the affectionate care of his wife whose health, never robust, slowly deteriorated until her death.

The following letter was also written in memory of the late Captain William Lumsden by his one-time friend and colleague. Captain F.H. Abbot-Smith from New South Wales, Australia.

Dear Editor,
It is with extreme regret that I read of the death of Captain William Lumsden which has been reported in Swire News Volume 8 No. 1.
I knew him well when I was serving as Assistant to Marine Superintendent in Shanghai office in 1937/38. He, in addition to having an intimate knowledge of everything in and about all CNCo vessels, of which at that time I think there were more than 50 if not more, knew and could assess the capabilities of the majority of the deck personnel and we all felt that any difficulty could be ironed out by the No. 1 "Captain". This applied not only to the European officers but also to the Chinese crew members especially to Bosuns and Carpenters and any long serving deck staff who to my knowledge came spontaneously into the office to see him.
Yes, the ‘Company’ has lost a friend.
F.H. Abbott-Smith

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