Desmond Stewart

John Ringrose
19th June 2008, 13:04
Anyone remember the Old Man Des Stewart.

Blustery old begger but I distinctly remember him on my first trip at sea on the Patroclus.

When just about to arrive in Yokahama he called me to his cabin and gave me a full lecture & fatherly advice about the consequences of the ladies of the night and the use of the dreadnought kit.

Never forget it. Saw him on TV many moons later on this is your life for the Captain of the QE2 I think it was.

Always flew the blue duster.

6th July 2008, 15:35
There's a picture of Desmond playing deck cricket on my site at:
The ship was the Ulysses.
Cheers, John

Tai Pan
7th July 2008, 11:30
There's a picture of Desmond playing deck cricket on my site at:
The ship was the Ulysses.
Cheers, John

Memories, played many a game on that deck in mid 50,s. when ran out of balls, made our own, large metal nut wound round with thick string. lasted about 4 overs!.

3rd August 2008, 14:58
My father knew him very well, he came to our house once. "Blustery Old Begger" is a good description of him, he used to say to my Dad "Bullshit baffles Brains". During the war he was sunk in the Med and subsequently joined the Royal Navy hence the Blue Ensign on his ships when ha became Master.

John Ringrose
5th August 2008, 09:31
Thanks for the info - I wondered how the blue duster came about.

Tony Mundella
5th August 2008, 14:57
I was quite surprised to see Desmond Stewart's name at the top of the posts! He was my uncle and pointed me in the direction of Blue Funnel when I expressed an interest in going to sea. He became one of the senior masters and captained the first big container ships (Botany Bay I think) before retiring around the early to mid seventies to live in Northern Ireland with his dog (Bosun!). I know his reputation but I never sailed with him (his choice!)
He died some years ago (in the eighties I think)

Tony Mundella
5th August 2008, 15:02
I think the Blue Duster was because he was Captain RNR

5th August 2008, 16:39
Merchant ships under the command of an RNR officer (of whatever rank) are entitled to fly the Blue Ensign.

Not all MN guys in command of a ship are rated Captain RNR - you only get the "tin trousers" if you have done something for the RN/RNR side of things!

Having said that I believe that the above rule is only for UK ships - I can not see the Netherlands Antilles or the Panamanian ships flying the Blue Ensign but I could be wrong.


6th August 2008, 20:03
I was managing China Navigation's fleet in Hong Kong when we took the "Monmouthshire" on charter (or did we buy her?) and renamed her "Nanchang". Desmond was the old man on the delivery voayge, and his arrival cable listed a long list of required repairs ending with "For what you are about to receive may the Lord make you truly thankful". A real character...............


6th August 2008, 20:22
hi mc cloggie

1958. RNR merged with Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. RNR masters permitted to fly Blue Ensign if just one other officer was RNR.

1965. Captains RNR qualified to fly Blue Ensign in their own right.

does this mean only masters ranked capt.rnr qualified to fly the blue ensign in their own right

Tom Inglis
10th August 2008, 11:53
Yes I sailed with Des Stewart somewhere along the way , Can't remember the ship I think it must have been coasting a Glen Boat. He looked like James Roertson Justice . He had a habit of quoting the bible in radio messages and frequently head office / agents had to reach for the bible to get the gist of his messages. A real character and good master.
Tom Inglis

10th August 2008, 16:06

As I rember, anyone who is a Master in Command (Captain) of a UK registered vessel who is in the RNR can fly the Blue Ensign irrespective of his/her rank in the RNR. Do not forget that in the RN a Lieutenant can be the ships Commanding Officer.

Things may have changed but in my day there were RNR Lieutenants and Lieiutenant Commanders RNR who were were driving MN ships. They were allowed to fly a Blue Ensign if they wanted to. Having a "gash" RNR type onboard does not qualify!

As far as I know, the requirements for a MN vessel (as opposed to a UK Govenment owned vessel) to fly an undefaced Blue Ensign is that the Master is an RNR officer.


Ron Stringer
10th August 2008, 18:29
There was much discussion here on this topic at the end of 2007 and early 2008. See for example.

9th October 2008, 22:33
I had the priveledge of sailing with Des Stewart when he was mate of the cadet ship Diomed. He left in July 1958, for his first command ? He made sure he shook hands with every one of us before leaving and I remember it as an emotional moment. I think we were in Glasgow on the coasting trip at the end of voy 5. I know I was down a hatch cleaning when we were summoned up by that stentorian voice !

During the deep sea trip we had some 'new fangled' inflatable liferafts to test. Here is my recollection of the events as recorded in my Log Book with photographs of Des and the raft.

Stand by for arriving in Port Said went at 0200 and we moored to a buoy. Two hours later we were back in our bunks to snatch 2 hours sleep before being called again at 0630. On Friday morning we only managed to finish off No 1 starboard Samson post. We had the afternoon off and strange to say I did not spend it in my bunk. We moved off again at 0900 and tied up in the Cut at 1300 as a tanker in the North bound convoy had gone aground.
Stand by went again at 2230hrs and we moved off once more, and managed to get as far as the Bitter Lakes where we anchored at 0900. As we were to be there for some hours it was decided to test the liferaft, so at 1100 the Emergency signal went and we all assembled on the Prom deck. The chief officer demonstrated how to use it and then it was thrown overboard and the cord pulled. It inflated in about 30 - 40 seconds. It was then towed to the after well deck where several hands jumped into it from a height of about 10 feet. The covering appeared to rip very easily and when the tests were over there were at least two big rips in it. The raft was left in the water and we continued with our work. When we knocked off at noon it was noticed that the arches of the raft had deflated completely, and that the raft itself was beginning to get soft. So much for the liferaft.
All hands went swimming in the afternoon and the raft proved useful as a diving raft. Stand by went again at 1730 and we were at Suez by 2130. The boats were lowered and then the derricks lowered. We then knocked off and retired

"Paddy" walsh
6th November 2008, 22:53
I sailed with capt Des Stewart as 3/0 on the Laomedon in 67. it was a long jag ship then,out on the Blue Sea service route around the world from New York to New York. I rate him as one of the best Masters I sailed with as he was a mentor to us younger officers and great at getting the best out folk by giving you a feeling of being on the team.
I had many long chats with him in the evening watch as he came up to write his night orders. He always tried to teach me about Cricket as could not believe that anyone could be ignorant of the game !. He stands out amoung some many fine men i sailed with and i was proud to know him and ensure his Blue Ensign flew clear off our stern.
Other crew I recall then were Des Murphy C/O (gone) John May 2/O lots of stories of a happy ship well away from the "office".

John Ringrose
4th June 2009, 09:08
Well thanks to all for giving info back on Des - sorry to hear he died but suppose it had to be after all these years.

Will always remember him

20th February 2010, 22:00
I sailed with Desmond Stewart on Voyage 8 of the Glengarry (21 February to 3 June, 1950) and the Coasting Voyage which followed it. He was 2nd Mate and here is what I wrote about him in my memoirs.

'The 2nd Mate was D.H. Stewart, a fresh-faced heavily built jovial man from Lifford in County Donegal, who, with his sparse hair, looked older than his 29 years. I sat beside him at his table in the saloon where I soon learned that 'bovine' was a favourite word of his as he was forever using that adjective to describe people. Desmond had been on the "Cyclops" when she had been torpedoed 125 miles southeast of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, in 1942 and, for his bravery, had been awarded Lloyds' War Medal and a Commendation in the London Gazette. Later that same year, he was on the "Glenorchy" when she was sunk, while carrying drums of aviation spirit, in the most famous of the Malta convoys - 'Pedestal'. Of the fourteen ships in the convoy, only five, including the battered tanker 'Ohio', reached Malta. Desmond was in one of the two lifeboats which landed in Tunisia where the men were interned until the Allies landed in western North Africa in November. He then joined the RNR and, shortly before he retired as Master, in 1976, was awarded the CBE for service in the RNR in which he had attained the rank of Commodore.'

When going ashore, he always wore silk shirts with his initials DHS embroidered on them.

The other members of the Deck Department that trip were:

Master - D. McTavish
1st Mate - R.T. Horan
3rd Mate - P.N. (Nick) Broad
Ex-3rd Mate - Tao Chi Yuan
Middies - C.M Sandy, P.A.I. Latham, T.L. Murdoch and H.C. Hershaw.

I have copies of the Articles for Voyages 5-8 of the Glengarry and would be please to answer any queries. Captain P.W. Savery's wife and daughter, Elsa, were with us on Voyage 8.

Captain Nick
12th July 2011, 12:47
When I was with him in 68 on the Glengyle he had a parrot which could say various phrases one of which was "Where's the f-----g agent! Where's the f-----g agent"!
In February 68 we were passing East London, approaching Durban for bunkers, when we saw HMS Hermes steaming on a reciprocal course at about 1000 on a bright calm sunny morning. I went aft to dip the ensign whilst the 3/0 used the aldis lamp to signal something like "What a fine sight you make".
No response from the Hermes whatsoever. No signal and and no response to our ensign (blue) dipping. Des Stewart was beside himself with rage and immediatly got the R/O to signal his displeasure to the Admiralty. After all Des was probably the more senior captain being the Commodore List 1. I wish I could have known what the outcome was. Incidentally, unbeknown to me, I was also passing close to my future father-in-law who was an ER tiff on the Hermes at the time. My brother had just left the Hermes a week before to fly home.
I have sailed with many masters but Des Stewart will alway be well remembered and respected. When I became a master myself I think I tired to be like Des. Whether it worked or not......?