Captain Sir Miles Wingate – obituary


Captain Sir Miles Wingate, who has died aged 92, was torpedoed twice in warfare and shipwrecked twice in peace, and rose to be Deputy Grasp of Trinity Home, the physique based by Henry VIII for the supply of pilotage and navigational techniques across the coasts.

Impressed as a boy by scenes of life in Southampton, at a time when the ocean port was the gateway for passengers and cargo to and from the Empire, Wingate decided to make his profession at sea, and joined the Royal Mail Traces as a deck apprentice in June 1939. Over the subsequent three a long time at sea he remained with the identical firm, visiting the Mediterranean, the Americas, the West Indies, India, Australia and the Far East.

His first ship was the 5,240-ton steamship Siris, which had simply dispersed from a convoy and was south of the Azores when, within the early hours of July 12 1942, she was hit amidships by a torpedo from U-201, commanded by the U-boat ace Adalbert Schnee. Schnee surfaced and over the subsequent two hours fired some 100 shells into Siris till she sank.

Twenty-eight survivors in a single lifeboat had been picked up after 10 days by the corvette Jonquil. Wingate was in a second lifeboat commanded by the Grasp, Harwood Treweeks, which reached the Cape Verde Islands after 16 days beneath sail. They survived on one biscuit, two teaspoons of pemmican, a Horlicks pill and two ounces of water, issued 3 times a day, and a difficulty of chewing gum each third day.

One crew member had died of publicity within the open boat, and once they sailed into the harbour of St Vincent, all needed to be lifted out of the boat and carried ashore. Two males later died in hospital.

Undeterred by this expertise, Wingate joined Sabor (sister ship of Siris). Lower than a yr later, at 05.10 on March 7 1943, she was torpedoed when unescorted off South Africa by U-506, commanded by one other U-boat ace, Erich Würdemann. The crew took to the boats in an orderly trend, however Sabor remained afloat, itemizing, till Würdemann fired one other torpedo two-and-a-half hours later. Seven crew had been killed, however 50 together with Wingate had been rescued by a South African motor launch and landed at Mossel Bay.

Subsequent, Wingate briefly served within the 8,260-ton refrigerated cargo ship Nebraska, earlier than becoming a member of the 4,930-ton Empire Confidence, which had been transformed to a troopship. She carried two touchdown craft and extremely harmful cargoes of gas in cans and ammunition whereas touchdown American and British troops at Oran in North Africa, in Pachino Bay, Sicily, and Salerno, Italy. At warfare’s finish Wingate was within the 14,000-ton Highland Monarch within the Far East.

Put up-war, Wingate was serving in Lochmonar, returning with a helpful cargo of meals from Canada, when she ran aground and broke her again on the mouth of the Mersey in September 1948. Wingate was to not blame and the Royal Mail Traces expressed its confidence in him by appointing him to Magdalena, a 17,540-ton passenger and refrigerated cargo ocean liner.

She was the third-largest ship being in-built a British shipyard at the moment, however she ran aground off Rio de Janeiro in April 1949 and was wrecked on her maiden voyage. On the time the insurance coverage payout of £2,295,000 was the most important made for a marine casualty.

Miles Buckley Wingate was born at Wallasey, Cheshire, on Might 17 1923, however was introduced up in Southampton, the place his father labored for Fyffes, the banana-importer.

Miles was educated at Taunton’s School, town’s pre-eminent grammar faculty, based in 1760 for boys “to be taught studying, writing, arithmetic and navigation and, at their correct ages, apprenticed to sea-going mariners”.  He obtained his grasp’s certificates in 1949, was promoted to chief officer in 1950 and joined Royal Mail’s flagship, the passenger ship Andes. He took command of his first ship, Tweed, in 1957, and was subsequently grasp of a number of ships together with Andes.

In 1963 Wingate was elected to be one of many 300 Youthful Brethren of Trinity Home, a charity which mixed a dedication to safeguarding transport and seafarers with a statutory obligation as a lighthouse authority. Wingate’s expertise and his management had been rapidly observed and he was elected to be one of many 31 Elder Brethren 5 years later.

He turned treasurer and a member of the manager committee of Worldwide Affiliation of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) in 1976, its vice-president in 1980 and president in 1985. At IALA Wingate oversaw the adoption of a worldwide commonplace of a uniform buoyage system, which has since enhanced security at sea.

In 1976 he was elected Deputy Grasp of Trinity Home, the place he endeavoured to beat the prevailing tradition of conservatism and resistance to vary. He overhauled the element boards and committees, improved monetary self-discipline, and instigated a serious evaluate of the supply of aids to navigation.

Within the lighthouse service he presided over a lot modernisation, together with the introduction of automation, in an effort to chop prices. His heat and good humour meant that he was standard among the many lighthouse keepers he would go to on his excursions of inspection.

Wingate didn’t overlook Trinity Home’s charitable accountability and personally turned concerned within the Seamen’s Hospital Society, the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, King George’s Fund for Sailors, and the Mission to Seamen. He was additionally a liveryman of the Honourable Firm of Grasp Mariners and of the Worshipful Firm of Shipwrights, and a Freeman of the Firm of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames.

He was created a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1982.

Wingate married his spouse Alicia in 1947; she survives him with their three daughters.

Captain Sir Miles Wingate, born Might 17 1923, died Might 2 2016


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