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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Captain Harold W.M. Milne, D.S.C.

Introduction: Alan Milne shares this information on his late father, Captain Harold W.M. Milne, D.S.C., who joined the Eastern Telegraph Company in 1919, and during the war commanded CS Lady Denison-Pender and CS Pacific. His last command for the company was CS Edward Wilshaw, and he retired in 1955.

For his service on CS Lady Denison-Pender during the hazardous wartime laying of the Gibraltar to Casablanca cable, Captain Milne was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. A detailed account of this expedition may be read on Ken Smith's page; Ken served on the Lady Denison-Pender under Captain Milne.

Reproduced here are three short articles on Captain Milne.

--Bill Burns

Extract from a memoir of Captain Harold William Meldrum Milne, D.S.C. published in The Cape Horner, journal of the Amicale Internationale des Capitaines au Long Cours Cap Horniers (AICH), or The International Association of Cape Horners as the UK chapter became known.

Harold was born on May 16th 1897 at Govern, Lanarkshire, and he first went to sea as an apprentice in August 1911 aboard the Medway. This was a steel four-masted barque of 2,516 tons built in 1902 as the Ama Begonakoa by A. McMillan & Son for Sota y Aznar of Montevideo.

Harold obtained his master's certificate in June 1923, number 0012402, and Captain Milne retired as master in September 1957. He joined the AICH in November 1957 and Harold was also treasurer of the British Section. He was still in this post on December 11th 1965 when he died at his home in Rottingdean, Sussex.


THE many friends of Captain H.W.M. Milne, DSC, will be very sorry to learn that he died suddenly on Saturday, 11th December [1965], age 68. Up till then he had enjoyed his normal activities quite cheerfully.

Captain Milne joined the Eastern Telegraph Co., in 1919, as a junior deck officer appointed to CS Amber, and later served in many of the Company's cable ships up to the rank of Chief Officer. In 1944 he was promoted to Commander and two years later he was selected by Sir Edward Wilshaw, then Chairman of Cable and Wireless Ltd., to be the first Commander of CS Edward Wilshaw when she was built between 1947/49. He stood by the vessel as overseer during her construction period and remained in command of that ship until his retirement in 1955. Previous vessels under his command were the Retriever, Lady Denison Fender, Pacific and Mirror. In December 1945, following a recommendation by the Admiralty, he was awarded the DSC for distinguished services on submarine cable communicalions during the European War 1939/45, an honour few civilians have received.

A Scot, Captain Milne was respected by all those with whom he came into contact and he did much to uphold the Company's high standards wherever his duties called. Popularly known to his friends by his first name Harold, he will be long remembered by them. A token of respect in which he was held was shown by the number of his former ship­mates, friends and associates who were able to attend the funeral service at the Downs Crematorium, Brighton, on Thursday, 16th December, among whom were the following: Mr. & Mrs. N.C. Chapling, Captain & Mrs. H. Lawrence, K.D. (Tony) Anthony, H.F. Pilcher, B. Aird, F.D.H. Griffiths, J.P.A. Guimaraens, W. Bostock, Lieutenant-Commander Francom, M.H. Disney. The Company was represented by Marine Supt. L. Roy and the Engineer-in-Chief's Department by D.H. Elliott.

Our sympathies are with Mrs. Milne and her young son Alan : also Captain Milne's married son John.

From Zodiac, the Cable & Wireless staff magazine

Remembering a Wartime hero

Interesting recollections about the late Captain H.W. Milne, DSC, who served with company cableships for 36 years, have been supplied, by his widow, Mrs K.M. Milne.

Mrs Milne wrote to us after reading an article by John Wilson in Zodiac about Captain Henry Lawrence who served with company cableships during the 1920s.

In the article, Captain Lawrence referred to his wartime experiences, mentioning his work on one of the Gibraltar cables when Churchill and Roosevelt met at Casablanca.

Says Mrs Milne: "My late husband, Commander H.W. Milne, who joined the Eastern Telegraph Company in 1919 as a junior deck officer, was awarded the DSC for his work on that particular cable."

Capt. Milne served with a number of company cableships, and until 1943 was in command of CS Lady Denison-Pender. He then went to Suez to take over CS Pacific, a Danish ship which was captured from the Germans as a prize and handed over to the company.

During the Allied invasion of North Africa, CS Pacific entered a minefield to restore the cable link between Casablanca and Gibraltar, at the time of the Churchill-Roosevelt meeting. For this hazardous and exacting job, Capt. Milne was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Last revised: 15 October, 2012

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