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

CS Restorer
by Dirk van Oudenol

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Repair of Cables Neglected During War

The Nov. 21, 1918 issue of the Seattle Times stated in a cable related article that only 7 Pacific cables out of 21, all neglected by war driven priorities, were in serviceable condition. The war years looked on the CPCC's cable with a benevolent eye, but the early part of 1919 saw the ship off the southern climes to catch up on years of neglect. Early in 1919 the Restorer was off to do repairs on the line near Midway, where they ran into another typhoon. The CPCC was so alarmed by the very serious weather reports from other ships in the area that they almost despaired of seeing the ship again. The tough ship did return though. In 1920 the ship was again off to Midway where more repairs were done. Mr. H. Butler, the Cable Superintendent at Midway, his wife, and their two small children, all marooned on Midway for an unbroken 4½ years, were on board Restorer when it headed for home. The Butlers then headed for a well earned and happy six-month holiday in Ireland.

1920 Midway Census

Only the relevant parts are reported here.


Butler, Henry P. 41   Superintendent
Butler, Flora B. 30   Wife
Butler, Henry, A. 7   Son
Butler, Thomas P. 4   Son
Kealy, William J. 39   Supervisor
Kealy, Loretta F.   Daughter
Kealy, Genevieve F. 6½   Daughter
McAllister, Frank C. 24   Operator
Puralay, William G. 24   Operator
Heane, Geoffrey V. 32   Operator
Harrison, Phillip F. 22   Operator
Varney, Walter 48   Engineer
McFarlane, William 58   Battery Man
Hills, William B. 17   Operator
Macauly, Henry B. 54   Physician
Armstrong, Ralph R. 21   Operator
Zillack, William 25   Operator
Woon, Jong 42   Cook
Sing, Lau 26   2nd Cook
Siley, Lau 42   Servant
Yen, Ho 38   Servant
Hung, Tom 43   Servant
Kee, Lau 45   Laborer
Woo, Lau 40   Launderer
Poo, Chung 45   Servant
Yon, Lau 40   Launderer
Yorokibi, Shiotan 33   Laborer
Sakai, Miyano 38   Fireman
Ichiya, Kuroda 31   Laborer
Fukamida, Kokochi

41   Laborer

Peacetime Routine -"Cable Guard"

After returning from this trip, Restorer did a few days work on the cable at Bamfield, then lay at anchor at Charleston, near Seattle, for 21 months! The sight of this ship with British Officers must have been very trying for the American Masters, Mates, & Pilots Association, and they protested strongly. There was much mutual animosity, but it didn't have to be endured too long. In March, 1922, when Restorer returned from still another cable repair at Midway, after a two month trip, the ship tied up, not in Seattle, but in Victoria. From then until late 1941, and from 1946 to 1951, she berthed in Esquimalt and Victoria waters. From March to October of 1922, the Restorer lay at anchor in Esquimalt's harbour, and while there Capt. Combe's daughter Vivien had a birthday. This was the cause of one of the most festive parties ever held on the ship. Less than a year later Capt. Combe was taken so ill he had to leave the ship, so much joy must have been his, and Chief Steward Robb's, during that festive evening as Paddy Herman's Band entertained barge loads of guests ferried over from Jack Day's wharf.

Shortly after this great party, there was another call to tend broken cables. This time, major preparations were required, and when the ship left in late 1922, it didn't return for 6½ months. It was during this trip that Capt. Combe's illness forced him to leave the ship permanently. His place was taken by several over the next three years, Chief Officer Dillon, Capt. A. V. Sparks, Capt. W. D. Livingston. During these times of change, several other officers joined Restorer and gave long years of service. Among them were Chief Officer W. T. Gagnon, H. P. Porter who was Chief Electrician and later Cable Engineer, Officer's Steward John Paterson. Dr. Martin Joseph O'Neill went to Midway in Sept. 1922 to be the physician to the cable station employees stationed there.

During Capt. Spark's time C.S. Restorer spent a great deal of time around San Francisco. On Jan. 24, 1924, the ship left Victoria for the Golden Gate area. There were chronic problems with rum runners and pleasure boaters dropping their anchors on the cable. Sometimes, a job had to be redone only a few hours later. It wasn't until March 20 that the cable ship again tied up at the Ogden Point docks in Victoria.

C S. Restorer spent most of the next 12 years at various docks in the Victoria area. While at Ogden Point, a cruise ship was in port and some of its passengers visited the cable ship, resplendent in white paint all over, and looking like a yacht. One such person was Ellin Mackay, daughter of John Mackay, head of CPCC, part way to wean her (unsuccessful) from her love for jazz composer Irving Berlin.

The years 1924 to 1937 were mainly peaceful, but did bring three calls out. On one there was the worst storm damage ever suffered by C.S. Restorer. On Feb. 23, 1928, she left Victoria for Midway (again). Capt. Fleming stated that outside Cape Flattery, the cable ship was pounded by extremely heavy seas for two days. The aft part of the wheel quadrant was smashed, the searchlight was unshipped, woodwork suffered, a 600lb. Anvil bolted to one of the deck houses was moved, telegraph leads were knocked off, Quartermaster Johnny Bennett suffered a broken leg, and engine speed had to be reduced to 60rpm. Due to the efficient engineers and the well equipped machine shop, the ship damage was repaired within four days, and it continued on its way. The other two trips were moderately long, but uneventful.

There were many long days in port, and the parties continued. This writer has a copy of the blueprints for C.S. Restorer, and from the fact and size of the spirits storage area, it's safe to say fresh water was not a main ingredient of the parties. Chief Electrician Porter provided wiring for music so dancing could be enjoyed in the officer's salon or on deck. The parties were, of course, confined to officers and their guests in those days of privilege. The source of Christmas puddings and cakes was the Restorer's Cook Tamashimo, whose nationality forced a mutually regretted departure in late 1941 from the ship he had served so well and so long.

The Depression

The Depression Years brought belt tightening on the Restorer. With the crew now mainly local rather than Asiatics, standby crews in port were reduced to about half. In October of 1929, death came to the much loved and respected Chief Steward Jack Robb. Another Depression Years death was that of Chief Engineer C. Rowell who had been with the cable ship for 30 years. He was remembered for his outgoing personality and his kindness to children.

Ship's Officers

This list of Ship's Officers is from about the early to mid-1930's.

Captain C. M. C. Fleming
Chief Engineer C. Rowell
Chief Officer W.T. Gagnon
1st Ass't. Engineer F. M. Jupp
Chief Electrician H. P. Porter
2nd Ass't. Engineer T. Thompson
Second Officer (unknown)
3rd Ass't. Engineer R. Nicholson
Navigating Officer A. W. McDonald

Long and Eventful Trip

In August of 1937, C.S. Restorer left on a series of distant adventures, destined to take her to the farther points of her vast realm. There was Manila, Heishan Island, and for the first time since she left there 32 years earlier in 1905, she tied up at the EEA&CTC dock in Keppel Harbour in Singapore. Destiny was to bring her back yet again, ten years later. There were swimming parties in tropical waterfalls, visits to rubber plantations, grass huts, and a chapel on a tropical island where the pipes in the pipe organ were made of bamboo. Christmas and New Year's were spent in Manila, from where a memento is the menu with the names of all 76 on board. It is noted among the deck officers three who later became Masters of the graceful ageing cable ship: Chief Officer W. T. Gagnon, 2nd Officer J. H. Connelly, 3rd Officer D. B. Cantell. Another name on this menu is that of Chief Steward Brock who succeeded a number of others following the death of Jack Robb. Ship's Surgeon was listed as Dr. H. Winter, who was later cited for gallantry during the bombing of Coventry.

The loss of accurate records makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact date, but sometime during this voyage and still another typhoon, with 95mph winds, disaster struck. The high pressure cylinder head on one engine exploded into many pieces that flew in all directions, and blinding, hot, high pressure steam filled the engine room until the valve was shut. The I. P. and L. P. cylinders on that engine could be used, as well as the other engine. They reached home in Feb., 1938, and two more trips quickly followed, one of them to the Pacific Cable Board's station at Fanning Island. From July, 1938, C.S. Restorer was absent from Victoria only three months during the next three years.

Main Menu
| Home | Contact Email | Prologue | 1901 - 1904 | Joint Reports 1903 - 04 | Early Operations | First World War | Peace | Second World War | 3rd Naval Armed Guard Report | Winter Cable Laying | 11th Naval Armed Guard Report | Peace Again | Home And Back To Work | C.S. Restorer's Final Days Part 1 | C.S. Restorer's Final Days Part 2 | Services Rendered by C.S. Restorer | The End For C.S. Restorer|

Copyright © 2006 Dirk van Oudenol

Last revised: 22 July, 2006

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