In September 1963 I made my way to King George V Dock in London to join my first ship, St John.
I was one of six deck cadets and it was normal practice in Saint Line for cadets to be treated pretty much as part of the deck crowd. That being the case my lord and master was the Chief Officer, Lenny Bainton.
The master of St John was Capt T E Roberts and he made Lenny’s life a misery at times and I do wonder if he took this out on us cadets
Like all Saint Line men he took great pride in the ship’s appearance and over the next two years I painted, scrubbed and soogeed every inch of that vessel. I cleaned all the holds in preparation for grain cargoes and dived into all the bilges to remove all sorts of nasty things.
You woud think that cadets would grow to hate such a task master but, not so, Lenny had a kind heart, a sense of humour and was above all something of an intellectual.
He belived that cadets were being trained to be officers and seamen, a philosophy I was most grateful for when I joined the officer ranks, I knew I could tell any seaman what needed to be done and if I was asked how to perform the task, I could show them. For that I am indebted to Lenny.
After Saint Line I never saw him again but was pleased that he progressed to command within B&C, he deserved it.