David Wainwright AM

b. 09/09/1894 Teddington, Middlesex. d. 28/03/1939 Portland, Dorset.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 04/02/1919 off Grimsby, Lincolnshire.

David Wainwright AM

David was the youngest of four children born to George and Alice Wainwright. His siblings were called George, Philip and Constance. The family lived first in Teddington, but then moved to Surbiton. Wainwright served in H.M.S. Colossus from mid-January 1912 to mid-December, 1914.

Though he had requested training in submarines, Wainwright fought in the Battle of Jutland in the “M” Class destroyer H.M.S. Nomad, and was taken prisoner by the Germans following her loss in the action. Wainwright was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 30 July, 1916 while interned in Germany.

Following his repatriation after the war, Wainwright was appointed to the minesweeper Penarth on 31 December, 1918. He would be awarded the Albert Medal for his efforts to save life on the occasion of her loss to a mine on 4 February, 1919.

On 12 January, 1920, Wainwright was appointed additional to the first class protected cruiser Gibraltar for command of the trawler Thomas Jarvis, which command he held until May. He was placed on the Retired List with a gratuity on 11 June, 1920. David married Frances Whitefield while in Palestine in April 1924. Their son, David, was born the following year. It appears David and his family left Palestine in 1926 and a second child, Sally, was born in the UK.

Throughout the 1930s David made various attempts to return to active service with the Royal Navy and gain promotion. He was appointed among the observers to supervise the transfer of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia to Germany in 1938.  

Wainwright was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander (retired) on 30 July, 1924. Wainwright disappeared from a hotel in Portland on 28 March, 1939 after attending a minesweeping course at H.M.S. Hebe. He was discovered, drowned, on a nearby beach on 19 June.



On the 4th .February, 1919, H.M.S. ” Penarth ” struck a mine and immediately began to sink. Lieutenant David Wainwright, taking command of the situation, at once superintended the manning and lowering of the starboard gig, and later the launching of the Carley ‘floats. . Hearing there was a stoker injured in one of the stokeholds, he called for volunteers to show him the way, and at once made his way forward. There was by now a heavy list on the ship, and it was apparent she would not remain afloat much longer, the upper deck on the starboard side being already awash. Lieutenant Wainwright made his way below unaided, and while he was in the stokehold the ship struck a second mine abaft of him. The forepart was blown off and sank, and he was forced to wait till the stokehold had filled before he could float to the surface up the escape. He displayed the greatest gallantry and disregard, of his own personal safety in going; below at a time when the ship was liable to sink at any moment.