News from 1934 and 1939 Retirement and Death of Capt Binks

Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The New York Times, 6 February 1939

Retired Skipper of Olympic Served in the British Navy During the World
Commander of Leviathan and Majestic on Last Voyages They Ever Made

News was received yesterday from Liverpool, England, of the death in a
hospital in that city of Captain John W. Binks, retired shipmaster of
the White Star Line and a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy. He was
65 years old.

Captain Binks served at sea for forty-five years, of which thirty-five
were spent in the service of the White Star Line.

After he retired in December, 1934, Captain Binks navigated the two
largest ships of their day on their last trips. In March, 1937, he
commanded the Majestic on her final voyage from Southampton to Rosyth,
Scotland, to become a training ship for naval cadets.

On Jan. 20, 1938, Captain Binks arrived in New York to take over the
command of the former United States liner Leviathan, which had been sold
to shipbreakers, and navigated her to England for Metal Industries,
Ltd., which bought the big liner for scrap.

Captain Binks commanded the White Star liner Olympic for three years and
met with his only major accident, he said, in May, 1934, when his ship
sank the Nantucket Lightship in a fog and caused the death of seven of
the crew of eleven on board at the time.

He attended the inquiries that were held in New York and in London,
remained in command of the Olympic until Dec. 20 of that year, when he

When he reached England in February, 1938, with the Leviathan and a
scratch crew of 125 officers and men Captain Binks said that it was the
toughest voyage he had ever made.

Including his five years in sailing ships, the skipper had traveled
1,500,000 miles, he once estimated.

During the World War he served in the monitor Humber at Gallipoli and on
scouting service in the North Sea.

His widow survives.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Times, 29 December 1934

Captain J. W. Binks, Commander of the Cunard White Star liner Olympic,
brought his ship to port for the last time yesterday. He is retiring
after 45 years at sea, having travelled 1,500,000 miles to all quarters
of the globe. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all
seamen. Captain Binks is retiring on reaching the age limit. He joined
the White Star line in 1899, served during the War as lieutenant and
navigator in the monitor Humber off the Belgian coast, and was
afterwards at the evacuation of Gallipoli. He was in command of a convoy
of 13 ships in the Mediterranean in November, 1918, when three of the
convoy were torpedoed with considerable loss of life.


Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Gazette (Montreal), 14 February 1939

Capt. J. D. [sic] Binks Commanded Many White Star Ships

Word has been received in Montreal that Captain John W. Binks, R.D., former
commander of many of the White Star Line's crack vessels died recently in

When Captain Binks retired at the end of 1934 he was one of the most popular
personalities on the North Atlantic. After his retirement he lived at
Maghull, near Liverpool.

Apprenticed to sail at the age of fifteen, Captain Binks spent 45 years at
sea, and he sailed about one and a half million miles in the course of his
career. A Manxman, he was born in Ramsey and served a four years'
apprenticeship in the sailing vessels of Messrs. Lowden and Edgar.

He joined the White Star Line in 1899 as junior officer in the Coptic and
was promoted chief officer of Cevic ten years later. In 1922 he was
appointed to Majestic in a similar capacity. His first command was that of
Runic in December, 1924, and afterwards commanded Delphic, Athenic,
Adriatic, Baltic and Doric. He was promoted to the command of Olympic, one
of the Atlantic "greyhounds," in November 1931, and for some time during the
war he was commodore of convoys in the Mediterranean. In April 1918, he was
created lieut-commander in the Royal Naval Reserve.

Three years after his retirement, Captain Binks was commissioned by the
Admiralty to take the ex-Cunard White Star liner Majestic---now known as
H.M.S. Caledonia---from Southampton to Rosyth, her permanent station, as a
training ship for 2,000 boys. Last year he brought the giant Leviathan from
America to England to be broken up.

Captain Binks came from a long line of seafarers, his father, grandfather,
and great-grandfather all having been master mariners.


Similar threads