MVA Newsletter 2018 – edition number 20

David Samways

There have been numerous tributes to David following his death in Australia at the end of December.  A selection of them follow.

He was not a Veteran, having served only eleven years in the company, but had joined the association as a Friend a few years ago. I first came into contact with him by email when he was setting up and managing the online Marconi Old Fellows Society (MOFS). He has subsequently created a number of wikis, Marconi in Avionics. Marconi in Broadcasting, Marconi in Communications and Marconi in Television.  Martyn Clarke told me that his devotion to these projects has been impressive.  I think we who remain owe him an immense debt of gratitude for securing a significant portion of the companies’ histories before they are lost.

RIP David.

The news came first from John Price in Australia.

I have known David Samways since we were both accepted as Student Apprentices by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company in 1957. Five years of alternate college and in-works training and final study at Marconi College in 1961. We both worked on commissioning the USAF microwave in UK and France, and later David left Marconi and moved to Honeywell in London while I joined GEC Telecommunications in Coventry. Shortly after that I was delighted to act as best man at his wedding to Doreen in Stoke on Trent.

We met again in Lagos Nigeria in 1965 when David worked at the Marconi P&T Training college, and I was there with GEC commissioning the Lagos to Port Harcourt Microwave System. We only had intermittent contact until 1980, when we were both living in Sydney Australia. Honeywell, renamed Bull, employed David in a senior marketing role for most of the time until he retired with his wife Doreen, to enjoy his daughter’s family and his two grandchildren. His dedicated work in support of MOFS, the Wikis, and assisting with the writing of the article ‘The Marconi Family’ was much appreciated by all concerned. Many will share the sadness at David’s passing, a friendly, humorous, caring, English gentleman.

From Fred Boot

My wife and I first met David and his wife Doreen when they arrived in Nigeria in the August of 1963 to join the Marconi College Team that were running the Radio School in the top two floors of the Post & Telegraph training School at Oshodi, just north of Lagos. There were twelve expats in the team, most married with families but two or three bachelors and together they provided a four year training programme for young Nigerian men who, ultimately would operate and maintain the multi-channel radio system that Marconi had installed linking the large interior through repeater stations in jungle and in the north dessert areas on the edge of the Sahara. Three streams of students were recruited every year with the intention of providing technicians for this system, so the training programme covered classroom theory and practical in laboratories and workshops.

From Ian Gillis

I didn’t know David personally but came to appreciate the dedication, conscientious attention to detail and sheer professionalism that he brought to bear on the work he did on the wikis.

From John Brown

David was with the Communications Division installations team on the US communications link contract, associated with Fylingdales in 1962/4. We both experienced, albeit in different parts of the country, the severe winter of 1962/3 (he in Yorkshire working on the exposed Garrowby Hill site, and me accompanying John Gorton (complete with spades and hessian sacks – for grip – to get through to RAE Aberporth).

During that time, he built up a real affection for his living quarters at ‘The Feathers’ Pocklington.  Fifty-four years later, the affection and memories were still as strong. He knew that from my RAF days I was very familiar with ‘The Feathers’, and he mentioned it again shortly after I returned from one of my regular visits to Leconfield, Yorkshire last July.  Now whether he had a premonition that his life was drawing to a close or not, we will never know; however, he specifically asked me if there was any possibility of my getting someone to take a picture of ‘The Feathers’ as it is today.

I immediately contacted a close friend who lives in the area, and a super picture was E-mailed to me a few days later, which I forwarded to him.  He was ‘over the moon’; especially as it had changed little from when he stayed there fifty-four years ago.  In light of what we now have learnt from Martyn’s sad news, I am just so glad that I was able to carry out his request.

From Mike Plant

What a shock. David can only have been 78, or at most, nudging 79. One of the most striking of my intake in 1957 – tall, handsome in a way, and aristocratic in his manner and manners.  A charming stammer and a ready wit, what memories flood back.  The Oldfellows Group, started and run by him, I’m sure has grown to a much larger and detailed record than he originally envisaged! How appropriate that his group should itself be a living memory of him and of those of us fortunate enough to have been present during his time in the Company. Sadly, but with a smile too.