John Sawyer, MBE, Cunard steward.



John Sawyer's career with Cunard spanned over 48 years. Born in Sunderland, he became a Bell Boy on the Lancastria in August 1935. He later served on almost every Cunard vessel of note, including the Franconia (II), Scythia, Samaria, Britannic, Caronia, Queen Elizabeth, Carinthia, Sylvania, Parthia, Saxonia, Franconia (III), Mauretania, Queen Mary and the Q.E.2. During the Second World War he served on the Franconia (II), which was involved in the evacuation of troops from St. Nazaire, the invasion and evacuation of forces from northern Norway, and the landing of troops in North Africa and Augusta. He also saw action as Saloon Steward on Empire Battle Axe during special operations for the liberation of Europe and finished his war service on Franconia (II), which was involved with trooping movements. In 1956 he served on the Queen Elizabeth as Chief Steward (Cabin Class), where he was assigned to take charge of Sir Antony Eden, British Prime Minister and his party, when they travelled to New York for talks concerning the Suez Crisis. By 1959, John Sawyer had become Cunard's youngest passenger ship chief steward serving on Parthia and in 1966, became the youngest chief steward of a 'queen', with his posting to the Queen Mary. In 1967, reflecting the changes taking place in the shipping line industry, John Sawyer became the first 'Hotel Manager' appointed by Cunard, serving on the Q.E.2. from 1969 to 1981 when he was awarded the M.B.E. From 1982-1983 John Sawyer was shore-based, working from Cunard's New York office as Assistant Vice President, when he was commissioned by the Government to prepare the Q.E.2. for service in the Falklands War. After officially retiring on 3 September 1993, John Sawyer was called upon by Cunard to act as General Manager of the refit and alterations to the newly purchased liner, Vistafjord. John Sawyer died on 19th October 2009. For further details see the attached catalogue or contact The Archives Centre for a copy of the catalogue.