David James: a Pembrokeshire man.
Updated: Aug 2
David James has always sailed, fished and pottered about on the Milford Haven Waterway. He was a sailing instructor with the Sea Cadet Corps for 15 years and once owned a 1904 Itchen Ferry just for the fun of it.
David's local knowledge of the Haven, passed down from his father, grandfather and their ancestors before them, enabled him to be the unofficial Pembroke River pilot for 34 years. During the annual Pembroke River Run, the Mayor of Pembroke sails up the Pembroke River exercising his right to navigate the river again under David's command and with the knowledge and consent of the Milford Haven Port Authority. He has also guided every Seafair Haven trip to Pembroke.
He is also passionate about Pembrokeshire's wonderful maritime history and heritage, having written several books on the subject and given numerous lectures on the subject all over Wales and in London, Ireland and once in Brittany. There will be excerpts of David’s books and drafts added to this blog in the future.
His winter hobby is building scale model ships with a strong Pembrokeshire link to museum standards. Most of these models are on display in Pembrokeshire museums. He says this saves his wife the chore of dusting them and also makes room for the next model! The highlight of this hobby was being invited twice to exhibit models for a day in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
In 2019, the then Ambassador of Japan, His Excellency Koji Tsuruoka, visited the UK to see David's model of the Imperial Japanese Navy warship Hiei, built in Pembroke Dock in 1877, currently in the Heritage Centre in Pembroke Dockyard.
In Angle churchyard there is a grave containing the bodies of ten Japanese sailors who died when their ship, the Hirano Maru was torpedoed in October 1918. The wooden memorial had long since rotted away and so David organised the building of a granite memorial to mark their last resting place. For this David was honoured by the Ambassador of Japan and also given a Points of Light Award by the then Prime Minister Theresa May in 2019.
David was also involved with the return of saplings taken from a ginko tree (linked to Japan's most famous Admiral Togo) in Pembroke dockyard that has a very special place in the hearts of the Japanese nation. The saplings arrived in Hiroshima on Christmas Eve 2019 and will be planted in sites of special interest in Japan connected with Admiral Togo throughout 2020.
We will publish some excerpts from David's draft book
'Pembrokeshire's Medieval Ships: the ships, the men and the graffiti'
David's work in progress which includes images of 13th century town seals and 12th century ship graffiti which he found in Pembrokeshire.