skip to primary navigation skip to content


You are not currently logged in

Greenstreet, Lionel

Greenstreet, Lionel

Alias: Horace

Dates: 1889-1979

Nationality: British

Awards: Polar Medal (silver)

Lionel Greenstreet grew up in East Barnet, Hertfordshire, the eldest son of a ship's master in the merchant navy. He served as a cadet on the training ship Worcester, from which he passed out in 1904. He worked in numerous sailing ships, gaining a master's certificate in 1911.

Greenstreet was 25 years old in August 1914 when he to wrote Frank Worsley for a position aboard Endurance on Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The original chief officer, Douglas George Jeffrey, had left for active service, as the First World War was just starting. At that time Greenstreet was on leave in Scotland from duties with the New Zealand Shipping Company, and his superintendent told Greenstreet that he would recommend him for a position with the expedition. On the day before Endurance sailed from Plymouth, Greenstreet received a short message from Worsley directing him to come to Plymouth to meet him. Greenstreet did so, and after half an hour Worsley told him to get his affairs in order and be ready to leave the next morning at 10.30. The young officer managed to join the ship just half an hour before she sailed.

After Endurance was caught in the ice, Greenstreet kept regular watches in order to try to find an open led that would take the ship out of the pack. When the ship was abandoned, he was given a dog team, and later he and Alexander Macklin went hunting and were able to bring back an 800-pound Weddell seal, which relieved much of the pressure brought about by the lack of food. Greenstreet also played an important role on the journey to Elephant Island, relieving Worsley at the tiller of Dudley Docker and serving as a key rower for the boat. Worsley later gave extensive praise to Greenstreet, who had been nicknamed 'Horace'.
During the rescue from Elephant Island, Greenstreet was the first to come aboard the rescue ship Yelcho. He was later awarded the Polar Medal in silver for his contributions.

On his return from the expedition, Greenstreet was commissioned into the Inland Water Transport Royal Engineers and served with them for the rest of the First World War. In September 1917 he married Mille Baddeley Muir. After the war, Greenstreet held several positions, including becoming a manager of a marine insurance branch office for the shipping company Furniss Withy & Co.

During the Second World War, Greenstreet joined the Royal Naval Reserve and served in rescue tugs in the Atlantic and North Sea. He then became an adviser for the Admiralty at several American shipyards. Demobilised as a commander, Greenstreet returned to Furniss Withy & Co, but retired not long after to Brixham, Devon. Along with Charles Green and Wally How, he attended a celebration for HMS Endurance, the Royal Navy's Antarctic patrol ship, in 1970. He died in 1979, the last of those who had sailed on Endurance.

Related expeditions...