British Merchant Navy's first female Radio Officer

sparkie2182
16th August 2007, 00:28
does anyone know the name of first female radio officer, and the year of her joining her first ship?

K urgess
16th August 2007, 00:43
Would that be Dallas Bradshaw and the ship Denholm's Duncraig?
August 1970.

sparkie2182
16th August 2007, 00:45
it wud

give that man a coconut.......:)

K urgess
16th August 2007, 00:52
I used to get fed up with the looks of disappointment when I joined a new ship in the 70s and they found out I was just another bloke.

I find the experiences of the earlier female operators more interesting. Most of them were Canadian as indeed Dallas was. Some of them sailed in wartime convoys.

I believe the earliest recorded is some time in the 1920s or earlier in California.

trotterdotpom
16th August 2007, 14:48
I found the suckers bought me more drinks if I wore my Nurse's uniform.

There is an existing thread along these lines somewhere on the site and there is also a photo of Dallas in the Gallery (Denholm's ship in San Francisco, I think).

John T.

Chouan
16th August 2007, 15:04
I sailed with a couple with Ellermans, both with Marconi, when I was a cadet in the 70's, one just on the coast, and one deep sea. Both were very pleasant, but the deep sea one got pleasanter as the trip went on, funnily enough! The only problem was one of jealousy, the 4/E attempting to "do" the 3/0 to "protect" her. The 3/0 getting on with her very well, but was genuinely as innocent of intent as could be, but the 4th couldn't see it, and, well fortified, decided to defend her honour. Fortunately, others were able to restrain him before damage was done and nothing happened and neither the sparkette nor the 3/0 were any the wiser.
"City of Guildford", 1978, I think. We paid off in Abidjan to redundancy except for me as cadet. I did one more trip to finish my time.

Cunarder
19th March 2008, 16:57
My 2R/O on Brocklebanks' Mahout/GHZU in the eraly 70's was a delightful young lady by the name of Margaret Rabbets. No idea where she went to from there.

Derek Roger
19th March 2008, 20:05
There was a second R/O joined Brocklebanks Mahsud in 1974 .
I was sitting at my desk in the Ch?engineers office one Saturday afternoon doing the usual catch up on my abstracts .
There was a knock on my open door and there stood a charming young lady in full uniform . " Are you the Chief " she said .
"Yes but looking at your braid I think you are looking for the Chief R/O who unfortunately has gone home for the weekend "

I forgot my abstracts and helped find a steward to get her gear to her room .

I have a few pictures of that trip so will try and find them and post in the Gallery .

Cheers Derek

tunatownshipwreck
19th March 2008, 20:24
I found the suckers bought me more drinks if I wore my Nurse's uniform.

There is an existing thread along these lines somewhere on the site and there is also a photo of Dallas in the Gallery (Denholm's ship in San Francisco, I think).

John T.

I believe she was on the "Scotstoun".

Cunarder
19th March 2008, 23:05
Hmmm Derek - you've got me thinking now. Maybe it wasn't Mahout after all. But when I joined Mahsud it was in Miami - I took over from Vic Merriott (who I believe has since passed over the bar) and I know Margaret joined my ship on the UK coast. I'll have to go back and think about this one a bit harder.

I recall whilst Vic was showing me round the ship during handover late at night in Miami I casually flicked my ciggy butt over the side, only to be greeted by a thuderous "What the f***!" We peered over the side to see that the ciggy had dropped onto the deck of the bunker barge alongside. They do say that smoking is hazardous to your health!! Thank goodness I gave up the habit....

Tai Pan
20th March 2008, 11:25
Thank the lord Bluies didnt have female operators ( not in my day anyway) had a female doctor on Glengarry ( I had to dole out the condoms)

Tai Pan
20th March 2008, 11:42
PCH had a very sexy voiced female on 2182 in the 50,s

andysk
20th March 2008, 18:18
I seem to recall hearing about one on the Remuera Bay who was married either to the 2/0 or the Frig Engineer. I wonder if that made the crew changes a bit of a problem ?

I was at Norwood Tech in 1998-70 with a lady who was married to a Gorthon's Captain, but I suppose that doesn't count in this thread !

Duncan112
20th March 2008, 22:16
I seem to recall hearing about one on the Remuera Bay who was married either to the 2/0 or the Frig Engineer. I wonder if that made the crew changes a bit of a problem ?



Liz McKenzie?

niggle
22nd March 2008, 20:13
For the curious there is a publication called History of the Radio Officer in The British Merchant Navy and on deep sea trawlers ISBN 1 904323 01 4 Dinefwr Press Ltd that has a couple of Marconi Marine publicity photos of Dallas. There are also photos of Alice Mollinson "Miss Nantwich 1973", Joan Waring, Jocylen Parker and Marylynn Stockwell as first Irish female Radio Officer.
I don't know if this book is still in print but it will be of interest to all ex seagoing Radio Officers tracing the history from Marconi's first signals to modern times.

Niggel

Colman J. Shaughnessy
23rd March 2008, 00:22
Hi Niggel

I met with Marylynn Stockwell, now O'Malley at "Clifden Marconi 100" 17/October/2007. She is well and lives in Tuam, Co. Galway

Slainte & 73's. Colman

Tony Selman
24th March 2008, 23:22
I didn't ever sail with, or meet, a female R/O in the British Merchant Navy but I can well recall whilst sailing on the Trident Tankers VLCC Ardvar in 1973 going on a ship visit whilst in Ras Tanura - not much else to do was there. There was a big Maersk tanker on the other side of the pier so I thought I would wander over for a chat and a clandestine beer with the R/O. I had my relatively new wife with me at the time and had obtained official dispensation for the visit but this might not have been forthcoming had she seen who the Danish R/O was. The lady was just stunning, absolutely the archetypal Scandinavian blonde. As it happened she was married to the 2/O and initially they accepted my invitation to visit Ardvar for a meal and drinks but for some unknown reason they sailed early. This was the only time I set foot off the ship during a 6 month voyage so perhaps it is not surprising I can remember the lady so well. (Thumb)

Shannoner
17th April 2008, 12:11
When I was doing the MRGC and DoT Radar at the Ulster Polytechnic Jordanstown from from 1977 to 80, there was a girl in the class ahead of us, she got her ticket and went on to do the Radar but I don't think she went to sea.
There were two girls in my class, one dropped out after first year and the other got her ticket but then joined the police.
In fact I think there were only two or three people who qualified from the Polytech in the late 70s who managed to get to sea, bad times for seagoing employment as you are all aware. I was lucky enough to get a job with Decca Survey as a Field Technician.
If times had been better you might have seen a lot more female ROs at sea, as far as I can remember most classes after mine had one or two females in them and the course continued to run into the mid to late 80s before being scrapped.

trotterdotpom
17th April 2008, 12:59
Shannoner, I did the MRGC at Riversdale in '78. The mood regarding seagoing employment amongst the students. There were quite a lot of them too. British shipping was collapsing in a heap and I thought it was scandalous that the colleges were still running the courses and wasting the students time.

John T.

Shannoner
17th April 2008, 13:38
Shannoner, I did the MRGC at Riversdale in '78. The mood regarding seagoing employment amongst the students. There were quite a lot of them too. British shipping was collapsing in a heap and I thought it was scandalous that the colleges were still running the courses and wasting the students time.

John T.

Hi John,

I think British shipping had already collapsed in 1978. Yes,The colleges didn't tell you that you had no chance of getting to sea as an R/O. But to be fair the MRGC and DoT Radar were great courses, excellent mix of theory and practical, and anyone who got their MRGC and Radar cert had to be a good technician.
All my classmates got decent jobs out of it, I was with Decca Survey, they loved people who had done R/O courses because we were quite happy to work offshore anywhere in the world,which is where 90% of Decca's work was, I spent about 5 years with them. A lot of others got decent jobs with BBC, GCHQ, Police Telecoms, College/School Techs and local electronics factories.
I am now working as a police tech (Garda) in Dublin, and there are a few in here with R/O background.

Mick

Bill Greig
17th April 2008, 14:00
When I was R/O on the Cumberland/GPPY was allocated a female second sparks. Name of Linda Crumbly from Blackpool, nice lass very professional and a pleasure to work with. At the time we were directly employed by P&O, this would have been about May '76, don't know what happened to her after I got transferred to another company vessel in Pireaus a couple of months later.

trotterdotpom
17th April 2008, 14:01
Glad to hear that things worked out well, Mick. I do recall the lads at Riversdale flogging a dead horse trying to get work with shipping companies though. One day a few of us seagoing blokes were swapping salty tales and one of the students said: "It's good to hear all about the job we're never going to get!" They were just cannon fodder for the colleges.

John T.

Shannoner
17th April 2008, 15:01
I do recall the lads at Riversdale flogging a dead horse trying to get work with shipping companies though.
John T.

I know the feeling John, I wrote to every Radio Co. and DE Shipping Company. I was unemployed for a year after leaving college until Decca Survey hired me. I even offered to sail as a junior for free just to get my 6 months sea time in! I seem to remember that there was still a lot of work for experienced R/Os but no one would take on juniors(Cloud) and without your 6 months junior time you were snookered.
John you got your MRGC in 1978? How did you manage to get to sea?

Clive Kaine
17th April 2008, 18:34
Somebody mentioned Alice Mollison - I was at Wray Castle with her in the early 70s. She wasn't in my class, she started a couple of terms after me. There were quite a few female cadets there in my time, though not all went on to get their tickets.

Interesting story - I was in Cape Town doing a dry dock in 1974, and was having a quiet drink in a hotel bar with the 4/E from my ship and a couple of nurses we'd met, when a Scottish bloke walked up to my table and asked if my name was Clive. Somewhat mystified, I said it was, and he said, "well, I'm with a young lady over there who says she knows you". He called her over - it was Alice Mollison! She and the other bloke (who was a 2/O) had just paid off a ship that day, and were staying in the hotel before flying home. We were both absolutely gobsmacked - what were the chances we'd be in the same bar in CapeTown at the same time?

trotterdotpom
18th April 2008, 00:48
.......
John you got your MRGC in 1978? How did you manage to get to sea?


I was already at sea - just on study leave. The company wouldn't pay me to do the electronics diploma, but they were required to let me do the MRGC, so I took the opportunity.

John T.

Shipbuilder
23rd April 2008, 16:34
I sailed with a couple with Ellermans, both with Marconi, when I was a cadet in the 70's, one just on the coast, and one deep sea. Both were very pleasant, but the deep sea one got pleasanter as the trip went on, funnily enough! The only problem was one of jealousy, the 4/E attempting to "do" the 3/0 to "protect" her. The 3/0 getting on with her very well, but was genuinely as innocent of intent as could be, but the 4th couldn't see it, and, well fortified, decided to defend her honour. Fortunately, others were able to restrain him before damage was done and nothing happened and neither the sparkette nor the 3/0 were any the wiser.
"City of Guildford", 1978, I think. We paid off in Abidjan to redundancy except for me as cadet. I did one more trip to finish my time.

Chouan,
I wonder if you meant CITY OF LICHFIELD? We met that ship in Abidjan at that time (I was in BANDAMA). 3/O of CITY OF LICHFIELD brought Rowena over for a visit. If I remember correctly, she trained at Wray Castle (same as me), but 19 years later. I remember them talking about redundancy.
Bob

Chouan
24th April 2008, 00:30
That's right, it WAS the Lichfield, and her name WAS Rowena! From the midlands somwhere. She was a very pleasant girl, with whom I had a very pleasant flight back to the UK, being fortunate enough to sit next to her all the way back to Heathrow, via Ougoudougou, Timbuktu, etc etc, Marseille and Paris.

Shipbuilder
24th April 2008, 08:18
Amazing what memories can be brought back so easily. I met Rowena again at a Wray Castle reunion 14 years later & she also remembered our meeting in Abidjan at a time when we were all beginning to get a bit worried about our careers. When we sailed from Abidjan, we chanced on the RMS ST. HELENA on her proving voyage after taking over the vacated Union-Castle contract. There were a lot of my old ex U-C shipmates aboard & I was asked if I wanted the job of R/O as they hadn't got a permanent one for voyage 1. I accepted, resigned from Silver Line next day, flew home from the Mediterranean, joined the ST. HELENA & remained there until late 1992 - the happiest years of my life at sea.
Bob

Mimcoman
25th May 2008, 04:49
I wonder if the Rowena you're talking about was Rowena Smith, who worked at Stonehaven Radio from late 1979 onwards. We were told by the training school at GKA that she was heavily into motorbikes and waited for this leather-wearing Bike Chick with a big Honda or whatever. On the appointed day, up came this tiny girl on a yellow 50cc Honda moped! Very nice girl, though. After GND, she went to GCHQ. She said she'd been on a Ben Line containership.

Don Armour
25th May 2008, 12:54
As Shipbuilder says, it's amazing what memories are brought back, I was at Colwyn Bay with Dallas Bradshaw in 1967/68, lost touch, of course when I went fishing and she went to challenge the establishment.

I did bump into her briefly a little later when she was working as a barmaid in one of the hotels in Colwyn Bay when the establishment was winning.

Great lass, excellent sense of humour and very determined, I'm glad she achieved what she set out to do.

Don

derekhore
25th May 2008, 13:28
In 1978 on the Nordic Breeze we had a female sparky called CAROL GREENWAY.

She later became engaged to the 2/0 at the time, CHRIS METSON and I was best man at their wedding a year or so later!

Chouan
25th May 2008, 16:37
I wonder if the Rowena you're talking about was Rowena Smith, who worked at Stonehaven Radio from late 1979 onwards. We were told by the training school at GKA that she was heavily into motorbikes and waited for this leather-wearing Bike Chick with a big Honda or whatever. On the appointed day, up came this tiny girl on a yellow 50cc Honda moped! Very nice girl, though. After GND, she went to GCHQ. She said she'd been on a Ben Line containership.

Probably. She was very petite, and that was her name. Lovely girl, and not only because she was the only girl onboard.

Moulder
25th May 2008, 19:25
.... she probably thought you were quite cute too Chouan.

(Thumb) (Jester)

John Ringrose
27th May 2008, 13:06
I was also on the Mahout think before Margaret was there - There was another in the fleet Ruth Weir - wonder what happened to her. I had to do with a 2nd Peter Harper-Roberts. The Mate called him Harpic as he was clean round the bend!!. But that's another story

Chouan
27th May 2008, 17:34
.... she probably thought you were quite cute too Chouan.

(Thumb) (Jester)

Perhaps, but I doubted it at the time. Sparky + Cadet? I thought not, so never even tried even though I really liked her. I felt so ..... junior? if that's the right word? She had 2 stripes and I didn't even have one! Besides, the 3/0 and 4/E were always hanging round, and I always had cadet jobs to do, so I always felt that, given her choice I never had a chance. On the other hand, it was me she sat next to all the way home, when there was the whole crowd to choose from. On the other hand, perhaps I was the diplomatic choice, given the 4/E's attitude to the 3/0 by that stage!
One of those things I'll never know now. One of life's what ifs. You got me thinking for a while there Moulder!

andysk
3rd June 2008, 12:10
........ In fact I think there were only two or three people who qualified from the Polytech in the late 70s who managed to get to sea, bad times for seagoing employment as you are all aware. .......

I did a conversion from PMG2 to the Gen Cert (MRGC ?) at Wray Castle in 1976/77 together with a BP R/O David ??? from Norwich/Harrogate - as far as I know from the other students there doing their MRGC only a handful ever made it to sea.

The colleges should have been a bit more proactive about encouraging their students in obtaining qualifications like CGLI which were more recognisable to potential shoreside employers.

Clive Kaine
3rd June 2008, 16:56
I remember Rowena Smith, she was at Wray Castle towards the end of my time there (early 70s). Nice girl indeed.

R/O P Bradley
26th November 2008, 00:07
I think the first female radio officer trained in Hull College of Technology (soon after I qualified) and I remember there was a newspaper article about her in the Hull Daily Mail. I can't remember her name but the article will be in the newspapers archives. It would be around 1973/4.

You could email the editor: editor@thisishull.co.uk

LucyKnight
14th June 2013, 16:19
When I was R/O on the Cumberland/GPPY was allocated a female second sparks. Name of Linda Crumbly from Blackpool, nice lass very professional and a pleasure to work with. At the time we were directly employed by P&O, this would have been about May '76, don't know what happened to her after I got transferred to another company vessel in Pireaus a couple of months later.

I remember hearing of you when l joined a ship in Piraeus at that time, Shell Tanker Alinda. There were 2 instrumental engs on board the Alinda which had just spent 3 months there being repaired from a bad fire. They kept telling me that l shouldn't be stuck on a tanker and what a wonderful life it was on the P&O ship in Piraeus who had a female second R/O on board. Their story to try and make me jealous was that you all spent every weekend going by ferry to a nearby Greek Island and camping. I had spent summer 73 and summer 74 ( when the Greek/Cypus war broke out)backpacking and sleeping on Greek beaches. Anyway it didn't work, but why they were determined l should throw everything away after 3 full time years at college plus the junior training I never understood.

Varley
14th June 2013, 22:15
As Shipbuilder says, it's amazing what memories are brought back, I was at Colwyn Bay with Dallas Bradshaw in 1967/68, lost touch, of course when I went fishing and she went to challenge the establishment.

I did bump into her briefly a little later when she was working as a barmaid in one of the hotels in Colwyn Bay when the establishment was winning.

Great lass, excellent sense of humour and very determined, I'm glad she achieved what she set out to do.

Don

The Imperial if I remember rightly.

Bill Greig
17th June 2013, 09:59
Hi Lucy,
there was an element of truth in what the guys told you about Pireaus. We were at anchor for about 6 weeks before we got alongside. There was one weekend some of the lads took a ferry to Mykonos and had a great time, Linda did not go and neither did I, I was saving for a car when I got home on leave, this was the days before car finance was common. Not really much for us to do onboard at that time apart from some bronzying as the agent took all the messages from the office out to the ship every other day. Happy times.
Bill

marconisparks
21st September 2013, 15:12
Would that be Dallas Bradshaw and the ship Denholm's Duncraig?
August 1970.
And the Master was McDonald.

Graham Wallace
29th April 2014, 02:09
I think BP's first female RO was Barbara (Barbra?) J Padfield, 2RO on Severn Oct 1976. her last BP tanker I know of at present was Jolly Sprite 6/82
However it is possible Sylvia Slattery was earlier as she was RO Maple 10/76, Last ship to my knowledge was Trent 1/83.

BP had over 10 female RO's,1976/85

Graham

Graham P Powell
1st May 2014, 16:00
We had quite a few females at GKA. I can remember Zoe Newton
( who was killed by her husband) , Odette Townsend, Lynn Burdon,
Kay ( Elliston), Heather, Cheryl Cottier, Pierina de Pizzo etc . Before the girls arrived of course it was an all male environment ( apart from the telephonist). I heard of a couple of them having harassment issues and that was from Managers who should have known better. Most seem to get on quite well and we had at least two married couples. Others were trained at GKA and then went on to coast stations.
There maybe others who's names I've forgotten so apologies if that is the case.
rgds
Graham Powell

Troppo
1st May 2014, 19:13
I think BP's first female RO was Barbara (Barbra?) J Padfield, 2RO on Severn Oct 1976. her last BP tanker I know of at present was Jolly Sprite 6/82
However it is possible Sylvia Slattery was earlier as she was RO Maple 10/76, Last ship to my knowledge was Trent 1/83.

BP had over 10 female RO's,1976/85

Graham

Sylvia married an engineer (Roger), and emigrated to Australia. I used to work with Roger. A lovely bloke - for an engineer...B\)

sparks69
2nd May 2014, 22:04
First trip for Sylvia was as my junior on the Esk 74/75. Broke her ankle but stayed on board to finish her time. Great ship, a lot of us asked to stay on longer as we were having a good time !!

duncs
3rd May 2014, 06:27
I took over from a female R/O, '79, I think, a 'City' boat. No problems with the gear, job, etc. But, it took me a couple of days to soogee my cabin out!

trotterdotpom
3rd May 2014, 08:38
I took over from a female R/O, '79, I think, a 'City' boat. No problems with the gear, job, etc. But, it took me a couple of days to soogee my cabin out!

The mind boggles!

John T

duncs
5th May 2014, 03:58
The mind boggles!

John T

Your comment, John, above, made me reflect.
It was an Ellerman's boat, with an Indian crew. Perhaps the Indian steward didn't 'do' the female officers cabin? Maybe it was left to her?
However, be that as it may, your mind certainly would have boggled, at the crap I cleared out.

Duncs