GTZZ Press anybody ?

andysk
14th July 2008, 17:46
At least I think GTZZ was the C/S for the nightly press broadcasts from GKA.

As far as I remember, the UK press was from about 0045z to 0130z, followed by the SAPA press from ZSC 0200z-0300z

But I do stand to be corrected by those with a greater grey cell retention rate than I seem to have at the moment !

After a good night down at the Tourist Dance or disco, trying to get the fingers to do what the ears were telling them to do was quite an effort at times. Typing straight onto Gestetner skins, then a quick read through to correct with correction fluid (aka 'blood'), then a short break before the South African broadcast. A total of 8 foolscap pages including sports and stock market prices out to the Bureau by 0345 for printing, collation & distribution to all passenger cabins at breakfast.

There were some at GKA who used to wind up the machine speed - mightily cursed at the time !

One thing concerned me a bit at the time, was if an SOS happened, would I have heard it and been able to respond ? Fortunately that never happened - I hope.

R651400
14th July 2008, 18:03
There were some at GKA who used to wind up the machine speed - mightily cursed at the time !

During my time at GKA all broadcasts were sent by hand eg the telegrams after the tfc list at the beginning of each watch-keeping period.
Four A4 pages of press was well within the capabilities of the cream operators who were chosen for ship broadcast.

K urgess
14th July 2008, 18:06
Oh Thank you Lord for limiting me to a 2nd class and keeping me on cargo ships.

Trevorw
14th July 2008, 18:13
GTZZ used to have two broadcasts, one at 2230, which was quite short, and then a long one at 0130.

When I moved to a cargo ship I kept a note of the freqs, and codes for the football results - I was a very popular man!!

Roger Bentley
14th July 2008, 18:14
I remember two GTZZ broadcasts the first was at 2148z and the other at 0100z. I remember causing considerable alarm on my first trip by typing "80 Chinese armies are massing on the Korean border" - as we were on our way to Korea in a troopship there was an anxious enquiry as to whether this was right. It should have read 8 - bad enough I suppose but 80 was likely to mean total wipe out for the Commonwealth Brigade. I blamed the typewriter!

R651400
14th July 2008, 18:17
Oh Thank you Lord for limiting me to a 2nd class and keeping me on cargo ships.
You're only jealous GTZM-S at not being able to shake a wicked hoof with tourist class passengers!
Andysk doesn't give a date but cw (two unit) tape conversion was quite an involved process firstly if my memory cells are working to ITA2 five unit and then to two unit morse tape.
I never saw any conversion machines or two unit senders at GKL when even bug keys were anathema.

Shipbuilder
14th July 2008, 18:20
Hi Andy,
I always found the press an awful job. The first lot of GTZZ started at 2145 & and ended about 2230, followed by the 2nd lot & SAPA as you have correctly stated. It was an awful lot of work for something to be read in about ten minutes & then cast aside. I especially hated the post mortem the following day with the chief going mad at simple errors & on one ship the captain. We could certainly never get away with typing it straight onto the skins with the chiefs I mainly sailed with. It was received on the typewriter & the re-typed on the skins correcting the English & inserting the punctuation. Also the dreadful job of typing the sports page when I was never remotely interested in any kind of sport. Then later as 2nd - purserette staggering up up to radio office at 0630 in great distress, covered from head to foot in ink & cluthching a shreaded page that the gestener had mashed up & having to type another one.

When the Concorde flew test flight in 1968. I was in S.A. ORANJE. I received it as "test flight satsifactory at 300 mph," but accidentally bounced an extra nought on the end making it 3000 mph. Next morning, passengers were all saying how great it would be to get to SA in a two hour flight. I was expecting urpoar from chief & captain as soon as I woke up. Nothing happened untilk I was in afternoon watch dealing with passenger when door burst open & captain rushed in purple in the face screaming at me (in front of passenger) "You idiot, there should be a comma after the 3 in 3,000 - are you trying to make a fool of me in my own ship?" Without waiting for a reply he stormed off to take it out of chief. I was so mad I said to passenger "If he thinks if flew at 3,000 mph, I really wonder who the idiot is if he can't recognise a simple, but genuine, mistake!" Anyway, at the end of the trip, he got moved on to another ship (much to my relief) & we got Captain R Shattock who was like a breath of fresh air. The next time I sailed with the other one was when he was a passenger in PENDENNIS CASTLE & was trying to wheedle Pdh "crew rates" out of me for a telegram. Anyway, I prenteded I couldn't remember him & he had to pay full rate!

Towards the end of U-C, the GTZZ press finished & we had to receive the Australian Press instead which could be even more difficult in bad propogation conditions. When I arrived aboard the ST. HELENA in 1979, press had finished altogether, much to my relief, & they just got a recorded BBC news followed by News About Britain every evening.

I even managed to miss the lot once when I was 3rd in REINA DEL MAR. We were overnight in Tangier & 4th & myself had been at disco. Just before midnight, I turned in & 4th went to get press. Whether he called me at midnight or not, I can't remember, but I awoke in daylight wiuth ship shuddering & looked out of window to see tug funnel alongside & end of breakwater going past as we sailed. Rushed up to radio office & found couple of pages of press left by 4th & 2nd still fast asleep in his cabin. Not a great deal was said about it though. Chief, Paddy Harden, wasn't too pleased, but no-one else commented on it, so I guess he must have smoothed it over. I doubt if passengers even noticed.

I am sure there must be lots more press stories out there.
Bob

andysk
14th July 2008, 18:20
Oh Thank you Lord for limiting me to a 2nd class and keeping me on cargo ships.

Kris, there were some benefits to being on the passenger ships, even with only a PMG 2nd class, but the press certainly wasn't one of them ! Especially when right in the middle of the GTZZ broadcast, a drunken, but very wealthy First Class passenger arrived at the hatch demanding to make a phone call - that's when the file of clippings came in handy !

R651400, I was talking about 1970-76, don't know when you were there ?

BA204259
14th July 2008, 18:25
Anchor Line's Caledonia/GCKR. As 2nd R/O had to do the midnight - 6am watch. Going down the Red Sea, very hot, very sweaty and taking the Px standing up because I had the most humongous boil under my starboard buttock and I couldn't sit down. You don't know what misery is....

Shipbuilder
14th July 2008, 18:28
R651400
Your reply came in when I was typing my reply (above) out.
We were talking about the years between about 1965 & 1975. One night in 1965 when I was 4th, the press was sent out about twice the normal speed & I missed most of it. That was in WINDSOR CASTLE, Chief Ralph Hough came in at about 2230 and went mad when I said it was too fast. He claimed it was simply my incompetance. At that time, although 4th, I had been at sea for 5 years (came into U-C from AEI R/O renting com.) & had no problems with normal speed morse. In a rage, I called up Portishead & told them what had hapenned & asked what they intended to do about it. They apologised, re-sent the press at the proper speed & even sent an MSG to the chief the next morning admitting error. It was as Andy said, at that time they could crank up the speed. When I mentioned it to another of the company chiefs, he said somebody probably caught the speed knob on the sender, & it did happen from time to time, but whether that was the reason or not, I don't know.
Bob

andysk
14th July 2008, 18:35
Hi Bob ...

Nice one about the poor Purserette - as I never reached the dizzy heights of 2nd R/O, I never saw that sort of a problem. The most I had was trying to get Hector MacColl out of his scratcher on Edinburgh Castle to take over from me at (very very approximately) 0400 - he just sent everything down as I left it - I am not sure if he could read it let alone do anything with it in the state he used to appear !

I'd forgotten doing the 2148z broadcast when 4th, but I did have a fairly gentle lead in with R McCormack (sp) as Chief, what a gentleman, a great tutor and mentor to all 4th (aka Junior) R/O's. The Chief Electrician at that time was from Northern Ireland, with a very broad accent, my introduction to him was at about 2300 on the first night out when he appeared at the hatch and uttered the two immortal words "war loan" - every night he would check his share prices !

On one occasion, Robin Diamond and I had a story running for about 10 days about a couple cycling across the Simpson Desert in Australia on a penny farthing ! When we missed a day, several people asked how they were getting on, and were relieved to see another progress report in the next day's paper !

We also carried an up to date form book to get the horse names right, there were several in the crew who had accounts at various bookies in Southampton, and sent daily telegrams with their betting instructions, all of which were based on our press reports. Never got a beer from the winnings though !

Mimcoman
14th July 2008, 18:38
After the GKK press (I think that was the callsign GKA used for press?), I had to copy the WCC press which I seem to remember was even faster but didn't last as long.
I remember the 2nd R/O used to add a fictitious story once or twice a trip, one of which was that something like a "lesser spotted red-necked pine warbler" or some such really rare bird, a native of Siberia, had been seen roosting on the port forward lifeboat (we were in the South Pacific at the time). Then he went and pinned a photograph on the lifeboat. Nobody said anything and no passenger mentioned it!

K urgess
14th July 2008, 19:27
You're only jealous GTZM-S at not being able to shake a wicked hoof with tourist class passengers!
Andysk doesn't give a date but cw (two unit) tape conversion was quite an involved process firstly if my memory cells are working to ITA2 five unit and then to two unit morse tape.
I never saw any conversion machines or two unit senders at GKL when even bug keys were anathema.

I was quite happy when there were no passengers but could put up with the ones we got on PSNC, Port Line, Lamport & Holt and Bankline as long as I didn't have to dance with them. [=P]
Didn't need to take the press to get the football results. Got the fixtures from Vernons and filled in the score from the World Service. Definitely very popular and guaranteed the offer of a beer as you pinned them up. (Thumb)

Didn't think you could sail on a full blown passenger ship with a PMG2, Andy. At least not when I was at sea.

My opinion of life on full blown passy ships was reinforced when I went on board the Aragon (Royal Mail) in Santos on Tuesday May 23rd 1967 to cadge some logbooks part 2. The comments in my diary are unprintable. I was on Lamport & Holts Raphael at the time and quite happy with our dozen passengers thank you very much.

It was bad enough getting the weather from US and other stations and plotting weather maps. Quite a lot of numbers. Doubt if I could do it now.

Kris

BA204259
14th July 2008, 19:38
Didn't think you could sail on a full blown passenger ship with a PMG2, Andy. At least not when I was at sea.


Don't know when that changed but you certainly could when I was there. 2 X Cunard and 2 X Anchor Line. As a junior at least.

Addendum: Thinking about it, I'm sure that the Chief must have had a PMG1, but PMG2 was OK for juniors.

Shipbuilder
14th July 2008, 20:11
Andy,
Hector was 2nd on my first trip on Mail Steamer (TRANSVAAL CASTLE). We got on pretty good, because he was ex Marconi & had served in coasters, I recall ZENA as prominent. I had been in Everard's Yellow Peril FREDERICK T. EVERARD (GSMC) & also the flatiron WANDSWORTH (MNDJ - not that it mattered - never in traffic list anyway). I remember thinking how old he was & how I had an awful long way to go to even become 3rd. Johnny Walker was 2nd of even greater experience, having survived torpedoing of Blue Funnel's PERSEUS on his first trip in '45 ( Johnny & I sailed together for a number of years with him advancing from 2nd the Chief & I advancing from 4th to 2nd. He finally relieved me aboard GOOD HOPE CASTLE when the big ones were in their death throes!
Mr. McCormack - did ever a finer passenger ship R/O ever tread the decks of a mail steamer? He followed Johnny Walker as 2nd in TRANSVAAL CASTLE on the voyage we became SA VAAL. I never sailed with him again, but we did meet on a number of occasions when I visted Hector aboard EDINBURGH CASTLE in later years. On one occasion, in Cape Town, I was sent by Ralph Hough (Chief WINDSOR CASTLE) to try & bum the innards of EDINBURGH CASTLE's Crusader in exchange for our own faulty unit. We were about to leave ZSC for home & EDINBURGH CASTLE had just arrived. Our own was faulty because the non-inductive anode resistors to the output valves had both "blown." The "inductive wirewounds we replaced them with made the whole thing unstable & no non-inductive replacements were available in Cape Town!" He agreed without argument (don't know that I would have done in his shoes).

Getting off subject of press, but you brought back an awful lot of memories Andy!

bets wishes
Bob

R651400
14th July 2008, 20:16
R651400, I was talking about 1970-76, don't know when you were there ?

1970? Only six years previous, guess automation could have arrived and discipline slipped a bit, I doubt it.

Shipbuilder... You should have framed your apology!
What I was getting at was GKL operators winding up a non-existent machine.
In truth? The H24 ship R/O at px time was maybe a first tripper, junior or even on admission not being able through tourist class delights to receive the speed sent.
Believe me the GKL broadcast operators were the creme de la creme and it was all hand sent.

Shipbuilder
14th July 2008, 20:21
R651400
The press I received that night as 4th aboard WINDSOR CASTLE in 1965 was so fast it could not have been sent by human hand & all the other 4ths in the fleet at the time commented on it & a number of them, like myself, had come from other companies & were very experienced. Why would they have repeated the press, apologised & sent an MSG to the chief if it were otherwise?

Does anyone else remember that high speed night. It could even have been some joker in P'head who had made his own high speed sender (we were clever enough in those days, & most of us still are!) - & connected it up to the system - but the story is true, I assure you!

NORTHERN STAR was also about & complaining
Bob

Tony Selman
14th July 2008, 20:28
On the P&O passenger ships the rule was that if you had more than 40 passengers of one nationality you had to take the press of that country. This was in addition to the 3 press reports that were compulsory from Portishead, WCC and Australia. This occasionally involved the South African press and for a while we also carried quite a lot of Dutch passengers over a couple of trips. At one stage during the night we had to take 5 press reports, which was extremely tiresome. I was 3R/O at the time and for a time the Dutch press spanned the handover between the 12 to 4 and 4 to 8. Receiving a lot of press in Dutch required quite a lot of concentration and was the subject of some friendly competition between the 2R/O and myself. This was the only report we did not type direct on to skins as it had to go down to the Bureau to be checked by a Dutch WAP.

Shipbuilder
14th July 2008, 20:44
Tony,
As I remember it, the press as received was very much abbrieved with little or no punctuation & often making little senese, especially the sports pages ! In order to make it make sense, we more or less had to re-type it. This was 1965 to 1973. All the U-C 3rds & some of the 4ths were more than capable of receiving morse on a typewriter, but I have to say, it was generally not fit to place before a passenger unless it had been re-typed & corrected! Even after I left H24 ships, I always received weather reports, Nav warnings & long messages direct on the typewriter, but punctuation & grammer was better in them! We pre-prepared the stock & shares pages on skins & received the results direct to the skins!

Were my H24 ships alone in having to re-type & correct press broadcasts?
TRANSVAAL CASTLE, WINDSOR CASTLE, REINA DEL MAR, PENDENNIS CASTLE, EDINBURGH CASTLE & S.A. ORANJE.

I have heard from other H24 line R/Os of the 60s & 70s that they just received the press & then sent it down to the pursers/writers for re-typing!

Bob

K urgess
14th July 2008, 20:56
You're right BA. (Thumb)
According to the bible at least one operator on a Class I ship must have a General or First Class Certificate. Doesn't say he has to be chief though!
It may have been one of those Marconi things.
Looks like I had a narrow escape then. [=P]

R651400
14th July 2008, 21:05
According to the bible at least one operator on a Class I ship must have a General or First Class Certificate. Doesn't say he has to be chief though![=P]...and that was from GBTT downwards. I think there may have been a sub clause as to who did the operating during vessel in distress but not sure.

K urgess
14th July 2008, 22:07
...and that was from GBTT downwards. I think there may have been a sub clause as to who did the operating during vessel in distress but not sure.

Apologies. The write up concerning this is giving me a headache. It's full of except in the case of...... clauses.
Basically you can only be a chief on a class I passenger ship (250 passengers or more) if you have a General or PMG1 but you need at least one year's experience of which 6 months must have been on a ship.
Class II covers vessels with less than 250 passengers and cargo vessels over 1600 gross tons. Anything other than a Special will do and at least 6 months experience. At least 3 months must have been on board a ship.
The "on board a ship" qualification is because you could gain experience on a coast station that counted towards your certificate validation.

I've just noticed that the General syllabus is in the back of the bible along with specimen papers. Oh woe is me!

Just a quick question.
If the passenger ship was on 24 hours watches with multiple sparkies was an auto alarm even fitted?

Kris

holland25
14th July 2008, 22:32
I only had a 2nd Class PMG and was 3rd R/O on the Parthia in 1956.I think she was certified to carry about 350 passengers. We certainly didnt have an Auto Alarm.

I was a first tripper and I was given the job of receiving the press. From memory I used to take it by hand and then type it up for the Pursers to produce the morning paper.

Initially I found that the typing was the hardest part of the job since I had never used a typewriter before. I eventually got quite adept with a two finger peck. I suppose I didnt always get hit with the press due to the clock changes during our passage to and from the US.

I do remember sitting with a bucket between my legs and trying to concentrate on the stock reports and the racing results,I got over it.

de paor
14th July 2008, 23:53
Oh Thank you Lord for limiting me to a 2nd class and keeping me on cargo ships.

I say amen

ChasD
15th July 2008, 02:04
Only passy boats I sailed on using GTZZ were the Royal Mail Line and press transmissions never seemed to be a problem. I have however, used the weather fax machine coupled through to the main R/X to pick up press fax pictures - not easy but do-able - most impressive ones were pictures of Russian tanks rolling into Hungary which we had on the notice board before BBC were reporting the incident. I had been in the habit of transcribing BBC news when things got a bit boring on the big tanks; it kept the crowd happy !

R651400
15th July 2008, 04:55
Class II covers vessels with less than 250 passengers and cargo vessels over 1600 gross tons. Anything other than a Special will do and at least 6 months experience. At least 3 months must have been on board a ship. Kris

Not wishing to add further to your headache Kris I find the Class II category conflicts somewhat with GTZB policy. Taking only their 40 and 12 passenger ships they insisted one of the two R/O's must have at least a 1st Class and my understanding was because of IoWT regs as per the bible you refer, which I assume is Radio Regs Handbook published by HM Stationers?
I don't have a personal copy but remember cover was buff coloured in the fifties and then became light blue, with exam syllabus and specimen papers at the rear.

Ron Stringer
15th July 2008, 09:20
At least I think GTZZ was the C/S for the nightly press broadcasts from GKA.

As far as I remember, the UK press was from about 0045z to 0130z, followed by the SAPA press from ZSC 0200z-0300z

But I do stand to be corrected by those with a greater grey cell retention rate than I seem to have at the moment !

In 1960/61 there were two daily GTZZ broadcasts. One at 2145Z and the other at 0100Z. Their length varied slightly depending upon the international situation and the whims of the operator at Burnham who ran the tapes. Sometimes they went very fast, well in excess of 25 wpm.

The 2145Z transmission was always an anxious time for us since we had to copy the 2130Z transmission of Bracknell's Atlantic Weather broadcast from Portishead. In the hurricane season, or if there were other meteorological problems in the area, this could sometimes be extended, with a risk of over-running the start of the GTZZ broadcast. Since we only had one main receiver capable of receiving HF signals, and since it had no accurate calibration, it often took some time to find the GTZZ call wheel signals. As time ran on towards the start of the press, anxiety built and you faced the choice between staying with the weather (wrath of the Chief R/O for missing the start of the press) or moving off to search for GKK/GTZZ (much wrath from the Captain because the weather bulletin hanging on the clip in the chartroom was incomplete).

One night only gibberish could be heard on all the GTZZ frequencies (which were hard enough to identify clearly on the CR300 even when receiving understandable text). Panic set in as the time ran on and there was still only rubbish to be heard - the Chief would never believe the fault was not mine! Eventually the transmission ceased and I waited and waited before eventually a hand-keyed message was sent, saying that there had been 'technical problems' and the press would be re-broadcast shortly. And so it was, correctly and at about 20 wpm, nice and slow. Apparently someone had put the punched tape on the wrong way round, reversing the 5-character code for every letter.

All in all, copying the press made the 8-12 in the Atlantic and Caribbean quite an interesting watch.

Glyndwr
15th July 2008, 10:34
What bad memories this thread has brought me. I used to hate the press bulletins. As everyone seems to mention the discos and late nights did not mix with the press. How many times did I miss the press.....

Before we left Southampton I always bought several newspapers and magazines and did some searching for articles which did not have a time stamp. I used to publish these when I was "out of sorts" to receive the press.

I did however hear of one passenger on Edinburgh Castle who suddenly saw his shares drop by £10 overnight; forutunately this was a typo....


Happy reading

Glyn

mikeg
15th July 2008, 11:11
I did however hear of one passenger on Edinburgh Castle who suddenly saw his shares drop by £10 overnight; forutunately this was a typo....

Happy reading

Glyn


Lucky he didn't send a telegram to his stockbroker to sell sell sell (==D)

Tony Selman
15th July 2008, 11:29
Bob, to be honest at this distance I cannot remember what we used to do about punctuation. I do remember that the longer I spent on passenger ships the better I became at following press broadcasts and typing them several words behind what was being sent. This was useful in times of iffy reception when you could sort out the context of what was being said and catch up once you had worked it out. It is possible, but by no means certain, that I corrected the punctuation as I went along by this method. I certainly could not do it in Dutch with some of their complex words!

I had also forgotten about the 2130z weather clashing with the start of the press as per Ron's message. This could get a bit tricky at times but the solution if pressed, certainly on Oronsay, was to tape one or the other on the second receiver. As we had R408's we could be reasonably sure of locking on to the signal and it not moving too far.

K urgess
15th July 2008, 12:43
Not wishing to add further to your headache Kris I find the Class II category conflicts somewhat with GTZB policy. Taking only their 40 and 12 passenger ships they insisted one of the two R/O's must have at least a 1st Class and my understanding was because of IoWT regs as per the bible you refer, which I assume is Radio Regs Handbook published by HM Stationers?
I don't have a personal copy but remember cover was buff coloured in the fifties and then became light blue, with exam syllabus and specimen papers at the rear.

Yes it's the blue one I've got which is the 1975 edition. I trained using the orange one, I think. This one has less Q codes and different watchkeeping rules. Doesn't include "train your searchlight on a cloud, occulting if possible....."
12 passengers or less was a cargo ship because you didn't need a passenger licence. The bible is confusing because on one page it's Class II(i) and on the next page it's Class II(a) for passenger vessels with less than 250 passengers.
Class II(a) without an A/A had to have a minimum of 2 operators or 3 if it was at sea for more than 48 hours. One of them must have a General or a PMG1. With an A/A it was minimum one operator with a General or PMG1 again. Doesn't say anything about 12 or 40 passengers at all. Glad I finally made sense of all that. (?HUH)

Cargo ships with less than 12 passenger carried a different sort of passenger and they expected less because they tended to know that the ship's primary business was cargo carrying not passenger entertainment. The passenger lounge invariably had a broadcast receiver or a loudspeaker fed from the one in the radio room. Always checked at the beginning of the watch to make sure the World Service was still coming through so the need for taking press was nil.
GTZM can't have had a policy about these ships because I did quite a few with a PMG2 and BOT Radar.

I did the fiddling with the weather fax as well and got some press pictures but that was on a bulk carrier. Unfortunately you had to hold them in front of a mirror because the press faxes ran in the opposite direction to the weather faxes.
The pictures were interesting enough without making unauthorised modifications to the weather machine. [=P]

Kris

andysk
15th July 2008, 13:06
Well, I started something here didnít I !!

To answer & respond in turn Ö.

Bob (#15) : A lot of familiar names there Bob, I was with Paddy Harden as Chief on RDM but donít remember much about him; Bill Eckersley as Chief on SA ORANJE, a great socialite, treated everybody the same, regardless of rank or position; I thought Johnny Walker a bit aloof on EDINBURGH CASTLE, but in view of his PERSEUS experience, which I didn't know ab0out at the time, perhaps not surprising. Not sure how old Hector was, probably not as old as he looked to this newby fresh into the mail service in 1971.

R651400 (#16) : I was casting no aspersions on the GKA operators, the vast majority were excellent. However, and I am sure I speak for most ex-4th's on B&C, that we were professional enough to manage the press when sent at a reasonable speed, but when the machine was wound up above about 25wpm, well that was a different matter !

Bob (#19) : You are right about the retyping Bob, although I was only on EDINBURGH CASTLE, SA ORANJE & RDM, I was thinking of typing directly onto the pre-prepared sports and stocks pages

Kris (#22) : I donít recall having an AA on any of the B&C mailships, but I could be wrong ....

Tony (#30) : I think most of us who took the press for any length of time got into that habit Tony, but I was very glad we only had to do it in English. Having said that, I don't know if ZSC ever broadcast the SAPA press in Afrikaans ?

About tickets, as far as I can remember, the Chief and 2nd had to have a PMG 1st Class, just in case something happened, but the 3rd and 4th could get away with PMG 2nd Class.

My first trip away solo was on Clan Macleod with just the PMG 2nd Class, not even BOT Radar, Cayzer House must have been a bit desperate !

When I started at Norwood Tech in 1968, the PMG Handbook was a rather pukey orange/buff colour, then a revised edition was published a few years later in a rather delicate shade of pale blue.

dje4816
15th July 2008, 16:53
I was junior RO on the City of Port Elizabeth in the second half of 1970. She carried a maximum of 80 passengers, first class only, and about 10,000 tons of cargo - strange combination.

The passengers had to have their newspapers each morning, so I had to take the 0100 GTZZ broadcasts. My chief RO was a Glaswegian named Bob Kerr, and used to give me stick about everything. He was into the gin, and I had to do most of the watches, especially that bloody GTZZ!

I read one member couldn't type. How the hell did he manage? We were trained up to 25 wpm touch-typing at Wireless School (Barking, part of North London Polytechnic for me), and most of us went on from there easily to speeds of 60 or more. I couldn't have sat there taking those broadcasts by hand.

The funny thing was that I was usually on auto-pilot, and had to read the news sheet the next morning to find out what I'd received. It was as though the signal passed through my comatose body down the antenna, through the receiver, into the headphones and thus my brain and thence out through my fingers onto the typewriter.

I'm sure we used 4 Mhz, and at that time of the morning it can be pretty variable - like virtually unreadable at times. Like so many of my good colleagues, I often invented stories to pad things out. I remember making up a story about a police chase halfway across Southern England in pursuit of drugs dealers one night. Several passengers asked me the following day if the villains were ever caught, and I had to be inventive!

If any of you men know me, please get in touch. My resume is given in the Hallo New Members pages. I miss the old days so much! If only we'd known that we were one-offs. Our breed expanded rapidly and flourished after the war, but was dead within about 40 years.

Dave Ellis.

R651400
15th July 2008, 18:25
I recall there was a differential somewhere around 1500 tons grt R/O or not.
A typical example being colliers who required the former and Mimco press-ganged R/O's having less than six months experience to fill the gap.
Cargo ships of a certain grt tonnage carrying 12 passengers or more required 1st Class PMG.

BA204259
15th July 2008, 20:03
Going back to the Px, I seem to recall being told sometime in the '70's that Portishead and the Queens (GBSS and GBTT) were experimenting with some sort of tone transmission system called Piccolo for the px which worked at the then unbelievable speed of 100 wpm. Anybody confirm that?

Shipbuilder
15th July 2008, 20:30
In 1962, I was R/O on a couple of colliers & I had 1st Class PMG!. 2nd Class was OK for ANY cargo ship, however large. Friend of mine with only 2nd class was R/O in GLOBTIK TOKYO, at that time the biggest ship in the whole world!
In Union-Castle, at one time there was a 2nd R/O who only had 2nd class. The requirement was for at least one or maybe two 1st Class certy aboard H24s, but it didn't really matter who it was as long as they had more than2 years on articles. Remember in mid 60s, I was 4th in WINDSOR CASTLE. In Durban a BI passenger ship (Think it was KENYA) was in & 2nd R/O had had bad car accident & couldn't sail - he was only one aboard with 1st Class. They asked us if they could borrow an R/O for homeward voyage. We all had 1st Class aboard WINDSOR CASTLE & I volunteered - Captain said "OK if Chief R/O agrees," but he didn't agree - would have had to keep a watch if I went, so I missed my chance of sailing homeward as 2nd aboard KENYA (Or whatever it was).
Bob

King Ratt
15th July 2008, 20:44
I believe the Queens did have the early Piccolo system in its early days. Piccolo named after what it actually sounded like on the air. The original system used 6 tones and eventually a 32 tone system was produced. It was employed on High Frequency links and British government such as Embassies employed it in an encrypted form and it was in use by stations such as MKK (london, Stanbridge) up to a few years ago. Accurate reception of these signals required a seriously stable receiver .
The Piccolo system proved to be much more successful than the RATT/Sitor systems when radio propagation paths were difficult.

Regards

Rab T

BA204259
15th July 2008, 21:01
Thanks for that Rab T. I believe it also utilised SSB and a very narrow crystal filter to give a better S/N ratio and help it cut thought the QRM. In other words, having a smaller bandwidth than a CW signal.

R651400
16th July 2008, 07:13
Think it was the other way round KR. The original piccolo had 32 tones. One for each letter of the alphabet and other functions, letters figures etc.
The final version which was produced by Racal had 6 tones each letter/function having two tones from the six. There was also plans for a 12 tone to cover ASCII but I don't think it made production.
When frequency synthesised receivers appeared on the scene piccolo came into it's own and outclassed any other automated radio of it's time such as RTTY.

docgk
16th July 2008, 10:01
Just need to correct a minor point BA204259. 'Piccolo' was a multi-level FSK system. The data rate as 50 b/s and the used bandwidth was 320Hz. Technically the bandwidth could be 100Hz more due to Doppler effects ( depending on circumstances). This is MORE than 25 wpm CW which is about 150Hz. Improved Piccolo systems were ITA2 BW 240 Hz data rate 50 b/s and ITA5 200Hz BW, 70 b/s.
If you are interested, similar systems are currently in use by Hams ( though the MFSK option is not hugely popular). There are other multi tone modes like Hellschreiber, Field Hellschreiber etc. Listen on 14070MHz ssb USB. Download free decoder software - Digipan or gmfsk for Linux. Then all you need is to knock up a simple computer/Radio interface to read it! Most transmissions are PSK31....
Its a whole world out there!

Tai Pan
16th July 2008, 10:33
On Asturias on return trip with ousted dutch people from Java, after GTZZ press (liverpool always won every sat) we had to take PCH press in Dutch. an hour of total goblygook.

BA204259
16th July 2008, 10:55
docgk

Thanks for clarifying that for me. I do recall trying to hear a piccolo signal with rx settings you would normally use for CW and failing. Hellschreiber was an older system with, if I remember correctly, a much larger bandwidth (somewhere in the order of three football fields). However, we are talking a long, long time ago and the finer details escape me.

Roger Bentley
16th July 2008, 16:05
BA204259 I concur with your remarks about the Hellschreiber - the transmissions I recall were on LF and did require a lot of bandwidth. They were sending German press when I heard them, but this was some time after WW2. You could read the output on an undulator type tape and the letters slanted across the tape. Regards, Roger

athinai
16th July 2008, 23:15
Shipbuilder,
Ref Taking Press, I met a couple of R/O's from a Passie vsl about 1964 who told me, that should the Press be unreadable for any reason, they had a backup of Recent Magazines, Newspapers and Snippets from just about everywhere, The VOA & BBC World Service,. etc etc., enough news to fill a Newspaper. it was always printed ''AND NOBODY EVER NOTICED THE DIFFERENCE''

P.S. Was the Press Bulletin not called the ''GKK Press'' or am I dreaming again,

73's

R651400
17th July 2008, 07:46
'Piccolo' was a multi-level FSK system. The data rate as 50 b/s and the used bandwidth was 320Hz.

The early piccolo used tones from 320 to 650 hz giving a tonal bandwidth of 330 hz.
The final two tone version was from 460 to 560 hz tonal bandwidth 100 hz.
BA204259 and Roger, early electro-mechanically generated Hellschreiber used by Reuters had a bandwidth of something like 1.5 kc/s but don't quote me.

Shipbuilder
17th July 2008, 07:51
Hi Athinai,
We did occasionally use fairly recent short undated articles to "fill in" in Union-Castle, but that was never the real problem. There was a complete page of stocks & shares that changed every day. And, of course, the sports results such as football, cricket & horse racing. The horse racing was especially important because there was always an unnoffcial "bookie" aboard who took bets & an incorrect result (discovered later) could cause all sorts of problems. I never heard press referred to as GKK. It was more common to refer to it simply as "the press." It came out under GTZZ, but I had actually forgottent that until it came up here. Maybe I have forgotten GKK as well, but it doesn't "ring a bell."
I was in passenger ships for a total of 22 years, but fortunately, press had become completely obsolete for the last 11 years. In 1990 an effort was made to revive it aboard the new RMS ST. HELENA (132 passengers, Cape Mail Service). It came in by satellite e-mail, but no-one was particularly interested in it and it was phased out after the first voyage (maytbe due to cost).

Bob

docgk
17th July 2008, 09:17
The early piccolo used tones from 320 to 650 hz giving a tonal bandwidth of 330 hz.
The final two tone version was from 460 to 560 hz tonal bandwidth 100 hz.
.
Hi R651400 - Correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like you've arrived at a bandwidth by using the range of tones e.g. 560-460=100. This does not give the bandwidth. The process of changing tones produces extra side frequencies. The general approximation for FM bandwidth is that it is 2X the frequency deviation+the modulating freq. ( the rate at which the deviation takes place). Anyway, am I a true pedant or just a nitpicker?

regards

BA204259
17th July 2008, 09:25
Anyway, am I a true pedant or just a nitpicker?

regards

Yes... to both....:) :) but smarter than me.

Just one more pedantic point (and this from the very dregs of my faded RAM), with the original 32 tone piccolo the carrier was amplitude modulated by the tones, not FM. I believe it was an SSB transmission AM'd by the tones but don't know if it was suppressed carrier or not (A3J?). Don't think it was, but to be honest I can't really remember.

The later variation, the 6-tone picc would have been FM of course (unless somebody corrects me) and your reasoning applies.

athinai
17th July 2008, 11:22
Hi Bob,

Thanks for your fine reply and Info, Yes the Stocks and Shares would have been the big problem indeed if incorrectly copied, I sailed on a vsl once with 12 passengers and one guy used to have his private QTC every few days with his Stocks Info, I later did a bit on Ferries (Reliefs) but no Press there either, Can't remember where I got the Term 'GKK Press' from,
Thanks for all the Info,

73's

R651400
17th July 2008, 12:21
Hi R651400 - Correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like you've arrived at a bandwidth by using the range of tones e.g. 560-460=100. This does not give the bandwidth.
Think I said tonal bandwidth.
Taking into consideration the complexities of filter manufacture during the fifties, to receive comfortably the 32 tone piccolo system would require a receiver with a bandpass filter 300 to 670 c/s.
Tone separation of only 10 c/s meant that even with a good filter and no receiver stability, until frequency synthesised receivers came along, reception was far from perfect.

BA204259
17th July 2008, 12:28
If it came along in the fifties R65400 it must have been DSB?? Open to lots of QRM. Think really to have been successful if would have required SSB which in turn would have required something a bit more stable than your average superhet. That takes us on to frequency synthesisers.

Oops! sri, just realised how far we've gone off-topic from the original thread of the GTZZ px. Apols. My silence is now assured.

K urgess
17th July 2008, 12:35
Having stirred up the grey cells a bit I can remember taking press for morse practice at the instigation of my chief when I was a junior.
In order to become super-efficient I had a little book, not the black one, more a dirty grey, in which I listed useful frequencies for all sorts of things. It's main purpose was so that I could make a note of the Atalanta logging reading for fast acquisition when needed again.
Since the stations were culled from the ITU publications they're mostly non subscription services so the UK one's aren't listed. They may have been at one time but several pages have gone missing/been "modified" over the years.
The press page reads as follows -
Cuba/CLA on 17165.6 22647 kc/s in Spanish at 1900z
Germany/DHS on 4260 8584 12745 17000 kc/s in German at 1400 and 2230z on appropriate frequencies
Sweden/SAG SAB SDO SDM & SDQ on 4262 6372 8498 12880.5 12755 8177.5 12027 18187 in Swedish at 48 past the hour 0000, 0500, 0800, 1800z on appropriate frequencies
Manilla/DZM on 8666 kc/s in English at 1700z
New York/WSL on 4343 6414 8514 and 12997 kc/s in English at 0300z and WNU on 12820 kc/s at 0000z
San Francisco/KFS on 6365 and 8558 kc/s in English at 0918z
San Francisco/KPH on 8618 and 8642 kc/s in English at 0818z
Galveston/KLC on 8618 kc/s in English at 0818z
Tuckerton, New Jersey/WSC on 124.05 4331 6502 8610 kc/s in English at 0300 and 0418z
Washington DC/NSS on 21.5 kc/s in English at 0600z
Norway/LMO6, 7, 25 on 16087 7947 5767 in Norwegian at 1300, 1900 & 2200z
Denmark/OXZ on 22 kc/s in Danish at 0200z

All these were written out in 1966 so just a bit out of date. [=P]

Kris

andysk
17th July 2008, 14:23
......All these were written out in 1966 so just a bit out of date. [=P]

Kris

I'm impressed at your record keeping Kris.

Thinking of the elapsed time between 1966 and now, and the speed of radio waves in space, I suppose there might just be some poor Junior out there in the far nether regions of the universe just coming on watch to receive the the press sent on Earth back then !!

R651400
17th July 2008, 17:33
If it came along in the fifties R65400 it must haveen DSB?? Open to lots of QRM. Didn't say piccolo came along in the fifties just the design of receiver filters and frequency stability had reached it's peak in superheterodyne form before frequency synthesis.

BA204259
17th July 2008, 17:49
Didn't say piccolo came along in the fifties just the design of receiver filters and frequency stability had reached it's peak in superheterodyne form before frequency synthesis.

You are quite correct. I stand in error. I really must wait until a bit later in the day to have a drink..:)

R651400
18th July 2008, 01:59
You are quite correct. I stand in error. I really must wait until a bit later in the day to have a drink..:)You and me both BA204259 perhaps a glass of "Swiss beaujolais" would be in order. I do believe early piccolo was received DSB or AM and the receiving operator had to have his hand continually on the receiver tuning knob to prevent drift.
Don't know if that was the case with GBTT or GBSS when they received the px on piccolo but after a watch in heavy seas perhaps an entire case of bowjollies would come in handy. B-regds

Cunarder
18th July 2008, 02:42
I sailed on Cunard Adventurer, Countess and Princess during 70's and early 80's in the Caribbean. Px was always from WCC at 0030 local (used to make the 12-4 go quickly anyway) Started with NYSE stocks for the day followed by approx 90 mins of p/l px.

docgk
18th July 2008, 11:03
Just thought that the piccoloistas might like to see that similar transmissions are still around. This one is a 16 tone version (MFSK16) from 14.070 MHz ( Amateur band) this morning. The attachment is a screenshot of my spectrum scope. The transmission is at 2500Hz up ( 1407250) - on the right hand side of the picture. The 'scope is a waterfall diagram so current time is the top line and the past moves away down the page. You can clearly measure the BW which is about 240Hz in this case. All the other signals are PSK31 - a very popular 31.5 baud mode using phase shift keying. PSK31 bandwidth is officially under 40 Hz, but non linearlty in the output stages of the txvrs ( or linears) or more likely overdriving does make it about 50Hz.
Better go and do something useful now! :)

BA204259
18th July 2008, 11:40
Thanks docgk - very interesting. Unfortunately I don't have an H/F rx anymore (how do you survive I hear you ask). But I do know somebody who will have a look. I used to spend a long time listening to the bands when I was at sea and later but was never persuaded to get my ticket. I think I do regret it a little, but not enough to "do" the ticket. I'm sure I would still have had a comms rx had it not been for the demise of marine radio. I've been so far away from listening to the bands that I didn't even realise there was an interest in Piccolo/Piccolo related systems there.

Rhodri Mawr
20th July 2008, 19:18
This thread has brought back a few memories. My first encounters with the joys of GTZZ px was aboard the old Shaw Savill liner Southern Cross/GSWW.
In addition to the two GTZZ broadcasts, we also had to get the Aussie MABA px broadcasts (named after the callsign of one of the old Orient liners with which the initial transmission trials had been conducted). What a load of s--t that turned out to be - "kangaroo races in Alice Springs" was the nickname we gave it as the items tended to be very obscure and of little or no interest to anybody (including the Aussie pax).

After departure from the Aussie coast, we also turned our attention to the South Africa SAPA press broadcast as, by now, we were bound for Durban and the Cape. It was almost impossible to rx this broadcast until we were in the Indian Ocean.

Later in my career during the 70's, I again was thrust into this task aboard the SA Oranje and Windsor Castle. By then, I had the idea of taping the BBC world service and transposing their news items. Copyright was no doubt being infringed but nobody noticed at the time and none were any the wiser. It was not unusual (usually after a skinfull on decks the previous evening) to indulge in a little mischief making and to make up a few humourous items to relieve the monotony and to give everyone a laugh next morning. Trouble was, not everyone saw the funny side - especially when some passenger came up to the Pursers' bureau wanting to know if it was true.

Eventually, reached the dizzy heights of 2nd RO so was keeping the 4-8 watch in the morning when the bureau lovelies came up to the radio room to collect the skins. What an eye opener. Seeing them on decks the previous evening, they looked real smart and gorgeous in their spotless whites. However, at 0500 in the morning after the previous evening's revelries, they looked totally different especially after a skinfull the previous evening. And more especially if they had been well sh---ed during the night!!!


Incidentally, I notice a few posters above were querying the origins of the phrase "GKK press". Wasn't GKK the series of frequencies that Portishead used when txing the broadcasts?

BA204259
20th July 2008, 20:24
Rhodri

Have to say your post has made my day..:) :) :D What visions it conjures up..[=P] Mrs BA204259 keeps asking if I'm alright because "you've been cackling like a demented hen for the last half hour". Don't think she'd understand!

Mimcoman
20th July 2008, 20:34
After the GKK press (I think that was the callsign GKA used for press?), I had to copy the WCC press which I seem to remember was even faster but didn't last as long.


Indeed.

After I left Akaroa in 1970, I went to the Nevasa, then the Orion - but it was the oil rig Orion! During the quiet nightshift, I copied the GKK press again and pinned it up on a noticeboard outside the radioroom - no daily newspapers by helo then. The company toolpusher, an American (as were most then), was heavily into stocks and shares and I was on his good side thereafter.

IanSpiden
23rd July 2008, 21:22
I remember the press being a real serious business for the Chief R/O they were always hounding us to get more press , I was forever on the 12-4 taking WCC press on the Orsova I was the j3r/o but the 3r/o could not type so the Chief said that I had to do the 12-4 till he learned , needles to say he did not cause he was on the 8-12 which was a much more sociable thing altogether !!!

R651400
3rd August 2008, 12:01
RM Thanks for MABA. I mentioned this on another thread but didn't know it was the px call-sign for the Australian version. Never took marine px in my life but remember MABA was the call sign of Orient line's Orcades which I heard regularly on the Aussie coast. GNDL was another (from memory) perhaps Oronsay or Orsova and GYKL I think the old Orion. Coincidentally I was on Blue Flue's Orestes/GFPQ another grand old lady.