First Women Ship's Doctor on Blue Funnel Line?

Suefreem
14th March 2015, 13:53
My mother Joyce K Watkin, worked on the blue funnel line cargo ship SS Tyndareus as a ship's doctor in the 1950s. She passed away this week and we are trying to find out more about her time. We have a 1951 diary with a few entries like 'going to Raffles' on 'To Aden', but no details. We are pretty sure that she was one of the earliest female ships doctors. Might she have been the first on the Blue Funnel Line? Does anyone have any records or memories?

trotterdotpom
14th March 2015, 14:34
Welcome, Sue. This sounds like a job for Hugh Ferguson.

John T

Pat Kennedy
14th March 2015, 15:35
I saw Tyndareus in Singapore Roads, a couple of times, where she spent much of her time between seasons on the Hadj service, which was the Indonesia-Mecca pilgrimage run.
She was an old ship even then in the 1950s. Built in 1915 by Scotts of Greenock, she had an adventurous career in both world wars.
She was finally retired in 1960 when Holts acquired the passenger liner Gunung Djati for the Hadj service, and was broken up in September of that year in Hong Kong

regards,
Pat

Hugh Ferguson
14th March 2015, 17:49
I think this attachment is probably the Tyndareus: if not she is one of that class that we called the nine hatch Goalposters.
She was still going in 1955.I piloted her in Aden sometime in 1955 when she was transporting pilgrims to Mecca!

They were once referred to as Holt's Folly as they were so big they'd have a job to fill them!!
The picture is of her (I'll try to confirm that) loading at a buoy in Hong Kong surrounded by Junks-a Chief Officer's nightmare if ever there was one!

I piloted her into Aden on 2nd June 1955. It was a memorable ocasion for me as I met an old ship-mate with whom I i had sailed in the Glenroy during the early fifties. I think that was the last time I ever saw him as he died in retirement a few years ago. I wonder if he may have met your mother!

Suefreem
14th March 2015, 18:43
Good to hear your stories. It certainly looks like the Tyndareus. We have a couple of paintings of her.
Mum was on the Mecca run in the 1950s but I don't know what years. She was 90 last October, so I don't imagine there are many who survive her who worked on the Tyndareus during her time.

Hugh Ferguson
14th March 2015, 19:50
Of the ships-more than a thousand-I piloted during my two years in that tropical paradise, there are only a few that any recollections remain but the Tyndareus is one of them.
Five percent of the more than 5,000 ships that came and went to Aden in 1955 were Blue Funnel and Glen Line ships. Consequently, to board any one of them, to be met at the top of the pilot ladder, by a familiar face, was always memorable. The other memorable bit was the smell, left by the sea-sick pilgrims, as they vomited over the wrong side of the ship over which, on that occasion, I was obliged to climb!
A lady doctor aboard a "hadj" ship would have been essential as no Muslim lady would have contenanced being attended to by a man.
I would not have envied your mother as the passenger list would have amounted to about a thousand men and women, so births and deaths would undoubtedly occur!

IAN M
15th March 2015, 03:40
QUOTE. A lady doctor aboard a "hadj" ship would have been essential as no Muslim lady would have contenanced being attended to by a man.

When we carried pilgrims to Jeddah on the Atreus in 1948, a lady gave birth on the morning of our arrival. She was attended by our Indian male doctor.

Hugh Ferguson
15th March 2015, 12:26
Agreed, Ian, but in the absence of a female doctor she did not have a choice.
Quite a few Blue Funnel ships picked up a load of pilgrims if they happened to be in a port-such as Singapore-when there was a demand for that service.
An old ship-mate of mine, one Ian Jackson, having been 3rd mate in the Ajax doing a "'round the worlder" found themselves stemmed for such a charter on their homeward passage.
He wrote about it and even added a photograph of an engineer, in his overalls, doing inoculations on the pilgrims!!! Any port in a storm as it were.

But usually Blue Funnel managed to rustle up a docter for all ships. I never sailed with a female docter but in ALL of the Blue Funnel ships in which I did sail, except one, there was always a Doc. and that ship was a managed M.O.W.T. ship during the war and that was a time when we really needed one!!
(a gunner had been shot and we had to transfer him, by breaches buoy, to an American destroyer-we never learned his fate.)

Incidentally, there was a Doc. in the Ajax but he couldn't do it all and needed an assistant!!

Hugh Ferguson
15th March 2015, 17:02
I think this attachment is probably the Tyndareus: if not she is one of that class that we called the nine hatch Goalposters.
She was still going in 1955.I piloted her in Aden sometime in 1955 when she was transporting pilgrims to Mecca!

They were once referred to as Holt's Folly as they were so big they'd have a job to fill them!!
The picture is of her (I'll try to confirm that) loading at a buoy in Hong Kong surrounded by Junks-a Chief Officer's nightmare if ever there was one!

I piloted her into Aden on 2nd June 1955. It was a memorable ocasion for me as I met an old ship-mate with whom I i had sailed in the Glenroy during the early fifties. I think that was the last time I ever saw him as he died in retirement a few years ago. I wonder if he may have met your mother!

Incorrect! That "goalposter" was a sister ship; the Menelaus in 1923. They were designed for a trans-pacific service.

Pat Kennedy
15th March 2015, 18:49
Agreed, Ian, but in the absence of a female doctor she did not have a choice.
Quite a few Blue Funnel ships picked up a load of pilgrims if they happened to be in a port-such as Singapore-when there was a demand for that service.
An old ship-mate of mine, one Ian Jackson, having been 3rd mate in the Ajax doing a "'round the worlder" found themselves stemmed for such a charter on their homeward passage.
He wrote about it and even added a photograph of an engineer, in his overalls, doing inoculations on the pilgrims!!! Any port in a storm as it were.

But usually Blue Funnel managed to rustle up a docter for all ships. I never sailed with a female docter but in ALL of the Blue Funnel ships in which I did sail, except one, there was always a Doc. and that ship was a managed M.O.W.T. ship during the war and that was a time when we really needed one!!
(a gunner had been shot and we had to transfer him, by breaches buoy, to an American destroyer-we never learned his fate.)

Incidentally, there was a Doc. in the Ajax but he couldn't do it all and needed an assistant!!


In my time in Blue Funnel, I never sailed in a ship with a doctor, but they all carried a male nurse who could handle most medical problems.
The one time that the nurse couldnt resolve the problem was when one of the ABs on the Memnon suffered a ruptured appendix while on passage Hong Kong to Manila. Luckily for him, HMS Belfast was within a few hundred miles and we rendezvoused with her, and the casualty was transferred by launch and operated on immediately.
We picked him up in Hong Kong homeward bound about four weeks later.
Pat(Thumb)

Macphail
15th March 2015, 21:15
I sailed on the "Glenorchy", 1962.
Lady doctor on board.
Who married the Chief Officer.
Captain H S Clark, Chief Engineer Harry Thompson, Second Engineer George Lees, Third Engineer Tony Latchford.

John

jimg0nxx
15th March 2015, 21:36
In my time in Blue Funnel, I never sailed in a ship with a doctor, but they all carried a male nurse who could handle most medical problems.
The one time that the nurse couldnt resolve the problem was when one of the ABs on the Memnon suffered a ruptured appendix while on passage Hong Kong to Manila. Luckily for him, HMS Belfast was within a few hundred miles and we rendezvoused with her, and the casualty was transferred by launch and operated on immediately.
We picked him up in Hong Kong homeward bound about four weeks later.
Pat(Thumb)

When I was in Ruchill Hospital in Glasgow with Malaria in 1966 the Ward Sister (much to my surprise in those days) was a former Male Nurse in Blue Flu.
Jim

IAN M
15th March 2015, 23:05
[QUOTE=Hugh Ferguson;1320138]Agreed, Ian, but in the absence of a female doctor she did not have a choice.
Quite a few Blue Funnel ships picked up a load of pilgrims if they happened to be in a port-such as Singapore-when there was a demand for that service.

Hugh

The Atreus did not generally carry a doctor or a male nurse. The Indian doctor joined at Singapore on the outward run and a male nurse joined at Penang on the homeward run. 544 pilgrims boarded at Singapore and Penang. The same number was landed at Jeddah, but one was lost overboard in the Indian Ocean and another born on the morning of the day we arrived in Jeddah.

The full story of that voyage on the Atreus (Captain Peter Dunsire) is told in my book Kindle book, 'Back to Sea'.

I was on only two ships which carried a doctor. One was the Glengarry and the other was the Clytoneus; oddly enough during a coasting voyage to the Continent. The only ship I was on which carried a male nurse was the Deucalion, during my last trip to sea in 1951.

ben27
15th March 2015, 23:11
good day suefreem.m.14th march.2015.22:53.re:first women's ship doctor.#1,my condolences to you and your family at your sad loss.regards ben27

Hugh Ferguson
16th March 2015, 11:39
Agreed, Ian, but in the absence of a female doctor she did not have a choice.
Quite a few Blue Funnel ships picked up a load of pilgrims if they happened to be in a port-such as Singapore-when there was a demand for that service.
An old ship-mate of mine, one Ian Jackson, having been 3rd mate in the Ajax doing a "'round the worlder" found themselves stemmed for such a charter on their homeward passage.
He wrote about it and even added a photograph of an engineer, in his overalls, doing inoculations on the pilgrims!!! Any port in a storm as it were.

But usually Blue Funnel managed to rustle up a docter for all ships. I never sailed with a female docter but in ALL of the Blue Funnel ships in which I did sail, except one, there was always a Doc. and that ship was a managed M.O.W.T. ship during the war and that was a time when we really needed one!!
(a gunner had been shot and we had to transfer him, by breaches buoy, to an American destroyer-we never learned his fate.)

Incidentally, there was a Doc. in the Ajax but he couldn't do it all and needed an assistant!!

Here's that very same photo of Bill Lambert straight out of the engine room in his sweat and oil stained overalls performing just such a service!

Hugh Ferguson
16th March 2015, 18:59
More than a few Blue Funnel ships carried "accommodation" for the transport of human cargo. There was a centre-castle deck, which stretched around the engine-room space, from the main after deck to the forward main-deck.
It was lined with port-holes for cargo, such as elephants or humanity and was very useful for the transport of cars which could be wheeled in from the main after-deck. It was sheathed with wooden decking.

In early 1946 I was a middy in a 1917 built coal-burner so equiped and we carried a cargo of "slaves" from Singapore to Hong Kong. Actually they were "forced labourers" newly released from Japanese imprisonment and being returned to their homeland.
Men and women-about 500 I would guess- carrying all of their meagre belongings on their backs returning to a further very uncertain future in a struggling post-war China.
Elephants, afore-mentioned, were carried in an identical cargo-space in the Glenartney a couple of years later for the restocking of Hamburg Zoo.

(Both of those ships carried a male Doctor-in the first ship a newly qualified young man: in the latter ship an elderly retired doctor who spent all his time in Glen and Blue Funnel ships).

Suefreem
16th March 2015, 21:36
I've just found this.
http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Article.aspx?articleid=straitstimes19501021-1.2.114&sessionid=be5bda9b3b75431b99f2fda00091a67a&keyword=dr+watkin&token=watkin%2cdr
Seems like she was the 1st woman Dr on Blue Funnel.

Sister Eleff
17th March 2015, 00:59
Well done Sue, what joy you must have felt when you found that.

Suefreem
18th March 2015, 21:58
good day suefreem.m.14th march.2015.22:53.re:first women's ship doctor.#1,my condolences to you and your family at your sad loss.regards ben27

Thank you. I only wished I had listened more and asked more questions when mum talked about her time with BluFlu

Suefreem
18th March 2015, 22:02
78938
SS Tyndareus

billyboy
19th March 2015, 11:53
A warm welcome aboard from the Philippines. Please enjoy all this great site has to offer