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Discussion Starter #1
Having had success with the sad incident of the apprentice. I have been asked to submit a new topic for research amongst the membership.

This time, it is about Victoria Drummond, the only serving female 2nd engineer in the whole of the British Merchant fleet. Born in Errol, Dundee, Scotland. She was the god-daughter of Queen Victoria.
There is no doubt that she was an interesting woman, she preferred oily overalls to satin dresses and in 1927 was the first woman to gain 2nd class Engineer’s cert. Won the MBE for exceptional gallantry at sea in time of war
(now you get one for bowling a maiden over or writing a song) and the Lloyd's Medal for bravery at sea

Her niece Jean Cherry Drummond (Baroness Strange; a champion of war widows) wrote her biography; The Remarkable Life Of Victoria Drummond - Marine Engineer.
I don't know how true it is but I was told that her engineering skills became apparent when she fixed a car belonging to Sir Alfred Holt (Founder of Blue Funnel Line). He was staying over at her family's estate at the time and his car wouldn't start. He was so impressed with her skills, that he made a statement akin to "We could do with engineers like you aboard my ships" never realizing that she would one day call upon him to make good his word. Her journey from apprentice in 1922 to Chief Engineer in 1959 must have been one of hardship and discrimination. But her tenacity got her there.

What I have written can be found quite easily on the net. But that is not what we are after. It is the experiences of real seamen who sailed with her and shared a joke or a beer with her.
What was she like?
Did she have a sense of humour? I suppose she'd have to, being the only woman aboard a ship.
Did she cast off her royal personage, (A baroness in the Dog House Bar, Cristobal!!! Wot?) when she was ashore with the boys?
We definitely aren't after sordid tales. Funny and dramatic incidents are what we remember best.
She retired in 1962, so it's within memory of many. So please contribute if you can.

Tony
 

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KIWI
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Boy what a fascinating subject & am really looking forward to comments from those who sailed with her.Read a few chapters of the book on her when in Sydney at the Maritime Museum library.The book is available on Amazon but quite expensive. KIWI
 

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KIWI
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Victoria Drummond.Well I am surprised, with all the far reaching maritime knowledge that is regularly exposed on this site no one has come forward with further comments on this remarkable woman.Surely those who sailed in Blue Flue after she had gone would have heard anecdotes well worth repeating.Today we take equality of the sexes as a given but the mind boggles just thinking of how she handled so many aspects of just being a sea going engineer & then in charge as well. KIWI
 

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KIWI
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Looking up Abebooks website notice a signed copy is available of her book.It was done on her 100th birthday 1999. KIWI
 

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Victoria served apprenticeship at Caledon ship works, first trip 1922 as 10th EO on the Anchises, after sea time went for 2nd's ticket passed on 3rd attempt. she sailed as a fiver in 1927 with BI, after sea time went for chiefs ticket and failed 37 times (it is written because she was a female)
eventually got a Panamanian chiefs ticket. During ww2 she sailed on many convoys including the Russian ones. On one occasion during the war her ship was attacked and she kept the engines running by herself despite damage to a vital pipe for which Victoria was awarded the MBE and Lloyds War medal for bravery, on arrival in Virginia she was applauded as a hero. After the war she at one time supervised the building of new ships. 1952/57 sailed as 2nd 1959 -1962 she sailed as a chief on various types of cargo and tankers.
First female member of the Institute of Marine Engineers
Victoria died in 1978 and is buried in Megginch Castle, Scotland.
A book on her life by a relative Cherry Drummond (Baroness Strange) is on ISBN 1-902536-25-8. £12
 

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Wasn't there a film made of her exploits including fixing an engine by using her bra for a fan belt or something? She didn't think to ask the 2nd for his stockings!

John T.
 

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I sent a cheque last week to abebooks for this book which was listed on their website.two days later I received a letter and cheque return to say they could not trace the book.However I have today received confirmation from Imarest that they have this in stock.Price £19.95.Am ordering tomorrow.Pierhead jumper.
 

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Hell as brave as she was and the guts of that woman she should of used her Jock strap because she had more of them than some men.
 

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hello everybody ......this was the first time I,d heard about theis remarkable engineer !!!!.....so to see if I could glean any information about her I posted a thread on a Dundee web site (where I come from ) and am waiting a reply but by all accounts her story can be found on Google ....what" WE " should be calling a legend not like some of these nancy boy "sporting 5 minute wonders" (POP) .....sorry got carried away !!!....backsplice
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well it looks like Kiwi has given the thread a kick start after it stalling. My thanks to Kiwi!
The purpose of trying to find authentic information about Victoria Drummond from a seaman’s perspective is to celebrate her achievements as a woman who done her job, as well as, if not better than other marine engineers, in a period when women were regarded solely as household drudges, barmaids or similar.
The info that's been posted in this thread by members can be found on several sites throughout the web and I thank them for keeping it going, but there aren’t any personal accounts of the woman or lady (in the true meaning of the word) that got stuck in with her comrades, anywhere.
Judging by the number of members who were engineers, I would have thought that some stories about her would have survived from their sea-going days. She was awarded the Lloyds Medal for Gallantry because she single handedly manned the engine room during a WW2 drama.
She must have swapped a yarn with other shipmates or had her photo taken with them. Isn’t there a saying or example concerning her workmanship or character that’s still around.
A simple factual tale will suffice. But if not, hearsay, as long as it relates to the truth and doesn’t demean her, is fair.
Some people might not share the sentiments of the last sentence. But for what it’s worth, I believe if it enhances their image, there’s no harm done.
All heroes and heroines are given reputations that wouldn’t stand intense scrutiny.
So please fella's. Let’s keep her memory alive.
A pint of watered Wrexham Lager in the pig for the best tale.
Well that’s what we got on the Carinthia and Sylvania. How else can a barman afford a Bentley in the sixties? (*))
Thanks to all members for contributing,
Tony
 

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As I mentioned on another thread she was 2nd Engineer on the MV British Monarch (Harrisons of Clyde) I assume it was the same person, but she had moved on when I joined the vessel in Feb 62,it was the kind of thing your told when you join a new ship "she had a female second at one time you know" I have no idea of whether it was the previous trip or a few years before my time.
Tony D
 

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KIWI
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It was 1957 according to the list of her ships on Google.Photos are included & I must say her appearance is not quite what I expected KIWI
 

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When Victoria Drummond was 2nd in "British Monarch" the 2nd Mate was one Douglas Wardrop who distinguished himself by falling overboard when reading the log after his graveyard watch and was not missed until 0800 or 0900.
The old man turned the ship round and the unhappy Douglas was miraculously found after steaming back 50-60 miles.
This is briefly mentioned in the IME book about Victoria.
The story also appeared in a paper-back of the "gripping yarns of the sea" variety called "Against the Sea."
Douglas packed it in some years later and ended up in the Medway area as a local Prudential Assurance Branch manager. He unhappily suc***bed to cancer some 20 years ago.
I think he also sailed in Smiths of Cardiff, I seem to remember his name being mentioned.

"Manners makyth man"
Vic Pitcher
 

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KIWI
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I have just returned from Australia & while in Sydney managed to get into the National Maritime Museum library for several hours to read the book.It was extremely interesting but unfortunately did not come out with some of the detail that would have made it truly memorable.For instance Unisex toilets are taken for granted these days but how was a woman in their midst handled by all the other engineers.No such thing as own facilities or two cabins sharing.During her voyages she was invited out to some highly social functions by family friends so after donning appropriate female gear what did she do about her hands?We can all remember that we males were not so splendiforous in crisply laundered whites when one looked at the hands.Particularly after cleaning a generator or clearing a bilge suction.The book is a must read but leaves a lot of personal info unanswered as has this thread.It is amazing that stories about her have not become maritime history. Kiwil
 

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She probably carried a big wrench.
As for the hands, white gloves and no rings.
 

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Never sailed with Victoria but her brother, Lord Strange, was a fairly regular passenger with Geest. He was an author who wrote under his ordinary name of John Drummond & I beleive he was also a hotelier on the Isle of Man. He told me that he had all the material to write Victoria's biography but she had made him promise not to publish it before her death. I imagine that this material was passed to Baroness Strange who I suppose is his daughter & she was the one who wrote the book. I must get a copy.
 
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