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andysk said:
She was on the same course timetable as me at Norwood Tech, 1968-1970, and was married (or engaged) to a Swedish Captain, but I can't for the life of me remember which company. I forget her name, I believe she was getting a ticket to be able to sail with her husband.
It's come down from the shelf, she went away with her husband/partner on Gorthon's.

Cheers

Andy
 

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Females at Sea

I was just about to start a new thread when a search brought up this one.
Being as how this site appears to be one of, if not THE, last bastion of male chauvenist piggery (*)) I was wondering about opinions.
I know this is strictly unPC but most of the old codgers of my, and earlier, generations I've conversed with here have been prePC and pre females at sea. Or thought we were in the latter case.
I know when Dallas first went to sea I had to take an awful lot of ribald remarks and looks of disappointment and rejection when I signed on. I knew who everyone would rather have been there.
I used to make any excuse to visit Norwegian ships when I came across them, purely to make aquaintances, of course. (*)) The fact that I could speak the language helped enormously! Unfortunately most of them were married to one of the officers or, if the "Gniste" happened to be male, that lovely dolly stewardess you fancied invariably turned out to be his wife.

Dallas Bradshaw was the first British RO for Marconi joining in August 1970, first ship Duncraig and she was Canadian. Referring to another thread about "The Merchant Navy Programme" - that was how Captain Macdonald found out that his next sparkie (sparklette?) would be a girl!
There is an interesting write up in the first book attached to this post along with details of -
Alice Mollison
Joan Wareing
Jocelyn Parker
Marylin Stockwell
and others

If the author or publisher is watching. Permission to post more details from this excellent book would be appreciated. The copy I have was a present from 'er indoors direct from the publisher and they are still available.

The 2nd book attached I've just finished reading and I couldn't put it down.
It's very evocative of the period and her descriptions of BA and Brasil brought the memories flooding back. Two chapters per throne room visit rather than one. (*))
Miss Carroll (also Canadian) spent 4 years at sea from 1947 and all on the same ship, the Siranger. Built 1944 in Beaumont, Texas, as the Cape River.
She says in her preface that the first female wireless operator to serve at sea was American. In 1910!. And that by the end of the '30s at least 13 young ladies had operated on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as the Great Lakes.
Unfortunately I can't tell you where to get a copy.

Brave ladies one and all but a bit upsetting for us old salts if I remember correctly.
Any comments?
 

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Female R/O's

Greetings one and all. I sailed with Dallas or Big D as I called her in 1979 on the Scotspark for 4 months. The best way to get any peace was to ask her if she was still 165lbs?? That gave us 48 hours peace. Seriously she was a good R/O and did her job well. I understand she was in the Guiness Book of records as the first female R/O in the British Merchant Navy. The first female at sea that I can remember hearing about was a Second Engineer during the first world war. Dallas was good at the dots but the dashes foxed her!!! Last I heard she was living in North Wales and has a gammy left leg. No more climbing up Pilot ladders.
Merry Xmas all and have a good new year.
Terry 556919.(Cloud)
 

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I sailed with a lady sparks called Sylvia Slattery on the Border Falcon about 1980. She was one one of several in BP. I believe she married a 2/E and eventually went to live in Aussie. There were also various Cadets, and 3/0's by the time I left. I seem to recall BP appointed their first female Supt. sometime recently?
 

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In 1983/84 I sailed on ANL's "Darwin Trader" with the R/O Heather (surname?), the subject of the first post on this thread. I recall her as a pleasant blonde who was competent at her job, a good shipmate and who was well aware of pitfalls and traps in the chauvinistic world around her. She used to join us in the duty mess and when bananas were on the table there was heightened interest in the prospect of watching her eat one. But she was too smart for that, she used to peel it then break it into pieces to eat, much to the disappointment of some watchers!
 

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I was R/O on WYUNA in 60 or 61....nor much fun: all the crew did week on and week off but all the poor old sparky got was to go ashore with the first crew and go the the Quuenscliff pub, get tanked, and back on board with the last boat for another week of duty (dry ship too).

We had a female trainee at Plymouth & Devonport Tech 59-60 where I did my 1st Class PMG. Can't remember her name or if she went to sea.

Cheers Graham
 

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Paid a visit to Singapore Radio/9VG 1989 or 90 or thereabouts. Had heard prior to that, mostly female voices on R/T. It turned out that the majority of operators were female, both on R/T and W/T.
 

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I studied for my ticket at the British School of Telegraphy (later renamed London Electronics College) at Earls Court during 1969 - 1971. There was a female student on the course before me - Barbara Keating - from Australia - she passed her ticket and went to sea under the Red Duster at the end of 1970.

Steve.
 

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Doug, to the best of my knowledge, Heather was the only female RO on Australian ships. I met her a few times and found her to be very competent and a pleasant lady. She was around for 3 or 4 years (I think) and eventually married a BHP Chief Officer. She did seem to get used by AWA a bit for publicity purposes. I think she disappeared under a pile of nappies, but not sure.

There were also a few female Navigating Cadets who eventually got tickets, I believe. Don't know how far up the tree they went.

John T.

There were two female R/O's on the Australian Coast; one Dianne Mehonoshen was on our Oil Rig "Energy Searcher" where she spent a year, before heading to the Antartic with the AAO.
An interesting story with these two ladies. They undertook the R/O course at the AMC Launceston and passed out first and second of their course.
The R/O's Union wouldn't give them jobs until they were at the Courthouse steps.
I never met Heather, but did hear a lot about her from her friend Di, a very lovely lady and a great technician.
 

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Thanks Grifmar, I never heard of Dianne, but I'm sure she was eminently competent, as were all the ex Launceston radio students I met.

I don't recall Heather telling me of any union problems about getting a job - apart from CSR and the Union Company, as far as I know, everyone was employed by AWA (radio company). There was no union roster employment as run by the Seamen's Union of Austalia.

When I arrived in the Lucky Country (1980), I applied for a job with AWA. I already had 13 years experience and was fully qualified, but still had to sit written technical knowledge tests about radio and radar equipment. I was offered a job and flown back to Brisbane First Class - I remember thinking: "I heard these bastards were spoiled to death."

A few days later, while waiting for appointment to a ship, I got a heavy duty phone call from Mal Pickstone of the PREIA (Professional Radio and Electronics Institute of Australia) telling me I couldn't work for AWA as there were already people in Australia qualified and waiting for a job. If this was true, I don't know why they didn't already have jobs, but, in any case, I'd already payed money and joined the PREIA so eat **** Mal, you fat bastard!

Eventually, when the writing was on the wall, the PREIA amalgamated with the mates' union, the Merchant Service Guild, sold the ROs down the river and the rest is history.

John T.
 

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Member Knut mentions Fern Blodgett of the Mosdale. On the warsailors.com site, on the end of their article on the Mosdale, there's a list of twenty other female Canadian sparks serving in the Norwegian war fleet.
Sometime ago I read a bit of the memoirs of one of them, and I believe myself to remember reading that this was arranged from above, the war ministry here or there finding this a good idea. Anyway, many married Norwegians, and many kept serving in Norwegian ships after the war. Stein.
 

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Thanks Grifmar, I never heard of Dianne, but I'm sure she was eminently competent, as were all the ex Launceston radio students I met.

I don't recall Heather telling me of any union problems about getting a job - apart from CSR and the Union Company, as far as I know, everyone was employed by AWA (radio company). There was no union roster employment as run by the Seamen's Union of Austalia.

When I arrived in the Lucky Country (1980), I applied for a job with AWA. I already had 13 years experience and was fully qualified, but still had to sit written technical knowledge tests about radio and radar equipment. I was offered a job and flown back to Brisbane First Class - I remember thinking: "I heard these bastards were spoiled to death."

A few days later, while waiting for appointment to a ship, I got a heavy duty phone call from Mal Pickstone of the PREIA (Professional Radio and Electronics Institute of Australia) telling me I couldn't work for AWA as there were already people in Australia qualified and waiting for a job. If this was true, I don't know why they didn't already have jobs, but, in any case, I'd already payed money and joined the PREIA so eat **** Mal, you fat bastard!

Eventually, when the writing was on the wall, the PREIA amalgamated with the mates' union, the Merchant Service Guild, sold the ROs down the river and the rest is history.

John T.
Ahoy John
Yes that Mal sounds like the "coloured chap in the woodpile". Di only ever worked on "Energy Searcher", and then worked with the Australian Antartic Division. I think she was on "ES" about 18 months. She is now an IT whizz and lives in the Brisbane area. I well remember the amalgamation of the PREIA and the MSG. Like you say the rest is history and GMDSS.
 

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I did my ticket at Newport & Monmouthshire College of Technology starting in 1966 and we had a Russian lady with us for the first year, but I recall she dropped out for (I think) financial reasons. P&O Bulk Shipping Division had at least two female R/O's in the mid/late 1970's. One was called Debbie something and did at least one voyage in Ardmay. Another married a 2nd engineer and did a trip in Ardvar - I took over from her in Ras Al Kaimah in May 1976, but I'm damned if I can remember her name now!
 

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Debbie Rex and Kit Kosarew. I also had a female junior under me (ahem!) on the Talamba in 1975/6 - Gail Courtney, though she didn't stick around for one reason or another.
 

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I studied for the MRGC at Lowestoft College. On the same course was Rose King who is still at sea, and writes excellent articles in the ROA magazine.
 

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Hi Geoff........ I also recall a lady sparks called Barbara Padfield. I was fortunate enough to attend a survival course in Lowestoft with both Barbara and Sylvia. The pool huddle was indeed exilerating as I remember.

Regards,

Ray
 

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Ray, "Padfield" is a famous name in RO circles. Stan Padfield was the Staff Clerk at Marconi's West Ham depot - could Barbara have been a relative?

John T.
 

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Barbara Padfield was one of my students on the RO course at Southampton College of Higher Education ( now Southampton Solent University). This would be around 1974-1976 I think. After leaving the sea ( RO with Brocks - Radio and Electronic Services), I got a teaching job at Leith Nautical College ( now gone) and then transferred to Southampton. I remember Barbara as a truly pleasant person who was a conscientious student who did well. I also have a memory that she was originally a WREN at Pompey. Another female RO training at Southampton a year or two later was Carol Greenwood.
 

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Ray, "Padfield" is a famous name in RO circles. Stan Padfield was the Staff Clerk at Marconi's West Ham depot - could Barbara have been a relative?

John T.
John,

It was East Ham depot (Wakefield Street, East Ham) and you may be surprised to know that Stan Padfield is still alive and well (but no longer sending R/Os on 2-year jaunts).
 
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