Silent Key

                                      Norman ‘Alan’ Gilchrist

10 November 1934 –  06 May 2017

It is with great sadness we report that we have been  advised by Dr. Marianne Gilchrist of the passing of her father Alan.  Alan took his tickets at The James Watt College in Greenock from 1950 until 1952.  After qualifying Alan joined Marconi Marine and according to our records stayed with them until 1960 when he came ashore to work for Marconi in Hull.  The rest of his life and career is covered in the obituary posted below and supplied by Marianne.  Alan was well known to many members and his company was enjoyed when we had a mini reunion in Greenock in November 2014.  He will be missed and may his soul rest in peace.
“We regret to inform everyone of the death of Alan Gilchrist on 6 May 2017, at his home in Hull, aged 82. A native of Rothesay, Isle of Bute, he served as a radio officer in the Merchant Navy, and then came ashore in the early 1960s to work for Marconi. In Hull, he met and married Audrey, née Todd (1925-2013). When their only child, Marianne, was an infant, he returned to education, studying at Ruskin College, Oxford, and then at the University of Salford. He then spent the rest of his working life as a probation officer and senior probation officer in Hull, with a few years as a senior social worker in Scotland in the 1980s. He was a man of wide-ranging interests: ships and sea-faring, art, literature, history, Italian culture, politics, philosophy, the Blues (BB King and Muddy Waters being great favourites) – and much more. In his retirement, he took up watercolour painting. He recovered from major heart surgery in 2009, and cared for Audrey as her health declined in the 2010s. After her death, he studied Italian, joined the Dante Alighieri Society, and took several enjoyable holidays to Italy with Marianne, most recently in the autumn of 2016 (the photo was taken in Florence in 2014). He was a citizen of the world, a citizen of Europe, a Humanist and a socialist. At the end of last year, kidney cancer was diagnosed, but it was heart failure, setting in fairly rapidly, which took him from us. In his last few weeks, Alan had the opportunity to say goodbye to many beloved friends and family members.”

Ron Tucker

7th January 2017.  It is with great sadness we have to report that Ron passed away after battling with non Hodgkin Lymphoma for several weeks.  At the age of 84 he unfortunately lost the battle.  It is sad to report any member going Silent Key but in Ron’s case he was a former stalwart of the ROA.  He went to sea a little later than many of us having studied at Queens Hull from 1975 to 1977.  He joined the Cunard Group in 1977 and stayed at sea with various companies including, Marconi, IMR, STC, Canadian Pacific and Bibby Line until almost the end of our era in the mid 1990’s.  He was quite possibly our last serving member and because of this he worked very hard for the ROA.  He was Vice Chairman to Brian Cotton for many years and was always willing to help in any way.

We will miss him and we offer our deepest condolences to his wife Rosemary, who attended many of our reunions.  May his soul rest in peace.

2nd December 2016.  We have sadly been advised of two members who passed away in recent times.  The news has been prompted by the receipt of December QSO.  Tony Dewsbury passed away on 9th December.   Tony attended Wray Castle in 1963 and was at sea from 1964 to 1975 working for, amongst others, DFDS, Zim, Goulandris and Niarchos.

John Gill passed away on 17th November in Liverpool.  John graduated from Stockwell Radio College in 1939, joined Marconi Marine and served throughout WW2 leaving the sea in 1948. We have no further details of his subsequent career.  We offer our condolences to their families and may their souls rest in peace.

12th October 2016. We have sadly been advised that two members have gone silent key in the last week or so.  Noel Blacklock who was at sea in World War 2, and one of his stories appeared in The Long Silence Falls, passed away and this sad news was followed by Tony Dewsbury passing on.  I hope to receive some form of obituary from the respective families and if so they will be published here.  May their souls rest in peace.

19th August 2016.  We have sadly recently been notified of the passing of  members Pat Gleeson from Ireland and John Glover from England.  We will post more details when available.  May their souls rest in peace.

Ken Dougall

It is with sadness that we have been advised by Mrs Dougall that Ken passed away from pneumonia on 10th March 2016.  We do not have many details of Ken’s career other than he took his ticket/s at Warsash between 1959 and 1961 from where he joined New Zealand Shipping Company.  He worked for NZS between 1961 and 1968 during which time he attended Brunel College in Bristol in 1964 but we do not know for which ticket.  Nothing is known of his subsequent career.

Our thoughts are with his family and may he rest in peace.

Tony Ashe

Although he was not a Radio Officer the ROA had a lot to do with Tony Ashe who sadly passed away from cancer on 20th February 2016.  Tony was effectively our Project Manager on the printing and design side for the two volumes of The Long Silence Falls.  He acted as adviser and middleman between the Chairman and the designer and printer and provided invaluable advice on issues we were not at all familiar with.  He was a gentleman to deal with and will be sadly missed.

Our thoughts are with his family.  May he rest in peace.

Josiah (Jo) Wilkins

With great sadness we have to report that Josiah passed away after a short illness on 31st October 2015.  We have no real details of his career other than he attended North London Wireless College from 1940-41, joined Marconi Marine in 1941 and left the sea in 1949.

Our thoughts are with his family – May he rest in peace.

Ray Mallet

It is with great sadness that we have been advised the following by member Malcolm Foulds:-

Members may be interested to know of the passing of Ray.

We started out together at NESWT then Ray joined P&O/Orient line before emigrating to New Zealand where he served with the Islands Shipping Co. After a while he returned to the UK and served on the cross channel ferries with T/T.

Ray lived in Norfolk and suffered from Parkinsons disease for 20 years.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time – May he rest in peace.

 Kevin McNicholas

Keith Rowley a member of the ROA has advised that his friend, and former Radio Officer with the RFA Kevin McNicholas with whom he attended Riversdale College 1973 – 1976 has passed away.

Kevin leaves behind his sister Sharon and his children Adam, Patrick and Jennifer. His great humor and unconquerable spirit will be missed by all of us.

Our thoughts are with his family – May he rest in Peace

Ivan Lane

It is with regret that we have to report that Ivan passed away on 7th June 2015 in Somerset.  We do not know a great deal about Ivan’s career other than he attended Colwyn Bay between 1944 and 1946, he worked for Marconi Marine between 1946 and 1953 and for Decca Radar between 1953 and 1965.

Our thoughts are with his family.  May he’s rest in peace.

Peter Coe: 1927 – 2015

It is with great sadness that we have been advised that Peter passed away on 9th March 2015.  Peter was a regular and popular contributor to QSO in the early 2000’s when he wrote several stories concerning his career with a specific emphasis on his time on Foreign Flag ships.  Peter was a good author and wrote with accuracy and humour and to this end we are publishing several of his stories in the upcoming Long Silence Falls Two.  It is hoped that this will be some small memorial to his family as we show our respects to a valued member of our profession.  Peter’s wife Carol has provided me the following brief detail of his career and through our own research we can add a little at the end.

Peter was born in Hammersmith 3 April 1927. When he was 17 he voluntered for the army towards the end of the war and spent his time in the Rifle Brigade with the Control Commision in Germany. On leaving the army he trained as a Radio Officer and spent the next 12 years at sea, usually 3 years at a time. He often spoke of this as the best years of his life. When he ‘swallowed the anchor’ he trained as a computer programmer and progressed in this career, being a Management Consultant when he retired in 1992 and we moved to Devon. Thoughout his life ashore he had a great interest in books, collecting, buying and selling.
He was forced to give up when his health started to fail.
His funeral is 30th March. He requested ‘The sailors hornpipe’ to be played. I think this will give you a clue as to the type of man he was!

We believe that Peter left the army and went to radio college in 1948 and sailed on his first trip to sea on Mataroa in 1950.  In the early 1950’s Peter decided that much more could be earned by going FOC and virtually his whole career was recounted in his stories in QSO.  He seemed to do particularly long trips and spent a considerable number of years on an Indonesian vessel that was a pilgrim ship in the season and a general cargo ship in the off season.  His career as far as QSO was concerned seems to have come to an end in 1960 but it is not known if this was the actual end of his seagoing career.

Our thoughts are with Peter’s wife and their family at this difficult time.  May he rest in peace

Ernest ‘Ernie’ Jardine: 1926 – 2015

 It is with great sadness that we have been advised that a very well known member of our profession has sadly passed away.  Obituary provided by Ernie’s daughter Lindsey.

“Radio Officer, Morse Code Examiner and Senior Marine Radio Surveyor

Died peacefully on January 12th 2015 aged 88 years in Crosby, Merseyside.  Loving husband of Win for 63 years and a wonderful father of Gail, Lindsay, Janis, Paul and David, dear grandad to his 10 grandchildren. He will be deeply missed.

Ernest was born in the village of Portpatrick in Scotland and at the age of only 16 he left enthusiastically to join the war effort as a Sea Cadet in the Merchant Navy. In a dangerous but nevertheless exciting job, he sailed in small convoys from Liverpool across the North Atlantic.  After the war, Ernest returned to Scotland where he attended Glasgow Wireless College before becoming Senior Radio Officer in charge of the Portpatrick Radio Station. During the North Sea flood of 1953, he was the only Radio Officer in the UK to pick up the SOS signal from the Stranraer-Larne ferry MV Princess Victoria and kept communications open with her Radio Officer David Broadfoot until sadly, she sank. In 2003, Ernest vividly recalled the disaster when he appeared on the BBC TV Timewatch documentary ‘The Greatest Storm’.

After his period at Portpatrick Radio, Ernest moved with his family to Cornwall as Officer in Charge of Land’s End Radio Station.  In 1959, the family moved again to Liverpool when Ernest took up his new post as Chief Radio Officer, Morse Code Examiner and Marine Radio Surveyor for the whole of the North West until his retirement.  Through many years of communicating with individual Radio Officers, Ernest developed the rare skill of being able to identify who he was in contact with by the style of their Morse. In addition to his career, Ernest was an enthusiastic Tennis, Golf, Bowling and Bridge player and became Captain of the West Lancashire Golf Club in 1989. He was also an accomplished artist and pianist.

Ernest will be remembered as a true gentleman, one of the old school with values and morals. He had a wonderful sense of humour and was a real and loyal friend to all he knew.”

ROA note:  Ernie was known to many members of the ROA and indeed is known to have technically examined some members and/or surveyed vessels they were serving on.  Our profession has lost one of its finest and our thoughts are with his family.  May he rest in peace.

John ‘Jack’ O’Sullivan

Obituary provided by ROA Vice Chairman Colman Shaughnessy

1925-2015

It was with deep regret that I received the news of the passing of Jack O’Sullivan R.I.P.

John joined the Marconi Company at Liverpool in August 1943 having attended Radio Colleges at Limerick and Belfast. He served as Radio Officer on the following ships in convoy, “Liberian”, “Silver Larch”, “Beverhill”, “Port Philip” and “Taron”. It was during an eastbound trip on s/t.”Taron”, convoy HX354, from Trinidad to U.K., on the 8th May 1945 that John received the Admiralty message to All Ships that “Germany had surrendered unconditionally…”

John remained in England after WW11 for 3 years. He returned to Galway where he worked for 10 years with an insurance company and then for 26 years with Galway City Council until his retirement. He was very interested in cycling and in 1963/64 won the All-Ireland Championship. As a distance runner, he ran six marathons and won several honours. He continued winning at veteran level for many years.

Jack wrote in “The Long Silence Falls…” in August 1957, Mary McCarthy from Dalgan, Shrule and I were married and we have lived in Galway since. We have had a very happy life together T.God. We did not have a family of our own but our nephews and nieces keep us company and our in laws with few outlaws!

“As I look back on my life, I see that it can fly away very fast. So many of my school friends and ship mates have “Crossed the Bar” and I pray the Good Lord leaves me here in health, for a few more years.”

Jack was a fine gentleman and his wish for a long life was answered and he will be greatly missed by his loving wife Mary, his nephews and nieces and a wide circle of friends.

May his gentle soul Rest in Peace.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Tom Frawley and I attended the funeral of Jack on behalf of the Radio Officers Association and the Merchant Navy Association. Colman J. Shaughnessy.

Donald Pemberton

We have sadly been advised that Donald passed away on 16th September.  We have no information on record concerning Donald’s career although he wrote several articles for QSO, therefore, at my request Donald’s daughter Jean wrote the obituary that follows.  Jean tells me Donald loved the ROA, was an avid reader of QSO and she read the last copy to him at his bedside in hospital.

Dad was trained as a Merchant Navy radio operator by Marconi and went to sea when he was twenty years old. His first ship was the Dalhanna loaded with munitions which were taken from Barrow to Suez for the army fighting in the Desert War. From Suez he sailed to Rangoon but developed rheumatic fever and was in hospital there for six weeks. After discharge he joined the Sagaing as the 4th RO. She was heading back to the UK but when they stopped in Capetown he was asked if he would transfer to the Monte Piana which only had 2 ROs at the time. Next was the Invereilen, a tanker, which went to New York and Chesapeake Bay via canal systems to avoid the enemy activity on the American West Coast. From there they sailed to Key West, then westward along the coast and up the Mississippi to Baton Rouge where they loaded 13,000 tons of high octane aviation spirit. The Invereilen had to return alone by the dangerous sea route along the East Coast towards Boston to join a convoy. It was very dangerous as there was a succession of coastal towns which were ablaze with light. There was no blackout in operation. Many tankers and American cargo ships were sunk on this stretch their silhouettes being easily spotted by the U-boats. Ten days after signing off at Avonmouth he was sent to Cardiff to join the Baron Ogilvy. The Baron Ogilvy was carrying Welsh coal to Freetown in West Africa but the ship was diverted to Rio de Janeiro, unloaded and reloaded with bauxite and sailed for Scotland. It was torpedoed off the Nigerian coast but after seven days in a life boat with most of the Baron Ogilvy’s crew, little water or food, they were rescued by a neutral Portuguese ship.

In February 1943 Dad sailed on the Manchester Merchant from Liverpool to New Brunswick, Canada as part of convoy ON-166. The convoy came under attack by U-boats. One third of the ships in the convoy were sunk, his was the last at 5.30a.m. on February 25th, after being hit by two torpedoes. The ship went down in ninety seconds. Other ships were instructed not to stop for survivors as they became easy targets themselves but an old American four-stacker transferred to the Canadian and British navies by an arrangement with the U.S. government, threw down a scrambling net, stopped for twenty seconds and picked up a few survivors including Dad.

Six months later his ship the New Columbia sailed up the River Congo where it loaded copper ingots , cotton and palm oil. the ship then made its way to Libreville where it loaded huge tree trunks as deck cargo. Again the ship was torpedoed, this time off the coast of Nigeria, but stayed afloat long enough to load the emergency transmitter and broadcast their position. They were rescued.

After the war Dad returned to Manchester and joined the family business, book and toy wholesalers, a business he worked in for many years until he retired. He still had his morse key and every so often would get it out and show us how he used it. He never forgot the morse code.

Our thoughts are with his family and may he rest in peace.

Daniel Lloyd.

Dan Lloyd who died in Dublin on 12/9/2014 was very well known in Irish marine and radio services. He got his P.M.G. at Kevin Street College of Technology, and saw world -wide sea service in the Merchant Navy with Marconi. Dan also worked shore side with them in Canada. Leaving Marconi he worked with Fairfield Semi Conductors in California,

In 1963, he returned to Ireland where he worked at Shannon and Dublin airports and finally with the Marine Radio Section of the Irish Post Office. where he became Principal Officer until his retirement This involved him with everything connected with marine radio in the country, from examining P.M.G./M.R.G.C. and radar students to surveying the radio gear on every type of vessel.

A real gentleman, he will be much missed. Sincere sympathy is extended to Anna and Siobhan his daughters.

An appreciation of Dan’s life is in preparation for Q.S.O. March 2015 issue.

May he rest in peace.

Chas York

It is with deep regret that we have been informed by his daughter, that Chas passed away in the early hours of the 4th September 2014. Chas was a recent member to the organisation, and spent many years of his life at sea, primarily on foreign flag vessels. He recently donated a large selection of photographs to the ROA which have been included in a separate section.

Our sincere condolences to his daughter Sarah and his family. May he rest in peace

Kingsley Matthews

We have been advised that Kingsley has passed away in Paisley, Scotland.  Kingsley is a recent member and his wife advised us he was looking forward to membership and attending reunions.  The only details we have of his career are that he trained in Newport from 1966 to 1968 and was at sea with Marconi, Redifon and British Rail from 1968 to 1982.  Our sincere condolences to his wife and family and may he rest in peace.

Rowland Rash

It with sadness that we have to report that Rowland passed away on 14th June 2014 at Norwich University Hospital.  He was born on 21st February 1927 and lived in Diss in Norfolk.  We offer our sincere condolences to his wife Geraldine and his family.  May he rest in peace.

We do not have many details of his career but he was trained at the London Telegraph Training College and was at sea with Siemens Brothers between 1944 and 1950

Richard (Dick) Moody

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Dick Moody has gone ‘silent key’ at the good old age of eighty-seven. Dick started his career in radio as an RN telegraphist in World War II and trained for his PMG Certificate when hostilities ceased. As far as we can trace he trained in Southampton and went to sea in 1948 with IMR and subsequently worked for Siemens from 1952-54 and Portishead Radio from 1954 – 56. He had an unusual MN career. He was Radio Officer on the salvage tug Turmoil in 1952 when it attempted to tow the Flying Enterprise to safety and was later to appear in a documentary about the event. After the Turmoil he was to be the Radio Officer on Lady Docker’s luxury yacht Shemara and always described with some feeling the contrast between the Dockers’ luxuriant living and the crew’s quarters. After giving up the sea Dick went to teach at what was then the Southampton Technical College. His main role was to teach Regulations & Procedures and Commercial Working and was well-regarded by his students. His ‘Handbook’ skills stood him in good stead as he revalidated his ‘ticket’ when he retired in 1983 and went back to sea with Kelvin Hughes. He worked for Inroc Marine from 1984-86 and ended his career with Sealink. He gave that up to become an avid caravanner, touring as far as Germany where one of his daughters lives.

 

Dick was one of the first to join the ROA and until a few years ago was to be seen at every AGM. He was excellent company, fun to be with and can easily be described as a gentleman of the ‘old school’. He will be missed by us all. Dick is survived by his wife Hilda and daughters Janet and Lynne. Our thoughts are with his family. May he rest in peace.

David Fletcher

We have recently been advised that David Fletcher G3FUS from Clevedon in Somerset passed away.  We understand that David attended Brunel College in Bristol from 1975 to 1978 and was subsequently employed by Cayzer Irvine, Neptune and Louis Dreyfus.  He appears to have been at sea until 1997, which would mean he was amongst the last R/O’s at sea. Our thoughts are with his family and may he rest in peace.

Thomas Henderson 

We have just recently been advised that Thomas (Tommy) Henderson passed away in November.  Our details concerning him are very sparse other than he went to Glasgow College in 1941-42 so he will have served in World War 2.  Our thoughts are with his family and may he rest in peace.

Arthur J White

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of one of the founder members of the ROA, Arthur White, who passed away in Leicestershire in mid December 2013.  Arthur held membership number 7 which means he was amongst the very first to join.  He trained at Colwyn Bay from 1959 to 1961 and then joined Marconi until 1963.  He then worked for Williamson/Mullion for 5 years before going freelance from 1970 to 1979.  Our records show he worked in Germany from 1980 to 1990 and in Holland from 1990 to 1993 but we do not know if this was in a seagoing capacity.

Our thoughts are with his family.  May he rest in peace.

Kendal Kay Klosser

1923 – 2013

Ken’s Mother and Grandmother were both nurses working in Southern Africa, his mother met and married a Dutch man and they had three sons, ‘Gerry’, ‘Arnie’ and ‘Kendal’. Ken was actually born in Zimbabwi. His Dutch Grandfather was the Dutch Consul General in Pretoria where the road ‘Klosser Strazza’ was named after him.

Another relative in Southern Africa was a seaman, Captain Parow, after whom the town of ‘Parow’ was named.

Kens parents and three sons moved to the Boaler Street area in Kensington Liverpool where the boys attended St Margarets High School in Belmont Road. His father returned to South Africa to manage a Plantation leaving the family in the UK living in a rather splendid house in the suberbs.

On the sporting side Ken was an exceptional swimmer and won the ‘Victor La Dorum’ award. Later as an REOU Secretary he was offered a car and when asked for his preference he said “living in Liverpool not a Red one or a Blue one!” He was particulary disappointed to receive a RED one, what the REOU didn’t know was that he was a staunch ‘Everton FC’ supporter.

Ken felt the sea calling and unknown to his Mother went and joined a ship, circumstances are a bit hazy but it seems he was subsequently discovered and returned home. Later, when older, he joined the Merchant Navy 28th November 1947 as a Radio Officer for Marconi. During his short seagoing career (he swallowed the anchor in 1949) he was the Radio Officer on the illfated vessel “President Reitz” which ran aground in a severe storm off the Tsitsikance Coast, South Africa. His SOS message was picked up by the Radio Officer on the American vessel “Earlam Victory” who by chance had gone on watch early, the result was 39 crew members were saved.

Ken retired from the sea in 1949 to work as a regional secretary for the ‘Radio Officers Union’ (ROU) later to become the ‘Radio and Electronic Officers Union’ (REOU). Kens Liverpool Office was in a splendid Victorian style office block – the Corn Exchange building. He often had a laugh saying he was the only Conservative at the Union Conferences, not quite true as the ROU and REOU were a pretty conservative lot. Ken retired at about the time that the REOU, MMSA and MNAOA merged to form NUMAST in 1985. He was well respected and a tireless worker for the REOU, many R/O’s benefited and were thankful to have Ken around. His input to Union debates was always well received; though he managed to make his presence felt in a quiet but authorative manner we appreciated his council and were duly grateful for his presence.

Ken had a love of sailing and co-owned a thirty foot sailing boat which he kept in Ramsay with the co-owner who was the Lifeboat Controller on the Isle of Man and lived in Douglas. Ken was also the Commodore of the Crosby Marine Sailing Club for a number of years.

After retiring from the Union he worked at a company in Formby together with Derek Miller, Peter Papworth and Ron Richards.

He was also musically inclined and a member of the Liverpool Organ Society, he loved to sing “My Grandfather’s Clock” whenever he was given the opportunity.

He became an enthusiastic Mason with interests in various Lodges, a member and Pass Master of Princess Park Lodge, founder member and Pass Master of Harthill Lodge and also a member of the Anglo Dutch Lodge meeting in Queens Street London.

He was part of a management team running Care Homes in Crosby and involved in Church work. Recently he swan an unspecified ‘extended distance’ to raise money for a new roof at the Crosby United Reform Church.

In 1996 he returned to Southern Africa to visit his Grandparents home where he met a second cousin James Klosser who was a solicitor and one time president of the Mountain Club, whilst there he attempted to meet any surviving members of the crew from the shipwrecked “President Reitz”.

His Union activities together with his work for the Liverpool Masons was a reflection of his caring, benevolent and generous nature. He was always willing to give his time and is sadly missed by his family and those who knew him.

My Grandfather’s Clock

My Grandfathers clock was too large for the shelf,

So it stood ninety years on the floor;

It was taller by half than the old man himself,

though it weighed not a pennyweight more.

It was bought on the morn of the day he was born

and was always his treasure and pride

but it stopped short – never to go again

when the old man died.

CHORUS

Ninety years without slumbering

(tick, tock, tick,tock)

his life’s seconds numbering

(tick, tock, tick, tock)

It stopped short – never to go again

when the old man died

In watching the pendulum swing to and fro,

Many hours had he spent as a boy;

and in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know

and share both his grief and his joy.

For it struck twentyfour when he entered to door

with a blooming and beautiful bride;

but it stopped short – never to go again

When the old man died.

CHORUS

My Grandfather said that of those he could hire,

not a servant so faithful he found

For it wasted no time and had but one desire

at the close of each week to be wound

It kept in its place – not a frown on its face

and its hands never hung by its side

But it stopped short – never to go again

when the old man died

CHORUS

It rang an alarm in the dead of the night

an alarm that for years had been dumb

and we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight

that his hour of departure had come.

Still the clock kept time with a soft and muffled chime

as we silently stood by his side

but it stopped short – never to go again

when the old man died

CHORUS

So sang Ken Klosser who died aged ninety!

Brian Withers

With great sadness I have to report that Brian passed away in Toronto on 7th June 2013.  Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.  Brian was a great supporter of our Association in very many ways.

Our records show that Brian trained at The London Telegraph Training College in 1952 and 1953 and that he then joined the IMR Company and was at sea from 1953 to 1958.  Brian’s son sent me the following message:-

He was 78 and passed away peacefully  surrounded by his family at home at the end of an 8 year battle with cancer.

I know he was in the British merchant navy in the 1950s and worked for Cunard. He served as a radio officer on (at least) the Franconia and the (original) Queen Elizabeth. He met my mother on one of those voyages, an event ultimately leading to me being here to write you this email.

Books, both new and very old, about shipping are everywhere in his home. It’s clear the years he spent at sea as a radio officer meant a great deal to him.”

This would fit with Brian being an IMR man as they manned Cunard passenger ships at that time.

May he rest in peace.

George Banner

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of long time member George Banner.  Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.  His friend and colleague David Barlow provided us with the following information.

George Banner died age 97 – not bad for a baby who when born was put at the bottom of the bed because they thought he would not survive. He was born and raised in Coseley, Nr. Dudley in Worcestershire (later Staffordshire and now the West Midlands).

He attended Colwyn Bay Wireless College and his Morse instructer was “Tubby” Nelson. He went to sea as a Radio Officer in the 1930’s and was proud of working Hong Kong on a spark transmitter from the Mediterranean. He left the sea and worked for the GPO but on the outbreak of war he saw an internal memo asking for Morse operators at an increased salary (having just got married). He got the job and was dispatched to Thurso to a DF station to monitor , report and triangulate UK rogue or spy signals in conjunction with similar stations in Cornwall and Kent. Life in Thurso was somewhat sparse. After the war he worked at Rugby Radio, one of his jobs was with the time signal equipment and he knew its accuracy to within about 12 decimal points ! George rose through the ranks and he was the General Manager of the Goonhilly satellite station in Cornwall.

On retirement he revived his interest in amateur radio and was president of Poldhu Amateur Radio Club. If ever the club needed a speaker for its club meeting he was available and could stand, without notes, and deliver the most riveting and interesting talk about his experiences in life and with radio. I recall that one ship he joined had a Captain who kept pigeons and he found his cabin full of straw and bedding for the birds.

George was a true gentleman and I was pleased to call him a friend and visited his house on a number of occasions – I only wish I had taken a tape recorder with me. He delighted in telling visitors to Poldhu that he and I were taught CW by the same “Tubby” Nelson 30 years apart and that our “fist” was often confused one with another.

Charles Shelton

It is with great sadness that the ROA has been informed of the passing of our dear friend and colleague Charles.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

Charles was a long time supporter of the ROA, indeed he was one of the very first to join when the organisation was formed. He was the first Flight R/O to join the ROA.

Charles Shelton trained as an RAF apprentice between 1942 and 1944. After his RAF service with Coastal Command Charles joined the Marconi Aeronautical Division in 1950 and remained with that company until 1963.

In 1952 the RAF despatched a flight of four Canberra bombers on a sales and demonstration trip to the Caribbean and Latin America. In the course of the exercise the Canberras made the first jet crossings, in both directions, of the South Atlantic. Although Charles was working for Marconi at the time he was invited to be promoted to RAF Pilot Officer, kitted out as such and was the lead Wireless Operator and Metrological Support Officer for the entire trip. Code-named “Operation Round Trip”, the journey involved a 6 1/2-week tour of the Caribbean and Latin American states covering over 38,000 kilometers and involving more than thirty flying demonstrations in thirteen countries in the West Indies, Central and South America, and doubtless were responsible in no small measure for the Canberra’s subsequent sales record in that part of the world. Charles later joined Cossor Electronics as a sales manager, rising to deputy chairman prior to his retirement.

Charles was a long time radio amateur who gained his licence in the 1980’s and used the callsign G0GJS. Together with David Barlow Charles was instrumental in setting up the ROA Radio Amateur Section (ROARS). He was one of the main organizers of the regular communication nets and served on the ROARS Committee until his death. Charles was also very active in the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society (CARS), being Secretary from 1993-2000, where his Morse keying skills were much admired. ROA member Dave Ellis, a fellow CARS member, recalls that when things were slow Charles would often ring up and say. “Hi, Dave, fancy a bit of CW?”  I knew the drill and would come back with something like “OK, Charles, 3538kHz in 5 minutes.”  We would both quickly run up our transceivers and spend the next half hour chatting away happily using high-speed Morse!” Tom Frawley, Chairman of ROARS, remembers that “After spending time on the Morse net, Charles would often ask that we go up to Skype, a further communications channel, in order to discuss band conditions, Morse skills and further ROA news.”

Charles was a strong supporter of the ROA and was a regular attendee at the Annual General Meeting. Charles was very excited that, for the first time, the ROA AGM was coming to his home town and he was greatly looking forward to hosting the event. It is particularly poignant that Charles died on the eve of the AGM.

At the AGM many tributes were paid to Charles, the most common sentiment being that he was a true gentlemen of the old school who will be greatly missed. Charles’ funeral was held in Chelmsford on the 9th May and the Association was represented by Ian Channing and Dave Ellis. Charles was 87.

A TRIBUTE TO CHARLES SHELTON

MY FRIEND AND FELLOW RADIO-OFFICER

ON THE OCCASION OF HIS FUNERAL

By Dave Ellis.

G0GJS_2 To the left is a morse farewell to Charles. Please click on the link.

A tribute to Charles Shelton composed by Dave Ellis. Read at Charles' funeral on 9th May 2013.

A tribute to Charles Shelton composed by Dave Ellis. Read at Charles’ funeral on 9th May 2013.

 

ROA stalwart Charles Shelton and ex R/O Peter Watkins at Sandford Mill. Another wavy braid man. How many people does it take to tune an Oceanspan?

ROA stalwart Charles Shelton and ex R/O Peter Watkins at Sandford Mill. Another wavy braid man. How many people does it take to tune an Oceanspan?

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