Radio Officers

The commercial exploitation of wireless at sea about 1900 revolutionised ship-shore communications and much improved safety of life at sea. From then until the end of the twentieth century ship-shore communication in the merchant fleets of the world was in the hands of specialist Radio Officers.  Over time the industry turned to the Radio Officer for the maintenance of navigation aids and engine room electronics as well as the management of the communications systems.

By the turn of that century the rank of Radio Officer had passed into history as technological developments removed the need for high specialisation.  Some left the sea but many moved easily into the new rank of Electro-Technical Officer (ETO).  The ETO has the important function of maintaining the complex electronics installations throughout the ship and a number of them are in membership of the Association.

Radio Officers also manned coast radio stations and had counterparts in civil aviation.  They too have a worthy place in distinguished history of communications in the twentieth century.

The Merchant Navy was at the forefront in all the armed conflicts of the twentieth century and is sometimes referred to the fourth arm of the defence of the nation.  In those conflicts many Radio Officers performed extraordinary acts of bravery and self-sacrifice. It is of no surprise that in World War II, of the 30,000 casualties suffered by the British Merchant Navy, no less than 10% were Radio Officers and Masters.  By tradition the Master was the last to leave a sinking ship and he was immediately preceded by the Radio Officer, who had been sending out the last urgent calls for help.  Many Radio Officers were killed at their posts as the Radio Room was regularly the first target of shelling.  We salute them all.

Name

Age

Rank

Vessel

Date

Circumstances

Gordon Thackeray  Allison

22

1st Radio Officer

King Lud

8th June

1942

Off Madagascar, the cargo ship King Lud, 5224 tons (Dodd, Thomson & Co.), was sunk by the submarine I-10 (Japan). She was lost with all hands, a crew of thirty-nine including gunners.


Kenneth Peter Berry

30

3rd Radio Officer

St Elwyn

28th November 1940

East of Bishop Rock the cargo ship St Elwyn, 4940 tons (South American Saint Line) Hull to Santos with coal was sunk by the U-1O3. Twenty-four of the crew were lost.


John M Campbell

45

1st Radio Officer

King Malcolm

31st October 1941

Off Newfoundland, the cargo ship King Malcolm, 5120 tons (Dodd Thomson & Co.) was sunk by the U-374. Her crew of thirty-four and four gunners were all lost in mountainous seas.


Douglas Graeme Carter

19

3rd Radio Officer

Clan MacFadyen

26th November 1942

Northwest of British Guiana, the cargo liner Clan MacFadyen, 6191 tons (Clan Line), Mauritius to the U.K. with sugar was sunk by U-508. Fifteen members of the crew died.


Thomas Reginald Cranston

18

3rd Radio Officer

Umvuma

7th August

1943

Near Mauritius, the cargo liner Umvuma, 4419 tons (Bullard, King and Co.), London to Mauritius was sunk by U-181 with the loss of seven of her crew.


Thomas Dalziel

20

2nd Radio Officer

Clan MacFarlane

17th June

1940

The SS Clan MacFarlane was sunk by collision off Socotra, half the crew and 20 Askari soldiers were lost. She was 6169 tons and owned by Clan Line Steamers Ltd.


Joseph Docherty

20

3rd Radio Officer

Walmer Castle

21st September

1941

In the North Atlantic, west of Brest, the convoy rescue ship Walmer Castle, 906 tons (Union Castle Line) carrying over eighty survivors from torpedoed ships was attacked by Focke-Wulf aircraft. Set on fire the ship had to be sunk by gunfire from a corvette. A plane from the escort carrier Audacity shot down the enemy aircraft. Thirty-two of the Walmer Castle’s crew perished along with twenty-nine survivors she had picked up.


David Feely

25

2nd Radio Officer

Charles L D

9th December

1942

Southeast of Cape Farewell, the cargo ship Charles L.D., 5267 tons (ex French Flag), India to the U.K. was sunk by U-553. Thirty-six of the crew died.


Colin Peter Freeman

19

2nd Radio Officer

Richmond Castle

10th August

1942

Southeast of Cape Farewell, the passenger/cargo ship Richmond Castle, 7798 tons (Union Castle Line), the River Plate to the U.K. was sunk by U-176 with the loss of fourteen of her crew.


John Fyfe

19

3rd Radio Officer

King Lud

8th June

1942

Off Madagascar, the cargo ship King Lud, 5224 tons (Dodd, Thomson & Co.), was sunk by the submarine I-10 (Japan). She was lost with all hands, a crew of thirty-nine including gunners.


David Gray

28

3rd Radio Officer

Clan Buchanan

8th May

1941

West of the Maldive Islands, the cargo liner Clan Buchanan, 7266 tons (Clan Line), U.K. to India was sunk by the German commerce raider Pinguin. The above officer was taken prisoner but died when the cruiser HMS Cornwall sank the Pinguin.


James Alexander Dougal Guise

26

2nd Radio Officer

Gloucester Castle

15th July

1942

About 600 miles northeast of St Helena the passenger/cargo ship Gloucester Castle, 8006 tons (Union Castle Line), the U.K. to South Africa was sunk by the commerce raider Michel (German) with the loss of ninety-one crew and passengers; there were sixty-one survivors.


Stanley Haldane

25

2nd Radio Officer

King Idwal

23rd November

1940

About 600 miles west of the Hebrides, the U-123 attacked an outward bound convoy sinking the cargo ship King Idwal, 5115 tons (Dodd Thompson Co.), Liverpool to Baltimore with the loss of twelve of her crew.


John E Hare

20

2nd Radio Officer

Umona

30th March

1941

Off Freetown, the cargo liner Umona, 3767 tons (Bullard, King & Co.), South Africa to London was sunk by U-124 with the loss of eighty-five crew and fifteen passengers.


Hywel Jones

29

3rd Radio Officer

St Lindsay

13th June

1941

In the North Atlantic, the cargo ship St. Lindsay, 5370 tons (South American Saint Line), the Clyde to Trinidad was sunk by U-751 with the loss of all forty-three of her crew.


Francis Victor Kinder

53

1st Radio Officer

Clan Buchanan

8th May

1941

West of the Maldive Islands, the cargo liner Clan Buchanan, 7266 tons (Clan Line), U.K. to India was sunk by the German commerce raider Pinguin. The above officer was taken prisoner but died when the cruiser HMS Cornwall sank the Pinguin.


Kenneth Neville Lane

30

1st Radio Officer

Clan Campbell

23rd March

1942

After the battle of Sirte Gulf, the cargo liner Clan Campbell, 7255 tons (Clan Line) was sunk by enemy aircraft near Malta. She was part of a four-ship convoy from Alexandria and seven crew members were lost in the attack.


John Lee

34

1st Radio Officer

Clan MacFadyen

26th November 1942

Northwest of British Guiana, the cargo liner Clan MacFadyen, 6191 tons (Clan Line), Mauritius to the U.K. with sugar was sunk by U-508. Fifteen members of the crew died.


John Idris Lewis

42

1st Radio Officer

Clan MacWhirter

26th August

1942

North of Madeira the cargo liner Clan MacWhirter 5941 tons (Clan Line) India to the U.K. was sunk by U-156 with the loss of ten of the crew.


Ian Lyle

20

3rd Radio Officer

Umona

30th March

1941

Off Freetown, the cargo liner Umona, 3767 tons (Bullard, King & Co.), South Africa to London was sunk by U-124 with the loss of eighty-five crew and fifteen passengers.


William James McCrory

40

1st Radio Officer

Clan Ferguson

12th August

1942

The Operation Pedestal convoy – Clyde to Malta – came under submarine and air attack north of Cape Ban. The cargo liner Clan Ferguson, 7374 tons (Clan Line), was torpedoed by Italian aircraft with the loss of eighteen of her crew.


Donald William MacLachlan

23

3rd Radio Officer

King Edward

27th December

1942

In mid-Atlantic the U-356 attacked an outward-bound convoy sinking the cargo ship King Edward, 5224 tons (Dodd Thomson & Co.) bound for New York. Nineteen of her crew perished.


George Matthew

25

2nd Radio Officer

St Lindsay

13th June

1941

In the North Atlantic, the cargo ship St. Lindsay, 5370 tons (South American Saint Line), the Clyde to Trinidad was sunk by U-751 with the loss of all forty-three of her crew.


Wilfred Mayall

37

2nd Radio Officer

King Gruffydd

17th March

1943

In mid-Atlantic U-boats attacked two convoys 120 miles apart. In one convoy U-338 sank the cargo ship King Gruffydd, 5072 tons (Dodd Thomson & Co.) the U.S. to U.K. with the loss of twenty-four of her crew.


Robert MacLennan Ollason

18

2nd Radio Officer

Clan Fraser

6th April

1941

In an attack on Piraeus the cargo liner Clan Fraser, 7529 tons (Clan Line) carrying ammunition was hit by German aircraft and caught fire; she blew up destroying other ships and seriously damaging the port. Seven of her crew died.


James O’Sullivan

32

1st Radio Officer

St Elwyn

28th November

1940

East of Bishop Rock the cargo ship St Elwyn, 4940 tons (South American Saint Line) Hull to Santos with coal was sunk by the U-1O3. Twenty-four of the crew were lost.


John Gordon Pennington

20

3rd Radio Officer

Clan MacTavish

8th October

1942

Off the Cape of Good Hope the cargo liner Clan MacTavish, 7631 tons (Clan Line), South Africa to the U.K. was sunk by U-159. Fifty-four people and seven survivors from the SS Boringia lost their lives.


John Quill

20

2nd Radio Officer

King Malcolm

31st October 1941

Off Newfoundland, the cargo ship King Malcolm, 5120 tons (Dodd Thomson & Co.) was sunk by the U-374. Her crew of thirty-four and four gunners were all lost in mountainous seas.


John James Ramsay

32

3rd Radio Officer

King Gruffydd

17th March

1943

In mid-Atlantic U-boats attacked two convoys 120 miles apart. In one convoy U-338 sank the cargo ship King Gruffydd, 5072 tons (Dodd Thomson & Co.) the U.S. to U.K. with the loss of twenty-four of her crew.


Hugh George Lawson

21

2nd Radio Officer

King Lud

8th June

1942

Off Madagascar, the cargo ship King Lud, 5224 tons (Dodd, Thomson & Co.), was sunk by the submarine I-10 (Japan). She was lost with all hands, a crew of thirty-nine including gunners.


John Iver Rees

26

2nd Radio Officer

Clan MacArthur

11th August

1943

Near Mauritius the cargo liner Clan MacArthur, 10528 tons (Clan Line), Glasgow to Mauritius was sunk by U-181. From a complement of 151 only 99 were picked up by a French Sloop.


Arnold Reeves

19

3rd Radio Officer

Charles L D

9th December

1942

Southeast of Cape Farewell, the cargo ship Charles L.D., 5267 tons (ex French Flag), India to the U.K. was sunk by U-553. Thirty-six of the crew died.


Jacques Romeuf

42

1st Radio Officer

Charles L D

9th December

1942

Southeast of Cape Farewell, the cargo ship Charles L.D., 5267 tons (ex French Flag), India to the U.K. was sunk by U-553. Thirty-six of the crew died.


William Edward Sandon

45

1st Radio Officer

Umona

30th March

1941

Off Freetown, the cargo liner Umona, 3767 tons (Bullard, King & Co.), South Africa to London was sunk by U-124 with the loss of eighty-five crew and fifteen passengers.


Douglas Grant Shepherd

22

2nd Radio Officer

Clan MacFadyen

26th November 1942

Northwest of British Guiana, the cargo liner Clan MacFadyen, 6191 tons (Clan Line), Mauritius to the U.K. with sugar was sunk by U-508. Fifteen members of the crew died.


William Spencer

31

2nd Radio Officer

Berwickshire

20th August

1944

East of Duran the cargo liner Berwickshire, 74.64 tons (Clan Line) the U.K. to Tamatave was sunk by U-861 with the loss of seven of her crew.


Walker Stephenson

32

3rd Radio Officer

Clan Forbes

16th August

1940

There is no record of this ship being destroyed by enemy action. It is assumed the above officer died when the ship was bombed in Tilbury Docks on the 16th August 1940.


Kenneth Raymond Vaughan

29

1st Radio Officer

Gloucester Castle

15th July

1942

About 600 miles northeast of St Helena the passenger/cargo ship Gloucester Castle, 8006 tons (Union Castle Line), the U.K. to South Africa was sunk by the commerce raider Michel (German) with the loss of ninety-one crew and passengers; there were sixty-one survivors.


Radio Officers Killed At Sea Whilst Serving on Company Ships  -  1939 to 1945

Radio Officers Killed At Sea Whilst Serving on Company Ships  -  1914 to 1918

Name

Age

Rank

Vessel

Date

Circumstances

David Edmund Beaty

19

Wireless Operator

Umgeni

9th November

1917

The ss Umgeni 2622 GT (Natal Line) was attacked on 3.9.17 by gunfire from two German submarines North of the Shetlands. She fought off the attack with her 4” gun. However, this WO received wounds from which he died on 9th November 1917.


Reginald C Bond

23

Wireless Operator

Leasowe Castle

27th May

1918

The ss Leasowe Castle 9737 GT (Union Castle SS Co. London) was torpedoed and sunk by

UB-51 in the Mediterranean, 104 miles from Alexandria, whilst in passage from Alexandria to Marseilles. 92 of her crew were, lost including the Master.


Jabez George Bull

23

Wireless Operator

HMHS Glenart Castle

26th February

1918

The hospital ship Glenart Castle 6824 GT (Union Castle SS Co.) was torpedoed and sunk by

UC-56 in the Bristol Channel, 10 miles West from Lundy Island, whilst in passage from Newport, Mons to Brest. 168 people were lost including the Master.


J M Carew

20

Wireless Operator

Clan Murray

29th May

1917

The ss Clan Murray 4835 GT (Clan Line, Glasgow) was torpedoed and sunk by UC-55 in the Atlantic, 40 miles southwest from Fastnet Rock, whilst in passage from Port Pine to Belfast with a cargo of wheat. 64 of her crew were lost including the Master. The 3rd.Officer and probably the 3rd. Engineer were made prisoners.


Percy Crowther

17

Wireless Operator

Clan Alpine

9th June

1917

The ss Clan Alpine 3587 GT (Clan Line, Glasgow) was torpedoed and sunk by U-60 in the North Sea, 40 miles northeast from Muckle Flugga, whilst in passage from the Tyne to Archangel with a general cargo. 8 of the crew lost their lives.


Edgar Allen Davies

18

Wireless Operator

HMHS Llandovery Castle

27th June 1918

The hospital ship ss Llandovery Castle 11423 GT (Union Castle Line, London) was torpedoed and sunk by U-86 in the Atlantic, 116 miles west from Fastnet Rock, whilst in passage from Halifax,

Nova Scotia, to Liverpool. 234 people were lost.


John Alexander Duff

27

Wireless Operator

Clan Farquhar

26th February

1917

The ss Clan Farquhar 5858 GT (Clan Line, Glasgow) was torpedoed and sunk by UB-43 in the Mediterranean, 80 miles east from Benghazi, whilst in passage from Calcutta and Bombay to London with a cargo of cotton, jute and tea. 49 of her crew were lost and the Second Engineer was taken prisoner.


John Edward Glaves

18

Wireless Operator

HMHS Salta

10 April

1917

The hospital ship Salta 7284 GT (Admiralty, London) struck a mine, laid by UC-26, in the English Channel, 1 mile North from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, whilst in passage from Southampton to Le Havre with a cargo of hospital stores. 79 members of the crew lost their lives.

Mr. Glaves body was landed in France and he is buried at Saint Marie’s Cemetery, Le Havre, Seine Maritime.


George Ernest Hawkes

21

Wireless Operator

HMHS Llandovery Castle

27th June 1918

The hospital ship ss Llandovery Castle 11423 GT (Union Castle Line, London) was torpedoed and sunk by U-86 in the Atlantic, 116 miles west from Fastnet Rock, whilst in passage from Halifax,

Nova Scotia, to Liverpool. 234 people were lost.


Brinley Thomas Hughes

22

Wireless Operator

Leasowe Castle

27th May

1918

The ss Leasowe Castle 9737 GT (Union Castle SS Co. London) was torpedoed and sunk by

UB-51 in the Mediterranean, 104 miles from Alexandria, whilst in passage from Alexandria to Marseilles. 92 of her crew were, lost including the Master.


Robert Hawker Nash

24

Wireless Operator

Clan MacNab

4th August

1918

The ss Clan Macnab 4675 GT (Clan Line Glasgow) was torpedoed and sunk by U-113 in the Atlantic, 14 miles NNW from Pendeen Lighthouse in position 50° 20’ N 05° 55’ W, whilst in voyage from Plymouth to the Clyde in ballast. 22 of her crew were lost including the Master.


Horace James Payne

17

Wireless Operator

HMHS Salta

10 April

1917

The hospital ship Salta 7284 GT (Admiralty, London) struck a mine, laid by UC-26, in the English Channel, 1 mile North from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, whilst in passage from Southampton to Le Havre with a cargo of hospital stores. 79 members of the crew lost their lives.

Mr. Glaves body was landed in France and he is buried at Saint Marie’s Cemetery, Le Havre, Seine Maritime.


Michael Peter Sinnott


Wireless Operator

HMHS Glenart Castle

26th February

1918

The hospital ship Glenart Castle 6824 GT (Union Castle SS Co.) was torpedoed and sunk by

UC-56 in the Bristol Channel, 10 miles West from Lundy Island, whilst in passage from Newport, Mons to Brest. 168 people were lost including the Master.


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