Silent Key

William (Willie) George Williamson

We sadly lost another of our stalwarts in August 2023. Willie attended Glagow Wireless College in 1959 and 1960 and then joined Marconi Marine until he came ashore in 1967. He then became a shore engineer with Marconi Marine based in Liverpool. He then joined Riversdale College In Liverpool and became a Senior Lecturer. Willie was a co-author of what became the world wide accepted manual on Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.

Willie was the Radio Officers Association (ROA) Hon. Archivist for over 20 years and he wrote over 100 very popular quarterly “From the Archivist” articles for QSO. He was a very popular attendee at all reunions and he will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Willie was a complete gentleman in the true sense of the word and the ROA is poorer without him.

May his soul rest in peace.

Robert (Bob) Clay

The ROA have been advised that Bob passed away in Spring 2023 after a long battle with cancer.
Bob served as a Radio Electronics Officer in the Merchant Navy from 1970 until 1986 serving with
Marconi Marine and finally with CP Ships. He initially did his training at Leith College where he
gained the PMG2 and BOT radar certificate. In 1975 he completed the Marine Electronics Diploma and
MRGC at Southampton College of Technology. Further study gained him the City and Guilds Full Tech
in 1981, B.A Open University in 1996, and finally B.Sc 1st Class Honours Open University in 1999.After Bob left the sea he had a variety of jobs firstly with the MOD at Donnigton, then with BT before
moving over to “The Cheltenham Mob” before finally ending his career as a Network Administrator at
a Devon college.

May his soul rest in peace..

John Garner

The ROA lost one its stalwarts when John passed away on 8th June 2023. John was a founder member of the ROA and became its very first Treasurer and single handedly sorted out the rather fractured finances at the time. He remained Treasurer for many years and also took over the role of Membership Secretary when the previous incumbent passed away. As such in both of these positions he was my right hand man. He was very loyal to the ROA and despite having, in general, to make long trips to reunions from his home in Cornwall. He only very reluctantly gave up when his health precluded him from making long journeys anywhere. He was unfailingly cheerful and had a great Scouse sense of humour.

John was born in 1934 and attended Liverpool Radio College in 1949 & 1950. He qualified with a 2nd Class PMG and joined Marconi Marine. He then attended Brooks Bar College in Manchester for his 1st Class certificate. As far as we know he then re-joined Marconi until 1955 or 1956. It is known he was neither very impressed nor very happy during his time with the Company. In 1956 he joined Alfred Holt (Blue Funnel Line) and remained with them until 1970. He was very happy with them and gave them credit for shaping his future career. He then came ashore and went into the insurance industry where was successful.

John was a very valuable colleague of mine and he will be sadly missed. I have lost a fine friend and the ROA has lost one of its finest members. May his soul rest in peace.

Tony Selman

Roger Bentley MBE

It is with great sadness that we have to report that Roger passed away in early January 2023.  Roger was a total stalwart of the ROA and was indeed the first Editor of QSO and carried on with the job for many years.  He was one of the three Editors of The Long Silence Falls books where his input was invaluable.  He was also a prolific author and we published many of his stories in QSO.  In addition to his other skills he was an excellent painter and one of his paintings is on the front cover of March 2023 QSO and we have used his paintings for many years as our Christmas card sent to members electronically.  

Roger took his 2nd Class ticket at John Dalton Street in Manchester from 1949 to 1950 from where he joined Bibby Line.  He went back for his 1st Class PMG in 1952 and remained with Bibby Line until 1953.  He joined Brocklebank Line in 1954 and stayed with them until he left the sea in 1961.  He described himself as a Civil Servant but in reality he was involved in Government Communications..  For obvious reasons he did not talk much about this section of his career but he was awarded the MBE for his service towards the end of his career.  He retired and lived in Harrogate until his death.

Roger was a close friend of mine and everyone regarded him as a complete gentleman.  He will be sadly missed and we will not see his like again.  Tony Selman

Ray Charles

Ray passed away in December 2022 after a fall.  He was regular and loyal attendee at reunions and he will be missed.  Ray took his tickets at Newport Tech and Plymouth Tech.  He spent his entire career at sea and only retired when the profession died and he retired in 2000.  He worked for Siemens, British and Commonwealth, Niarchos, Radio Holland and as a freelancer.

Ray Pilgrim

Many of our Members who trained at Riversdale or Fleetwood will remember the good-natured Ray Pilgrim with some affection. Sad to say, our good friend Ray died on 26 December last and his funeral was held in Fleetwood on 14 January. I am pleased to say that our ensign graced the coffin.

It is an honour to be asked to pay tribute Ray since I had known him as a colleague and friend for over sixty years. I first came across him when we were both in Clan Line and I helped him fix his rickety Siemens Transmitter before the Surveyor arrived! That was in 1962, just before he was appointed to teaching marine radio at Riversdale. I myself joined the college the following year and I do so remember how he burst into the staffroom on my first day and gave me the heartiest welcome. Thereafter Ray and his wife Jean would often have Pam and I around to share meals in their warm and friendly household on the Wirral.

Born in Ipswich in 1927, Ray became liable for National Service shortly after the war ended and volunteered to serve in the Royal Navy. That had obliged him to serve for three years. It turned out to be a brave decision as he was assigned to minesweeping duties. Can you imagine how hairy that must have been? Some of you, like me, will remember that even in the fifties the North Sea was still full of live mines, some anchored, some drifting across the swept channels. Thanks to GNF we pinpointed and avoided the strays, but imagine going out, scooping them up and exploding them after day. Ray and his colleagues were brave men indeed and we often praised them as we carefully picked our way up to the North Sea ports.

After he completed his National Service, Ray worked as the finance controller in a sausage factory and then broke into marine radio by enrolling at the college in Bridlington. After he qualified, he went off to join Clan Line but when Nicholas, his first-born, arrived in 1961 he returned to Bridlington, this time to join the teaching staff. Within a year though he had secured a full-time post at Riversdale where he did much to establish the first marine radar courses. I remember him as being popular with both fellow staff members and the students.

Six years later he was poached, attracted as he was by a promoted post at the newly built college at Fleetwood. And there he stayed, eventually rising to be the Head of the Radio-and Marine Electronics Department. He retired in 1987 but for many years was still active in local college affairs and ready to help out with common sense advice.

I saw rather more of Ray after his retirement since we used to lunch together when he visited his family in Southampton. What sticks in my mind is that in all the time I knew him I never saw him angry. Perhaps you remember laughing along with him as you helped with his frequent searches for lost ‘foozes!’ We praise him for helping shape the future of so many radio officers, may he rest in peace.

Brian Cotton

                                       Steve Appleyard

Steve passed away in September 2021 after suffering from Motor Neurone Disease for some years. He served in the Merchant Navy from 1963 ~ 1965 then after a further four years of studying he was then employed by the Marconi Company in the Navigation and Communications systems design team.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

Brian Yarwood

We have been advised that Brian passed away in February 2021.  WE have little information about Brian other than he Attended Colwyn Bay from 1954 to 1955 then went to sea with New Zealand Shipping Company in 1955, followed by Alfred Holt 1955-56 and Reardon Smith of Cardiff from 1956-57.  He then worked at Humber Radio/GKZ from 1957 to 1977. We are unsure about his career after that.

May his soul rest in peace.

Robert ‘Bob’ Young

We have been advised by his wife that Bob passed away in April 2021.  Bob was a keen supporter of the ROA and attended several reunions.  He attended the British School of Radiotelegraphy at Earls Court in London from 1962 to 1964.  He joined Marconi Marine and served with them from 1964 to 1974.  His first ship was Esso Edinburgh/GJFU and although he sailed on other vessels he spent the majority of his time on tankers and predominantly with Shell. He then joined Kuwait Overseas Tanker Company in 1974 and sailed with them until 1982.  He then joined Nah Kwong Shipping from Hong Kong in 1983 and sailed with them until 1984.  Bob then left the sea and came ashore and worked in telecommunications until his retirement.

Bob will be missed at ROA reunions and we pass our sincere condolences to his wife and family.

May his soul rest in peace.

Peter Hamblett

We regret to announce that Peter Hamblett passed away after a heart attack in Stourport, Worcestershire, on 12th November 2020.  We have very little information on Peter other than he attended college in Hull for his PMG in 1964.  Regrettrably we do not know who he worked for or how long he spent at sea.

May his soul rest in peace.

Frank Dunn

It is with great regret that we have to announce the passing of ROA member Frank Dunn on Thursday 20th August 2020.  Frank attended Watt College in Greenock in the late 1950s and acquired his 1st Class PMG and Radar ticket.  He joined Brocklebank Line in 1957 and in various guises spent his entire career with them, and at sea.  He is was one of only three members that we are aware of who his spent his whole career at sea.  Frank’s brother was also a Radio Officer and his parents owned a popular bar in Greenock and many Radio Officers made this their home base when studying at Watt College – myself included. Frank spent some time on the Brocklebank normal run to the sub continent of India, Cunard passenger vessels and also spent a lot of his time on container vessels and the majority of that on the North Atlantic.  Frank was Chief Radio Officer on Cunard Countess/GUNP  for ten years including during The Falklands War.

He was a great supporter of the ROA and was very active in the ROA involvement on the tall ship Glenlee in Glasgow.  I met him on numerous occasions and always enjoyed his company.

He will be sadly missed and we pass our sincere condolences to his wife Anne and family members.

May his soul rest in peace.  


Gerald Grimes.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of ROA member Gerald Grimes.  Gerald was born on 27thSeptember 1946 in Milehill, Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland.

When he left secondary school, he went to Dublin and attended Atlantic College where he qualified as a Marine Radio Officer in 1966.

He was employed by Marconi Marine and his first ship was the Strick Line mv Nigaristan.  He was subsequently assigned to ships belonging to Palm Line, Fishers and Safmarine.  After a few years he went freelance and joined the Greek shipping company Kulukundis Tankers.  His final sea trip was with Universe Tankers in 1974 on board the mv Harold H Helm.

When he came ashore, he spent the next 40 years in the catering/restaurant business.  For most of this time he and his wife Mary operated a family restaurant chain crossing virtually all sectors from the humble ‘chipper’ to themed gourmet restaurants.  In the mid 1980’s he took on a wholesale distribution agency for Canadian Pizza Crust which he ran very successfully for several years.  He and his wife brought Subway to Dundalk in November 2003 and presently run the Subway franchise located in the Marshes Shopping Centre, Dundalk.

Gerald joined the ROA in 2016 and we last met him at the Belfast reunion.  We have fond memories of him as a pleasant charming gentleman.

He was the much-loved husband of Mary (néé Cordial) and dear brother of Pat, Oliver, Jarlath and the late Frank, Vincent and Harold.  He will be sadly missed by his wife Mary, brothers, sisters in law, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.  We offer our deepest sympathy to all of them.

May he Rest in Peace.

Date of Death:  21st July, 2020.

Tom O’Brien

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of ROA member Tom O’Brien of Radharc na Coille, Shannon, County Clare, Ireland.
Originally from Cloyne, County Cork, Tom studied for his PMG at the Radio Telegraph Institute, Tivoli, Cork where he graduated in 1964 as a Marine Radio Officer.  He joined the Marconi Marine Company and on appointment to the staff he joined the m.v. City of Durban, subsequently serving on the m.v. Oranyan, and among other shipping companies, Elder Dempster Line of Liverpool, until 1968.
When he left the Merchant Navy, he joined Infotronics in Shannon and in 1972 he joined what is now the Irish Aviation Authority where he worked in the Radar division in Shannon airport.
He was a member of Limerick Clare Amateur Radio Club.  His callsign was EI5CA and his favourite mode of operation was C.W. One of life’s gentleman his enthusiasm and dedication to amateur radio was infectious and he was always willing to help others.
Tom was also a keen cyclist – competing in many road races in his younger days.  Gardening was also one of Tom’s passions.
We offer our deepest sympathy to his wife Christine, daughter Margaret and to the extended family.  He was predeceased by his son Paul in March 2018.
May he Rest in Peace.
Date of Death: Wednesday 20th May 2020.


Herbert Ernest Mackenzie Sibbit

It is with deepest regret that the ROA has been informed by his son David, of the passing of  Herbert on the 6th February 2020. He obtained his Radiotelegraphy Certificate of Competence Second Class on the 19th October 1959 and served 5 tours as Radio Officer on the merchant ship’s ‘Media’ and ‘Oregis’ between April 1960 and July 1961, before transferring to Cunard and where onward, we know very little of his merchant navy service.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

David Oakden

It is with deepest regret that the ROA have been informed of the passing of David in
August 2019, he had been ill for some time. David was at sea from 1962 ~ 1980, 1st class
PMG, and was known to have worked for Clan Line.

Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

                                Albert Owings

 It is with the deepest regret that we announce that Albert Owings, Commodore of The Radio Officers’ Association, died at his home on the Wirral in early April.  A full obituary will be published in June 2019 QSO and is also available in the News section of this website.

Albert was universally liked and admired and within the ROA we will miss him greatly.

As a mark of respect to Albert the Association has retired the title of Commodore.

May he rest in eternal peace.


                              Michael Hayes

We have recently been advised  that Michael passed away in Ireland in early February 2019.  Michael was trained at Limerick Radio School from 1958 to 1960 from where he joined Marconi Marine in 1961 , staying with them until 1970.  He then joined Irish Shipping from 1970 to 1972.  He had an eventful life at sea including being chased by a rhino, being shipwrecked in the Caribbean on his birthday, saving two men from an engine room fire and narrowly escaping a firing squad due mistaken identity in South America.  After leaving the sea he joined the Oceanography Department at University College, Galway and subsequently started his own engineering business.  Our thoughts are with his family and may he Rest in Peace.


Evan Coventon

We have recently been advised that Evan passed away in January 2019.  Evan only joined the ROA in May 2018 and we know very little about his history but we hope he enjoyed his time in the Association.  Our thoughts are with his family.  May he rest in peace.

                                          George Stoddart

The ROA lost one of its longest serving members when George passed away peacefully at The Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley on Thursday 27th September.  George was well known to many members and was a regular attendee at reunions until ill health overtook him a couple of years ago.  He was a gentleman in every sense of the word and had a fine sense of humour.  He took his tickets at the James Watt College in Greenock between 1948 and 1950 and then joined Marconi Marine.  He subsequently joined Brocklebank Line where he was very well regarded until he left the company in 1960.  We are not aware of his subsequent career.  There is a slight family link to existing ROA member Roger Bentley whose younger brother John served as 2R/O with George on the (old) Mahout/GDZN on a voyage round the Cape at the time of the Suez crisis.  A funeral service was held for George at Greenock Crematorium on Thursday 10th September and the ROA was represented by ROA Treasurer  John Chalmers and George’s former colleagues, Brocklebank R/O’s John McGinty and Frank Dunn.  Our thoughts are with George’s family and may he rest in peace.


Trevor Ashworth

We have recently been advised that Trevor has passed away.  Precise details are not know.  Trevor attended college at Princes Road in Liverpool from 1948 – 1950 and joined Bibby Line 1950 and remained employed with them until 1960. When he left the sea Trevor trained at Bletchley Park to become a Civil Aviation Technical Officer and he subsequently had a good career and rose to a high rank.  Trevor attended many reunions and was a popular attendee with his gentle manner and dry wit.

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

Ian Schofield-Beevers

It is with regret that we report the passing of Ian on the 26th March 2018 aged 77.
He had attended the Colwyn Bay College reunion weekend, and was staying with family
en-route to Cornwall, when he sadly  passed away early Monday morning.

As a Marconi Radio Officer Ian sailed with CP Ships, P&O, Shell tankers then with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, he was a member of the RFA association and a stalwart of the ROA.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

                                Philip Howard

It is with great sadness that we have been advised that Phil Howard passed away on Boxing Day 2017 after suffering with cancer for several years. Phil’s career is not fully known, apart from sailing with the Bibby Line in the late 70’s and CP Ships until their demise.

Our thoughts are with Phil’s family at this sad time.


                        Roddy MacDonald

For the first time since I have been Chairman I am having to post an Obituary for someone who was a close friend.   On the morning of the Chatham reunion I was informed by Roger Bentley that the ROA has lost one of its most popular members. Roddy MacDonald was known and liked by everyone that met him and he was a loyal and regular attendee at all reunions. He passed away in his bed at his home in Scarborough in August, with no suspicious circumstances. Roddy was transported to the Isle of Harris (the island of his birth) for a Memorial Service at Stockinish Church. He was subsequently buried at Luskentyre Cemetry, which I am told has a magnificent view over the sea. (My thanks to ROA member, and Harris resident, Hamish Taylor for the local information). A Memorial Service was subsequently held in Scarborough for Roddy which was very well attended and a very substantial collection was made for the RNLI.

I regret to say the news only confirmed my worst fears as I had been trying to contact Roddy for weeks as he had not booked for Chatham, which was most unlike him. All efforts failed and a couple of people I spoke to, like me, feared the worst. Roger had the idea of contacting the MNA in Scarborough and they confirmed the details. I made the announcement before dinner on the Friday of the Chatham reunion and everyone in the room was both saddened and shocked. At my request everyone in the room raised a glass in his memory.

Roddy was a gentleman, a personal friend and a very loyal and popular ROA member. He was a bachelor and enjoyed life to the full. He told me about 18 months ago he was going attend all future reunions because with his lifestyle he did not think he would attend too many more. Regrettably he was correct. He spoke quite quietly and had a pronounced Western Isles accent, which unless you came from the same area required careful listening, particularly when he had had a few. He was a natural Gaelic speaker and attended week-long annual Gaelic reunions which alternated between Scotland and Ireland. He always said this was a significant test of his liver and always pleaded with me not to time ROA events too close to these reunions to give him time to recover. He attended James Watt College in Greenock from 1960 to 1962 and then joined Marconi Marine for whom he worked until 1987, a significant innings. He came ashore and then worked for GCHQ from 1988 until his retirement in 2003. His last GCHQ posting was to the Composite Signals Organisation Station (CSOS) located at Irton Moor just outside Scarborough, this being no doubt the reason for his retirement in the town.

The ROA, and I, have lost a true friend and our Association will be the poorer for his loss.

                          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


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 ill fated 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 swam 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.


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.


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


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


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.




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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