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Using the MVA records

Because of the GDPR regulations we are no longer able to publish a list of all of our members as we are not able to obtain permission from all the individuals to do this, and we are not able to give out members addresses directly.
We are publishing information about deaths when we have been notified of this, as this is then deemed to be in the public records. A full list is here.

You can ask us to help to trace a colleague using our records as follows:-

  • Write a letter to the person you are trying to contact, place it in a stamped UNADDRESSED and UNSEALED envelope and send it with a few details about the person (where they worked and when will help us to ensure that your letter is sent to the right address)
  • Post this to the secretary - details here
  • If we have an address for your colleague, we will address the envelope to them and post it, and it is then up to that member to reply to you.
  • If we have no address we will address the envelope to you and return your letter.
  • OR you can send an email to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and IF we have that members email address we can forward this email to them; but please be aware that we have very few e-mail addresses of members.  By sending a colleague a message it is deemed that we have your permission to pass on your own e-mail address to the colleague.

 

Alternative ways of tracing Colleagues

The first part of this advice applies to all parts of the Marconi family of companies with the remainder applying only to seagoing staff of The Marconi International Marine Company Limited (usually known as MIMCo or MIMC).  The second part was prepared by the Merseyside Maritime Museum and would also apply to non-Marconi staff.

The majority of service records with Companies within the Marconi Organisation are now part of the Marconi archive, the vast majority of which is now held in the Bodleian Library in Oxford,

http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/online/modern/marconi/marconi.html.

The archivist, Michael Hughes, is the Library contact and is usually able to help with any enquiries. However, there is a small charge if you require any documents to be copied and sent to you. His contact details are This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 01865 277163.

In some cases, it may be possible, space permitting, to place a request in our annual newsletter which is published in February (copy deadline 31st December).

Royal Navy

In the Royal Navy the radio operator was a rating and therefore to obtain information about an individual operator the relevant naval records have to be accessed.

Merchant Navy

If the person you are trying to trace was in the Merchant Navy there are several other lines of investigation you might follow.

1. The bulk of British Seamen’s’ records are held at the University of Newfoundland.  This information came from the Merseyside Maritime Museum but has not been verified by the MVA.

2. The Imperial War Museum publishes a book “Tracing your Ancestors in the Merchant Navy”. The book can be consulted at the museum but we understand it is not very expensive to purchase. The MVA has never seen a copy so have no knowledge of its usefulness.

3. The Merchant Navy Officers’ Pension Scheme

The following document was prepared by Willie Williamson in the Merseyside Maritime Museum. This, as you will see, gives a lot of detail as to what information is held where and hence routes to follow. Some slight changes have been made to the original document to clarify certain matters.

Merchant Navy Radio Officers Records

The situation in the Merchant Navy was more complex than in the Royal Navy. There is a general misunderstanding that all MN Radio Officers worked for the Marconi International Marine Company (MIMC). This is one of the oldest radio companies in the UK having been established in 1900. While it is generally true that this company undoubtedly employed the greatest number of ROs they were not the only company to do so. Other major employers of Radio Officers included;

The International Marine Radio Co (IMR). This company was founded in 1930.
A part of Siemens Brothers later became the AEI Marine Communications Business of AEI until that Business was sold to MIMC in 1965.
Kelvin Hughes of Hainault,
SAIT Electronics of London,
Redifon

All the above companies hired out their Radio Officers to shipping companies, however, some individual shipping companies employed their own operators. This was known as direct or self-employment or sometimes the term freelance was used. Shipping companies known to have been direct employers of Radio Officers at various times included;

British Petroleum
British Rail
Shell Tankers
Alfred Holt
Peninsular and Orient,
Henderson Line of Glasgow
Cunard Radio and Electronic Services
New Zealand Shipping Company
Brocklebanks
Bibby Line
Sir William Reardon Smith
Union Castle Mail SS Company
British and Commonwealth Shipping Company
London and Overseas Freighters
Clan Line
Townsend Thoresen
Denholms Group
Royal Fleet Auxilliary

This is not a definitive list of direct employed companies, so when seeking information about a Radio Officer it is best to check out shipping company records if nothing found at MIMC, IMR, SAIT, Kelvin Hughes etc.
During the Second World War the government established a “pool” of experienced MN men including radio officers. It is not known if a central register of these men is available for inspection.

Radio Officer Examination Records

The Berlin Telegraphic Conference of 1906 introduced compulsory examination and certification of all Radio Officers to an agreed international standard. Records of all Radio Officer examinations conducted in the UK from that date are held in the Merseyside Maritime Museum library. Researchers need to look up a miscellaneous book M2 to find these records and then under the heading RO/E they can select the appropriate year.

These records list the name, date and place of birth of the examinee, the Morse speed for sending and receiving and details concerning knowledge of regulations and technical ability. These records also give the date and place of the examination and whether the candidate passed or failed. In most cases the certificate and class of certificate granted can be ascertained.

Radio Officers killed during the Second World War

Copies of “The British Merchant Navy Memorial Register” listing all Radio Officers lost at sea during the Second World War are held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. This list is also available on the website of the Radio Officers Association (ww.radioofficers.com). This register was compiled by wartime Radio Officer Peter J. Barber and with later assistance from Radio Officer George V. Monk. This lists the name, date of birth, rank and vessel on which the officer was serving at the time of his death. Each entry includes a short summary of how and where the action took place, i.e. south of Freetown sunk by U-155.

Marconi Wireless Officers killed during First World War

Copies of a “Memorial Register” 1914 – 1918 compiled by Radio Officer Peter J. Barber, listing all the Marconi Wireless Officers lost at sea during the First World War are held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

This register gives the name and age of the officer, the vessel on which he was serving and a short account of the action in which the officer died.

Merchant Navy POWs in Second World War

A copy of a list of MN Radio Officers captured by the Germans is kept in the Merseyside Maritime Museum library. This gives the officer’s name, his ship’s name, his prisoner number and where known his discharge book number. Included in this list are details of Radio Officers held at Vichy-French POW camps and those at Japanese and Far East camps.

General information concerning Radio Officers

The Merseyside Maritime Museum library holds copies of the newsletter of the Radio Officers Association (ROA). This newsletter called QSO is published quarterly and is a good source of general information on all aspects of Radio Officers and their duties.

W.G.Williamson,
Radio Officers Association Archivist.
9.10.07 updated 29.4.13