Wireless Operator


Jo Durant

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Am I right in thinking that the Mount Temple Marconi operator was called John Durrant? (taken from the original copy of some British Inquiry witnesses in "Titanic Voices.") Does anybody have any information on him? It is thought that he could be a relative, before our family surname was changed. It's something I'd like to look into.
Thanks all.
 

Dave Gittins

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He certainly was John Durrant, and I might say he was one of the better operators.

Finding him is another thing. Some seamen's records are held in Britain. Inger Sheil is our resident expert on them.

The best way of looking for a connection is to trace your ancestors backwards from yourself. That way, you work from the known to the unknown.

Good hunting. You'll need patience and money!
 

Senan Molony

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Wireless operators did not appear in CR10s.

His picture appeared in the Marconigraph in June 1912, a copy of which may be obtainable from the Marconi archive.

I am halfway through some work on Durrant.
 

Jo Durant

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Good hunting. You'll need patience and money!

Alas, I have neither. I've recently found some of my family's birth/death certificates dating back to the 1850's, a good place to start. Even if I find no connection, it's fascinating to research.

Senan, thanks for the suggestion of the Marconi archive, I'll follow that up.
 
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The Marconi archive in Chelmsford closed a couple of years ago for lack of a buyer, but I heard recently that the archives are moving to the Science Museum in London. I don't know when they will be made public again.

You might try some libraries for copies of the Marconigraph, which later became the Wireless World (under which it may be catalogued), if you need the information soon.

Parks
 

Inger Sheil

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I'll see what I can do about digging up that information I had on Durrant for you, Jo. I just haven't had a chance to get home at a decent hour to fire up the old laptop and pull it out (let alone go through the masses of paperwork!). Don't know if I ever sent it to you, Sen. Are you quite sure W/Os don't appear in the CR10s? I'm sure I've seen at least a few while scrolling through them.
 

Senan Molony

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This is a poor version of the Marconigraph pic, Jo. It is the standard image of Durrant and has been widely used.

95757.jpg


Ing, I would like to see whatever you have of JD. If it is not too much of a secret, it might be easiest to stick it up here.

I looked through some of the CR10s in the last fortnight with Joanne Smith of SCC.

I have never seen a W/o there and she or her colleagues has never found one for me in a couple of searches. I suspect Marconi employees were not "merchant seamen." But you may be more familiar with them.

The good news is that a picture of Fred Barrett has turned up - a vital witness at the British and American Inquiries who has hitherto been faceless. Definitely the right man. One or two other goodies also.

Some of them could go up here on ET in due course.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Senan, there's a photo of Fred Barrett in Eaton & Haas' Triumph & Tragedy - did E&H perhaps find the wrong Fred, since there were two of them in the crew lists?
 

Senan Molony

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95761.jpg


Here are two alleged Barrett pictures. Top one may be him. Bottom one (equivalent to the E&H T&T pic) may be the other guy, in that it appeared only by name in a parade of Daily Mirror pictures of victims.
On the other hand, the newspaper may be confused and they both might be the same individual. I have discussed this with BTS perennial vote-of-thanks giver Michael Barratt who has an interest in Barrett for obvious reasons.
I don't yet have this other Barrett pic from the CR10s in my possession yet, but the first thing I will do is check it against these two geezers.
 

Bob Godfrey

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I've always had a suspicion that the man in that top picture is John Poigndestre. There is I think a resemblance to a known pic of JP, which unfortunately I've only seen as a none-too-clear photocopy. He and Barrett gave their testimonies on the same day, so the newspaper publication date would fit either. The original caption 'J. Gate' is not very helpful!
 

Senan Molony

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95770.jpg


J. Gate in the Daily Sketch is a misunderstanding. The above is from Poingdexter's CR10, which also gives this spelling.

I am just a Barrett-room lawyer in all of this... there certainly seems a similarity, Bob.
 

Senan Molony

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95773.jpg


Another picture of John Thomas Poingdexter, the Channel Islander Titanic AB.

I think you are right, Bob. That 'J. Gate' pic is the same man. Not Barrett as suggested.

Another mystery tentatively half-resolved-ish.
 

Senan Molony

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He wasn't so tough, actually.

At least not after I crowned him with pool cue.

I was just giving his head a boing!-tester, you understand.

Probably harder nuts in Colchester.
 

paul daley

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In Senan Molony's post number 121, the top picture looks more like Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings......very frightening
happy.gif
 

Jo Durant

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Senan you're a wealth of information, thanks for the photo.
And cheers Inger, if you could find that stuff it'd be great.
 

Inger Sheil

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Here you go:
HE SERVED IN SIXTY SHIPS

After 39 years' service with the Marconi International Marine Communication Col, Ltd., during which he has never been absent from work through sickness, Mr John Oscar ("Jod") Durrant, storekeeper for the past three years at the Liverpool depot, retired on January 13. Aged 60, Mr. Durrant, a native of London, began his career at the age of 14 as a clerk with the old Great Eastern Railway. In October 1911 he left the railway company to join the Marconi Company as a junior wireless operator, his first ship being the famous Mauretania, in which he made one voyage.

It was while he was wireless operator of the steamer Mount Temple, in April 1912, that he received the distress signal from the liner Titanic, 49 miles away. On arrival at the scene it was found that the Carpathia had rescued the survivors. At the subsequent inquiry into the disaster, held in London, he was commended.

Mr Durrant has, during his career with the company, served for years as a radio officer in some vessels, ranging from the Mauretania to an Aberdeen trawler. He served for 17 years as an inspector at Oslo, Trieste, Bremen, Alexandra, London and, finally, Liverpool. He came to Liverpool as an inspector 12 years ago, and three years ago was appointed storekeeper.

During his career he has crossed the Equator 76 times, passed through the Suez Canal five times and the Manchester Ship Canal twice. During the First World War he was serving as wireless operator in the hospital ship Warilda when, on August 3, 1918 , with 603 wounded on board, she was torpedoed, 120 lives being lost.

Mr Durrant describes the advances in marine radio technique as amazing, and recalls that "When I learnt about wireless, valves were unheard of." He warmly praised the Marconi Company for the treatment he has received throughout his connection with the concern. He lives at Mossley Hill, Liverpool.
'Seabreezes', February 1951

Interesting that he was on the Warilda when she was torpedoed - the hospital transport was an Australian ship with the Adelaide SS company, and had a mostly Oz crew.
 

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