Wireless Operator


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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
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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

Member
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.
 
Mr Durrant describes the advances in marine radio technique as amazing, and recalls that "When I learnt about wireless, valves were unheard of."

It may not be very well known that wireless communications in those early years of the 20th century was done without the benefit of vacuum tubes used later on for amplification and rectification. If the advances brought about by the vacuum tube (valves as Durrant described them) was considered "amazing," just think about what we have today brought about first by the invention of the transistor and later by the invention of large scale integrated circuitry. I'm sure Durrant would have described what we have today as "unbelievable." But at least in one respect Durrant and others of his day were at the leading edge of modern day radio communications. They communicated using a form of binary digital signaling, in what would be called in today's technical jargon, On-Off Keying with Binary Pulse Width Modulation (OOK-BPWM). Quite a bit slow perhaps by today's standards, but nonetheless it was a form of binary digital communications.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
'Sno worries.

Other publications might have run small items on his retirement, Jo - (Mariner's Mirror, for example) and the Liverpool Echo might have mentioned it. It wouldn't give you much more information (beyond his then-current address!), but just for kicks it might be worth looking up his entry in the Mauretania crew agreements at Kew. He was still comparatively young when he retired. Good luck with your research - he has the potential to be a fascinating subject.
 
Unlike the E&H pic, this looks like a Fred Barrett who could keep a bunch of stokers in order, with or without a shovel. I don't recall this particular picture but the face does look vaguely familiar - maybe there's a younger version in one of those 1912 newspaper group photos which have no names to go with the faces.
 
It's a CR10 from 1919.
It hasn't been published anywhere - they just all looked vaguely like this guy...

His birth date is January 10, 1883. Born in Bootle, which fits nicely with Barrett's biographical information.
 
Very distinctive ears, in that photo above. I am told by an acquaintance - whose job I don't really quite understand, and about which I feel oddly reluctant to ask - that in identification issues, the ears have it. Faces often converge into 'types', especially as people age, suggesting similarities which may be confusing, but the ears don't. Unless you have gangster-type plastic surgery, of course, which is hardly likely in the cases we are discussing.

I recall once seeing some before-and-after pix of a bloke in WW2 who went undercover in France, although already being known to the enemy. They changed his ear alignment and his hairline, made him put on a couple of stone in weight, and gave him a pair of specs. Totally unrecognisable. They changed him from a nice-looking young man into a rather unattractive, virtually middle-aged one. All in a good cause I suppose - I thought he was rather brave.
 
Oh - and noses carry on growing throughout life, millimetre by millimetre, it seems. So neat little probosci in youth turn into large, red, pitted monstrosities later in life. Go to be true - look around you!

Hope this information is useful. Rather than just sending people headlong to the bathroom mirror, either to check out their vulnerability to identification or, much more likely, merely to check on the signs of aging.
 
I've noticed also that the nose and ear shapes of seafaring men can change quite radically and without warning at any time in their working lives, possibly as a result of boisterous debate in drinking establishments. In such debates, leading stokers like Mr Barrett here were probably very effective in getting their views across.
 
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