Industry: water, steel & energy

Vey, Peter (2 of 10). An Oral History of the Electricity Supply in the UK

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  • Recording date

    2016-01-28, 2016-02-19, 2016-04-04, 2016-04-18, 2016-05-10, 2016-05-20

  • Interviewees

    Vey, Peter, 1928- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 2: Remarks on joining Merchant Navy: PV cousin a sailor; PV viewing war as an adventure, wanting to go to sea; unaffordable Dartmouth College route to become a Royal Navy officer; difficulties joining merchant navy at time, but apprenticeships available on oil tankers; PV joining Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, part of Shell; outline of pre-sea training course at Sir John Cass nautical institute; anecdote about apprenticeship indentures forbidding him from drunkenness or brothels. [03:20] Remarks on PV experience of V-1 and V-2 missile attacks on London at time; PV living with Auntie Maud and Fred in Catford. [05:55] Remarks on first vessel, MV Ancylus, a Merchant Aircraft Carrier [MAC], a tanker fitted with a flight deck, but not used as carrier by time PV joined; anecdote about poor conditions during hgh winds. [08:05] Remarks on Sir John Cass nautical institute: mathematics of navigation; rule of the sea; life boat handling; classes from 9 till 4 afternoons; progress exams; anecdote about enjoying gunnery courses. [10:25] Remarks on joining first ship Loch Long: travel to Glasgow by sleeper train, breakfast in naval officer filled Grand Central Hotel, train to Gourock, ferry to Loch Long; PV sharing ferry ride with 16 year old sailor who was drowned as Ancylus joined convoy, description of accident; sea seeming safer at that point of war than staying in London V2 attacks; mentions once seeing a ship sunk by U-boat; dangers from North Atlantic Weather; convoys breaking up to different ports as they approached Britain, PV seeing an escort sunk; secrecy on voyages. [15:40] Remarks on being a deck apprentice: essentially cadetship, learning at sea toward Second Mate certificate; description of task of ensuring ship was blacked out at night, crew reluctant to close portholes too soon but obeying orders; good relationships between crew, crew binding together with loyalty to ship; [19:45] MV only on Ancylus until end of war in Europe, when he as transferred to Pacific; captain a distant figure. [20:40] Remarks on being on middle watch, 12-4am: coldness of open bridge; trying to maintain position in convoy from dim ship's lights; anecdote about making cocoa to escape the cold; becoming friendly with second officer sharing watch, mentions a second officer being engaged to a singing star. [23:20] Remarks on life on board: manual tasks, importance of learning jobs that officers ordered people to do; good quality of food, examples of meals, PV disliking tinned milk; some ships dry, others where captain allowed alcohol; sharing a cabin with apprentice, captain having a suite; British crew. [27:20] Remarks on: PV doing about 5 trips across at Atlantic, from Clyde to Halifax and New York; PV amazed at lights of New York; British Apprentices Club providing wholesome entertainments in New York, tea dances with girls; anecdote about PV and other apprentice being invited to Sunday lunch by a girl, PV having to sit through sermon on the evils of the British Empire; PV only 17 at time, feeling grown up and young simultaneously, anecdote about being told he was too young to view a film; film shows including a big band show; excellent food in New York, anecdote about lack of bananas. [34:15] [cont' from 34:15] Remarks on dangers: sea always dangerous, need for care; anecdote about playing hockey on flight deck as ship rolled dramatically; PV never feeling in danger. [36:40] Remarks on service in the Pacific: PV in Indian Ocean when atom bombs dropped on Japan, relief given knowledge of Japanese suicide attacks; Japanese regarded poorly due to brutality of treatment of prisoners; knowledge of German and Japanese atrocities at time; diversion to civilian commercial duties at Bombay after war ended; Bombay seeming unpleasant at time, PV impressed by Taj Mahal; oil tankers rapid port turnaround leaving little time to explore land; sailing to Singapore, where inhabitants were hostile to colonial British; [40:30] PV an Empire supporter at time, sad at collapse of Empire; [41:10] Remarks on politics: PV too young to vote in 1945, voting Conservative afterwards; viewing Conservatives as most competent political party, admirer of Margaret Thatcher; PV hating unions after experiences in motor industry. [42:25] Comments on postwar service in Merchant Navy: life on board changing little after war; PV sending 2 years trading across Pacific; PV reasons for wanting to go to see, family connection to sea, influence of sailor cousin; career at sea seeming a promising career to PV uncle; apprenticeship paying little, but allowances paying for expenses ashore and things cheap; sailing to Pitcairn Islands to deliver supplies, interbreeding amongst local population; [47:30] sailing up Amazon to deliver water to Manaus in Brazil, restoration of opera house since PV visited; PV enjoying sailing around Australia, primitive nature of Cairns at time; anecdote about Australian girlfriend with anti-British father; anecdote about restricted drinking hours at Australian pubs, comparisons with recent changes to British drinking laws introduced by Tessa Jowell; dangerous Australian beer-rum mix of 'Brum'; officers allowed to drink; [53:00] Second Mates Certificate required to become a third officer; outline of examination process for mates and possible questions on navigation, mix of theory and practice; good navigation accuracy, tedious task of second officer keeping Admiralty charts updated; senior apprentices taking on higher status and responsibilities, transitioning to officer; importance of good captain's report to progression; hierarchy of officers. [58:30] Remarks on merchant navy career: outline of time spent as second and third officer, further progression requiring masters' certificate and possibly other qualifications; PV deciding against further naval career after falling in love; anecdote about girlfriend leaving him to marry a dentist, later regarded by PV as a lucky escape and a lucky thing in that allowed him to marry his present wife of 60 years.

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