Question {?}

All of us [that's the royal "us"] who served afloat in surface ships, did so like a flock of pigeons namely that we had our own little "holes" but never wandered further than that. There are exceptions of course, the obvious ones being the Commanding Officer and the Executive Officer, and they, for this purpose, can be thought of as the "loft" keepers: the skipper could and did go everywhere, and Jimmy went everywhere except where the MEO {Engines} [Marine Engineering Officer] reigned supreme !

[most of us rarely knew even half of the ship]

We all knew {??} our ship of course and given a reference point we could orientate to that part-of-ship with no difficulty. The requirement for water-tight integrity resulted in the ship being compartmentalised each separate space being pigeon-holed depending upon which deck it was on, which side of the ship, and how far back from the stem, moving towards the stern of the ship. Thus, compartment 3P2, was on the third deck down from the upper deck, alphabetically, the sixteenth compartment from the stem and on the port side of the ship [odd numbers to starboard]. However, unless one were a HQ1 watch-keeper, the truth is that for all practical purposes this grid-reference was rapidly supplanted by the name of what the compartment was used for with the exception, that in large ships [carriers in particular] mess numbers kept their grid-reference: I was in Eagle in 5G1 mess and it was never known as anything else. Consider that a *.* [a wild card] compartment was the wardroom, the senior rates dining room, the MCR, the MCO, the 4-inch TS, the BWO, the heads etc etc., but rarely, if ever, 2F1, if 2F1 represents my wild card. Within days of joining a ship, we trod a path between our mess, our place[s] of work often several, our heads and bathroom, the canteen, the dining hall, our muster points and the upper deck [for "freshers" and to get bronzy-bronzy]. Occasionally, we would venture to the ships routine office/regulating office, HQ1, naval stores, sick bay, library of course, to where movies were shown, the laundry and a couple of other spaces. We didn't visit other place[s] of work, like engine rooms, boiler rooms, the bridge, the radar office, the TS, the SCR, the SRE compartment, the 4.5-inch gun mounting or the magazines, the LRR etc etc, which collectively, made up over half the ship, and each branch with its personnel structure are included in the "we" which started the above sentence. Once that path [or those paths] was/were established, we kept to it/them for the rest of the commission, and moreover, although we called ourselves 'the ships company' many in the crew we never got to know.

In small [smaller] surface ships things were different, although the HQ1 controls were maintained for Damage Control Management just as they were on much bigger ships. The compartments in a frigate are much fewer than in say a cruiser, and are easily identified as the "forward PO's mess" or the "chief's mess" [there being just the one]. Submarines of course are different again, but generally follow the small ship idea of calling a spade a spade, or more fittingly, a space a space.

It wasn't always like that, and I notice that in our largest ship HMS HOOD [1918-1941], that in 1941 just a few weeks before her destruction in May, her messdecks were numbered 1 to ........with no mention of deck or position in the ship forward to aft, but numbering messes traditionally namely odds to starboard and evens to port: the seamen were in messes 8 to 15, half to port and half to starboard.

I don't know about you, but I often thought that it would have been a good idea for small groups from each branch to be shown around the work area[s] of other branches which could have been achieved by using volunteer off-watch men [on both viewing and showing sides]. it would have been a good way to get the ships company to react more positively to each other, and of course it would have broadened our knowledge base.

Having told you all this, I am now ready to ask you the question which heralded your arrival to this page.

If, and I know from my own experiences as a Portland Sea-Rider and a SR at sea in both boats and all types of ships up to WO level, it to be the case, Communicator's didn't wander too far outside the MCO door, are you at all interested in another ships W/T department and would you want to wander from your MCO door to a W/T office door dating back to 1924, say to those offices of HMS Hood for example ?

If you would, then below are a few pointers of what you would have seen. Click on the title below.