LOF Yarns


Stories of LOF from days gone by…


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A Parrot Tale

A ‘Blue’ – True Story

The Tank Inspector

Nellie Wallace

Who was this Lady!

The Pointed Hills

The Day Ambrose Almost Won The Pools


A Parrot Tale

About the parrot. Picked up a small 110 volt ac Mantle Radio in N/York, sailed to
Pebbles West Africa. An innocent young native in his canoe wanted a 12v dc Radio for
a grey parrot, Radio Officer wanted the bird, as with all Marconi boys he had no
money. I fitted two wires and battery clips, swapped for the parrot, the native
went away happy. Came paddling back flat-out cursing me, set would not work
on 12v dc. As he came along side the boys below got the ring for slow ahead,
we had finished the discharge, I was saved by the bell. Sparky paid up later on.

Boyd Guard Ex LOF Elect/Off retired at 55. Best move that I ever made.
Lives in New Zealand

Story provided by Boyd Guard.

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A ‘Blue’ – True Story

The London Earl was in Drydock – Schiedam Holland November 1982, the lads were getting a bit bored and money was getting tight, so the Chief Steward, Gordon L. decided what the lads needed was some ‘Dutch’ Eye Relaxation… in the form of 8mm Blue Movies. Gordon obtained a projector and a supply of films from the local Adult Shop. For the followings few evenings there was a late film show. Gordon L maintaining he had bought the equipment at a very low price.

We set sail and some 3 weeks later, just before the LOF Office was closing for the Christmas break, we received a telegram, asking ‘where’ the ‘Hired Projector and Films’ were, John Munday the Captain, presented the message to Gordon L in the bar, Gordon being Gordon thought it was a wind up and made very light of the situation.

The next day being the day the office closed up for the long break, another telegram arrived stating Gordons’ salary would have a deduction for the cost of the projector and the cost of the numerous films he had ‘Hired’ from the Adult Film Shop, he had left an address at the shop, and was traced by the ships agent. Gordon was not very amused with being presented with this and asked all the lads who had watched the ‘Movies’ to make a contribution… needless to say… you can guess what their reply was and the second word was ‘off’…!!!!!

Story provided by Roy Gerstner.

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The Tank Inspector

So there we were in Novorossiysk waiting to load. You could see down No.5 wings from the after end of the midships accommodation – there was water there but it looked far worse than it was. Harry Tate ( McCulloch?) decided that we had to sweeten the tank inspector by feeding him a few beers.

We had a few whilst waiting for the inspector, together with the Chief Steward ( Thomas Jefferson?) who’d had a few already. After a while he came on board and we plied him with beer. About half an hour later the Mate said ‘Well, are you going to inspect the tanks?’, ‘Er What?’, said the Russian. ‘I’ve only come to borrow some books – I’m studying English!’. He was despatched ashore forthwith! The Chief Steward staggered off to his cabin. We sat there waiting.

Soon a gorgeous blonde appeared at the Mate’s door dressed in really tight-fitting black. She turned out to be the real tank inspector. She was leaning against the Mate’s doorway saying she didn’t want a beer when the Chief Steward, hearing a female voice, navigated his way along the alleyway and grabbed the lady’s bum.

She shrieked and ran off down the gangway leaving the Mate and the Third Mate to wonder – What do we do now? A moment later the Old Man appeared down the inside stairs saying ‘Have we started loading yet Mate?’, ‘Er well, Sir, we’ve got this slight problem!!!!’

Story provided by Mike Annett (then 3/Off)

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Nellie Wallace

We were on the Harmony on a BP charter. They always sent their orders in code the bulk of which the Old Man – Nellie Wallace – could not decode without help unless it was something important, like a change of orders, in which case he would do the de-coding himself and keep all of us in the dark.

One morning at 0400 the Mate, Billy Bagnall, came on the bridge (on time for once I might add) and started moaning about Nellie keeping information from him concerning the next charter. The Second Mate egged him on and eventually Billy decided to sneak down to the Old Man’s cabin and check the papers on his desk.

He returned to the Chartroom, about ten minutes later, white as a sheet and pulse rate about 185.

When he had calmed down he related what had happened. He was looking at the Old Man’s papers when he heard Nellie getting out of bed. Billy hid behind the door of the dayroom while Nellie lumbered past to go to the toilet. ‘Bloody Hell’, said Billy. ‘If he’d sat down at his desk instead of returning to the bedroom he would have seen me standing there behind his door!!’

Story provided by Mike Annett

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Who Was This Lady!

On the Statesman, the doors of the Old Man’s cabin and the Chief’s cabin opened out into the alleyway. Inside the Chief’s cabin there was a small vestibule with four doors leading off it where you could turn right into the dayroom, left into the bathroom, straight ahead into the bedroom or return to the alleyway.

One morning about 0600 the Chief’s wife, who had only just joined, got up, stark naked, and went into the bathroom. While she was in the bathroom the Indian steward came quietly into the dayroom and was squatting down with dustpan and brush sweeping the carpet.

The Chief’s wife came out of the bathroom, saw the Steward, panicked, grabbed the first door she could find to escape the gaze of the Steward (which happened to be the ‘front door’), and found herself out in the alleyway with no clothes on.

Story provided by Mike Annett

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The Pointed Hills

The Overseas Courier used to be on regular run between Hamburg and Newport News. During the summer she went north about and in the winter she went down the Channel and then a rhumb line straight across. The Old Man was Maxwell Dunnet Mackenzie (father of Maisie and later father-in-law of Tony Tucker) and one of the apprentices on board was Mike Annett.

The Courier used to carry a couple of passengers now and then; one trip, as she approached the Pentland Firth, the passengers, two ladies, appeared on the bridge and Captain Mackenzie showed them round and pointed out the local scenery. One of them them asked ‘What are those those two pointed hills over there Captain?’, ‘Oh,’ replied Captain Mac. puffing on his pipe, ‘I don’t rightly know’.

He turned to the cadet (Mike Annett) and said, ‘Lad – have look at the chart and let us know the name of those hills’. Mike thought it strange that Captain Mac didn’t know the names as he [Captain Mac] had been brought up in the area and had spent his boyhood boating round the ‘Firth’.

Mike referred to the chart only to find that the name of the hills was clearly marked on the chart. Mike then had to go back in the wheelhouse and announce to the two lady passengers that the hills were known as ‘The Maiden’s Paps’.

Story provided by Mike Annett

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The Day Ambrose Almost Won The Pools

When Ambrose Jones was Chief Officer on the London Harmony he had a thing about winning the pools.

Every Friday he would tell the 2nd Mate ‘Well, if the pools come up tomorrow I shall take great delight in telling Basil (Mavroleon) what he can do with his ship!’. This Friday ritual eventually got to the 2nd Mate, so much so he thought it would be nice to give him the thrill of winning the pools. Well maybe not the 2nd mate on his own, but with a little help from his friends the 3rd Mate and R/O they came up with a little prank to play on Harry Tate.

As it happened the 3rd Mate had quite a good accent, he could pass for a BBC announcer when he tried.

In these days the BBC Overseas service used to always follow their main news with some items of news about Britain – usually funnies.

So the plan was hatched and the R/O taped the news, and carefully wrote down the items of news about Britain. The 3rd Mate then read out the items of news about Britain almost exactly as it was except for one new bit. He added ‘And finally a Liverpool housewife whose husband is a first officer with a London Greek company, was this weeks record pools winner. The pools company said it was a new record sum but would not disclose the figure’. This ‘new’ item of news about Britain was carefully added after the already taped main news.

The R/O tuned the ships transmitter to a harmonic of one of the telephony crystals and started broadcasting the news into a dummy aerial. This could only be heard ship board.

The 2nd mates radio was carefully tuned to the chosen frequency and the R/O broadcast the news on the hour. The earlier recorded version of course!

Ambrose was then duly invited into the 2nd Mates cabin for a beer. It just so happened the news was on at that time.

The result was more than we could ever have wished for. Ambrose took the bait, and he was certain it could only be him…

He became very excited and you started talking about sending a telegram to his wife. This
caused a lot of quick back peddling and eventually the 2nd Mate managed to persuade Ambrose if it was his wife, she would be cabling him.

Memories fade over the years and I can’t remember if we ever did tell Ambrose it was a joke. The second mate was a bit worried in case there were any repercussions.

The Chief Officer of the London Harmony seemed to pay an undue amount of courtesy visits to the radio room, often enquiring ‘No messages for me sparks?’

This is a true story – only the names Walsh, Douglas and Morrison have been omitted to protect the innocent.

Story provided by Bill Morrison


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