Recently Ken reminisced about other aspects of the job and life of a radio officer on the Queen Mary.

"In calm weather, because our accommodations and the radio room was so high up and away from the propellers, you sometimes had no impression of movement or vibrations. Leaving Southampton was a good example. At half speed going down the Solent, we sometimes had to go outside to give ourselves some indication of what was happening. (Donít forget my cabin and the radio room had no portholes). 

In rougher weather the QM certainly rolled (especially up high) and pitched. At those times, passenger accommodation had ropes along the sides and in the main foyer's. I remember you could look right down those long passenger alleyways and literally see the other end moving slightly up and down with the pitching.

There was lots of creaking of wood paneling. I became aware of the engine vibrations as I went lower and further aft to the (second class, called cabin class after World War II) restaurant. Looking out of portholes lower down certainly gave you the impression of speed that was not apparent higher up on the sun deck. Engineers like Tom probably had different sensations where he was working as it was nigh on completely the reverse location, being below the waterline.

It is not surprising that QM could be heard right up there in Alaska, as the transmitter was quite powerful - about 3000 watts. The frequency used, 500 kc/s (now called khz or kilohertz) is quite close to the AM broadcast band - right at the bottom end, near AM 600 (which really means AM 600 khz).

Normally, in daytime, we could reach out around 800 miles. At night, or with any twilight you could literally get across the Atlantic on 500 khz.

The best analogy is radio station KGO, San Francisco, which works on 810 khz. The frequencies are not dissimilar in propagation characteristics - although KGO is 50,000 watts. At night, you can hear KGO anywhere from Brazil up to Alaska. I've even heard it in the Samoan Islands. 

The ROs (radio officers) dined in the Cabin Class restaurant and the Mates dined in First Class (where else!) My first couple of round trips were a real problem for me, finding my way down there to the restaurant from the radio office. It was okay if I was with someone, but when relieving somebody for lunch alone when I only had 30 minutes to eat the meal, it sometimes took me half that time to get there and back - more if I got lost 

The ROs had a table to themselves in one corner of the Cabin Class restaurant (trying to hide us, probably) We were used a guinea pigs for he new catering staff. Every trip, we had a new waiter. If he was any good, he was immediately promoted to serve passengers . That was where the big money was. If he didnít make the grade, we never saw him again.

It made for some interesting experiences, especially when you only had 15 minutes to order & eat the meal with someone like Manuel from "Faulty Towers" scribbling it down.

The Deck Officers (at least, those with 2 1/2 rings or less) also had a table to themselves in First Class, although I'm sure their service was a lot more consistent. I believe the Capt, Staff Capt and Chief Officer sat on passenger tables. I think the Chief Eng & Staff Chief also had passenger tables.

I'm reminded of the story that our restaurant manager on RMS Caronia used to love telling to the junior officers who dined in "his" restaurant (probably to intimidate them) about the young assistant purser who complained about the selection of hors d'oeuvres. "Yes, I'm sorry about that sir. I expect at home your mum must have a bit of a problem pushing the hors d'oeuvres trolley past your dad's bike in the hall".


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