Letter: Morse men's bravery is undiminished

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The Independent Online
Sir: Many of your readers, not only veterans of the Second World War, will probably have been as affected as I have been by Ian Ball's photograph in today's Independent of a torpedoed oil tanker somewhere on the ocean in 1941. May I take this opportunity to commend to you the seldom expressed appreciation of the devotion to duty and self-discipline displayed by the radio officers who served in the merchant navy on those oil tankers.

They performed, with a great sense of responsibility, the highly skilled and exacting work of maintaining contact with their escorting convoys, living under equally dangerous conditions as the rest of the ships' crews. Not many survived. One who did, my late husband, bore the scars of the 'torpedoed more than once/open boat syndrome' for the rest of his life.

The replacement of Morse code and wireless operators by sophisticated radio transmissions does not mean we should forget those dependable young men who were respected by all on board ship and known merely as 'Sparks'. After 50 years their record of bravery remains undiminished.

Yours faithfully,




26 May