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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Life of a Stoker


Hugh
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He would have been responsible for all engines - main & auxiliary as well as the condensors - on the sub, as well as the Stokers in the crew.  He would have worked closely with the Chief ERA as well.

E class were diesel fueled subs.

Bry

Sorry for cropping out some of your comments, but I really have to take issue with this thing about Chief Stokers being in charge of engines. Very few Chief Stokers obtained a 'Unit Certificate' allowing them to take charge of a full steaming unit, i.e. Boiler room' engine room and auxiliaries. (control was from the engine room) and be known as 'Chief of the Watch'. It was simply not a requirement for their promotion therefore few ever bothered.

What about Mechanicians? don't know or don't care??

Serious question, where can I find more info on E class sub condensers?

Lets bring a few Tiffs out and bury the passengers :lol:

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I've read all the above posts and maybe I'm being thick but I'm still trying to get my head round the difference between a Stoker and an ERA in (a) a WW1 diesel-powered vessel and (B) a modern diesel or Gas Turbine vessel.

Does a stoker run the engines and an ERA carry out maintenance? Was the Chief Stoker under the CERA? Where do Mechanicians fit in?

Adrian

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I must confess that, after that little exchange, there are now two confused Adrian's following this thread...

Adrian

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Basically, the ERAs were highly skilled technicians who would supervise, repair, modify etc. engines to a far greater degree than stokers. (Hence why they entered at the equivalent rate of Leading Hand, then progressed swiftly to petty officer status.) The stokers were more operators/maintainers.

The Chief ERA would be in charge of the engines etc. aboard most WW1 submarines. The Chief Stoker would assist in this task, obviously, as well head the stoker contingents.

Of course, aboard a submarine there was a great deal of multitasking.

There. Clear as mud. :D

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Agree with Dick - ERA's are skilled tradesmen who have completed an Apprenticeship of approx 5 years either in civil employment or in one of the dockyard. Theywere Fitters & Turners in the parlance of the period. I guess one might call them Machinists today. A skilled ERA could manufacture virtually anything out of metal. I have an old "Naval Rates & Their Meaning to Employers" book in my possession & the various job descriptions for ERA's is 23 pages long!

The Stoker j.d. is 12 pages long & is quite varied. I dont have a j.d. for Mechanician, but my understand of this rate is that Stokers who wished to

better/improve themselves took courses to qualify them as Mechanicians & they would rank somewhere between the ERA & the Stoker 1st class. I have a couple medal grps to Mechanicians who commenced life as 2nd class Stokers.

A Chief Stoker who qualified for an "Engine Room Watchkeeping certifcate" would be qualified to take charge of an Engine room on some ships or subs. & of course he would have to work closely with the Chief ERA.

Bryan

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 years later...

Gentlemen, I have the honour of being the grand-daughter of a stoker who served on HMS Lion. William Bulgin joined the RN on 6th February 1912 and following his training, served on board HMS Lion, his only ship, and was consequently at Jutland.

'Pop', as we grand children called him, was often taken to task by two of his sons (my uncles) who served in WW2 as Petty Officer, RN and Royal Marine Commando - this would happen when on leave, my uncles would take pop down the pub for a pint, and a bit of in-service rivalry would rear it's ugly head. Pop would always end the winner after such 'chats' when he confirmed just how much coal he and his shipmates would have to feed into the boilers, whilst being under attack, and attacking the enemy. The conditions were, I am lead to believe, as close to 'hell' as you could get.

And now I have to impart a long held family secret. A family story is that once, Lion was required to leave anchorage quickly. My grandfather used an old stokers trick, as I understand it, of using petrol/oil to bring up the temperature of the boilers faster that waiting for the coal to take. The risk was that in doing so, the lining of a boiler could crack, which would have meant dock repair time. Well, the Lion did make it out to sea fast but one of the boilers was damaged. Pop was hauled up in front of the Captain, and who knows, perhaps Admiral Beatie (I believe the Lion was his flag at the time) and given a dressing down, which ended in a wink and a nod. We only have hearsay evidence for this, but Pop was not one for tall tales, even though he was a Navy man through and through.

My grandfather was awarded various badges of merrit: long service, good conduct, etc. He also boxed for the RN - heavy weight you say? Not a bit of it, for my 'pop' was 5'2", wiry in build and had wonderful blue eyes with a twinkle that I will never forget. Although his service engagement was for 12 years he was discharged in 1921 as Leading Stoker.

So I found reading about the other aspects of a stoker's responsibilities in this thread very interesting, especially the shore duty requirements! So any more information would be much appreciated.

Susan

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Welcome to the forum Susan,

There have been several threads on Stokers so happy searching!

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That equates to 75 lbs per minute. That doesn`t sound a lot for the men of those days, though probably beyond modern man! Phil B

PS Wouldn`t the men in HarryBetts` photo be a coaling party and didn`t all hands do that?

The info I had for a coal-fired battlecruiser were a ton for every mile steamed at 25 knots or more. I think some of us could do 75lb per minute - say 5 big shovelsful - for a few minutes at a time, but 20 or 30 times that amount is a different proposition... :o . But then, 25 or so boilers, each with 2 firemen? Looks doable for a while, though boring, dirty, unpleasant and often dangerous.

Regards,

MikB

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  • 6 months later...
A Thankless; Filthy & Arduous Task;A photo of the HMS Shannon Stokers & Co;Of Mess No 26;Taken after "Coaling Up" Having a well earned "Brew"!;Taken Circa 1914~16;sadly unidentified apart from the addition of an Arrow & "My Chum" in the centre,& the Mess 26 @ the bottom,it came with a couple of other HMS Shannon PCs.

I appeal to any Forum member who may have downloaded the PC Picture of the HMS Shannon Coaling Crew that I posted here {now deleted} to either re~post a copy of the PC or forward a copy by PM /e~Mail to me as I cannot at present locate the originals for another Forum Member TiA HB

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I appeal to any Forum member who may have downloaded the PC Picture of the HMS Shannon Coaling Crew that I posted here {now deleted} to either re~post a copy of the PC or forward a copy by PM /e~Mail to me as I cannot at present locate the originals for another Forum Member TiA HB

Harry, My great uncle was a stoker on the Shannon in the war, if you get the photo of them again, could you send it to me, or post it again please?

I have previously posted the only photo I have from the Shannon..

3345379164_cbdfd9a029.jpg

My uncles 3rd right in the back row

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I haven't, so thanks for that. My great uncle was on quite a few ships between 1912-25 but i only have 2 photos from his Navy days. One as a portrait, and the other one above. It'd be fantastic, if unlikely, that someone may recognise their relative in the photo!

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  • 6 months later...

Following on from the Stokers stuff, what would be the Stokers ranks, starting after training ?

I am re-tracing a family member, who was a Stoker on HMS Hampshire. He has Stoker II, Stoker I and then Leading Stoker in his rating column on his service record. Can anyone tell me the full ratings list please.

Thanks,

Dale.

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Stoker 2nd Class (initial rank)

Stoker 1st Class

Leading Stoker

Stoker Petty officer

Chief Stoker Petty officer

Mechanician (warrant rank)

Not every stoker was promoted to Leading Stoker.

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By 1918 the progression could be:

Stoker 2nd Class (initial rank)

Stoker 1st Class

Leading Stoker

Stoker Petty officer

Chief Stoker Petty officer

Mechanician

Warrant Mechanician

Commissioned Mechanician

Engineer Lieutenant

Engineer Lieutenant Commander

Engineer Commander

I have not included acting ranks.

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He would have had a shovel and used it to shovel coal into the boiler.

He may also or instead have been a sort of junior mechanic - that would depend on his grade and just what the ship was fitted with.

The 'chief stoker' is today effectively the CPO in charge of the ships' engines.

I would call that a bit of a stretch. A 'Chief Stoker' nowadays is purely a divisional senior rate, charged with the welfare and discipline of the ships Engineering dept Junior rates. Only 'technical' role would be the refueling / storage of diesel.

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"A Warrant Mechanician is ranked at 13."

He is not in the Stokers Ranks but in the 'Engineering Branch' and yes a Warrant Officer a Mechanician is a Chief Petty Officer.

A thread on the Subject;

 

Magman,

Who deals with the water nowadays?

Regards Charles

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I have a WW1 medal group of a 1914/15 Star Trio to a Warrant Mechanician / Commissioned Mechanician.His 14/15 Star is to WT.MECH (Warrant Mechanician) and BWM / Victory Pair are to CD.MECH (Commissioned Mechanician) , no Service Numbers as Officer Ranks.I have never seen another medal to a Commissioned Mechanician.To show how rare this rank is on the Royal Naval Officers List of 1918 there were the grand total of 12 men.Considering the size of the RN at this time the amount is ridiculously small.They could have rented a room in a local Pub for their own Christmas Rank/Branch Christmas Party.One rank missing from the earlier list is Chief Mechanician which existed.Bob :)

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