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Life of a Stoker


Hugh
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My grandfather served as a Stoker on HMS Leander between 1919 and 1920.

Could someone provide a brief decription of a Stoker's duties on a ship such as Leander, or point me in the direction of some literature more broadly identifying the role of a stoker on this sort of ship?

My grandfather served as a Stoker on HMS Leander between 1919 and 1920.

Could someone provide a brief decription of a Stoker's duties on a ship such as Leander, or point me in the direction of some literature more broadly identifying the role of a stoker on this sort of ship?

You gotta keep ur eye on them stokers hee hee :thumbsup:

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Your Majesty may be graciously pleased, by Your Order in Council, to sanction the establishment as from the 13th June, 1918, of the ratings of Chief Mechanician 1st Class and Chief Mechanician 2nd Class with pay at the rates of 7s. 11d. and 7s. 5d. per diem, respectively,

Regards Charles

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  • 3 years later...

Was wondering what it took to go from a stoker 2nd class to a stoker 1st class? My grandfather was on the Ark Royal and his records show this promotion. This thread has gone a long way in informing me there was more to being a stoker than first thought.

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  • 1 month later...

Thi subject may have now gone off the boil but here is a potted version of the role of Stokers. The Rate of Stoker refers to the semi skilled members of the Engineering branch. Like the Army Engineers 'Sapper' it is a rank that has come to be used as a generic term for the branch. ERAs/Mechanicians are technicians who through trade training and experience are primarily involved in the technical maintenance of a ships propulsion and auxilliary sytems.

While Stokers started as coal lumpers advances in the Navys requirements broadly expanded the range of duties and skills required of a Stoker. These came to include manning boiler and engine rooms, stowage, transfer and testing of fuels, oils and water, fire fighting and damage control. Running and operator maintenance of auxilliary machiney such as generators, air compressors,Distillng plants etc.Of course as they went up in rank they became more involved in taking charge of machinery spaces and working with the ERAs and Engineering Officers in more complex roles.

At PO/CPO level they also became more involved man management issues such as watch bills, and employment, training and career management of those under them.

At any level Stokers also fought the ship often manning guns, acting as ammunition numbers, and as members of boarding and landing parties.

Cheers John.

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QUOTE (RNCVR @ Oct 18 2005, 01:32 PM)
in a pre Dreadnought Battleship steaming full out with all furnaces fired, would consume approx 1 ton of coal in less than a half an hour. One can only imagine the relays of Stokers involved in shifting that am't of coal from bunkers to firebox & the am't of heat & coaldust produced.

Bryan

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?

Coal consumption was far higher in a heavy ship - more like a ton every 3 minutes or so at top speed. If a stoker could barrow half-a-hundredweight at a time, that meant 13+ barrowloads arriving at the furnaces every minute. Since ships had large numbers of boilers (HMS Dreadnought had 18), this was not an impossible task so long as the stokers in the role of firemen kept shovelling and the bunker-boiler-bunker traffic streams were kept going fast and smooth. It was one of the factors contributing to the relatively large crews of warships at the time.

Ships achieving design speeds and higher during stern chases such as at Falklands and Dogger Bank were well-recognised as depending on their stokers to work hard delivering fuel at the rates needed, and stokers and engine-room crews were often congratulated for their achievements.

Regards,

MikB

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A very interesting topic, I wonder if long serving stokers (coal fired boilers) suffered from the same lung problems as coal miners?

khaki

I'll bet they did - along with back trouble, bad teeth and various dietary deficiencies, like any other high-energy occupation in Dickensian or worse conditions - quite apart from the appalling battle-risks...

Regards,

MikB

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A very interesting topic, I wonder if long serving stokers (coal fired boilers) suffered from the same lung problems as coal miners?

khaki

I believe one of the worst problems was heat exhaustion, but I'd need to go and find a reference for that.

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I'll bet they did - along with back trouble, bad teeth and various dietary deficiencies, like any other high-energy occupation in Dickensian or worse conditions - quite apart from the appalling battle-risks...

Regards,

MikB

I think that it is important to distinguish between maladies that were common to lower strata's of society that were more likely to be involved in heavy manual labor coupled with poor diet and lack of health facilities. For coal workers particularly miners and stoker's who worked in an enclosed environment breathing coal dust for years at a time, the likelihood of developing 'black lung' must have been very high.

khaki

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I'll bet they did - along with back trouble, bad teeth and various dietary deficiencies, like any other high-energy occupation in Dickensian or worse conditions - quite apart from the appalling battle-risks...

Regards,

MikB

Steady on Mik... it wasn't a goal in Victorian England, men would join up for the better standard of living such as food, clothing and pay. Sailors then, as now, were a healthy, fit and happy lot. Stoking and trimming may have been a dirty job but the men fed like fighting cocks ... "In the Princess Royal two thousand eggs were cooked for breakfast every morning and about one thousand in the evening; a hearty stoker or seaman would think nothing of eating six eggs for breakfast. His whole scheme of diet would make a food reformer turn pale."

Mik, earlier on you wrote of stokers moving 'barrowloads' of coal: do you know if they did in fact move coal with wheelbarrows? Just curious.

Cheers




			
		
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  • 5 years later...
On 18/10/2005 at 10:54, David_Blanchard said:

My great uncle Sam Williams, stoker on the HMS Lion

post-1106-1129629234.jpg

I discovered two days ago that my great uncle, Walter Hershal Williams, was a Stoker 1st class (no idea what the 1st class means) on HMS Lion from 1912 t0 1918. It would be nice to think that the two gentlemen met. I'm doubtful that this message will be read because it is now June 2019.

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Welcome to the GWF.

Your GU served in HMS LION form 1913 to 1919, starting as a Stoker 2nd Class and then advanced to Stoker 1st Class. He had been an Acting Leading Stoker for over a year when he was given a Free Discharge in December 1919. He would have been in LION at the Battle of Jutland.

On leaving the service he joined the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) and was mobilised from the RFR form April to June 1921 for the national miners' strike.

Edited by horatio2
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