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    Quartermasters in the Merchant service.
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2004 Feb 3, 15:15 +0000

    My question about merchant quartermasters relates to my own family history
    in Liverpool, so I will subject you to a bit of that, first.
    Of my five grandparents, four went to sea. How come, five? Well, my
    mother's mother, Jean, herself went to sea, as a stewardess on the liners.
    In Liverpool, this was always referred to as being "on the boats"; they
    were never referred to as liners or ships. She was quite a character, and
    was a bigamist. Her first husband Lockhart was (or so claimed on the
    wedding certificate in 1901) a Master Mariner, whether in sail or steam I
    just don't know. My mother was their second child, born in 1913. The family
    story goes that the husband came home from sea, took one look at my mother,
    denied that she could ever be a child of his, and departed for ever.
    Jean went back to sea, leaving her children with relatives; this was in
    World War 1. In 1916 she married a Chief Engineer, George, bigamously, and
    he was the man my mother always thought of as her true father. Indeed, with
    hindsight, he may have been just that.
    When Lockhart died in 1939, at 67, my mother was informed. She inquired,
    and found that he had left the sea a year before, and had been living in
    some poverty. In his latter days at sea he had been an AB, but previous to
    that in the 1930s had been a Quartermaster with the Union Castle Line. So
    his career seems to have been a steady decline since his early days as
    Master. This has been attributed to a serious weakness for the bottle.
    Now we come to my question: what was a Quartermaster's function, in a
    liner, in the 1930s? I recall visits to bridges of English Channel ferries,
    in the 1960's, before the days of automatic steering, when there was always
    a man at the ship's wheel, watching the compass to hold her on course. Was
    that a quartermaster? Was it an actual rank?
    As for my fourth grandparent who went to sea, that was my father's father,
    who lost his life to a German torpedo in World War 1.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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