What did you do if your trawler got into distress? Mike Allison 3
When a ship was in distress, now you’ve seen the Titanic on the telly and they always mention the radio operator, he hit the ship at the iceberg and they’ve got to call as much help as you can. Now in them days in wasn’t on a voice it was all on a little Morse key and they sent an S.O.S. All ships in those days was listening on a certain radio frequency, like radio one or radio two, little frequencies and we had one and it was 500, we called it 'five ton' and you always left a radio on 'five ton'. Now all the radio operators were sat in the radio room and if you were sinking you sent S.O.S. three dots, three dashes, three dots. And all these radio operators, as soon as they heard that they got a pencil and paper and you’d give them your position in latitude and longitude. They wrote it down, rushed in to the Captain and give it to him, he found out how far away it was and if he could be some help he said to me “tell them we’re coming to help you” and I, the operator, got the Morse key and sent back “we’re coming to you” so they knew there was somebody coming. A lot of people ignored it, like the Titanic, people ignored it 'cos they was in ice themselves, they was in icebergs and they couldn’t get out to go and help the Titanic it was a safety call a mayday. If you went on voice, in later years, you said “may day, may day, may day” and people came to you and helped you again. That was a 'may day'.