Monday 28 July 2008


Have you ever wondered what it's like to have a partner in the Royal Navy? Now you can find out, via the Royal Navy Museum. In June and July I recorded 18 interviews with partners for the museum's web-based resource and the archive. They include:
  • wives of submariners and men on surface vessels from the 1950s to today
  • a member of a gay male civil partnership
  • a male partner of a naval woman. He copes with the kids while she's at sea
  • naval personnel from the Caribbean, which is one of the new places where the navy recruits

Images, and extracts from their stories, will soon be available on-line within the Family Matters section of Sea Your History at

And you can listen to entire interviews by visiting the Royal Naval Museum, Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth, PO1 3NH. Phone 02392 727 562. . Make an appoinment, to be sure the information is ready to be accessed. It's just being processed as I write.

What interested me most in recording the interviews? It was finding out about the way wives were so incredibly supportive of seagoing husbands. I can't see how the Royal Navy could survive without this dedicated back-up.

Sunday 6 July 2008


One of the most interesting things about my current research on women at sea in waritime is finding out how similar and different the situation was in other countries. At the big international maritime history conference in June, I was fascinated to hear from a German colleague. Christine Keitsch. She said:

1. German women worked as stokers (the very demanding job of shovelling coal to fuel the ships' engines) in WW1
2. Although in WW2 the German equivalent of Wrens were not allowed to sail, Hitler allowed one woman to be a dee-sea Merchant Navy captain: Captain Anneliese Teitz. There were also women on coastal vessels.

Christine Keitsch runs the German Women and the Sea Network, Frauen zur See.