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'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 22 Jul 2019 16:53
by rfj1001
The following is a screenshot taken from the Personal Occcupation Column of the 1939 Register. (It belongs to Robert Major, b 5 Nov 1880, Liverpool).

I'm making no headway in trying to find out what that second line might be referring to.

Does anyone have any ideas.

Untitled-1.jpg (28.64 KiB) Viewed 1708 times

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 22 Jul 2019 18:40
by tatewise
Might it be anything to do with the Office of Satellite and Product Operations (OSPO)
On its page ... ction.html it refers to five sectors (UV, UZ, VY, VZ, WY).
So that would account for the O.S.P.O.VY initials.

Maybe M.S. Raconia is the Motor Ship on which the ocean observations were made.
Also, it might be Laconia.

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 22 Jul 2019 18:57
by rfj1001
Well done Mike :) that seems to be it.

I’d also wrongly assumed a Donkey Man was something to do with donkeys. Turns out it is the person that greases ships engines so that ties in. I guess the number might be his merchant seaman’s number.

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 22 Jul 2019 19:00
by tatewise
Yes, a donkey man works on the donkey engines (workhorse steam winch) on a ship.

However, on reflection, there were not many satellites in 1939 so maybe OSPO is not that :?

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 22 Jul 2019 19:22
by LornaCraig
Rather than VY could it be H? Then the last bit would be HMS Raconia/Laconia.
According to Wikipedia there was an RMS Laconia, which on 4 September 1939 was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an armed merchant cruiser. I don't know if that would have converted it from RMS to HMS.

Edit: Yes, 919813 was his discharge number from the merchant navy. This is a transcript of deatils from Findmypast:

Record Transcription:
Britain, Merchant Seamen, 1918-1941

First name(s) Robert
Last name Major
Event year 1921
Birth year 1880
Birth place Liverpool
Birth county/country Lancashire
Birth date ? ? 1880
Discharge number 919813
Card type CR1
The National Archives
Series BT349
Date range 1921-1941
Record set Britain, Merchant Seamen, 1918-1941
Category Education & work
Subcategory Merchant Navy & Maritime
Collections from Great Britain, UK None

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 22 Jul 2019 19:37
by tatewise
I think you are correct Lorna. I was on that track.
The Wikipedia page is

Examining that 1939 Register page, there are several capital H in RICHARDS below and HARRISON & HICKSON above, and they match the H in H.M.S. Laconia.

Maybe the O.S.P.O. is a Naval Rank such as some sort of Petty Officer.

R.M.S. means Royal Mail Ship so maybe the P.O. means Post Office?

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 22 Jul 2019 19:41
by Gowermick
Just checked the seaman discharge number on findmypast ‘Brtain, Merchant Seaman 1818-1941’ recordset, and number 919813 comes back with 4 entries for Robert Major/Magor/Mayo, so the number is indeed his discharge number.

The third entry image, even mentions ‘Laconia’, dated 30 June 193?.

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 22 Jul 2019 22:56
by AdrianBruce
Guessing rather than anything else - could OSPO etc mean "OverSeas Post Office HMS Laconia"? I just get reminded of Family Favourites on the radio on Sundays and the addresses quoting BFPO for British Forces Post Office....

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 23 Jul 2019 08:51
by rfj1001
Thanks so much to everyone that contributed. It wasn't in much doubt that the mentioned seamans records referred to the correct Robert Major - but the icing on the cake this morning was that I found an earlier seamans record of him (dated 19 2 1919) which had confirming details of his wife, Sarah, his address and, an added bonus, a photo of him :)

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 23 Jul 2019 09:08
by Gowermick
I found the same with my grandfather. What you may want to do next, is track the ships we was discharged from.

Also, try checking for a medal index card for him. I found from my grandfather's card, that he served on HMS Ben-My-Chree during WW1.

Investigating further, I discovered it was an ex Isle of Man ferry, converted to one of the first aircraft carriers. He was on board when it was sunk by shells from a shore battery on Turkey's mainland. I think all the crew survived, as they were at anchor off-shore when attacked. All this from a ship's name on a medal index card :D

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 09 Aug 2019 20:39
by amuse
OK, for my two pennyworth, how about 'Ordinary Seaman, Posted Overseas' ? i.e. not elegible for drafting to other work as he would not be in the country.

Re: 'O.S.P.O.VY.M.S Raconia' - What does it mean?

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 11:56
by DonF
If he was a donkeyman he was part of the Engineering staff, so could not be classified as an Ordinary Seaman.