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Jos Spence

Leading Stoker


Mentioned in Harold Siddall's memoirs.

The Engine Room Department received its quota of replacements in the form of H.O. Second Class stokers, who had received a minimum time of square-bashing and arrived on board, bewildered and vaccinated. One of them was allocated to our mess and arrived, lugging his kit, with a huge piano-accordian in its case. His surname was Ward, so was automatically nicknamed Sharkey. He could literally make that squeeze-box talk, so he was a valued member. One tea-time we were issued with tiny tins of meat paste and fish paste and Jos Spence, who was our Messís Leading Stoker, called out to Sharkey, who was sitting in his junior place at the mess table, "Sharkey, slide me up a tin of meat paste." Sharkey duly grabbed a tin and sent it on its way up the table. "No," said Jos, "I said a tin of meat paste, not fish paste." So Sharkey duly slid another tin of paste to Jos who said, "I said meat paste, canít you bloody well read?" And Sharkey very calmly answered, "No". So we discovered that this lad could play any tune on a piano-accordian but he could not read. We soon took him in hand with reading lessons.

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