University of Oxford
37 files

69737: Photographs from a Merchant Vessel

physical object
posted on 2023-12-07, 12:38 authored by Oxford At War Project Team

Alfred Cooper was a keen photographer. During the war, he served on the HMT or SS Marthara (merchant vessel), travelling around the world as a radion operator. He collated his photographs in an album, which is now in the posession of his daughter. About Alfred: He was from York, one of three brothers. One brother, Edmund Cooper went into the Friends' Ambulance Service and served in France. He was awarded to Croix de Guerre. Alfred went to the Marconi school. He was a conscientious objector who initially worked in market gardens instead of doing active service. He then became a radio operator because this also exempted him from service. He worked in the railway office in York after the war, then went into insurance, married, and moved to Birmingham In the Second World War he was involved with Bletchley Park - people with experience in radio were recruited to listen to German radio messages. He worked in North Allerton doing this. He recorded in Morse Code (he learnt it at the Marconi School). He was told to do two hours listening at a particular frequency. The messages were then transferred by a rider to Bletchley Park for decoding. After the Second World War he became a professional photographer. Album contents: One photograph shows Alfred in uniform, aged 19 (he was born December 1898) Photos show pictures show various vessels and locations. One photo is captioned 'raising the flags of peace' and was taken in Sydney Harbour There are images of 'spark discharges' at several points (he told his daughter Frances his nickname was 'Sparks') The images include Venice, New Orleans, Montreal, Durban - and images of camping in Yorkshire. Front cover has a badge reading R N Transport. It's a WW2 badge that has been added later. About the ship: Internet searches for the ship only turn up this reference in 1919 from The Advertiser (Adelaide). Reference to Durban (link to a picture of Durban in the album?): Further interest: More photographs and information about the Cooper family are in the family's possession(This story and material was shared at the Oxford at War 1914-1918 Roadshow on 12 Nov 2016)



Frances Howard

Alternative title

Photographs from a Merchant Vessel


CC BY-SA Frances Howard

Usage metrics

    Oxford at War


    Ref. manager