Video P&O Days Part 2

P&O Days - Part 2, Life in the P&O Fleet circa 1960's - A young officer's pictorial record

This is the fifth video produced by Captain Joe Welch using photographs, film footage, drawings and paintings related to his time at sea, and the second in the series covering his time with P&O SNCo before joining Overseas Containers Limited.  Video P&O Days Part 1 started with Joe joining P&O S.N.Co as a cadet/apprentice and his first trips to sea.  This video, P&O Days Part 2, covers time at sea as a senior cadet/4th officer through to 2nd Officer on P&O passenger vessels.



The video starts with (then) Cadet/4th Officer Joe Welch joining the 1937-built passenger cargo ship ss Stratheden at Tilbury for an emmigrant voyage to Australia and ends with him as 2nd Officer on the Harland & Wolff 1961-built ss Canberra on a round-the-world voyage.  

The images on this video go from the ss Ballarat in snow and ice covered ports in northern Europe through to exotic scenes in South East Asia and the Far East on the mv Soudan.   We see ships ploughing through rough seas in the Bay of Biscay and calm waters in the Indian Ocean where P&O ships passed on their home and outward bound voyages.

  (Above - 4th Officer Joe Welch on the bridge of 

   the Stratheden)

To illustrate how tough life could be as a junior officer with P&O in the 1960s, Joe has included photographs from a round-the-world voyage on the ss Iberia which show a day out to the Blue Mountains from Sydney, beach visits in Fiji and a trip to Disneyland in Los Angeles!

In previous videos we've had pictures of bird and sea life, so this time we have animals of a different kind.  On the Stratheden we have the ship's cat pictured on the bridge sat on the engine telegraphs and on the ss Ballarat we have pedigree dogs being exercised on the boat deck.  While on the mv Soudan with his wife and child, Joe went ashore in Gibraltar and we have a photograph of a Barbary Ape looking rather comfortable on the roof rack of a car!   Animal by name only, we also see the ''Mules' pictured as the Canberra transits the Panama Canal.

(Above - The Stratheden leaving Tilbury)

(Below - Engineroom telegraphs on the Canberra)

The ports covered on this video range from London, Tilbury, and Southampton in the UK through to Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong in the Far East.  The photographs of a trip ashore in Cape Town while serving on the ss Baradine include evidence of the apartheid system which was operating in South Africa during the 1960s.  It seems incredible today that a society would find it acceptable to have "White only" park benches, but the evidence is all here in a picture.

As well as the shots of ships, sea and scenery, this video contains a large number of photographs of people.  We see emigrants boarding the Stratheden at Tilbury Riverside and passengers enjoying a drink or two on the Canberra.  There are images of a Crossing the Line ceremony and ship's crew enjoying a curry meal on deck.  One set of images show cadets learning seamanship skills working on lifeboats (if you expected to be telling people what to do in the future then you had to be able to do the same job yourself).  

One of the strangest images has to be a shot of deck cargo being discharged in Melbourne.  If we aren't mistaken then the vehicles offloaded onto the quay includes a Mr Whippy ice cream van!   

(Above - The ss Canberra)

Captain Welch says that he has now run out of material so this will be the last video covering his career at sea.  Like Part 1, this video will interest those who were involved in shipping pre-containerisation, and those who want to know what life at sea was like before jet aircraft took over passenger travel and goods moved around in 20', 40' and 45' steel boxes.  The shots of ports and cities before the portainer cranes, containers stacks and skyscrapers took over will also catch the interest.

(Left - The ss Ballarat in heavy seas in the Bay of Biscay)

A copy of the P&O Days Part 2 video can be purchased direct from Captain Welch for £10.00, (including UK post & packing).  If you wish to order a copy then please email, providing your name and address.  The price will then be confirmed, along with the payment arrangements. 

Captain Welch is donating all profits from the sale of the videos to the Missions to Seafarers (



The videos have previously been offered in DVD form but with many people no longer having access to a suitable DVD player, Captain Welch has decided to switch to using USB/memory sticks.  The price of £10 per video with all profits going to the Mission to Seafarers charity remains unchanged.

As of 01/02/2023 Joe advises that nearly £2,000 has been donated to the Mission.

Updated 03/02/2023