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Born in 1894, Victoria Drummond was a abandoned woman operating at aerial levels in a career that at the time was abandoned male.

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With accurate dust and assurance she spent 40 years at sea, criss-crossing the apple as a address architect on abounding alarming convoys beyond the Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

She was alive and afflicted assorted times in both apple wars. Forty-nine aggregation associates owe their activity to her aback her engineering abilities got a damaged address out of the ambit of German bombers.

Victoria was awarded an MBE for her actual applied efforts to save the address SS Bonita from actuality sunk and a applique at Abertay University in Dundee commemorates her achievements. Aback bombs fell on London, Victoria got calm the money to accessible a kitchen bistro for bodies who had absent their homes and alike paid for an ambulance address her name to advice the bodies of Lambeth.

Victoria larboard the amphibian activity with the acumen of actuality the aboriginal woman architect of the Institute of Abyssal Engineers and the aboriginal changeable arch architect in the Merchant Navy.

She died in 1978 age-old 84 and was active area she was born, at Megginch Castle in Errol, Perthshire.

Perth actual researcher and columnist Ken Bruce presents the account of a woman he has appear to badly admire.


Victoria Drummond from Errol in Perthshire was encouraged by her ancestor to accept her own career – she chose to be a abyssal engineer.

This awful admired trailblazer opened doors in engineering for abounding added women to follow.

Born in 1894 into a advantaged but abundantly admiring background, it is amazing to accept that this lady, who had Queen Victoria as a godmother, got aboriginal assignment acquaintance in a Perth barn and was never happier than aback she was in the arch of a liner.

By her ground-breaking drive, ambition, grit, and arduous assurance – and afterwards any concessions fabricated because of her gender – she became the aboriginal changeable arch abyssal engineer.

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No woman had done that afore and at the time, cipher had anytime absurd that a woman could.

Entrenched sexist attitudes aural the amphibian industry operated adjoin Victoria throughout her career. Thirty-seven attempts to accretion accreditation as a arch architect all concluded in failure.

Undaunted, she looked alfresco her country and in 1962 managed to access a Panamanian arch engineer’s certificate.

A book – ‘The Remarkable Activity of Victoria Drummond Abyssal Engineer’ by Cherry Drummond (her niece) – was complete from her affidavit and fractional memoirs and appear by the Institute of Abyssal Engineers.

Victoria Drummond was additionally a Additional Apple War hero who bravely adored the lives of 49 of her shipmates and was an architect on lath address during the aborticide of troops at Marseilles, and helped on D-Day.

Victoria was the babe of Captain Malcolm Drummond and Geraldine Margaret Tyssen-Amherst Drummond of Megginch Castle abreast Errol.

She had a brother John, and sisters Jean and Francis. She was the granddaughter of aboriginal Baron Amherst of Hackney and was called afterwards her godmother Queen Victoria.

As a aerial association debutante, during her affair at Buckingham Palace in February 1913 she was presented to King George V and Queen Mary.

It was Apple War I that opened new opportunities for women, and it gave Victoria the adventitious to accompany a career in engineering.

Whilst her parents were arcade in Perth, she went for a job account and was accustomed a week’s balloon as an amateur in the Northern Garage. This was at 71 South Street, area the Salvation Army Citadel is now.

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She started at the barn on October 18, 1916, accepting her aboriginal account allowance of three shillings.

Her aboriginal job was to ambit up the boutique attic and put the accoutrement in adjustment on the benches for the day’s work. She would ablution genitalia of accouterment in a ample paraffin ablution and abrading of the oil and grease from accessory boxes.

Another affiliate of her ancestors was active with war work. Her sister Jean went off to do awful alarming assignment as a administrator in the acerbic area at an explosives branch in Gretna.

She was one of the acclaimed ‘munitionettes’ or ‘canary girls’, alleged because chicken bark and beard was acquired by application poisonous nitric acerbic in TNT production.

Meanwhile her brother John abutting the Grenadier Guards as a cadet.

Victoria took black classes at the Dundee Technical College and appropriate accord apprenticeship in maths and engineering subjects.

Moving on from the Northern Barn afterwards two years, her ancestor got her an addition to the Caledon Shipbuilding and Engineering Aggregation at its works at Lilybank, Dundee.

She started as a arrangement maker for metal casting, the abandoned woman in a aggregation of 3000 men.

In 1919 she was answer to the finishing shop, abutting the Woman’s Engineering Society, and completed her apprenticeship in 1920.

She backward on at Caledon until 1922 as a journeyman.

Accidents in engineering shops were article Victoria had her fair allotment of – from a big agglomeration of moulten adhesive falling on her hand, to actuality ashamed aback a 10-ton lorry slipped off its jacks and came bottomward on top of her. Fortunately, she survived that accident, but with a access collar cartilage and two access ribs.

By 1922, she was 10th architect on the 10,000-ton commuter liner SS Anchises, allotment of the Blue Funnel Line.

Over two years, she voyaged four times to Australia and already to China.

There is no affirmation of her actuality accustomed an easier time by her shipmates, in accuracy she had to action and assignment actual abundant harder to prove to anybody her adequacy as an engineer.

Sexist attitudes aural the amphibian industry operated adjoin Victoria throughout her career and what she had to put up with on the way to acceptable a arch architect is best summed up by these curve appear at the time in the Sheilds Daily News.

“Women are no substitutes for men in the agent allowance of a address at sea,” said Mr C Booth, commune secretary of the Amalgamated Abyssal Workers Union at Liverpool in January of 1923.

He believed Victoria would be the aftermost as able-bodied as the aboriginal woman address engineer.

“The owners of the Blue Funnel Line accustomed Miss Drummond to captain in the SS Anchises to accredit her to complete her 18 months at sea and authorize to become a absolutely certified engineer, and there is not the atomic adventitious of their repeating the experiment,” said Mr Booth. “She is not acceptable to go to sea again, I should imagine.”

How amiss he was, Victoria was to set captain afresh and afresh over the abutting 40 years.

Victoria larboard Blue Funnel Line to abstraction and accomplished a additional engineer’s accreditation in 1926.

In the 1930s there was little appeal for abyssal engineers and Victoria begin it difficult to acquisition work.

A assurance of things brewing in Europe was an acquaintance she and her sister Francis had in March 1938 while visiting Vienna.

They were in the burghal aloof as German infantry capacity marched in. From their auberge window, they empiric the crowds lining the streets and Adolf Hitler go accomplished in a celebrating parade.

At the alpha of the war, aback she was not actuality able to get a position on a British ship, Victoria formed as an air arrest administrator in London.

The abandoned band-aid was to serve on a adopted registered vessel. Victoria active on as the Additional Architect on the Palestine Amphibian Lloyd Ltd SS Har Zion.

On March 21, 1940, the accompany they had abutting lay off Gravesend.

Three ships that had sailed beforehand were hit by mines and sunk. In the average of a minefield, they had to stop to accomplish aliment and a abate aloof absent them by about 15 feet.

After dry berth aliment in Antwerp, they alternate beyond the Channel. Victoria witnessed three mines draft up as they passed.

Back at Gravesend with the accompany they went through two air raids, with mines exploding in the harbour.

A few canicule later, addition address affective anchorage hit a abundance and Victoria watched abashed as it sunk in two minutes.

Next, they were off to Lisbon, Gibraltar, Beirut, and Haifa.

From Haifa they went to Port Said, Alexandria and afresh on to Marseilles.

Victoria bankrupt one of her fingers in her appropriate duke which bare to be put in a splint.

The burden they calm at Marseilles was human, the Consul, his agents and the charcoal of the British Expeditionary Force were loaded and taken to Casablanca.

The accompany was attacked by German aircraft on the way home, but it alternate cautiously to London on July 20, 1940.

Three weeks afterwards returning, Victoria, at the age of 45, abutting the Panamanian-registered 3500-ton SS Bonita as additional architect at Southampton.

On August 6, 1940, the address set captain for the United States.

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At Portland they were austere by German aircraft, Victoria hit her arch on an oil box and her watch was smashed.

One bomb had absent the address by abandoned 10 feet, and they were abandoned 20 anxiety abroad from accepting one appear bottomward through the agent allowance skylight.

The address anchored at Fowey in Cornwall until August 23, 1940 aback they set off into the Atlantic.

As a Panamanian address with a Hungarian captain, in aftereffect an adversary alien, they were not anticipation of as in charge of accompany protection.

A access of machine-gun battlefront from an aircraft hit the barge at 8.55am one morning.

Within two minutes, Victoria alternate to the agent allowance aloof as a bomb addled abreast the ship. She was flung by the shock adjoin the levers of a ascendancy panel. Bruised, she struggled to her anxiety and gave the address all the acceleration it could. This was the abandoned achievement of survival, to contrivance the bombs from the aircraft.

The bombs were big abundant to lift the Bonita and could still account accident by their abreast misses.

Flying bits hit the capital baptize account aqueduct to the capital agent and baking hot baptize was blubbering out.

The speaking tube to the arch bankrupt off, no instructions could be received, the agent allowance was on its own. Victoria ordered anybody out of the agent room. There was ammunition oil active bottomward her face and she could abandoned see out of oneeye.

The agent was a hissing barmy inferno, and aggregate was afraid and banging in a acme of babble and steam. Victoria was alone.

It was her assignment to accumulate the engines running, the crisis was tremendous, but she adequate her easily and captivated aback the artifice beef from the damaged joint.

Her accomplishments maintained the ability of the ship.

When the babble of the aircraft warned her that they were about to attack, she eased bottomward the engines, aback she heard them ambit overhead, she added steam. The SS Bonita had never exceeded nine knots, but in 10 minutes, Victoria had managed to access acceleration to 12.5 knots.

With the added speed, the address abhorred actuality hit.

Victoria declared afterwards that 25 bombs were dropped, and abounding apparatus gun bullets had hit the ship.

Thanks in no baby allotment to Victoria’s actions, the SS Bonita survived the attack.

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Victoria was commended for her courage by Captain Herz and aboriginal acquaintance Warner as “the best adventuresome woman I anytime saw”.

The Times bi-weekly would adduce the official report:, “Her conduct was an afflatus to the ship’s aggregation and her adherence to assignment prevented added austere accident to the vessel.”

Victoria was awarded an MBE and a Lloyds’ war badge for bravery.

Once the accident to the agent allowance had been repaired and afterwards added incident, they accomplished Norfolk, Virginia in the United States.

It was there that Victoria abstruse that her sister’s home in Lambeth, London had been bombed.

Victoria batten at assorted accommodating contest in Norfolk and abundant money was aloft to body a blooming corrective Victoria A Drummond British-American Restaurant in Lambeth, for bodies who had been austere out of their homes.

With ability of food, over 350 bodies a day were fed there.

This canteen served hot commons for sixpence a arch and remained accessible for the blow of the war.

In April 1941, £400 had additionally been aloft appear the accouterment of the Victoria A Drummond ambulance for the bodies of Lambeth.

The abreast biconcave of the SS Bonita did not avert her, and Victoria formed on several ships for the continuance of the war, bridge the Atlantic abounding times, and on convoys to the Soviet Union.

She was on ‘Special Ops’ assignment ferrying items aback and alternating to the beachheads in Normandy on D-Day.

The war over, Victoria alternate to Scotland.

She begin application in the address architecture industry and on assorted burden ships.

The aeon 1952-57 saw her afresh as a additional architect and assuredly from 1959 until 1962, she was accustomed at the top of the career tree, as a arch engineer.

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