Escher.gif (426 bytes)

History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Harry Parker and HMTS Monarch (4)

Introduction: Henry R. (Harry) Parker served as a Leading Stoker on HMTS Monarch (4) from 1952 to 1959, and sailed on quite a few cable expeditions. Here are some of Harry’s papers, including photographs of Harry and some of his shipmates. Thanks to Mark McEvor for sharing his father’s documents.

--Bill Burns

HMTS Monarch (4) was built in 1946 for the GPO, and was the largest cable ship afloat at that time. Before he joined the Merchant Navy, Harry Parker says he was really just a “Jack Of All Trades”, and decided to join up to travel the world.

During Harry’s service on the Monarch he certainly achieved that goal. In 1952 the ship laid a series of cables for the US Air Force, from Cape Canaveral in Florida down through the Bahamas. In 1953 a communications cable was laid from Brazil to the Cape Verde Islands, and in 1954 four power cables across the St Lawrence River in Canada.

1956 brought the historic expedition to lay TAT-1 from Scotland to Newfoundland, the first transatlantic telephone cable. In 1957 a similar cable was laid between Hawaii and San Francisco, HAW-1.

Harry’s last major voyage on Monarch was to lay the second transatlantic telephone cable in 1958, TAT-2 from France to Newfoundland and on to Nova Scotia. He retired from the sea in 1959.

Left to right: Jimmy Johnson, Harry Parker, unknown
The shipmates are sitting next to one of the
paying-out machines on Monarch (4)

Off-duty with shipmates at the pub.
Harry Parker second from right, Gordon Richard Ross
at left with hand in coat pocket. Others unknown.

Jim Jones, who spent many years working at Telcon in Greenwich, thinks the pub may be the Cutty Sark. This is on the river front, just a few minutes along the Thames from the Telcon works, where the Monarch would have been moored when taking on cable.

While Harry was on HMTS Monarch (4) the ship made a number of ports of call in the United States, each recorded on his Crewman’s Landing Permit.

In 1959 Harry decided to leave the Merchant Navy, and resigned from HMTS Monarch.

All images above courtesy of and copyright © 2008 Mark McEvor

Mark McEvor adds:

After Harry left the sea he worked as a maintenance man in Goldie Lee Hospital, Abbey Wood, London, and he met my mother there. They moved to Luton, Bedfordshire in 1961 where he worked for Vauxhall Motors for about two years. He left there in late 1964 to work for Luton Borough Council doing maintenance work, and after a few years he gained qualifications as a Plumber/Heating Engineer. He worked for various employers in that field until retirement. Although it’s almost fifty years since Harry left the cable service, he still talks about his time at sea.

HMTS Monarch (4)

See also the main page for HMTS Monarch (4)

Copyright © 2008 FTL Design

Last revised: 11 February, 2016

Return to Atlantic Cable main page

Research Material Needed

The Atlantic Cable website is non-commercial, and its mission is to make available on line as much information as possible.

You can help - if you have cable material, old or new, please contact me. Cable samples, instruments, documents, brochures, souvenir books, photographs, family stories, all are valuable to researchers and historians.

If you have any cable-related items that you could photograph, copy, scan, loan, or sell, please email me: billb@ftldesign.com