MoD Telephone Operators

I've just about had it with these idiotic halfwits who man the MoD telephone directory/operator lines. They still (after 5 years of having the contract) know nothing about how the Forces work, they couldn't find the correct number if it was tattooed on their minimum waged a**e and generally are the most unhelpful shower of shite the world's ever seen.


Sorry, rant over.
Its a long story, but briefly I was trying to get a number in SULTAN, but was told there's no such ship. Yes there is, its in Gosport, I said - a shore establishment. Do you want the QM? No thank you, said I, the Wardroom Hall Porter. Well the only number we have is for SOVEREIGN's QM. No, not SOVEREIGN, SULTAN. There's no such ship, Sir.


OK, maybe its called something like the Defence College of Mechanical Engineering (I forget its new name). Oh yes we have that, said the Scouser, what did you want again? Wardroom please. How are you spelling his name? No no no, the Wardroom, its the officers mess. Oh why didn't you say so, putting you through now.


Good afternoon RAF Cosford Officers Mess, how can I help you? Sorry, I said, I was looking for HMS SULTAN. Is that a ship, Sir, this is an airbase. No, but .... it doesn't matter, thank you. So I retry MoD Operator.

Do you have any numbers for HMS SULTAN, I asked? The shore establishment, Sir? YES, thats the one. They're all civilian numbers. But I can't dial civilian numbers, I'm on a MoD line. Well I'm sorry Sir. That's OK, can I have the one for the Wardroom. No. Why not? Because we're not allowed to pass this number out - but we can put you through. But I only want the number, you see, I'm putting it on a letterhead. Sorry Sir, shall I put you through?

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. OK then, put me through. (I'll ask them myself).


Hello MoD Operator? What!? I was looking for HMS SULTAN Wardroom. Sorry Sir, this is the MoD Operator - how can I help you?
Understand your frustration - I work in a gov building, and the central switchboard puts everyone through to the desk regardless of which department (dti/ho/dwp etc) they want.
The central s/b is in glasgow ........
Not so bad, but the 118 nos (inc BT) all do the same thing..


Does my head in just phoning any company and getting someone in Bangalore who cant understand my goerdie accent , and can I understand them , can I fxxk , I sit there seething with rage , progress my arse


War Hero
What I particularly have enjoyed over the years are the countless people who have been put through to registries & UPO's I've worked in by the operators to ask for re-direction. Add to this the number of times the operator has actually phoned me up to ask for telephone numbers.

Needless to say my requests for a percentage have always been ignored. I'm thinking Monkeys and Peanuts here folks.

I was trying to get a number within collingwood and was told that as there was not a number available she must have sailed !!!!
Chimps! I've shit 'em.
Chin up lads,

It will all change soon - an Indian company has set, or is setting, up a call centre in Belfast
I'd jump out the friggin' window but I'm only on the 6th floor, might not die right away and end up in hospital being sponge bathed by... lovely...Thai...Nurses....white uniforms....high heels....
Working in a UPO we've always been treated as a telephone directory/information booth by the halfwits (standard reply - "Yes, I know the number you want, it's 192") but since the Dockyard Exchange was shut down there's been a sharp increase in the amount of confused and bewildered phone calls I get that begin with "oh, you're the UPO at where? But I asked for..."

I'm convinced that these clowns just pick the first number they see on their list and forward all calls to them. Say what you like about the old Dockyard Exchange, but they knew the numbers for every little shack and glory hole in Pompey Dockyard, no need to consult a book.


We will never win another war

Oh the joy of the dockyard runaround 20 phone calls later you are talking to the person you first started with and the Captain wants to know why you haven’t resolved the problem

Three years ago a mate and I were organising a major ceremonial event in central London We wanted to invite as many of the Navy’s top brass as we could find When I asked the MOD operator for numbers for two of our Admirals they had never heard of them These particular Admirals must lead quiet lives no one can find their numbers or phone them We had to do a bit of indirect searching and phoning other offices but eventually found them If all else fails ask for the registry at least you hope that the central office staff might know who is working in particular departments but don’t bet on it We asked for the accommodation office at a major RAF station and were answered by a cleaner working in one of the blocks well at least someone answered

Which idiot decided that they can only give out one number at a time we’re all trying to do an important job and wouldn’t be ringing enquiries if we knew the correct numbers to call.

We should be on the same side sometimes you wouldn’t think so basically we’re stuffed


Went down the pan it seems like so much of the old Navy.

There have been improvements in Forces telephone services I was in sweepers in Lochinvar in 1970 / 71 You lifted the heavy Bakelite receiver and had to wait for the switchboard to answer you before you could ask for the number you required If you were busy (usually always) It was so frustrating trying to achieve anything

I left the RN 29 years ago but continued in the Reserve. In 1999 I was at FOST for two months manning a desk in the office of two NATO officers (The Dutch and German commanders). When I asked about the RN telephone directory the Dutch and German Commanders started to laugh and handed me a tome about 3 inches thick for Devonport. I couldn't make any sense of it and I reckon I had a pretty good knowledge of how the Navy worked. (No wonder the civvy MOD operators haven’t a clue) In the registry I found a tattered old copy of the RN telephone directory and was able to extract the important numbers from it for Devonport and compare them with the incomprehensible tome. I typed up a list of the usual important numbers e.g. Main gate, Sick Bay, different accommodation, messes etc etc My two office colleagues were overjoyed At last they had a telephone directory they could understand

Anybody remember the spiders web diagrams that were used in the 70’s to show which numbers to dial between various naval bases You could never get a line from Pompey to MOD or through to Guz so you used to try routing your call through the other stations and finally giving up and asking for a service call through BT

Oh the joys of trying to conduct ships business on the gangway phone while a dockyard matey with a windy hammer was busy chipping paint alongside you
More to the point, whatever happened to the RN Telephone Directory?
Ah, the good old Big Blue Book!

For those of you who never used one, it was divided into Portsmouth, Devonport, Portland, Fleet Air Arm etc. Each establishment was listed seperately with all the telephone numbers grouped into departments and job title - so easy to use!

However, that was when job titles were common to each unit - eg the Supply Officer was the SO everywhere (not SLO, SO1 Logs, LogO etc etc), the the Buffer was the Buffer everywhere (not facilities, Base Assistance Team etc).

Mind you, in these days where senior officers get promoted by being "proactive", "initiating change", "managing change" etc, everyone's job title changes every week anyway, so the RN Directory would now need to be updated constantly.

I know there are electronic directories on the various RN sites, but these are always out of date and very user unfriendly!

Bring back the dockyard exchange or, better still, the Wren Telephonists. Are there any Tels left?
I remember in the mid 80's having to visit the Telephone exchange in Pompey, think it was near Jago road. I believe they built a new one by Marlborough gate & never opened/promptly closed it as we went automated..........hahahahaha. Good joke can we return to when things worked.
The book of contacts you make up over the years is invaluable, I had mine in an electronic organiser with paper backup eventally.
The RN telephone directory was as user friendly as Breakdown drills in Microfiche form.


Using the directory was like looking up DCI's there was a knack to finding the right info

you needed a lot of lateral thinking


Lantern Swinger
I called them once and only once.

Apparently at the time they'd misplaced the entire of 2 Med Brigade as 'No such HQ exists'.

I was mightily surprised when I went back a few weeks later to find that it still did.

Lucky they found it, eh?
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