An Australian Merchant Seaman’s Story In His Own Words – Les Wells

Australian Workers Film Guide


Part of a series of interview segments produced by the SUA/MUA in which retired Australian merchant seamen recount their working lives at sea as well as their engagement with union campaigns and activities. Each episode features a seaman, or sometimes a pair of seamen, sharing their story in a largely unstructured and extended interview. They form an important on camera collection of oral histories about Australia’s unionised merchant seamen.

In this episode seaman Les Wells recounts how he started work in 1941 as a 17 year old deck boy on a passenger liner. Since the crew ate the same food as the passengers, the food was excellent. There were two meal times, one for the officers and one for the crew. The company supplied soap and matches. He remembers some submarine scares during the war. There were strikes all the time and stop work meetings were compulsory and well attended.

Special Notes/Achievements

Picture and sound quality is low given low budget production.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 53 mins

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Film Director: Wayne Finch, John Brittain,

Film Producer: Wayne Finch, John Brittain,

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Film Cinematographer: Wayne Finch, John Brittain,

Film Editor: Jennie Finch, Jamie McMechan,

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