Former LRS member George Szymanski GM4COK / DU1GM became a Silent Key at his home in the Philippines on 22nd April 2024 after a long illness.



by Colin Wright GM4HWO.

History and Education

George Otto Szymanski was born in Edinburgh in 1953 to a Polish father and German mother who settled in Scotland after WW2. He had two siblings - brother Mikhael (Mike) and sister Heike. They lived in Musselburgh where his father was a fisherman. Sadly, George’s father lost his life at sea which resulted in George and his brother Mike being given “Jinglin’ Geordie“ scholarships to George Heriot's School in Edinburgh. The family moved to a flat in Goldenacre. Upon leaving school in 1972 George went to study Marine Radio and Radar at Leith Nautical College in Commercial St Leith, qualifying as a Marine Radio Officer in 1975.

Marine Career

After qualifying, George joined the Marconi Marine Company as a Radio Officer, serving on a number of ships before being given a long-term permanent assignment with Esso Tankers, frequently serving on the Esso Fawley:

ESSO Fawley

In the 1990s, Esso were making cuts to their tanker fleet and George was transferred to Cable and Wireless to work on their cable ships. Post-1995 the Radio Officer role was being phased out in favour of GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress Safety System - and George was aware that his days as a Radio Officer were numbered, so he took an interest in the cabling activity being undertaken by the ship. George had an interest in ROVs – Remotely-Operated Vehicles, i.e. an unoccupied, underwater robot that is connected to a ship by a number of cables. These cables transmit command- and control signals between the operator and the ROV, allowing remote navigation of the vehicle. The ROV has cameras fitted and is used to bury and retrieve cables on the sea bed.

Remotely-Operated Vehicle - GM4COK/MM !

George became an ROV Engineer and served on the cable ships CS Retriever, CS Sovereign and CS Sir Eric Sharp.

CS Retriever

The CS Retriever was  based in Subic Bay, Philippines, and was responsible for the maintenance of cables in the South East Asia and Indian Ocean region. In practice, most of the repairs were around Taiwan and Hong Kong and the ship was mainly there to repair damage caused by anchors and earthquakes. Cables do occasionally fail of their own accord, usually from a factory defect, blowing out under the influence of the high voltage they carry. George worked with Cable & Wireless until he retired in 2005.



While based in the Philippines George met a local lady, married her, and settled there in Quezon Province 80km south of Manilla.  

George built a house there, including a purpose-built radio shack on the top floor.

Amateur Radio Activity

George became licensed as GM4COK – “Charlie Oscar Kilowatt” in 1973 and joined the Lothians Radio Society in Edinburgh about that time. He operated on 2m, both 145.8MHz AM and 144MHz SSB QRO. On HF, he had a pair of ICOM IC 720A’s, one of them now owned by Colin GM4HWO. His first 2m rig was a Yaesu FT221 driving a NAG 350W linear amplifier feeding a huge 2m Tonna antenna. He initially operated from a flat in Goldenacre and then, in 1988, he bought a detached house jointly with his mother Brigitte at 56 Telford Road allowing him to erect proper aerials.


Colin GM4HWO, Andy GM4IPK & George GM4COK

former Leith Nautical College students.


George was also a member of the South of Scotland VHF Contest Group and took part in VHF NFD at various locations including the Mull of Galloway site still used by the Lothians Radio Society.

Robin GM4YPL, Pete GM4BYF, George GM4COK

& Brian GM4DIJ at VHF NFD.

He was a brilliant operator on SSB and CW, having operated professionally at sea for over 20 years. He always went the extra mile to support newcomers to the hobby.


In the Philippines George operated mainly on HF using most of the digital and analogue modes and he also operated on 2m and 6m VHF. He joined PARA, the Philippines Amateur Radio Association, set up their website and managed it for several years. He also contributed to the development of the Association and became a Life-Member. In the week of George’s Silent Key, PARA issued a statement that his dedication and contributions to the National Organisation will always be remembered and deeply cherished.





George loved socialising with his Amateur Radio friends. Fun times were had in Dizzy Lizzies in Leith, Wee Bennetts in Morningside, the Ettrick Hotel Bar, the Old Inn in Davidsons Mains and the Telford Arms. In the early days George often ordered a “QBCWIL” (Quad Bacardi and Coke With Ice and Lemon). He had an incredibly sharp wit and sense of humour; an evening with George was an adventure and full of nonsense and fun. He had an amusing dislike of VHF repeaters, handheld FM radios and QRP and frequently made jokes around them and the people who used them. He often wore a badge at radio events, reading “GM4COK QRO - I don’t need a repeater”.

George had a passion for hot curry and many were eaten in the Shish Mahal restaurant at Tollcross and for several years in the Himalaya (“The HTR”) at Bruntsfield where he was always welcomed by Majid the owner and his staff. Chicken Phal was a favourite with George with extra chilli and coriander.


George had battled with diabetes for several years and his passing on the 22nd of April 2024 was a great loss to his friends in the Lothians Radio Society and PARA. He will be sadly missed. We are all grateful to have known him, for the time we spent with him and for the happy and funny memories he has left behind.

The Lothians Radio Society sends condolences to his wife Mayet (Marietta) DV1JAZ and son Paul.


Colin Wright GM4HWO.

President, Lothians Radio Society, 2023-24.