Victoria Alexandrina Drummond, MBE, lived from 14 October 1894 to 25 December 1980. She was the first woman to serve as a chief engineer in the Merchant Navy and first woman member of Institute of Marine Engineers. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Victoria Drummond was born at Megginch Castle near Errol. Her father was Captain Malcolm Drummond of Megginch, a groom-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, and Victoria was named after the Queen, who also became her godmother. During the First World War Victoria Drummond worked as a vehicle mechanic at the Northern Garage in Perth.
In 1918 Victoria became an apprentice at the Caledon Ship Works in Dundee. In September 1922 she sailed as tenth engineer on the SS Anchises, a vessel of the Blue Funnel Line. She went on to make four round trips to Australia on the SS Anchises, and another to China. After leaving the Blue Funnel Line she found it hard to find another engineering position during the depression, and met considerable prejudice, which was probably why she failed her chief engineer's examination no fewer than 37 times.
At the beginning of World War Two, Drummond served as an Air Raid Warden in London, before gaining an engineer's position on SS Bonita at Southampton in August 1940. On her first crossing of the Atlantic, the ship was attacked by a German bomber. Drummond found herself in sole command of the engine room, keeping the ship running during the attack. She arrived in the USA a heroine and was awarded both the MBE and the Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea. For the next five years she served on a number of merchant ships, sailing in many parts of the world and on convoys across the Atlantic and to Murmansk before taking part in the D-Day landings.
After the end of the war Victoria served on many different ships in many parts of the world and passed her second engineer's exam. From 1959 she sailed as chief engineer on a number of Hong Kong owned vessels. She retired in March 1962. Victoria Drummond died on Christmas Day 1978 and was buried at the family home of Megginch Castle.
This biography draws on research first published in "The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women".