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Old Tom

Lord Hankey - serving officers in government

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Old Tom

I was steered towards Lord Hankey's book The Supreme Command 1914-18 when I asked for ideas on a book on the higher direction of the war, and have just borrowed Vol 2 from the Hampshire library; Vol 1 is not available in the county; odd! I had been aware, in outline, of his part in government in WW1, but knew little about him. I now know that before being involved in government he was a captain in the Royal Marine Artillery. His book shows his picture in, I suppose, full dress uniform, complete with sword at his side, at his desk in 2 Whitehall Gardens. Another picture, wikipaedia, shows him in service dress as a lieutenant colonel.

Can anyone comment on the practice of officers wearing uniform in government appointments in WW1. Full dress, and sword, seems a little over the top for a committee secretary.

Old Tom

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centurion

As cabinet secretary Lord Hankey was a government official and not part of the government. He was a civil servant albeit an extremely senior one and his 'relationship' to Lloyd George was as Sir Humphrey's to Jim Hacker! It was not unusual in WW1 for serving officers (ie with still 'live' commissions) to hold posts within the civil service structure (as some do today) although usually in bits like the War Office or the Admiralty. Current custom and practice is that they go to work in mufti and only wear the uniform when occasion requires it.

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squirrel

It would also depend on what he was doing before or after he was in the office and what other meeting/function/parade etc. he had to attend.

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Old Tom

Thanks. I would question the view that Hankey was a civil servant. He was a serving officer in the RMA and after a period as assistant secretary to a Naval Committee later became secretary of the war committee and indeed was in an important appointment and could be compared with an serving officer serving in the MOD today. As Centurion says the current practice is only to wear uniform on special occassions ( or was a few years ago).

Old Tom

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centurion

He was Cabinet Secretary (later Secretary to the War Cabinet) - that is a Civil Service post, indeed until recently it was the top Civil Service post with responsibility for the Civil Service as a whole. An officer serving in MOD is technically a Civil Servant even though his pay and rations still come from the forces and he will have an equivalent Civil Service grade to his rank (for example at one time Major = HEO). He is attached or seconded to the Civil Service in the same way as some people from industry can be (I was a Senior Principal for two years in CCTA under this system but my salary was still paid by my firm, the man in the office next to me was a Colonel on secondment).

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michaeldr

Can anyone comment on the practice of officers wearing uniform in government appointments in WW1. Full dress, and sword, seems a little over the top for a committee secretary

Kitchener was a Minister in the Cabinet at this time and I have yet to see to see a photograph of him in civilian dress.

Perhaps it is just that those were much more formal times?

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Old Tom

Centurion, May I ask for the authority for your statement that a serving officer with an appointment in a government department becomes a civil servant? I had such appointments on three occassions, War Office and MOD(A &PE) and although equivalent ranks were recognised, as you say, I was never a civil servant; government service on my passport but that's as near as it got.

Old Tom

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