Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Uniform identification


dravin
 Share

Recommended Posts

Good day all

I wonder if anyone can give their opinions on the two uniforms in the photo please

I have left out the names on purpose as I do not believe one of the uniformed is the person they think it is

Many thanks post-41439-0-98337900-1440164824_thumb.j

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The man in the left is a Royal Engineer, 'Sapper' dressed for mounted duty and the man at right is a Royal Navy, 'Midshipman'. From the facial resemblance they appear to be brothers, probably pictured with their father.

The Sapper is wearing a 'simplified' jacket and that together with his early pattern cap indicates that the photo was most likely taken in 1915.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We came to the same conclusion on the Sapper but I did not think the other uniform was Royal Navy

They are meant to be brothers, Richard MOWE b1884 and George MOWE b1890 both in St Helens Lancs

Richard is as follows

Name: Richard E Mowe
Regiment or Corps: Prince of Wales's Volunteers (South Lancashire) Regiment, Labour Corps
Regimental Number:

240486, 364869

And George is said to be of the RFA but I think they have some wires crossed

The photo owner thinks that the Navy man is Richard and the other is George

George went to Canada in 1914 and attested in Halifax Canada in July 1915 but I can find no further evidence of his service so far

All in all a confusing lot

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't the Navy man a Chief Petty Officer rather than a midshipman? The buttons on the cuff, and lack of white tab on the collar says 'CPO' to me. Granted, the cap badge does look distinctly like that of an officer, but it could at a stretch be a CPO's with its rounder laurel wreath.

Second photo I presume must be a merchant navy line, but it'll need an expert to identify the line from the cap badge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems that the RN changed their system of rank and rate at the more junior level over time. CPOs wore a double breasted jacket but seem to have had a badge of rank of stripes surmounted by crossed anchors. If you search WW1 rank charts the Midshipman had the 3-buttons at that time. The CPOs headdress badge was circular and topped by a crown. However, I cannot explain the absence of white gorget tabs. You are also right that subsequently 3-button cuffs have become associated with the rate of CPO.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is one further photo of the naval type but earlier W W 1 uniform Mowe.jpg

This earlier photo shows an officer of the merchant marine, but I cannot tell what shipping line.

I identified the other photo as RN on the basis of the 3-button cuff and shape of head dress badge, but there should also be white collar tabs on the uniform lapels.

The group photo is very early in the war and it is quite feasible that the two brothers ended up in parts of the Army with the highest casualty figures and an insatiable demand for replacements. The RN had a far larger pool of regular and auxiliary reserves and not all men of the merchant marine joined the naval forces.

N.B. I accidentally deleted this post. It was originally the first response to your SECOND photo, showing the naval officer alone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The man in the naval uniform in the first photo is not a CPO unless it is post 1924 as this is when they were allowed to wear cuff buttons.

The lack of white collar tabs rules out being a midshipman.

The uniform shown in the photo is of a warrant officer under 10 years seniority because of the combination of cuff buttons & cap badge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

George's attestation - http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/first-world-war-1914-1918-cef/Pages/image.aspx?Image=510538a&URLjpg=http%3a%2f%2fdata2.archives.ca%2fcef%2fgpc011%2f510538a.gif&Ecopy=510538a He appears on a list of men of the 76th OS Battalion, CEF.

There was a William Mowe from St Helens;

423073 Sjt. Mowe,-W., 55th D.S. Coy. (St. Helens).

The above Frederick Henry had a brother called William born 1896. Perhaps they are both cousins?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the pointer on Frederick Henry , I had noted his name but not followed him up, I shall do so now

The point about him appearing in the 76th OS Battalion CEF was very useful, I found a history of the unit and its available on Archive.org and includes a photo of the man with his unit, that I think will be warmly greeted by the original enquirer

I still have question marks over why a sapper in the RE should then be in the Lancs and the labour corps but no mention anywhere of the RE on medal card or elsewhere

I still wonder if they are who they are said to be

Very much appreciate everyones feedback its been very useful and I think the enquirer will be very pleased, despite it not being solved as yet

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The man in the naval uniform in the first photo is not a CPO unless it is post 1924 as this is when they were allowed to wear cuff buttons.

The lack of white collar tabs rules out being a midshipman.

The uniform shown in the photo is of a warrant officer under 10 years seniority because of the combination of cuff buttons & cap badge.

Thank you ARABIS, that makes sense. I must get the book Rank and Rate as I am very interested in the time when we had a proper navy.

Why is he wearing what seems an officer pattern cap insignia?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you ARABIS, that makes sense. I must get the book Rank and Rate as I am very interested in the time when we had a proper navy.

Why is he wearing what seems an officer pattern cap insignia?

Same as WO 1 looks part officer with Sam Brown etc?

With regards movement from RE to infantry, it is not unknown. There is a thread on it somewhere, I found it odd that a sapper to PBI but others done the move. If before moving abroad no record of RE, but infantry then move to Labour corps standard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you ARABIS, that makes sense. I must get the book Rank and Rate as I am very interested in the time when we had a proper navy.

Why is he wearing what seems an officer pattern cap insignia?

The Royal Navy consists of officers & ratings & he is wearing an officer's cap badge because he is an officer & not a rating.

At this time there were ratings, some of whom were rated petty officers but even so were not actually officers, they were still ratings.

Then there were officers who held the King's Commission as in the Army, & there were warrant officers who were awarded a Warrant by Their Lordships of the Admiralty. These were officers in their own right, not senior NCOs as in the army, & they shared the Wardroom with the commissioned officers. In the navy warrant officers were usually former senior ratings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think IPT is onto something with Frederick Henry Mowe, in fact I'm pretty sure the fellow in the photo in post #8 and that in post #4 are one and the same, and willing to be convinced that it's also the naval chap in post #1 too.

F.H. Mowe served as a Warrant Telegraphist in the Royal Naval Reserve (earning 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory Medals). The uniform in the first photo would be consistent with that rank: three buttons on the cuff and officer's cap badge (with what looks like the addition of the letters R.N.R. between the central anchor and the crown).

The other photo I would suggest depicts the uniform of a junior radio officer in a company of the merchant service. I don't think there was any particular standard for Mercantile Marine insignia at this time - companies would have their own badges, and rank insignia could vary too.

Bart

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Royal Navy consists of officers & ratings & he is wearing an officer's cap badge because he is an officer & not a rating.

At this time there were ratings, some of whom were rated petty officers but even so were not actually officers, they were still ratings.

Then there were officers who held the King's Commission as in the Army, & there were warrant officers who were awarded a Warrant by Their Lordships of the Admiralty. These were officers in their own right, not senior NCOs as in the army, & they shared the Wardroom with the commissioned officers. In the navy warrant officers were usually former senior ratings.

Yes I understand now and it was a silly question as I do understand the position of RN warrant officers then, totally different to the Army then and the RN today, which is what I meant about the changes in RN rank and rate over quite a long time. All makes sense now. Thank you.

I think IPT is onto something with Frederick Henry Mowe, in fact I'm pretty sure the fellow in the photo in post #8 and that in post #4 are one and the same, and willing to be convinced that it's also the naval chap in post #1 too.

F.H. Mowe served as a Warrant Telegraphist in the Royal Naval Reserve (earning 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory Medals). The uniform in the first photo would be consistent with that rank: three buttons on the cuff and officer's cap badge (with what looks like the addition of the letters R.N.R. between the central anchor and the crown).

The other photo I would suggest depicts the uniform of a junior radio officer in a company of the merchant service. I don't think there was any particular standard for Mercantile Marine insignia at this time - companies would have their own badges, and rank insignia could vary too.

Bart

I agree with you Bart, that all makes eminent sense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think IPT is onto something with Frederick Henry Mowe, in fact I'm pretty sure the fellow in the photo in post #8 and that in post #4 are one and the same, and willing to be convinced that it's also the naval chap in post #1 too.

F.H. Mowe served as a Warrant Telegraphist in the Royal Naval Reserve (earning 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory Medals). The uniform in the first photo would be consistent with that rank: three buttons on the cuff and officer's cap badge (with what looks like the addition of the letters R.N.R. between the central anchor and the crown).

The other photo I would suggest depicts the uniform of a junior radio officer in a company of the merchant service. I don't think there was any particular standard for Mercantile Marine insignia at this time - companies would have their own badges, and rank insignia could vary too.

Bart

I also agree with your conclusions Bart, & the medal roll would seem to confirm it. I was not sure about the cap badge being RNR as I could not see enough detail from the photo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking again at IPT's post on William Mowe, I think we have the answer. Right family, wrong brothers !

The medal rolls show only two men named Mowe serving in the Royal Engineers, a George W. and a William. There is a third, Alexander, among the service papers.

As already pointed out, Frederick Henry Mowe had a brother named William. In the 1901 census they are living with their father, Joseph, in Chapel Street, St. Helens.

6898 (renumbered 432073 in 1917) William Mowe was a Territorial sapper. He earned the British War and Victory Medals, and a Meritorious Service Medal (gazetted 18th January 1919, as a sergeant).

So I think the first photo shows Joseph Mowe with his sons Frederick and William.

I can't see any papers for William, but there are those of Frederick, from his enlistment in the 5th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (Territorial Force) in April 1908. This was at the time of the transformation of Volunteers into Territorials: Frederick was a serving Volunteer in 2nd V.B. South Lancs (which I assume is the old title of the same unit). He served for exactly three years, after which he presumably tired of his job as a clerk in the Pilkington glass works and went to sea. As an aside, the loss of the Titanic in 1912 and the heroics of its wireless operators gave a great deal of publicity to the relatively new communications technology. I wonder if this caught Frederick's interest?

Bart

Bart

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking again at IPT's post on William Mowe, I think we have the answer. Right family, wrong brothers !

The medal rolls show only two men named Mowe serving in the Royal Engineers, a George W. and a William. There is a third, Alexander, among the service papers.

As already pointed out, Frederick Henry Mowe had a brother named William. In the 1901 census they are living with their father, Joseph, in Chapel Street, St. Helens.

6898 (renumbered 432073 in 1917) William Mowe was a Territorial sapper. He earned the British War and Victory Medals, and a Meritorious Service Medal (gazetted 18th January 1919, as a sergeant).

So I think the first photo shows Joseph Mowe with his sons Frederick and William.

I can't see any papers for William, but there are those of Frederick, from his enlistment in the 5th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (Territorial Force) in April 1908. This was at the time of the transformation of Volunteers into Territorials: Frederick was a serving Volunteer in 2nd V.B. South Lancs (which I assume is the old title of the same unit). He served for exactly three years, after which he presumably tired of his job as a clerk in the Pilkington glass works and went to sea. As an aside, the loss of the Titanic in 1912 and the heroics of its wireless operators gave a great deal of publicity to the relatively new communications technology. I wonder if this caught Frederick's interest?

Bart

Bart

You are correct that the two titles quoted for the South Lancs are for the exact same battalion before and after 1908.

I am sure that forum member dravin will be pleased with the detective work carried out by IPT and yourself, a good joint effort methinks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear all, very many thanks for the input, very much appreciated

I apologise for the late reply, other things to attend to but for reasons unknown I am not getting notifications to posts, so was blissfully unaware of the further replies, I just checked on spec and found these, so will have to digest and then perhaps post again

Much appreciate the help on this perplexing military group

I am sure the original enquirer will be very pleased with your help, I hope to be able to follow it up in due course and report back

Again thank you

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear all, very many thanks for the input, very much appreciated

I apologise for the late reply, other things to attend to but for reasons unknown I am not getting notifications to posts, so was blissfully unaware of the further replies, I just checked on spec and found these, so will have to digest and then perhaps post again

Much appreciate the help on this perplexing military group

I am sure the original enquirer will be very pleased with your help, I hope to be able to follow it up in due course and report back

Again thank you

I suspect that the notifications are inadvertently going in your junk mail box.

Bartimeus's last post summarises the findings very well I think if you are struggling at first to make sense of things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am very interested in the time when we had a proper navy.

So Arthur Batchelor and his band of heroes aren't representative of a "proper" navy?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So Arthur Batchelor and his band of heroes aren't representative of a "proper" navy?

Precisely. You were reading my mind, which come to think of it is a bit alarming.

The incident you mention made my stomach squirm and the best comment that I read was by Brigadier (Retd) Allan Mallinson.

All that said, I recall when we had a proper Army too, and that was before the shameful withdrawal from Basra. I have great hopes that the Iraq enquiry will bring to General Nick Houghton, current CDS, what I fervently believe that he thoroughly deserves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Batchelor's defence, he didn't cry until they took his ipod away.

Who amongst us can say that our martial spirit and relish for the fight wouldn't have deserted us in the face of such brutality?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That was a pitiful episode. I guess no-one had taught that RIB crew much naval history. Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham's reply springs to mind, when asked to consider withdrawing his ships from Crete after heavy losses:

"It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue."

Bart

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...