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RogerWill

RNASBR group photo

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RogerWill

I recently picked up this photo of a group of what I believe are RNASBR men, taken I suspect during the early period of WWI. One man is wearing several medal ribbons and another is wearing a Royal Humane Society medal. The book, ‘Doc - 100 years history of the Sick Berth Branch', lists various official awards to members of the Sick Berth Branch and also includes awards by RHS - just two:

1905 Finch, C.S. RHS Bronze Medal
1920 Hubbard, W.H. RHS Bronze Medal

 

If this list is comprehensive (and I don't know if it is or isn't), Finch is probably the more likely candidate for the man with the RHS medal. Can anybody comment on his badges, uniform, etc that might help confirm this hypothesis. Also any other comments of the photo would be welcome.

 

Thanks

 

Roger 

RNASBR RHS medallist.jpg

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alf mcm
RogerWill

Thanks Alf for the link to Finch's ADM file. Very helpful

 

Any thoughts on the rank implied by the two stripes? And the medal ribbons on the chap on the right? 

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seaJane

Stripes are Long Service and Good Conduct I believe, 1 per 5 years.

 

One of the medal ribbons may be for the naval General Service Medal but I can't see them.very clearly.

 

ADM record also free from here for the duration: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D7121969

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seaJane

@RogerWill, would you have any objection with my sharing the image with the members of the RN Medical Branch and Sick Berth Staff on Facebook? Shall quite understand if you'd rather I didn't.

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horatio2
Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, RogerWill said:

what I believe are RNASBR men

They are certainly Sick Berth branch ratings but they are not wearing the "SBR" badge under the red cross branch badge. They must, therefore, be RN, as confirmed by the ID on Finch. He was a Second Sick Berth Steward RN (= Petty Officer 2nd Class) in 1905 when he was awarded the RHS medal.

5 hours ago, seaJane said:

Stripes are Long Service and Good Conduct I believe, 1 per 5 years.

I'm not so sure about that, Jane. They look like GCBs but these are worn on the left sleeve. They may be Sick Berth branch badges of rating. but I am not at all confident about that. He may have sewn the badges onto the wrong sleeve!

 

Charles Finch

Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal

Date:  16 July 1905

Case number:  34189

Occupation: S. Berth Steward HMS Assistance.

Location:

RHS Report: 1905

On the 16th July 1905, a French sailor accidentally fell into the sea at Brest. Finch jumped in from a height of 30 feet and rescued him.

Edited by horatio2

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RogerWill
6 hours ago, seaJane said:

@RogerWill, would you have any objection with my sharing the image with the members of the RN Medical Branch and Sick Berth Staff on Facebook? Shall quite understand if you'd rather I didn't.

Thanks absolutely fine. And I'd of course welcome any feedback if any is received from there

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RogerWill
1 hour ago, horatio2 said:

They are certainly Sick Berth branch ratings but they are not wearing the "SBR" badge under the red cross branch badge. They must, therefore, be RN, as confirmed by the ID on Finch. He was a Second Sick Berth Steward RN (= Petty Officer 2nd Class) in 1905 when he was awarded the RHS medal.

I'm not so sure about that, Jane. They look like GCBs but these are worn on the left sleeve. They may be Sick Berth branch badges of rating. but I am not at all confident about that. He may have sewn the badges onto the wrong sleeve!

 

Charles Finch

Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal

Date:  16 July 1905

Case number:  34189

Occupation: S. Berth Steward HMS Assistance.

Location:

RHS Report: 1905

On the 16th July 1905, a French sailor accidentally fell into the sea at Brest. Finch jumped in from a height of 30 feet and rescued him.

 

 

Horatio, can you clarify between the 'Sick Berth branch' and the 'SBR'? Is the former full-time and the latter part-timers (loosely speaking)? What is the significance and meaning of the red-cross badge we can see on four of the men's right sleeves? 

 

I notice another man, next to Finch, has three of those stripes (LG&GC or GCB) on the right sleeve as well. Does that help clarify what they are?

 

Finally, any comments on the significance between the single and double breasted jackets in the photo? A difference in rank? Or just alternate styles? Or...?

 

And really finally, might we be able to more precisely date the photo and identify others in it?Looking at Finch's ADM record, he was at Haslar from Feb 1911 to Sept 1913, and then on the Queen Mary from 4 September 1913 to 31 May 1916 when that ship was sunk at Jutland. Could this be a photo of the Sick Berth staff on the Queen Mary early in the war? Anybody know how many were lost aboard her at Jutland and their names?

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ARABIS

As horatio2 says, the Sick Berth Reserve wore the letters S.B.R. under the red cross badge as in attached photo. As for RN sick berth attendants wearing good conduct badges on the wrong sleeve I have also attached part of a photo showing a couple of them on probably HMHS Plassey with the same configuration [second from left & second from right]. I have never found any explanation for this as it's against uniform regulations.

 

ARABIS.

 

sbr024.jpg

sbr023.jpg

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horatio2
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, RogerWill said:

can you clarify between the 'Sick Berth branch' and the 'SBR'? Is the former full-time and the latter part-timers (loosely speaking)?

The RNASBR was, as the name implies, an organisation of reservists who, apart from training periods only appeared for naval service when mobilised by decree, as they were on 1 August 1914, A full history of this reserve is here:-  

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/261272-a-history-of-the-royal-naval-auxiliary-sick-berth-reserve/

 

1 hour ago, RogerWill said:

What is the significance and meaning of the red-cross badge we can see on four of the men's right sleeves? 

That is the trade badge of the Sick Berth branch of the RN (and also, with "SBR" underneath, the trade badge of the RNASBR). Most right sleeves are hidden

 

1 hour ago, RogerWill said:

I notice another man, next to Finch, has three of those stripes (LG&GC or GCB) on the right sleeve as well. Does that help clarify what they are?

Not really. The apparent wearing of GCBs on the right sleeve is a mystery to me. I await enlightenment from those with specialist knowledge [ seaJane ??]

 

1 hour ago, RogerWill said:

Finally, any comments on the significance between the single and double breasted jackets in the photo? A difference in rank? Or just alternate styles?

They are all wearing the Class III uniform a.k.a. fore-and-aft rig): the double-breasted jacket is No.1 Dress; single-breasted is Working Dress.

 

1 hour ago, RogerWill said:

might we be able to more precisely date the photo and identify others in it?

FINCH was awarded his 2nd GCB on 1 Apr 1905 and his third on 29 Mar 1911 (should be 1910 after 13 years service). The image must be at a shore establishment between those dates: RN Barracks Portsmouth (HMS VICTORY) In 1909 and Feb 1911 or RN Hospital Haslar in 1906, 1909 and Feb 1911. Identity of the others unknowable at this time.

 

1 hour ago, RogerWill said:

Could this be a photo of the Sick Berth staff on the Queen Mary early in the war? Anybody know how many were lost aboard her at Jutland and their names?

Unlikely to be the QM Sick Berth ratings (too many and ashore). Most probably the VICTORY barracks sick bay staff or a Haslar group. Seven Sick Berth ratings were lost in QM at Jutland and no survivors.  Click here for a list of those lost  -  http://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas1916-05May-Jutland1.htm

 

You may also find this link of interest - see Class III uniform and GCB information, in particular :

 https://www.uniform-reference.net/insignia/rn/rn_ww1_ranks_enlisted_1.html#rbadges

Edited by horatio2

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horatio2

Disregard my comment about 3rd GCB (1910/1911), I have just noticed that he was discharged by purchase on 19 Feb 1910, re-enlisting on16 Feb 1911, so he lost a year of 'time'.

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horatio2
Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, ARABIS said:

I have never found any explanation for this as it's against uniform regulations.

Thank you for setting my mind at ease, ARABIS. This SB GCB thing is strange and, possibly, widespread. Perhaps the SB branch were a law unto themselves.- I notice a few moustaches (including FINCH) which, unless they are reservists undergoing training, are also contrary to regulations.

  https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/1914-11-27/debates/69e9b47b-29be-4ab2-8f17-f52cfe60e33b/RoyalFleetNavalReserve(Moustaches)

Edited by horatio2

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RogerWill

Thanks Horatio and Arabis for your most helpful comments on this; its really made the photo much more interesting and meaningful.

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seaJane
4 hours ago, horatio2 said:

The apparent wearing of GCBs on the right sleeve is a mystery to me. I await enlightenment from those with specialist knowledge [ seaJane ??]

 

Search me! I had noticed the moustaches too, which would normally be an indication of reservists. I'll see what the FB group can come up with.

 

And I've never seen a Haslar photo with that painted backdrop, but it doesn't mean there wasn't one.

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horatio2

Thanks sJ. I note that he passed for SBS on 30 Jun 1905. Was there a formal course (as well as an examination) for SBS? The date coincides with his time in HMS ASSISTANCE (Feb - Dec 1905) and two weeks before his RHS humane act)) but not with one of his Haslar drafts, I did strike me, however, that the image has the look of a 'course photograph'.

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seaJane
4 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

Was there a formal course (as well as an examination) for SBS? ... It did strike me, however, that the image has the look of a 'course photograph'.

 

It may be a group entry photograph similar to the album of medical officers' photographs that is in the collection at work. I confess to not knowing so much on the ratings' side of things, especially training, but perhaps there is something in Doc - 100 years history of the Sick Berth Branch.

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horatio2
1 minute ago, seaJane said:

It may be a group entry photograph

As new entrants to the branch they are unlikely to sport GCBs ( even on the wrong arm!).

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seaJane
2 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

As new entrants to the branch they are unlikely to sport GCBs ( even on the wrong arm!).

 

I should have thought - but Finch and the medal-ribbon wearer could have been tutoring new entry men? Middle row seems to have been the usual place for staff in the photographs I have seen.

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horatio2

Good point, Jane. The three in the middle do appear older as well. Perhaps your archive or your FB friends will come up with something. I wait with breath that is actually bated.

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RogerWill

I think SJ has a definite point there about the centre row. Like Horatio, I also await possible updates from another place with bated breath

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seaJane

No further on with the stripes, but contact says: "Both Full Sets AND Moustaches could be worn at the Captain's discretion certainly up to 1919."

 

He also says: "Charles Samuel Finch was killed at Jutland on 31st May 1916. I have checked the Dress Regulations for the time and there is no mention of stripes worn on the right arm. His rate of pay was 3s 6d a day."

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horatio2
2 minutes ago, seaJane said:

Both Full Sets AND Moustaches could be worn at the Captain's discretion certainly up to 1919."

I beg to disagree. See -   http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~pbtyc/genealogy/Navy_List_1870/Beards_Moustaches.html  

The Hansard link at Post #12 appears to comfirm tjhat these rules were still in effect in WW1.

I would be pleased to know chapter and verse for the above opinion of your contact.

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seaJane

I'll see if I can get him to elucidate.

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seaJane
Posted (edited)

The same para about beards and moustaches is in KR & AI for 1913: click

 

Also, it seems that "members of the Royal Marines could Volunteer for Sick Berth Staff. It seems that on joining if they were a sergeant they would hold the rank of Corporal for 12 months .At the end of 12 months if they had given satisfaction, "who are desirous of continuing on the Sick-berth Staff, will be discharged entirely from the Royal Marines."

 

On the other hand, the most visible moustaches are on the most senior-looking staff. I think I'm more confused than I was to start with!

Edited by seaJane

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DoubleD

Good Conduct badges would be on the left arm and branch badges on the right. Could the explanation be that the photos have been printed back to front?

 

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