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Remembered Today:

Royal Naval Division - RNVR officers‘ cuff lace


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Can one of our uniform experts please confirm something that has been perplexing me recently.

Am I right In thinking that RNVR Officers serving on shore as part of the Royal Naval Division wore (drab) straight lace naval rank insignia on their cuffs when dressed in army service dress uniform? (rather than the wavy navy pattern lace that was worn on blue RNVR uniforms).

In all the pictures I’ve seen of RNVR officers in Khaki, I don’t recall ever seeing wavy stripes worn.
Same applies to RNVR serving with the RNAS Armoured Car Units.

45588B4F-C9BF-4C49-BA23-1E96901A3C73.jpeg

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6 minutes ago, KizmeRD said:

Can one of our uniform experts please confirm something that has been perplexing me recently.

Am I right In thinking that RNVR Officers serving on shore as part of the Royal Naval Division wore (drab) straight lace naval rank insignia on their cuffs when dressed in army service dress uniform? (rather than the wavy navy pattern lace that was worn on blue RNVR uniforms).

In all the pictures I’ve seen of RNVR officers in Khaki, I don’t recall ever seeing wavy stripes worn.
Same applies to RNVR serving with the RNAS Armoured Car Units.


Yes, I’ve never seen any image of RND officers wearing any kind of cuff ring but the straight type with executive curl.  In addition, they generally wore Army rank on shoulder straps simultaneously, as seen in your photo.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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I agree with Frogsmile, They did not always get it right, however. This is Sub Lt Joseph DICKSON RNVR dressed for the MEF. Unfortunately his naval tailor promoted him to Lt RNVR (= Army Captain). Poor chap was KIA at Gallipoli. RIP:poppy:

25 - SUB LT J  DICKINSON - NELSON BN.jpg

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I see he has Captain's stars on his shoulder straps which tallies with his sleeve insignia.

 

Also is that the metal Officer's cap badge he is wearing?

 

& his kit bag appears to have the name V.J. PARKER stencilled on it.

 

Thanks for posting both photos mates!

Edited by RNCVR
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He’s dressed as a Captain (Army) correctly, I wonder if it’s actually Parker rather than Dickson. It wouldn’t be the first incorrectly captioned photo.

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If Dickson was a Sub Lieut I doubt he would be permitted to walk around dressed as a Captain\RN Lieut. Ship's Captains & Commanders in that time were very conscious/strict about regulations & enforcing these, even in wartime.

& of course his wardroom mates would pick him up pretty fast as well.

 

Just my thoughts

Best......Bryan

 

Edited by RNCVR
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4 minutes ago, RNCVR said:

If Dickson was a Sub Lieut I doubt he would be permitted to walk around dressed as a Captain\RN Lieut. Ship's Captains & Commanders in that time were very conscious/strict about regulations & enforcing these, even in wartime.

& of course his wardroom mates would pick him up pretty fast as well.

 

Just my thoughts

Best......Bryan

 


Well as the kitbag he clutches is marked Parker then it seems likely to me that that’s who he is.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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My thoughts also!

 

Wonder if he has just arrived on board fully kitted up, including sword?

 

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does not look like he is clutching the bag  is is behind and off to the side of him  and judging by the amount of kit piled behind him it would appear to be staging/storage area??

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No, he appears to be holding onto that bag & those appear to be coats stacked or thrown together behind him.

One has what appears to be a binoc case attached to it.

& rank stars are just visible on the coat stacked over his right shoulder.

Edited by RNCVR
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headgardener

The trouble with the ‘Parker’ theory is that St Vincent John Parker-Jarvis was also a t/Sub Lt, just like Dickson.

Edited by headgardener
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I thought that was St. In front of V. Was about to look him up in the N.L.

 

Kind of throws a spanner into the gears now !!!

Edited by RNCVR
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11 minutes ago, RNCVR said:

No, he appears to be holding onto that bag & those appear to be coats stacked or thrown together behind him.

One has what appears to be a binoc case attached to it.

& rank stars are just visible on the coat stacked over his right shoulder.

hate to disagree but bag is some distance from him and his hand is clearly open and not holding anything??  also the tunic behind  does it not show Lt. rank

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24 minutes ago, robins2 said:

does not look like he is clutching the bag  is is behind and off to the side of him

 

Agreed. The kit bag is half a yard behind him and under his left wrist is his haversack which is attached to his belt

To return to the original question: I have never seen anything other than the 'straight' (not wavy) example shown in the op

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Apologies mates, you are correct, I thought the haversack was part of the kitbag!

 

I too have never seen an RPPC showing wavy lace worn with khakis.

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Thanks to everyone for providing the confirmation I was seeking. Even the (1917) uniform regulations introduced for officers in khaki were not too clear on the specific question of cuff lace for reservists.

(It seems to me that the RND may have simply gone ahead with that particular uniform decision themselves, soon after returning from Antwerp, without waiting for Admiralty approval).

 

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2 hours ago, KizmeRD said:

Thanks to everyone for providing the confirmation I was seeking. Even the (1917) uniform regulations introduced for officers in khaki were not too clear on the specific question of cuff lace for reservists.

(It seems to me that the RND may have simply gone ahead with that particular uniform decision themselves, soon after returning from Antwerp, without waiting for Admiralty approval).

 


Yes, I too think it was probably a pragmatic decision by the Division to wear army rank on the shoulders (or arms for NCOs/WOs), while at the same maintaining their sense of otherness, and identity as a formation founded upon naval personnel.  It seems an example in case of what is sometimes described as an “old-fashioned British compromise.”

Edited by FROGSMILE
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In fact the general outline of the requirements of the officers' uniform was given by the First Lord in late August 1914

 

 

"Minute 10 (dated 30 August 1914)

 

Secretary

Second Sea Lord

RND Administration

AGRM and other concerned

 

(item) 5

Uniform. Until the new khaki naval uniform for the rank and file have been made , all ranks will wear their blue, and even after the khaki is issued the blue may be worn on Sundays, for walking out, and on special occasions.

 

The Officers' and Chief Petty Officers' uniform will, however, be in cut and pattern the same as the corresponding ranks of the infantry, the distinctive badges alone showing the naval rank; the naval rank on the arm and the corresponding military rank on the shoulder straps."

 

[from an article by Capt Christopher L W Page which appeared in Len Sellers' magazine 'RNDquoting the Minutes by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Rt Hon W S Churchill

The appropriate ref appears to be ADM1/8410/23 (RND Formation & Development 1914)]

Edited by michaeldr
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Thank you for the reference Michael.  The positioning of Army rank on the shoulder straps works for the officers, but not for the other ranks.  I know that they came up with a practical solution but can’t remember for sure what it was.  I think it might have been Army rank on one arm and Naval equivalent on the other.  It’s been discussed in the forum before: 

 

Afternote:  See photo below of a veteran RND JNCO, with Corporals stripes on his right arm and ‘hook’ (leading seaman’s anchor badge) on his left arm.

 

054DFD8D-1AC5-4D07-A3D9-DC9D51A3165B.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks for that,... so guidelines for the khaki uniform were already in place even before the RND departed for the Belgium coast - which then also explains this image of Howe Battalion officers on board the transport back to UK (10 October 1914). Commodore Backhouse in centre of pic together with Cmdr. Curzon. (IWM collection).

 

And yes, system of having army ranks displayed on one arm and navy rank insignia on the other worked well to to a point (GCB’s proving problematical).
7D806F0F-ED18-43A6-BBCE-E53840FA701F.jpeg.608af32b367ad5c839a975b3eace39f7.jpeg

 

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I should point out that the numbering of Churchill's Minutes was Capt. Page's (and not Churchill's)

The other clarification which I should make is no less important;

ie on re-reading Capt Page's introduction to his series of three articles, I now see that he mentions

'The minutes he (First Lord, W S Churchill) wrote at the time are bound in a volume 'First Lord's Minutes, 5th & 6th Series, July 1914 to May 1915, marked 'Secret', a copy of which is held at the Naval Historical Branch of the Ministry of Defence'

At this point it is not clear to me which Minutes are quoted from the above and which from the NA's file ref given previously – it does appear however that most of Capt Page's material came from the former, rather than the latter.

 

The Minute (No. 15 per Capt Page) of 7th September 1914 refers to

“Men going on service must start with brand new uniforms. An entirely new survey is to be taken of this question. It will be sufficient if orders are given on 1st October; three weeks are therefore left to the RND Administration to devise and propose the best field service uniform for the division. It is a question whether the Marines should be included in this review; but anyhow, entire new suits of clothing are to be provided for them as well as others, to be ready by the 1st January.”

 

Notwithstanding the above, two paragraphs later we find the following:

 

“If any serious progress has been made in ordering Khaki naval uniform, go ahead to the extent of 16,000 men, making the final change when they proceed on service. If not, report whether a week's delay can be obtained without reorganising the production and causing waste. Officers who have purchased double-breasted tunics to retain them till worn out, irrespective of any subsequent change of pattern.”

 

[If that last is a ref to a DB Khaki Tunic, then I do not recall ever having seen one]

 

1 hour ago, KizmeRD said:

And yes, system of having army ranks displayed on one arm and navy rank insignia on the other worked well to to a point (GCB’s proving problematical).

 

Also to be found in Len Sellers' magazine RND is a useful article by Martin J Brayley,

where he gives - Rate Badges were worn on Left Sleeve and army equivalent ranks on Right Sleeve

[He also states that GCB were not worn on army SD to avoid confusion with army ranks]

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11 minutes ago, michaeldr said:

“..... Officers who have purchased double-breasted tunics to retain them till worn out, irrespective of any subsequent change of pattern.”

 

[If that last is a ref to a DB Khaki Tunic, then I do not recall ever having seen one]

 


Thanks for the additional information, all very interesting and informative.

 

As regards double breasted khaki jackets, ... is this not one?

3278E0D4-FE35-44FC-9849-A43034D0E9E2.jpeg

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First time that I've ever heard of, or seen the double breasted jacket.  Excellent information, thank you for posting.

There seem to be three in the group wearing them, presumably the longest serving officers.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Well I never!!!!!

And I must have looked at that photograph oh so many times and never registered that

Well spotted Sir!

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It’s also possible that some of the DB’s in the photo could in fact be khaki watch coats (trench coats), but as I understand it those would not have been worn with sleeve lace.
 

For those interested, please see attached copies of RN Officers Uniform Regulations as pertaining to those serving ashore in Khaki (extract from Navy List July 1917).

55E5ED05-25B7-4BFC-BA1F-537588D91CAC.jpeg

FF9C195D-36F4-48EE-A67E-AA4F7A5D4442.jpeg

Edited by KizmeRD
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