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Unknown (Naval?) Cap ID?


MikeS0000
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Hi Folks -

Picked this up on eBay, not much of a dent in the wallet, but not sure what, if anything, it may be. Perhaps a 1920s Flapper's Cap!!

Anyhow, if anyone has an idea as to its origins, use or Time Period it will be much appreciated.

Best Regards!

- Mike

 

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It’s a Royal Navy ‘ratings cap’ without a ‘tally’ (ship’s name) fitted.  They don’t appear to have changed significantly between WW1 and WW2, but @RNCVR will be able to advise.  At that time a white cover was only added in the tropics I think.

NB.  It appears to have belonged to F C Burns who was accommodated in ‘number 15 Mess’ in the ship’s divisions.

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71BFBBA6-3BD2-4C94-B8A6-7B8C3D453855.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Burns cap appears to be of 2WW vintage to me.

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4 hours ago, RNCVR said:

Burns cap appears to be of 2WW vintage to me.

Are there features that can help to tell the difference Bryan? 

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It has the appearance of a 2WW (& into the post war) period.  I wore one of these caps in Sea Cadets in late 50's & subsequently in New Entry training when the RCN was trying to use up wartime stocks, when we graduated we were issued the white top caps.

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1 hour ago, RNCVR said:

It has the appearance of a 2WW (& into the post war) period.  I wore one of these caps in Sea Cadets in late 50's & subsequently in New Entry training when the RCN was trying to use up wartime stocks, when we graduated we were issued the white top caps.

Yes understood, but what is it that precludes it from being a WW1 period cap given that there seems to be no clear visual difference?  i.e. is it completely impossible that it’s from WW1?  I ask for the clarity of the OP.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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The cap of F C Burns who was in number 15 Mess, this was more than likely a shore establishment as ships mess decks are numbered after their location in the ship i.e. 3f2 No 3 deck, F section and then if it's on the port or starboard side. All compartments in the ship numbered are like this.

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3 minutes ago, Geoff293 said:

The cap of F C Burns who was in number 15 Mess, this was more than likely a shore establishment as ships mess decks are numbered after their location in the ship i.e. 3f2 No 3 deck, F section and then if it's on the port or starboard side. All compartments in the ship numbered are like this.

Thank you Geoff, that’s very interesting.  It’s a pity we don’t have his full name as someone like @horatio2would probably have been able to trace him. 

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7 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

 It’s a pity we don’t have his full name as someone like @horatio2would probably have been able to trace him. 

A very long shot indeed but there is only one FC Burns in the WW1 RN, RNR and RNVR medal rolls:

Francis Charles BURNS, ON J.5783 from Bootle, Lancs. He joined as a Boy in 1909 and served as an able seaman and pensioner until August 1939 when he was discharged to pension and 'permanently unfit for naval service', just missing WW2 service.

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D6857990   and    https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14796194

If the cap fits ........

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30 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

A very long shot indeed but there is only one FC Burns in the WW1 RN, RNR and RNVR medal rolls:

Francis Charles BURNS, ON J.5783 from Bootle, Lancs. He joined as a Boy in 1909 and served as an able seaman and pensioner until August 1939 when he was discharged to pension and 'permanently unfit for naval service', just missing WW2 service.

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D6857990   and    https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14796194

If the cap fits ........

He seems like a good candidate.  Did he complete his service as an old hand in a stone frigate?

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His last ship (in 1933) was the battleship HMS RODNEY and he was then discharged from Devonport barracks (VIVID) to pension. Recalled as a pensioner on 31 JUly 1939, thereafter he was, as suggested, in  Devonport barracks (DRAKE) for his short service before discharge PUNS a month later.

 

 

 

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49 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

His last ship (in 1933) was the battleship HMS RODNEY and he was then discharged from Devonport barracks (VIVID) to pension. Recalled as a pensioner on 31 JUly 1939, thereafter he was, as suggested, in  Devonport barracks (DRAKE) for his short service before discharge PUNS a month later.

 

 

 

Thank you.  Perhaps he was in No 15 Mess at Devonport then, it sort of fits.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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On 30/08/2021 at 13:17, FROGSMILE said:

Are there features that can help to tell the difference Bryan? 

Have a couple shots of 1WW era ratings caps in my data base so will post below.

2 of the caps have white detachable cap cover.

The caps of that time frame are less rigid than the later issue caps of the post 1WW & 2WW period. More kind of "floppy"

HMS Vesper 1WW cap.jpg

RCN Canada unif cap.JPG

RNCVR 1WW Front.JPG

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Thank you Bryan, yes I can see what you mean.  Less structured and perhaps not quite so tall.

Jack_Cornwell_c.1915.jpg

RNVR.png

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Yes, the 1WW period caps are much flatter looking, more like a pancake. They also dont have a stiffener material or wire around the crown of the cap, whereas the later 2WW period caps do have either or both of these.  But you have to realize that many companies were contracted to manufacture these caps so there will be some variations in their appearance.  Also naval outfitters had their own caps manufactured altho these were usually for officers, ratings tended to obtain theirs from "slops" - ie: Pussers stores.

I am certain you knw the first photo you have posted above is that of John Travers Cornwall VC.

The 2nd photo of the RNVR rating I think might be more interwar period judging by the uniform tunic, silk, & lanyard layout.

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1 hour ago, RNCVR said:

Yes, the 1WW period caps are much flatter looking, more like a pancake. They also dont have a stiffener material or wire around the crown of the cap, whereas the later 2WW period caps do have either or both of these.  But you have to realize that many companies were contracted to manufacture these caps so there will be some variations in their appearance.  Also naval outfitters had their own caps manufactured altho these were usually for officers, ratings tended to obtain theirs from "slops" - ie: Pussers stores.

I am certain you knw the first photo you have posted above is that of John Travers Cornwall VC.

The 2nd photo of the RNVR rating I think might be more interwar period judging by the uniform tunic, silk, & lanyard layout.

Yes I knew it was 'Boy Cornwell' and have posted about him in the past.  I don't know for sure what vintage the other fellow is, but it appeared within a specified WW1 search (albeit I know that's not infallible).

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Francis Charles BURNS, ON J.5783, I thought I had seen O/N's like this before as I had seen them on the HMS Ganges museum Pbase (Photos dated) I checked on the National archives under ADM188/658/5783  and found he was at Ganges from 20th Oct 09 (16 yrs) as a boy second class to May 10 Boy first class - (a long time before I got there in the early 70's) he became an Ordinary seaman 10th Oct 11 and an Able seaman 11th July 12, it doesn't look like he was promoted an more after that.

If the photo below was taken before May he may be on here

HMS Ganges 1910.jpg

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Very interesting Geoff, thank you for posting the details.  One of my own paternal great uncles was a Boy First Class in 1914 on the Iron-Duke Class HMS Emperor of India, so it’s always of interest to me.

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I have a cap which looks similar to the RNVR image. It does seem to have a stiffening wire- were such caps private purchase- If so it sounds like private purchase caps were uncommon? Tally is HMS Dominion.  I'll post images if of interest. Regards, Paul.

Edited by Wardog
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Yes, could well be private purchase, some of the private purchase caps obtained from naval outfitters of the period were much better made than the 'slops' issue.

Same with ratings uniforms, better made & a better fit. These tailored uniforms were referred to as 'tiddley'.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks very much gents! Great info that will reside in the interior of the cap. :D

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Even when caps had stiffeners, it became the thing to remove them to allow a more floppy appearance, in the belief that this was more ‘salty’.

Easier to get away with this look when at sea, and less so when in large shore establishments.

MB
 

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Another thing with seaman rating's caps was the habit, usually when ashore, of wearing caps "flat aback". This was a big no no & could get a rating in the rattle if he was picked up by the Ship's Corporals (police). But it was a common occurance in the pre & post war navy.

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The upper rating is a Gunnery Armourer, & the lower photo ratings are Seaman Gunners 1st class - the rating holding the cigarette a PO2 - & the rating playing the banjo being a Captain of Gun 2nd class.

I expect they put their caps on correctly after the photo was taken.

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Very interesting Bryan, I had noticed that flat aback style before, but not realised it was popular.  Interestingly some young soldiers seem to have emulated the style when ‘going large’ whilst obliged to wear the Brodrick cap that was so similar to a RN Rating’s headdress.  Photo courtesy of Toby Brayley of this forum.  A lot of them were influenced when on troopships when soldiers had the opportunity to mingle with ratings, but also in joint army and naval garrisons such as Plymouth/Devonport and Portsmouth.

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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