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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Naval Ranks -- Seamen ratings

per ardua per mare per terram

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The grades for naval ratings (other ranks) don't really tie up with the army

Boy 2nd Class = under 16

Boy 1st Class = 16-18 - went to sea

Ordinary Seaman (Ord) = the basic seaman grade 18 years +

Able Seaman (AB) = seaman with a degree of competence, by WWI it seems that a seaman was advanced to this grade after 2 years service, unless they had previous seafaring experience.

Leading Seaman

(the next three ranks are Non Commissioned Officers)

Petty Officer 2nd Class : phased out in the early 1900s, so on the service records of older hands.

Petty Officer 1st Class

Chief Petty Officer

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I believe Boy II was the rank initially given to all those who joined under the age of 18. Admittedly, few spent long at this rate, but they sure enough went into it upon entry. Haven't seen an ADM188 with it omitted when Boy service is included.

PO 2nd Class was abolished 1913 (need to verify).

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Millitary Branch Seaman Class

Boy II on entry and training

Boy I O/C training and on draft to sea

Boy I special advancement at 171/2 if in Ordinary Seamans sea going billet

No mention of PO 2nd class in 1913KRRN


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  • 1 month later...
PO 2nd Class was abolished 1913 (need to verify).

PO2 was abolished in '13 but the holders of that rank continued to retain it into WWI & 1914-15 stars are seen named to PO2 as well as PO1. I have seen BWM & VM prs named to PO1 but never seen either named to PO2.

They had to qualify in the NS (new system or new standard) to be advanced to PO - the former PO1 rank - thus one sees on SR's: PO(NS) with the date they qualified.


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Petty Officer 2nd Class was not actually abolished. On the 1st of October 1907 the structure of Naval rank and command was reviewed and in the new structure Petty Officer 1st Class & Petty Officer 2nd Class where ordered to die out and the rank of Petty Officer established.

So I suppose the rank could have continued into the 20s it was still extant during the Great War.

Regards Charles

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