Diamonds on the Cuffs of Your Sleeves.

Norm
12th April 2010, 11:04
After Simon and Garfunkles "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" I'd like to ask why the RFA uniform has the BOT diamond on the officers stripes, but some shipping companies ie Clan Line and BP could use the RN type curl. I know they were given the honour as recognition of shipping losses during the war, but the RFA sails into danger with the RN too.

jimthehat
12th April 2010, 14:22
not too sure if the surmise that the RN curl was officially granted by officialdom,i served in a company(ASN which was not formed until 1945) where the stripes had the RN type curl .I was under the impression that as long as the stripe and curl were narrower than RN braid then everything was hunky dory.
Regards
JIM

NoMoss
12th April 2010, 15:20
I think the 'official' MN braid did have a diamond to indicate a certificate but some companies started using a 'curl' to have their own 'livery', often with different colours for the departments.
However, I always thought that the curl in MN braids went 'the other way' from RN braid so as not to be incorrect in their use.

hillshepherd
12th April 2010, 15:23
I think shipping companies have always been free to design their own uniforms but there was only ever one official MN uniform laid down by Order in Council. That is the one comprising the official MN cap badge and 3/8 inch rank stripes with a diamond at the centre - formed by interweaving in the case of Master and Chief Engineer. That was the uniform worn by RFA officers, varied only by distinct gilt buttons and the RFA cap badge, up to 1954. Lord Mountbatten, when Commander in Chief Mediterranean, was a great admirer of the RFA of which many ships were under his command. It was he who instituted the positioning of the diamond above the stripes and a new Order in Council for RFA uniforms was made, if I remember rightly. There is so little difference now between the RN and the RFA they may as well adopt RN stripes (already in use in the STO(N) department in stores ships) with perhaps an A within the curl in the same way as R is used for Reserves. I believe the RN regard an RFA captain as about equal to a Commander so a few stripes may be stripped along the way.

TARBATNESS
12th April 2010, 15:59
I thought the song was by Paul Simon

Klaatu83
12th April 2010, 16:03
This reminds me of a certain captain with the Military Sealift Command (our equivalent of the RFA), whose name I will omit to mention, who once got caught walking around a U.S. Navy base wearing U.S. Navy officer's stripes on his uniform. MSC officers were supposed to wear Merchant Marine uniform (an anchor above the stripes for deck officers and a propeller for engineers). This joker was wearing a uniform with a star above the stripes, which denotes a U.S. Navy line officer. He was a senior captain with MSC and a member of the Naval Reserve, so there was no question of it having been accidental. Naval personnel were saluting him all over the place before he got caught. Although he didn't lose his job I understand he did receive a rather severe pranging over the incident.

James_C
12th April 2010, 16:23
not too sure if the surmise that the RN curl was officially granted by officialdom,i served in a company(ASN which was not formed until 1945) where the stripes had the RN type curl .I was under the impression that as long as the stripe and curl were narrower than RN braid then everything was hunky dory.
Regards
JIM

In the case of BP, the right to wear RN style curles (3/8'') was officially granted by King George VI immediately post war.

James_C
12th April 2010, 16:26
I think the 'official' MN braid did have a diamond to indicate a certificate but some companies started using a 'curl' to have their own 'livery', often with different colours for the departments.
However, I always thought that the curl in MN braids went 'the other way' from RN braid so as not to be incorrect in their use.

Went the same way as the RN in BP, as did the same braid worn by Ben and Clan Line.
Differentiation of onboard Departments by colour was initiated by the RN in the 1860s and was incorporated into the standard "official" MN uniform by the Order in Council of 1921(or thereabouts).

James_C
12th April 2010, 16:30
There is so little difference now between the RN and the RFA they may as well adopt RN stripes (already in use in the STO(N) department in stores ships) with perhaps an A within the curl in the same way as R is used for Reserves. I believe the RN regard an RFA captain as about equal to a Commander so a few stripes may be stripped along the way.

Hillshepherd,
The 'R' within the curle as worn by RNR Officers was abolished a few years ago (2005 I think) and RNR Officers now wear normal RN braid, with RNR Ratings wearing the corresponding 'regular' epaulettes/insignia.
As I recall, the official reason for the change was to reflect the increasing operational integration of the RNR into the regular RN.
It no doubt saves the MoD(N) a bit of money too!

John Briggs
12th April 2010, 22:31
British India did not incorporate the diamond in their braid.
Uncertificated officers were indicated by much thinner stripes.

Satanic Mechanic
12th April 2010, 22:37
Went the same way as the RN in BP,


Case of beer for getting that one wrong
of course (Thumb)

Norm
13th April 2010, 02:36
I thought the song was by Paul Simon

You are correct Shaun. I checked the album. Paul Simon Graceland 1986 Track 5 with the Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Soweto Rythm Section.

Norm
13th April 2010, 02:39
Similarly when the WRNS existed, why did they wear diamonds on blue stripes and not the RN curl? They also had the ranks of 1st and 2nd officer etc as if in the MN.

James_C
13th April 2010, 02:40
Case of beer for getting that one wrong
of course (Thumb)

Certainly was.
When I left BP and moved into the world of 'Diamonds' I was interested to discover that it was possible to not only 'fly backwards', but also 'upside down' when wearing slip on epaulettes (less of a problem with boards!) - cue more cases of beer.

Winebuff
13th April 2010, 08:15
I was told that the purple edge to my Engineers braid was as a memorial to all the engineers on the Titanic, non of whom survived. Never knew if this fitting tribute was correct or not. Interested to know the truth.

Recall Electricians wore green, stewards and medical staff white.

Peter Smith
Bank Line
74-84

Lancastrian
13th April 2010, 08:45
I was told that the purple edge to my Engineers braid was as a memorial to all the engineers on the Titanic, non of whom survived. Never knew if this fitting tribute was correct or not. Interested to know the truth.

Recall Electricians wore green, stewards and medical staff white.

Peter Smith
Bank Line
74-84

That is a complete myth which has been exploded elsewhere in the Forum. Purple for Engineers was invented by the RN around 1860.
Medical Officers have always been red.

GBXZ
13th April 2010, 10:42
It's all in BR875

Lancastrian
13th April 2010, 11:19
Similarly when the WRNS existed, why did they wear diamonds on blue stripes and not the RN curl? They also had the ranks of 1st and 2nd officer etc as if in the MN.

"the Treasury forbade the use of gold lace on the women's uniform. They decided on royal blue instead."
http://www.royalnavalmuseum.org/info_sheets_WRNS.htm
The full story of WRNS in WW2 HERE (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_UQm_D4ZHEsC&pg=PA28&lpg=PA28&dq=wrns+uniform&source=bl&ots=DWu68u1uiU&sig=EcXiSdkEyKlnXAzcsZ-tpdgqP4I&hl=en&ei=m0XES7yqI8OOONzvgbcP&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CA0Q6AEwATgK#v=onepage&q=wrns%20uniform&f=false)

Satanic Mechanic
13th April 2010, 11:34
That is a complete myth which has been exploded elsewhere in the Forum. Purple for Engineers was invented by the RN around 1860.
Medical Officers have always been red.

I always thought that one was just a bit too trite, but could never be bothered looking into it. Another one is when and why Engineers actually became officers in the MN. That is another one with a Titanic story attached to it - again not one I actually believe, but another one where it would be nice to get some sort of answer to without writing to mythbusters

K urgess
13th April 2010, 12:08
There's a thread called "Engineers as Officers" somewhere that has all the arguments trotted out for your delight.
I believe it may be in stormy weather because it bacame a wee bit acrimonious. (Sad)

James_C
13th April 2010, 12:09
SM,
It was sometime in the latter half of the 19th century when the first Engineering Certificates of Competency were issued
This did of course require a change in the Merchant Shipping Acts, hence the old chestnut in reference to Engineers - "It took an act of Parliament to make you Officers, but it'll take an act of God to make you Gentlemen!".
If you have a couple of hours to kill, then the definitive answer is probably in here somewhere: http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=27830

Satanic Mechanic
13th April 2010, 12:22
SM,
It was sometime in the latter half of the 19th century when the first Engineering Certificates of Competency were issued
This did of course require a change in the Merchant Shipping Acts, hence the old chestnut in reference to Engineers - "It took an act of Parliament to make you Officers, but it'll take an act of God to make you Gentlemen!".
If you have a couple of hours to kill, then the definitive answer is probably in here somewhere: http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=27830

(EEK) oof - i only read the first page of that thread - what was the casualty count in the end!!!!!!

Norm
14th April 2010, 04:50
It was I who started the controversial thread called "Engineers as Officers". It carried on for quite a long time. The question was answered satisfactoraly early in the thread by 2 respectable posters, and I acknowledged them. That should have been the end of it, but it raved on and on. I got stick from a "super moderator" for starting it, and accused of "baiting". That was not my intention.
This is the RFA forum. Please do not continue with that old chestnut.

Satanic Mechanic
14th April 2010, 06:03
It was I who started the controversial thread called "Engineers as Officers". It carried on for quite a long time. The question was answered satisfactoraly early in the thread by 2 respectable posters, and I acknowledged them. That should have been the end of it, but it raved on and on. I got stick from a "super moderator" for starting it, and accused of "baiting". That was not my intention.
This is the RFA forum. Please do not continue with that old chestnut.

I can assure you the question was only raised in the natural progression of this thread, no intention at all of continuing it beyond the answers received and the links given or of restarting the 'debate' - It did get a bit on the lively side didn't it!!!!

slick
14th April 2010, 07:36
All,
Uniforms - Captain Hyatt? -1st. WW.

Yours aye,

slick

Lancastrian
14th April 2010, 09:07
Who he?

James_C
14th April 2010, 09:17
I presume Slick refers to Charles Fryatt, executed by the Germans in 1916 for attempting to ram a U Boat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Fryatt

His uniform pre-dates the standard MN uniform, and it should be noticed that he has 3 stripes and not four, the reason being that there would be only 3 Deck Officers onboard (Master and two Mates).
This uniform system was common on those ships pre 1921 which didn't have the usual Master + 3. For example the Steamers on the Clyde carried only a Master and a Mate, the Master wearing two plain stripes and the Mate wearing one - post 1921 the Master wore 4 Stripes with Diamond, and the mate 3 with Diamond.
The use of the RN style curle seemed to be in wide use prior to the standard MN uniform appearing (although normally not the usual 1/2'' braid, usually 3/8'') - no doubt one of the (many) reasons for it's appearance.

Lancastrian
14th April 2010, 13:35
Pretty pictures of RFA cuffs & shoulder badges.
From the book RFA - A Century of Service by Adams/Smith. Available HERE (http://www.rfa-association.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=107&Itemid=40)
But the rank titles have changed again since then.

Satanic Mechanic
14th April 2010, 14:02
Pretty pictures of RFA cuffs & shoulder badges.
From the book RFA - A Century of Service by Adams/Smith. Available HERE (http://www.rfa-association.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=107&Itemid=40)
But the rank titles have changed again since then.

Must have been like trooping the colour at meal times ;)



James C - can you remember if there was a different colour green for Sparkies and Leckies in BP

Duncan112
14th April 2010, 15:11
Must have been like trooping the colour at meal times ;)



James C - can you remember if there was a different colour green for Sparkies and Leckies in BP

Seem to remember the leckies wearing green between their stripes and the sparkies having almost an RNR wavy stripe without inter braid colouring (Unless of course I sailed only with RNR sparkies)

Duncan

dab
14th April 2010, 15:27
In the RFA the "leckies" had dark green and the "sparkies" had light green!

Lancastrian
14th April 2010, 16:50
Seem to remember the leckies wearing green between their stripes and the sparkies having almost an RNR wavy stripe without inter braid colouring (Unless of course I sailed only with RNR sparkies)

Duncan

Sparkies changed from wavy to straight with light green in standard MN braid as well as RFA, in the 1960s.

slick
14th April 2010, 17:16
All,
Of course Fryatt - Hiatt (?) make "Mechanical Restraints", for Satanic Mechanic there is nothing like going to "a do" or a "cake and a--- party" abroad dressed to the nines with the thought that some one else is picking up the chit.
I had thirty years plus of it most enjoyable

Yours aye,
slick

K urgess
14th April 2010, 17:55
Sparkie's standard braid.
Lighter green than leckies.

OLD STRAWBERRY
14th April 2010, 18:22
Them's not leckie's or Sparkie's, them's Systems Engineers now.

K urgess
14th April 2010, 18:36
Sorry, should've said "WAS" Sparkie's braid. (Ouch)
I would imagine Systems Engineer is a logical progression from Radio Electronics Officer.

Lancastrian
14th April 2010, 18:50
Except they have to do the heavy electrics as well and work for the Chief.

OLD STRAWBERRY
14th April 2010, 18:53
Includes All Electrical and Radio Officers although I believe that most of the Old RO's have mostly retired now. It is a different ball game in the RFA, communications are as the RN and very intense. The Radio Shack is manned virtually 24 hrs By Comm's ratings overseen by Chief Systems Engineer Officers. I'm only an ex Deckie but I am certain that is pretty much as it is. No doubt someone will put Me right. The Comm's Rating also do the Aldis lamp signalling and all Flag Hoists.

Lancastrian
14th April 2010, 18:59
Not quite OS. The Comms department are headed by a two ringer with blue distinction cloth, some of whom are still ROs of the old school. Only their maintenance comes under the SEs.
http://www.rfa.freeuk.com/rank.html

James_C
14th April 2010, 19:44
James C - can you remember if there was a different colour green for Sparkies and Leckies in BP

SM,
As far as I can remember BP Sparkies braid was plain 'Zig zag' with a curle at the top.
Leckies/ETO's were of course the usual braid with light green insert, ETO's were a 2 1/2 striper but some of the old R/Os (or indeed ETO(R)!!) and proper Leckies kept their full 3 stripes.
That reminds me of a story concerning a certain 3 striped Leckie (ex Shell R/O), who fell foul of a certain C/E Jones....

Edit: Just done a trawl through the gallery and Gordon Smeaton has posted a picture of himself in BP Sparkie braid: http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/85445/title/tuning-main-tx-st1200b/cat/all

James_C
14th April 2010, 19:47
Sparkies changed from wavy to straight with light green in standard MN braid as well as RFA, in the 1960s.

BP decided to remain different and kept the wavy braid (no colour) for their R/O's.

Norm
15th April 2010, 05:33
Part 1. Ashore, Instrument Engineers are now also known as Control Engineers or Systems Engineers. Concerned with Distributed Control Systems or DCS. Instrument panels are now computers. Afloat the Systems Engineer is responsible for all electrical, electronic and radio equipment. Quite a responsibility requiring a high degree of qualification.

Part 2. Re stripes. T & J Harrison as I recall had 1 stripe less with no diamond. Captain and Chief Eng 3 stripes. Poor Junior Eng got no gold stripe at all, only a thin purple one. Any one wanting to carry the full compliment had to wear BOT stripes

Part 3. It is my theory that the green insert worn by leckies was derived from the green flash when DC arcs over copper contacts. In the early days of power at sea, ships were DC. AC creates a blue flash.

trotterdotpom
15th April 2010, 05:55
I knew an ac/dc Leckie once, he should have worn pink strips!

John T.

NoMoss
15th April 2010, 08:20
I was in U-C when they had stripes with a curl and the R/Os had what I think was desribed as 'Apple Green' distinction cloth whereas the Electricians had dark green.

Lancastrian
15th April 2010, 08:27
Here is the RN list, dating from 1863. Apart from the obvious connection between Surgeons and blood, I think it would be difficult to prove reasons for particular colours.
The curl was introduced in 1856, but initially only the military (or executive) and navigating (masters) branches wore it.
Other branches had plain stripes, from 1863 with coloured cloth between or below them.
Engineering Purple
Surgeons Red
Pursers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purser) White
Dentists Orange
Instructors Light Blue
Shipwrights Silver Grey
Wardmaster (Medical assistants) Maroon
Electrical Dark Green
Ordnance Dark Blue
Engineer officers received the curl in 1915 and all other officers in 1918. At the same time they also received other things such as oak leaves on the peaked cap that had formerly been the prerogative of the military branch.
Except for the medical branches, these distinctions were all abolished in 1955.

Norm
16th April 2010, 03:11
I believe the curl is called the "executive curl". So possibly branches other than the deck/seaman/navigating branch were not considered "executives".

James_C
16th April 2010, 09:05
Correct.
But like most things in life, standards eventually have to be lowered just so everyone can feel included!

BUGGINS
5th May 2010, 15:59
I think one of the reasons for removing the "R" from RNR officers stripes is that there are rather more ex RN officers in the Reserve (and filling complement billets) than used to be the case and they felt somewhat disadvantage when wearing the R.

Allan Wareing
2nd November 2012, 02:17
Not sure where to post this but here are two photos of braid and cap badge I wore when I was in the New Zealand Defence Departments R.N.Z.F.A. Tui in 1966/67. Hope this is of some help.
Regards Allan.

Cisco
2nd November 2012, 03:20
Clan Line braid...which U-C hofficers got after the take over in the 50's.... had skinnier stripes than RN braid.
Therefore although they had the curl it wasn't RN braid.

NoR
2nd November 2012, 10:33
As I get older, I view this obsession with gold stripes and braid with bemusement. I'm sure the psychologists have got a lot to say about it.

Union Jack
2nd November 2012, 12:30
As I get older, I view this obsession with gold stripes and braid with bemusement. I'm sure the psychologists have got a lot to say about it.

Whilst only an amateur psychologist myself, I suspect that they would probably say that the key lies in the name of the website ....(*))

Jack

alan ward
2nd November 2012, 13:32
Whilst with Whitco,they were so many of us all from different companies that the uniform was anything but uniform.I remember the 2nd.Mate having to borrow my cap for the handing over from the builders on the Chrysantema because he didn`t have one.I used to wear gear bought from a USN outfitters in Long Beach chinos,white shirt with Clan Line epaulettes and a web belt it cost so little and always looked smart.

NoR
7th November 2012, 20:55
As I get older, I view this obsession with gold stripes and braid with bemusement. I'm sure the psychologists have got a lot to say about it.

Whilst only an amateur psychologist myself, I suspect that they would probably say that the key lies in the name of the website ....(*))

Jack

Why ?

Union Jack
7th November 2012, 23:16
As I get older, I view this obsession with gold stripes and braid with bemusement. I'm sure the psychologists have got a lot to say about it. - NoR

Whilst only an amateur psychologist myself, I suspect that they would probably say that the key lies in the name of the website .... - Jack

Why ? - NoR

Why indeed, NoR. My simple sailor's view is that those of us who served in Ships increasingly like (or find ourselves prone) to indulge in Nostalgia as the years pass. The subject issue is quite simply an example thereof that your near namesake Norm felt he would like to raise, and to which many others, including you and me, felt able to respond.

Should you feel so inclined, perhaps you would like to share your thoughts on what alternative line you think the psychologists might take. We are after all only talking about an easily understood method, widely used throughout the national and merchant navies of the world, which our forerunners thought appropriate to indicate increasing levels of achievement and experience.

Jack

NoR
8th November 2012, 00:00
As I get older, I view this obsession with gold stripes and braid with bemusement. I'm sure the psychologists have got a lot to say about it. - NoR

Whilst only an amateur psychologist myself, I suspect that they would probably say that the key lies in the name of the website .... - Jack

Why ? - NoR

Why indeed, NoR. My simple sailor's view is that those of us who served in Ships increasingly like (or find ourselves prone) to indulge in Nostalgia as the years pass. The subject issue is quite simply an example thereof that your near namesake Norm felt he would like to raise, and to which many others, including you and me, felt able to respond.

Should you feel so inclined, perhaps you would like to share your thoughts on what alternative line you think the psychologists might take. We are after all only talking about an easily understood method, widely used throughout the national and merchant navies of the world, which our forerunners thought appropriate to indicate increasing levels of achievement and experience.

Jack

A few years ago I attended a CRM course at Royal Holloway College. It was run by a Psychologist and he did have quite a lot to say about uniform. No much of it was complimentary.
As far a I am concerned uniform (if worn) serves two purposes the first to be a suitable form of apparel for the task in hand, so it could be and often was a boiler suit. Secondly if necessary to identify the wearer.
Not really to do with achievement or experience although I appreciate that the military are very keen on brass hats etc.

chadburn
8th November 2012, 14:33
I agree with the wearing of the gold in the MN when alongside and there are stranger's on board, but not at sea, if the Ship's Crew don't know who you are and what you do then you certainly have an identity problem. It's about respect for the man and his ability not how much gold he wear's.

NoR
8th November 2012, 18:19
I agree with the wearing of the gold in the MN when alongside and there are stranger's on board, but not at sea, if the Ship's Crew don't know who you are and what you do then you certainly have an identity problem. It's about respect for the man and his ability not how much gold he wear's.

That's what I thought.