Royal Navy Question

John Rogers
2nd January 2007, 23:34
I have just finished making a DVD Disk of the film "The Cruel Sea"from a VHS tape, and during the recording I noticed the rank/rating on the sleeve was different from other senior officers in the scenes. My question is what is the difference between a wavy stripe compared to a solid stripe, would it be Navy Reserve vs Regular Navy.?? Thanks for the info.

2nd January 2007, 23:46
Hi John

Solid stripes were for RN. Solid stripes with an 'R' in the loop were RNR. The wavy stripes were for officers who were only called up for the war. I think they were members of the RNVR (Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve).

Today, the Sea Cadet Corps uses the wavy stripes for their Officers.

Perhaps someone can confirm this or put me right.


2nd January 2007, 23:55
Hello John. There were three main types of stripe in use in WW2. The straight was regular RN, the entwined for the Royal Naval Reserve (usually Merchant Navy Officers) and the wavy for Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (such as yachtsman).
There is a rather cruel doggeral that went with this. It was said that:
Royal Naval officers were gentlemen pretending to be seamen,
Royal Naval Reserve officers were seamen pretending to be gentlemen
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve officers were neither but pretending to be both!

John Rogers
3rd January 2007, 00:08
Thank you Karl and Peter. I thought it had something to do with the Navy Reserve System. My thoughts are the bullets,mines and bombs didnt give a darn what you wore on your arm they still died the same way,with oil and fire around them up to their necks.

3rd January 2007, 12:04
Peter4447 is correct.

The straight stripes with the R in the curl was awarded to the RNR/RNVR after WW2 in recognition of their contribution.

There is now talk of the R being discontinued to make Reserve Officers indistinguishable from RN officers.


3rd January 2007, 12:07
Must not forget one other very important distinction, the thin straight stripe worn by Commissioned Engineers and Gunners - men with many years of service who had come up from the lower deck the hard way "through the hawse pipe".

john shaw
3rd January 2007, 13:19
Was this not the origin of the rather derogatory term "Wavy Navy" when applied to reservists by regular RN officers?

3rd January 2007, 13:48
Was this not the origin of the rather derogatory term "Wavy Navy" when applied to reservists by regular RN officers?

I am sure it was John but funny to think that by the end of the War there were far more members of the 'Wavy Navy' serving in the Fleet than Regulars. I think the same rule applied on the lower deck to the Hostilities Only ratings but what would the RN have done without them.