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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I spent a few years at sea as a Deck Officer, one thing I have never found a satisfactory answer to is the reason for different coloured piping on officers braid:-

Engineers - purple
R/O's - green
Pursers - red? (memory fading)
Reefer's / Lecky's - yellow? (memory fading even more)

Can anyone explain why there were different colours piping and what was the reason for each particular colour.

Thanks
 

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R/O's and Leckys green.
Doctor/Med staff red.
Ch Stwd/Purser yellow.

It is said that the royal purple was bestowed on engineers after the sacrifice of the engine room staff on the Titanic. However, I believe this may not be true! At a guess, may it have to do with with a colour code in one of the armed forces?

Rgds.
Dave
 

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MN "branch" colours are based on the same RN colours introduced in the early 1860s, as uniforms began to appear on merchant ships many companies copied the RN style.
After the First World War, MN uniform was standardised with the appropriate colours, diamonds etc at the same time as the UK Merchant service was granted the title "Merchant Navy" by King George V. There's an M notice about it all somewhere. Some shipping companies (e.g. P&O, Cunard) retained their own style of braid.
I'm afraid the Titanic story is a myth.

Mates - no colour
Electricians - Light Green
Engineers - Purple
R/O's - initially 'wavy' braid and thence (1950s onwards) straight with dark green
Pursers - White
Chief Stewards - zig zag
Doctors - Red
 

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MN "branch" colours are based on the same RN colours introduced in the early 1860s, as uniforms began to appear on merchant ships many companies copied the RN style.
After the First World War, MN uniform was standardised with the appropriate colours, diamonds etc at the same time as the UK Merchant service was granted the title "Merchant Navy" by King George V. There's an M notice about it all somewhere. Some shipping companies (e.g. P&O, Cunard) retained their own style of braid.
I'm afraid the Titanic story is a myth.

Mates - no colour
Electricians - Light Green
Engineers - Purple
R/O's - initially 'wavy' braid and thence (1950s onwards) straight with dark green
Pursers - White
Chief Stewards - zig zag
Doctors - Red
following grey funnel line standards

see this site

http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/Uniform/Uniform.html

and pick up on officers uniform
 

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Thanks Jim. In the deepest darkest recesses, a bell rang about the Titanic story! I believe that uniform became compulsory during the First World War due to a German warship taking a merchantman and accusing the crew of being "spies" as they were in mufti.
I never knew the difference between dark/light green - I just thought it was green. In BF, the Ch Stwd used yellow and some used wavy stripes.
Rgds.
Dave
 

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P&O certainly had their own uniform, dating back to 1837 long before the official MN uniform, but with the same general colour of braid as already described. The main exception was that P&O Deck Officers had blue braid either side of the gold, a shade of blue lighter than the navy blue of their uniforms. P&O Engineer Officers wore their braid on their sleeves, like the RN and most MN companies but Pursers, Deck and Radio Officers wore their braid on their shoulders.
Ian
 

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Mine was, always too oil stained to make out what colour it was.I had 53 items of gear,a sweat rag and a pack of cards.Happy days.
Jim garnett
 

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.I had 53 items of gear,a sweat rag and a pack of cards.Happy days.
Jim garnett
Sailed on a tanker with a 1st-trip junior who received quite a bit of stick because he refused to join in the many card games that the other engineers got involved in. Much money changed hands and they all claimed that either he was too scared to lose all his pay or that his keeness to hang on to his money came from the fact that he was Scottish.

This went on for several weeks and things began to get a little sour. Eventually, one night in the officers' smoke room there was a poker school going when he came off the 4-8. He sat down and was immediately picked on again. With a bit of a sigh of frustration, he got up and went to sit at the table where they were playing cards. "Go on, you can deal - show us what you can do."

He picked up the pack and then put on a show of absolute brilliance - as good as any TV magician that I have seen. He shuffled and reshuffled the cards at lightning speed more times than I could count. He fanned them and split them and flowed them seamlessly together almost faster than the eye could follow. As a finale he did the trick where the cards are moved in and out like an accordion between his hands with his arms spread apart.

Then he put the pack down on the table, and said, "Right gents, what shall we play?"

Oh to have had a camera and to have been able to capture the looks on their faces! A couple even picked up their beers and got up from the table.

I turned out that his dad was a Glasgow bookie and junior had learned to play cards with the best. For reasons that he never disclosed, he did not play cards at sea - at least not during the time I sailed with him. Mind you, nobody picked on him again or demanded that he join their card games.
 

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In a similiar vein, we had a Junior Eng on the Egton who would not touch the drink and of course he rarely went ashore until one day he suddenly decided to "go for it" and drunk us all under the table, it appeared that his Parent's owned an Off-Licence and he had plenty of training stowing bottle's of drink into his above the shop bedroom. The Purple denotes the colour of the Engineer's face when the compressed air is about to run out due to over exuberant engine movement's by those up top who should have had the Jetty brought to them.
 
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When I first went to sea sparkies had a sort of wobbly gold braid bit like RNVR. No colours
 

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The Purple denotes the colour of the Engineer's face when the compressed air is about to run out due to over exuberant engine movement's by those up top who should have had the Jetty brought to them.
How true, "Take your pick Captain, one start or two toots on the whistle"(Jester)
 

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I think Shaw Savill had a variation on the standard braid. For mates, an uncert 3/0 had one stripe, certificated 3/0 two, 2nd Officer two full width stripes with a half width one between them, then C/O three and Master four as normal.
Not having been on the passenger ships, I think those that had served on them also had a diamond above the stripes.

Martyn
 
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