If possible, I would like to get in touch with anyone who served as a Royal Navy Officer prior to 1993 please.

civvy_SJM2

Midshipman
In today’s Telegraph is the obituary of Commander John Lorimer, who with others, severely damaged the battleship Tirpitz.
When the captured X craft crews were lined up on Tirpitz, they saluted the quarterdeck, a mark of respect for the ship’s company, enemy or not.
Another good point @Seadog, the culture of showing respect to, and honoring one's enemies is one of the things I admire about western militaries.

If I may say so, I think that showing respect to one's enemies is a concept that non-military combatants (like terrorists) will never understand.
 

civvy_SJM2

Midshipman
I will point out that the whole article is confusing because it lumps Midshipmen and Acting Sub-Lieutenants together as subordinate officers (because neither have received their commissions yet), and at the same time, it makes sweeping statements that NO subordinate officers could give orders, and that ALL subordinate officers were entitled to salutes. - civvy_SJM2

Although I suspect that you are not planning to go back as far as the so-called Changeover Scheme (COS), which was superseded by the Murray Scheme in 1960, you may be interested to know what the routine was then. I have done a little digging and can confirm that, under the former, entrants to Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), including Cadets from the RNZN, Royal Malaysian Navy, and Royal Ceylonese Navy, spent three terms as a Cadet, the third being spent in the First Division of the Dartmouth Training Squadron (DTS), working part of ship, then four terms as a Midshipman (at which point Cadet Midshipmen from RANC Jervis Bay joined as Midshipmen), with most of what was effectively the sixth term in the DTS with more of an emphasis on officer type roles and navigational training, before returning to BRNC for a final term, culminating in final examinations and passing-out.

Officers from the Commonwealth, with the exception of Engineer Officers, then rejoined their own Navy, whilst young RN officers joined ships of the Fleet in the rank of Acting Sub Lieutenant when, contrary to the relevant part of the quotation above, which I suspect drew specifically on the Wiki reference to the RCN, they were indeed commissioned, as confirmed by the commission I viewed recently. They then went on to gain their Certificate of Competence before being confirmed in the rank of Sub Lieutenant after 18 months, holding that rank for up to 12 months before promotion to Lieutenant, reduced by however much accelerated seniority of up to 12 months they had achieved on passing-out.

It may also be of interest that I believe that Midshipmen under the Murray scheme joined the Fleet for a year's seatime from mid 1961, which meant that they were serving on traditional Midshipman duties concurrently with former COS Acting Subs who were carrying out full Officer of the Day and Officer of the Watch duties, depending on whether they had been awarded Certificates of Competence or Bridge Watchkeeping Certificates as appropriate to their specialisation/branch.

As for the vexed question of saluting Midshipmen, I reckon that Seadog and Slim have got it right, but I'm told that some Cadets used to cut about in their pusser's Burberry in the forlorn hope of someone "chopping one off"!

Jack
Hi @Union Jack,
Thank you for posting and telling me about what happened under the Changeover Scheme.

Sorry it took me so long to reply. I've been busy and distracted with other things, but that's no excuse.

I've got some follow up questions, but I was wondering if I could PM you? This thread has gotten rather long and I'd rather not add to it anymore.

Cheers,
Steven

PS: Forget about what I wrote about the Wikipedia article, I've realised I read it wrong anyway.
 

Jacobus

Lantern Swinger
The whole of the foregoing is slightly confused by Midshipmen pilots and observers, who quite often ended up in their front line squadrons still as Mids, and by definition almost gave orders as they were in charge of the aircraft.
As in all these situations, common sense, decency and an awareness of the experience of the Senior ( and junior rates ) involved helped a lot. If I was flying with a very senior CPO or POACMN, let alone a WO then they were treated with a great deal of deference. And rightly so. It would have been asinine to have done otherwise. And a lot of our on the job training was conducted by leading hands and upwards.
So, P and O’s joined BRNC as mids, unless graduates, or older OUT’s ( and I forget the cut off age) who joined as Acting Sub Lt’s. After 2 years as a mid one became an acting sub; after a full further year full sub, and at year 4 ( I think ) Lt. The commission, duly signed by HM, and now adorning the back of most bathroom doors, arrived somewhere after becoming an acting sub.
I went to my first job as a second pilot on a frigate as a midshipman. Not for over long, however I remember having to complete a mids task book whilst embarked.
Saluting and being saluted to, and called Sir ? Yes, from memory yes to all. The uniform not the occupant as someone else has said.
Confusing isn’t it. ?
 

civvy_SJM2

Midshipman
Hi @Jacobus,
Thank you very much for sharing your experiences as a Midshipman. I think you've settled the debate over whether or not Midshipman used to get saluted and called Sir, in fact I think you're the only former Midshipman to comment on the matter.

Now that I know that Middies were saluted and called Sir just like every other officer, I was wondering, were they differentiated from their commissioned colleagues in any other way? That is to say, were their certain privileges that commissioned officers had that Midshipman did not?

Also, since Midshipmen did not have commissions, did they only have temporary authority over ratings on a task-by-task basis, or did they have permanent authority over ratings just like any other officer? For example, when you were flying you had authority over the men in your plane; once the flight was over and you were back on the ship, could you still give orders to ratings on the ship, or did you have to wait until you were flying before you could give orders again? You might be wondering, why would a pilot need to give an order on the ship; lets just imagine you saw a couple of junior rates acting up, would you be able to order them to knock it off or would a commissioned officer (or senior rate) have to deal with them?

I hope these questions aren't too pedantic. I'm just trying to determine whether their was any practical difference between being a subordinate officer (like a Midshipman) and a commissioned officer, or whether their was no difference (other than the piece of paper).

Thank you very much for your time. :)

Cheers,
Steven
 

Jacobus

Lantern Swinger
Mids onboard larger ships tended to live in the “Mids grot”; essentially similar accom to the junior rates. Other than that I can’t remember any great difference other than being referred to as snotties ! Generally, but not always, behind one’s back.
QRRN’s are what gave one authority as captain of the aircraft. Back onboard, again I can’t remember it being a big issue. You gave “orders” as you put it to your own flight deck team, and when watchkeeping as a trainee OOW you’d give steering orders to the helmsman etc. However I can’t remember it being a big issue, and even senior officers tended to couch things politely so it appeared as a request rather than order people about. Unless someone was taking the proverbial. A small ship is a fairly tight knit community and it all comes down to manners. Respect and decency. Which, in the main, the RN was all about. And a great deal of humour which I still miss to this day. Our sun dodger colleagues can no doubt attest to the different atmosphere aboard boats.
The only time I had occasion to discipline anyone as a mid was when I was put in charge of a bunch of aircraft handlers and 3 green goddesses during the firemen’s strike. Aside from the heartbreak of seeing peoples’ homes damaged, and the loss occasionally of life and limb as we didn’t have adequate kit, probably the best 4 weeks of my RN career. And the individual was driving pissed and had to be got rid of.
I wouldn’t honestly make too much of this. The rank of midshipmen was slightly anachronistic and unique to the RN, pre dating Nelson etc. Very often the sons of acquaintances of the Captain and sent to sea at 12 for example. In much the same way as the sailing or Navigation master was very often non commissioned and addressed as ‘Mister’. I think Cook started off as a Master and was eventually commissioned. Mids led, and fought with distinction, at Trafalgar for example.
 
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janner

MIA
Book Reviewer
I can't remember ever seeing a Mid. on a Submarine, I've no doubt that they were about for a looksee. I would suggest that Mids. would be fool hardy to start giving orders on a Boat with no knowledge or experience.
 

Jacobus

Lantern Swinger
I can't remember ever seeing a Mid. on a Submarine, I've no doubt that they were about for a looksee. I would suggest that Mids. would be fool hardy to start giving orders on a Boat with no knowledge or experience.
Yes. Highly specialised bits of kit of course. Then again so are aircraft.
Pilots and observers officer training was generally shorter ( with respect to the Dartmouth and DTS components) than their General service colleagues. And presumably their silent service colleagues. Their on job training, either with the crabs or on a front line squadron, was correspondingly longer, and by that stage you’d been promoted to Sub anyway.
It was rare to make “ front line “ fully qualified as a mid, however it could be, and was done. From memory, and that’s a lessening commodity these days, I was a mid for around 6 months on my first frontline tour, before promotion.
Thread drift, and huge risk of boredom setting in !
 

Union Jack

Midshipman
Hi @Union Jack,
Thank you for posting and telling me about what happened under the Changeover Scheme.

Sorry it took me so long to reply. I've been busy and distracted with other things, but that's no excuse.

I've got some follow up questions, but I was wondering if I could PM you? This thread has gotten rather long and I'd rather not add to it anymore.

Cheers,
Steven

PS: Forget about what I wrote about the Wikipedia article, I've realised I read it wrong anyway.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained! Glad to help if I can.

Jack
 

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