'Instructor' officers

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I'd be grateful for the meaning of the 'Instructor' that sometimes preceds the ranks Lieutenat to Captain. I believe the full term is followed by (Sp) ie Instructor Lieutenant (Sp) - again what does the 'Sp' mean.

I'm assuming it is connected with teaching, but I believe the ranks were associated with meteorology and that officers sometimes stood watch as navigators.

It's very confusing to a civilian!


I started this separate thread although it was really an element of my previous request for help in respect of Rear Admiral Sir John Fleming. In the event, having spent much of today searching through The Times Digital Archive I think I can answer my own questions.

During the first seven months of 1944 Instructor Commander Fleming as he then was, was the Staff Meteorological Officer to the Allied Naval Commander in Chief of the Expeditionary Forces. After promtion to Instructor Captain in 1951 Fleming was appointed Command Instructor Officer, The Nore.

August 1956 saw him posted to the Admiralty (Naval Education Section), folowed a month later by promotion to Instructor Rear Admiral and appointed Director of the Naval Education Service, a post he retained until retiring in 1960 - although at some date whilst he was DNES he was made a Sir.

All of which boils down to the 'Instructor' indicating a specialist officer in the Naval Education Service, in the same way that Accountant Officers were always Paymaster Lieutenant etc.

Incidentally he died in 1994 aged 90.



Book Reviewer
Anyway, Metman, the Instructor suffix goes far back into Naval history when the Navy recruited schoolmasters to teach the Naval recruits. They joined and served as rank.Instructor.

The problem/strength of the specialisation (from whichever perspective you looked at it) was that the Instructors did far more than just teach; they did the TD/QA, Meterology and Oceanography, some went down the Intelligence path, some went down the IT route, some even had bridge watchkeeping and Nav tickets. Quite alot did the all-arms Commando course and worked in a variety of roles with 3CdoX and there were even SSN/SSBN Instructors too.

This continued until 1996 when the then 2SL, Adm Boyes, decided after a brief study that the Instructors were no longer required and split the branch to create the E(TM) and E(IS) with the intention for them to "wither on the vine".

14 years later the E(TM) go from strength to strength and by Jun 10 the E(IS) will all be fully integrated and on the same terms as WE.
W_D when was the last time you referred to someone as Paymaster Lieutenant?

"[The Instructor branch] continued until 1996". That was 14 years ago. 14 years ago is ancient enough history, given how much branch goalposts can change in that time.

Mod Edit
Mod Edit:

This is the "History thread - not the place for wind ups, bites and other pointless drivel. Grow up, post something constructive and informative, or bugger off the "Diamond Lil's".




War Hero
Book Reviewer
In the first half of he 20th century and for a bit longer Instructor Officers were graduates entered purely for instructional and Met. duties. This was at a time when all Executive (later Seaman) officers were entered either at 13 (from 1949, 16) to Dartmouth or (from 1913) 18 ish as 'Special Entry' and thus only had a sub-A-level educational standard (although the RN did, later in their careers, try and improve on this, but only in ways which would not lead to degrees and therefore to the idea that they might leave and get a better job outside). Officers promoted from the Lower Deck by definition had even less education. It was the Schoolies who had to polish these pearls to a brighter shine; in the old sailing Navy they taught navigation to midshipmen and this thread continued, with Schoolies teaching pilotage at Dartmouth and then astro navigation with its concomitant spherical trigonometry later. NB Spherical Trig was not in any O or A level syllabus ashore. The Schoolies also had to run general education classes for ratings. How the Schoolies picked up Met I'm not sure but I suppose we fish heads were thought too thick to cope with it. As an aside, in the days of National Service a university-bound young man could get a deferment so as to complete his degree before donning the Queen's uniform. Some graduates sidestepped the pain of that a bit by signing for three years as a Schoolie, which meant they came straight into the Wardroom as an Instructor Lieutenant. Until 1956 pale blue cloth was worn between their stripes. However it was not until later that Schoolies suceeded to military command.

dit follows. One of these NS wonders, at RNAS Abbotsinch, had a grand passion for a Wren with watchkeeping duties in the control tower. As night fell, if she was on watch, he would go out to the Tower and hoot like an owl. She would switch the Tower lights off and on to show she still loved him. This being rumbled rather a large flock of owls foregathered .. oh never mind. Based on his time at this almost moribund Scotch air station he went on to become a prominent spokesman on Strategic matters.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Mod Edit:

BZ Seaweed, for bring this thread back on topic. I have locked it for now, until all the children put their crayons away...

I think the reason that Schoolies ended up with Met was the RN saw the schoolie recruitment process as on that would allow them to bring in specialists without the hassle of new branches etc. Back in the 70s and later they did a fair ammount of computery stuff, I knew two, one was a wren 2O. There were quite a few at Dryad in the simulators there and at Faslane.
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