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Naval Urban Myths

HA! All fines that are levied at tables are returned to the ship/unit, not to the new-build ship fund, KGFS or anything else. I know this because when I was at Sultan, we were a little light on the travel budget, so we asked the Cdr to fine people at the table rather than give them 9s. True dit, all clips on and safeguarded.

I never used to mind being fined because I thought that I "owned" one of the new Type 23s.
 
Rincewind said:
being sold :evil:

some banana republic who we will end up fighting in 20 years time.

one of the newer type 23s - due 1st major refit - so new labour decided to flog her for a fraction of her worth instead of fitting new cam belt and changing the plugs and HT leads.

sore subject as she is our affiliated HM War canoe

Rincewind

Sore subject for me too.

HMS Grafton was my first ship when I was let loose in the fleet in 1998.

I was back on board last night for pre-dinner drinks with my fellow "first deployment" officers. It was just as though 7 years hadn't passed.

I'm going to the decommissioning events next month.

Three type 23s sold for £134 million...
 
Is the story about officers having to carry swords because of Royal displeasure true? I head it arose from a mutiny in the 19th or early 20th century, when the mutineers were told they would be spared if they surrendered, and were promptly run up the yardarm (or whatever the term is).

Also, do you matelots actually get all that was promised in the 2SL pamphlet on harmony time (etc.) that a naval colleague of mine was gleefully waving around in front of his RAF/Army colleagues in my unit a couple of years ago?
 
MrPVRd said:
Is the story about officers having to carry swords because of Royal displeasure true? I head it arose from a mutiny in the 19th or early 20th century, when the mutineers were told they would be spared if they surrendered, and were promptly run up the yardarm (or whatever the term is).

Also, do you matelots actually get all that was promised in the 2SL pamphlet on harmony time (etc.) that a naval colleague of mine was gleefully waving around in front of his RAF/Army colleagues in my unit a couple of years ago?

allegidly the middies who made the promise "ran them through" with cold steel and Queen Victoria was not ammused. this lead to swords being carried in disgrace and lead to the fact that middies are not saluted and gave rise to the opening phrase "my lord, ladies and Gentlemen, and officers of the Royal Navy"

Rincewind
 
drwibble said:
Sore subject for me too.

HMS Grafton was my first ship when I was let loose in the fleet in 1998.

I was back on board last night for pre-dinner drinks with my fellow "first deployment" officers. It was just as though 7 years hadn't passed.

I'm going to the decommissioning events next month.

Three type 23s sold for £134 million...

Might see you there then, we have been invited and if the minibus is on the road by then i am "there"

:)

Rincewind
 
Rincewind said:
MrPVRd said:
Is the story about officers having to carry swords because of Royal displeasure true? I head it arose from a mutiny in the 19th or early 20th century, when the mutineers were told they would be spared if they surrendered, and were promptly run up the yardarm (or whatever the term is).

Also, do you matelots actually get all that was promised in the 2SL pamphlet on harmony time (etc.) that a naval colleague of mine was gleefully waving around in front of his RAF/Army colleagues in my unit a couple of years ago?

allegidly the middies who made the promise "ran them through" with cold steel and Queen Victoria was not ammused. this lead to swords being carried in disgrace and lead to the fact that middies are not saluted and gave rise to the opening phrase "my lord, ladies and Gentlemen, and officers of the Royal Navy"

Rincewind

Complete and utter urban myth I'm afraid - and I believed both (swords and gentlemen), as I was told them at Dartmouth.

If you look around the web it's quite widely rebuffed. the best summation is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/beyond/factsheets/makhist/makhist7_prog10d.shtml .

Dragging swords and "officers but not gentlemen"
Lt-Commander (Retd) Nick Bradshaw, who lectures at HMS Drake and is a fellow of Exeter University, discussed two naval traditions: the wearing of ceremonial swords low - dragging on the ground - and the description of naval officers as officers and not gentlemen. He writes:

Army officers (and RAF officers who copied the Army arrangement) wear their swords close-buckled to the belt, so that the scabbard is fixed in a position. Naval officers have a sword scabbard which is attached to the sword belt by two leashes, one about nine inches long and one about two feet long. Officers of the Day wear a sword belt, but no sword, as a mark of their duty status.

Naval officers could not handle a sword and scabbard in battle when boarding enemy ships or climbing. Army soldiers fought in prepared positions. Naval officers wanted to draw their sword and throw the scabbard out of the way, and have it completely unattached. (It was for the same reason that the Navy was the first to cut the tails from the tailcoat leaving them with the jacket which now survives as the mess kit jacket.)

As for naval officers not being gentlemen, this is often taken as an indication of inferiority, but in fact the Navy made it an edict that gentlemen officers should be discouraged. In peacetime, the British Navy needed about 4,000 men, but in time of war this number expanded to 20,000 and these had to be trained men, taken up from the whole naval community, merchantmen, colliers, fishing vessels, and barges - and as the enemy was the Continent, those interested in military service congregated in areas facing the enemy, the east coast and especially London. These were the pools of seamen, a term still used today. Other pools were found in trade ports such as Bristol and Liverpool.

By the late 1600s, the Navy had declared itself to be against the idea of gentlemen and had come very close to discouraging recruitment of officers on the basis of social status, reaffirming its desire to appoint based on skill. The Army continued to appoint on the basis of patronage. In the Navy, the worth of an officer was not regarded as automatic if he were a gentleman, but the accolade 'Naval officer' carried its own stamp of quality. It was not considered second best to be a naval officer; it was not better; it was unique.

Equality of opportunity at point of entry, a modern discovery, has always been a naval axiom and still is, as witnessed by the work of the Admiralty Interview Board. As a result, social mobility was better in the Navy than the Army, where it was rare to have a junior commission without paying for it. The Army was very much the preserve of junior sons of the nobility, and their organisation was presided over, especially in the time of George III, by the commander-in-chief at Horse Guards.

A naval officer joined as a teenager, learned his trade, took his examinations, and was promoted through skill. It was an unhealthy, dangerous job; ratings often were offered service in the Navy as an alternative to being hanged. Many died, many were killed, and few made the highest positions and were recognised by being invited to a Royal levee and earning social status. Famous aristocrats joined, of course; Cochrane, for example. But they did so on merit, and worked hard to earn it.


Further reading
R.J. MacDonald, History of the Dress of the Royal Navy (Crecy Publishing, 1986)
William Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy: A History: from the Earliest Times to 1900 (Chatham Publishing, 1996)
 
clanky said:
Another possible myth surfaced this week. What happens to the fines levied at the XO's/Skippers table. The consensus in the workshop was that it goes to The King George's Fund for Sailors. I'm certain I've heard this explained before, but I can't for the life of me remember where. Any info?
As an XO, when I was asked this question I often said that it went into the Wardoom Mess Fund -always good for a bite!

That was why Stewards got a 'discount' - another good one!'
 
From a thread in ARRSE:

hammockhead said:
The tale about the swords is complete rubbish, and it is a matter of disgrace that it is still taught as fact at BRNC. The Covey-Crump section of the official RN website says:

"There is no official reason why RN officers wear their swords lower than in other services - it is dictated by Dress Regulations which have undergone many variations but which contain nothing to substantiate any links between the swords and mutiny (a folklore tale). The present arrangement dates from 1856 and a full account is given in The Naval Officer's Sword by H.T.A. Bosanquet (London:HMSO, 1955) and even more exhaustive details in the 2-volume Swords for sea service by W.E. May & P.G.W. Annis (London: HMSO, 1970)."

An article on the subject can be found at the RAN's Navy News site

Here is a portrait of the Commander-in-Chief of the West Indies Station painted 1792, five years before the Nore and Spithead mutinies. Note the sword slings.

But the most compelling reason to believe that this story is a load of cack is the fact that other services do exactly or almost exactly the same thing. As can be seen from this thread, most mounted regiments in the British army wear their sword-belts under their tunics, from which the scabbards is suspended by slings, just like in the RN. Whereas RN scabbards are hooked up when the sword is drawn, cavalry units even have to carry their scabbards in the left hand when the sword is drawn.

In the US Navy the sword-belt is exactly the same as the RN pattern and is also worn under the jacket - the only difference is that they cut a slit in the hip pocket lining, pass the hook through the slit and hook the sword up. RN officers only resort to making holes in their jackets if they have to carry the Queen's Colour on parade. There is no reason why the USN would follow such a cumbersome practice if it was supposed to indicate a disgrace which had nothing to do with them.

The reason why in no. 5 dress we can hook up the scabbard when the sword is drawn but not when the sword is in the scabbard (unless a hole is made in the jacket) is that with the sword-belt worn under the jacket the hilt would be too bulky. This also means that the slings have to be longer, as they have to pass under the hem of the jacket. In the old no. 1 dress (full dress coat) and the no. 3 and 4 dress (frock coat), the sword-belt was worn over the coat and the slings could be shorter. It would have also been possible then to hook up the sword when necessary, although it seems that the sword was usually carried even then. I haven't ever seen a portrait of a naval officer of any era with the sword 'hooked' up - in earlier times it was quite common for the sword to be worn in a frog attached to a diagonal shoulder-belt, but when as now they were attached to slings they invariably just hung from them.

According to Debrett, officers of and above the rank of Lieutenant RN (and equivalent) are esquires, and commissioned officers below that rank are gentlemen. It is inconceivable that the Duke of Clarence, King George VI, King Edward VIII, King George VI, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York would have become naval officers if naval officers were not gentlemen.
 
Rincewind said:
allegidly the middies who made the promise "ran them through" with cold steel and Queen Victoria was not ammused. this lead to swords being carried in disgrace and lead to the fact that middies are not saluted and gave rise to the opening phrase "my lord, ladies and Gentlemen, and officers of the Royal Navy"

Middies are (or should be) saluted, except by old-style warrant officers, who outranked them.
 
Why do French sailors wear pompoms on their hats?

I can guess what the most popular answer is likely to be(!) but a French officer told me it was a tradition based on functional headgear designed to avoid them banging their heads on the beams above. This did not strike me as convincing, but in the interests of diplomacy I did not pursue it further.
 
You can smoke a pipe wearing your hat if you can keep it alight on the march!!

Apparently

Toodlepip

TheGimpMK2


Keep the pipe lit not your hat
 
MrPVRd said:
Why do French sailors wear pompoms on their hats?

I can guess what the most popular answer is likely to be(!) but a French officer told me it was a tradition based on functional headgear designed to avoid them banging their heads on the beams above. This did not strike me as convincing, but in the interests of diplomacy I did not pursue it further.

I was told by a French Naval Officer that for the disgrace of losing Trafalgar French Officers no longer bear the salutation Monsieur (as in Monsieur le Capitain, as in the French Army etc), and their cravats, which had previously been different colour ato differntiate ranks and positions, were to be all black - which was carried on with the ties supposedly.
 
MrPVRd said:
Is the story about officers having to carry swords because of Royal displeasure true? I head it arose from a mutiny in the 19th or early 20th century, when the mutineers were told they would be spared if they surrendered, and were promptly run up the yardarm (or whatever the term is).

Also, do you matelots actually get all that was promised in the 2SL pamphlet on harmony time (etc.) that a naval colleague of mine was gleefully waving around in front of his RAF/Army colleagues in my unit a couple of years ago?[/quote]
What do you think ?
 
hammockhead said:
Rincewind said:
allegidly the middies who made the promise "ran them through" with cold steel and Queen Victoria was not ammused. this lead to swords being carried in disgrace and lead to the fact that middies are not saluted and gave rise to the opening phrase "my lord, ladies and Gentlemen, and officers of the Royal Navy"

Middies are (or should be) saluted, except by old-style warrant officers, who outranked them.

Nope. Middies are not saluted as they are not yet commissioned. You salute the commission, not the person, remember. Always a handy little factette to have to hand at Raleigh when they go apoplectic because they are not being saluted.
 
Nope. Middies are not saluted as they are not yet commissioned. You salute the commission, not the person, remember. Always a handy little factette to have to hand at Raleigh when they go apoplectic because they are not being saluted.


Shame a swift kick in the Knackers isnt PC enough bring them to heel!
 

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