Pre 1950s Warrant Officers

FlagWagger

GCM
Book Reviewer
#2
From wikipedia....

In 1843, the wardroom warrant officers were given commissioned status, while in 1853 the lower-grade warrant officers were absorbed into the new rate of Chief Petty Officer, both classes thereby ceasing to be warrant officers. By the time of the First World War the standing warrant officers had been divided into two grades: Warrant Officers and Chief Warrant Officers (or "Commissioned Warrant Officers", an tautology that was replaced in 1920 with "Commissioned Officers from Warrant Rank"). Their ranks had by then expanded with the adoption of modern technology in the Navy to include Telegraphists, Electricians, Shipwrights, Artificer Engineers, etc. Both WOs and CWOs messed in the Warrant Officers' mess rather than the wardroom.

Until 1949, WOs and CWOs carried swords, were saluted by ratings, had their own mess and ranked between Sub-Lieutenants and Midshipmen. In 1949, the ranks of WO and CWO were changed to "Commissioned Officer" and "Senior Commissioned Officer", ranking together with Sub-Lieutenants and Lieutenants respectively, and they were admitted to the wardroom, the WOs messes closing down. Collectively these officers were known as "Branch Officers", being retitled "Special Duties" officers in 1956. In 1998, the Special Duties list was merged with the General list of officers in the Royal Navy, all officers now having the same opportunity to reach the highest commissioned ranks.
 
#4
When I joined in Jan 1956 we still had thin ringed warrant Officers, mostly gunnery types, they were saluted and addressed as Mister.
 
#5
I'm also led to believe that a Warrant Officer (now WO1) cannot be reverted back to CPO or lose his/her rate. However, I don't know whether this now also applies to WO2s (formerly Charge Chiefs).

WOs can still carry swords though (as opposed to cutlasses), but the sword traditionally has a black grip instead of a white grip. Mind you, the only ones I've ever seen with swords are WOMAAs - perhaps Executive Warrant Officers will now be able to carry them?

I stand to be corrected though.
 
A

angrydoc

Guest
#6
On a related topic, can someone clear this one up for me. Warrant Officers (male) are called Mr - what do you call a female one - Mrs or Miss?
 
A

angrydoc

Guest
#8
Cheers - wasn't sure if they were generically called Miss or not.

Looks like I'll have to start doing a ring check (no not that kind of ring AndyM!)
 
#9
The only WO to carry a sword is the WOMAA, he having been in the rate of MAA prior to promotion.. The grip differentiating to Officers by being black and having no lions head on the pommel. The sword knot is identical. Other WO's do not carry swords. Sword handles are made from shark skin.

The MAA remains the only rating on the lower deck to carry a sword in recognition of his unique position in the navy. Prior to uniform changes in the 50's the MAA was the only lower deck rating to wear a frock coat.

The carrying of a swagger stick by WO's is an adopted fashion and not a uniform requisite.

Hope this explains a little. :wink:
 

FlagWagger

GCM
Book Reviewer
#10
TattooDog said:
I'm also led to believe that a Warrant Officer (now WO1) cannot be reverted back to CPO or lose his/her rate. However, I don't know whether this now also applies to WO2s (formerly Charge Chiefs).
I'm aware of a former WOWTR who left the RN as an AB WTR, after a spell in Colchester; I think the "Get out of jail free" card of which you speak is mythical.
 
#13
There are recorded cases of WOMAA's being reverted to RPO and MAA and promoted back to WOMAA. It all depends on how serious the offence is.


The only get out of jail free cards were Good Conduct Badges. During my time in the Navy 1 GCB was worth the equivalent of 7 days cell confinement. I don't know how this stands today.
 
#14
Jossman, you were right about the sword untill a certain WO CTORN decided that as his opposite number in the Household Divison wore a sword as well as carrying a pace-stick he should too. All fine and dandy when a great coat is worn but impossible otherwise. When I asked him how he would manage to do this he coughed and spluttered and marched off muttering some thing about "effing smart ar*e officers." This man managed to get the rules changed. He also was responsible for getting rid of black gaiters.Probably because the army don't wear them. He said it was because there was no historical reason to keep them and his boss said that to get new ones was too expensive.
 

DingDong

Lantern Swinger
#15
Deckhead_Inspector said:
Jossman, you were right about the sword untill a certain WO CTORN decided that as his opposite number in the Household Divison wore a sword as well as carrying a pace-stick he should too. All fine and dandy when a great coat is worn but impossible otherwise. When I asked him how he would manage to do this he coughed and spluttered and marched off muttering some thing about "effing smart ar*e officers." This man managed to get the rules changed. He also was responsible for getting rid of black gaiters.Probably because the army don't wear them. He said it was because there was no historical reason to keep them and his boss said that to get new ones was too expensive.
I think the historical reason for a WO in army carrying a sword is to help him protect himseld and the colour he may be carrying.

Swagger sticks, and swords for CWOs/EWOs? Sounds a bit like they are searching for some kind of identity. Also sounds like some WOs value themselves too much and think that they are perhaps more important that anyone else.

I have heard an EWO come out with "i am a HoD" before, i laughed so hard i nearly shat myself!! I think people need to concentrate on the job rather than empire/status building
 

hammockhead

Lantern Swinger
#16
DingDong said:
Swagger sticks, and swords for CWOs/EWOs? Sounds a bit like they are searching for some kind of identity. Also sounds like some WOs value themselves too much and think that they are perhaps more important that anyone else.

I have heard an EWO come out with "i am a HoD" before, i laughed so hard i nearly shat myself!! I think people need to concentrate on the job rather than empire/status building
Of course the pre-1949 WOs carried swords.

Re the black gaiters, I thought they were worn with some orders of rig but not others, e.g. they were worn with 5s but not 1s.
 
#17
letthecatoutofthebag said:
Over on ARRSE they are having an argument with a septic warrant officer (see http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=38830.html , http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=51661.html and http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=52375.html .

He states that they have a different status to UK WOs (RN, Army & RAF) and hold a position between elisted men (as they put it) and officers. They hold a "Presidential Commission" and are saluted by their Ratings/ Other Ranks. As such there are more akin to our pre-1950s WOs (such as Commissioned Gunners, etc) who messed in the Wardroom. He appears to be on exchange over here at the moment and he is a bit peeved that the NCOs and the like he works with do no salute him and he is messed in the Sgt's/SNCO's Mess. The ARRSErs have told him to ram it and that even if he is saluted in his own country he is not saluted over here.

My question is straightforward - did the pre-1950s RN Warrant Officers get salutes from ratings?

I have seen some Edwardian photos and our old WOs wore the same unform as officers (they had a single half stripe and wore caps with officers' cap badges) and as I said above they were messed in the WR (at Drake the Scruff's Bar is named after a WO Jago and they have his No 1 Frock Coat on display). However (as far as I am aware), they were not commissioned but warranted instead. We are taught nowadays we salute the commission and not the man - so did an old-style Warrant Officer get a salute?

Thanks in advance.
All pre-1949 RN Warrant Officers had officer status and were senior to the rank of Midshipman.

The more junior WOs were appointed by Warrant, the more senior Commissioned Warrant Officers ("Commissioned from Warrant") received a commission. They were saluted by ratings.

Which makes me wonder what the policy on saluting US Warrants is in the RN today.
 
#18
higthepig said:
When I joined in Jan 1956 we still had thin ringed warrant Officers, mostly gunnery types, they were saluted and addressed as Mister.
These were the 'Branch Officers' which up to 1949 were known as 'Warrant Officers'.
 
#19
HH you are correct for officers, but GIs don't wear them either now. Any way What we now call ones are old fives. The original new rig charts did include gaiters in rig 1A.
DD you are almost correct except the "Colour Warrant Officer" carries a Cutlas as does the Chief in a White Ensign Party. A Colour is carried by an officer, an Ensign by a PO. (Don't even begin to think we do things exactly the same as the Army.) In both cases the escorts are two killicks with rifles and fixed bayonets.

All this is totally off thread so to go back to the original. I have traced a relations rank progession in old Navy Lists. It went like this.

Warant Telegraphist (Mention in Dispatches, HMS NORFOLK, Bismark Action)
Commisioned Telegraphist
Lt
Lt/Cdr

Any one not saluting him at any time would have been reemed a new back passage with a morse key.

If you go far enough back, Surgeons, Pussers, Chaplins, Masters and I think early engineers were all Warrants. (If you want my opinion they still should be.)
 

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