RFA, MFA, RN Transport, or Merchant Navy HM Transport?

#1
Can anyone tell me if the gentleman standing in the attached photo is wearing the uniform & insignia of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Mercantile Fleet Auxiliary, RN Transport Service or Merchant Navy HM Transport Service? The cap badge looks - to me - as if it could be from any one of these services.

The photo is of my great-grandfather, who had served as an Engineer with P&O Steam Navigation Company, on a hospital ship in the Dardanelles and troop ship in the Med. from 1916-1919. I believe that this photo was taken 1920-1921.

Any insight appreciated!
 
#2
Owing to the thick circle and configuration of leaves, the cap badge appears to be that for an engineer in His Majesty's Transport Service (HMTS), similar to the Australian equivalent shown here (a full 'striped' engineer officer owing to the different King's crown) on Digger History:



This would correlate with your great-grandfather's service in a P&O troop ship during the First World War. The National Archives website lists this document held by the British Library (link):

National Archives said:
Regulations (corrected by errata to the end of December 1913) for His Majesty's Transport Service (with specifications for fitting) to be observed in respect of all ships employed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty as transports or freight ships. London: HMSO, 1914. IOR/L/MIL/17/8/497 1914
His seated companion is wearing the cap badge of a P&O catering officer (link):

 
#3
Thank you very much for your reply - much appreciated!

So, can I take it that this is the uniform that he wore as an Engineer with P&O Steam Navigation Company during 1916-1919, given the duties of the vessels he served on? He was a 6th Engineer on RMS Caledonia, HMHS Sicilia and HMT Malwa.

Were such men considered to be working for the P&O Company or HM Transport Service?

Also, can you possibly tell me where one can find information regarding the uniform and insignia of HM Transport Service and P&O Steam Navigation Company?

Sorry to be asking more questions....!

Best regards
 
#7
The absence of stripes on his sleeves indicates that your great-grandfather was either a fifth or a sixth/junior engineer when the photo was taken. I suggest you pose your other questions on the forums of the British Merchant Navy website here and the Mercantile Marine website here. If no joy, you may have to resort to the advice on this page of the National Maritime Museum website. This guide looks particularly useful:

Research guide C9: The Merchant Navy: World War One
National Maritime Museum said:
General information

This guide outlines the main sources for researching the activities of merchant ships and their crews during the First World War, 1914–1918. There is a wide range of material both in printed and manuscript form. This is distributed across a number of libraries and archives and the researcher should be prepared to seek out material that addresses the particulars of the research problem...

Merchant Ships used by the Government

...Other ships were employed on Government service but not bought into the Royal Navy. These are shown in the Admiralty service lists:

* Service List: List of Vessels Engaged for Naval, Military and Commercial Purposes, produced by the Shipping Intelligence Section of the Ministry of Shipping (London: HMSO, 1921). Owners, size, speed, cargo and nature of service are often given. A list of Q-ships is given as an appendix.

* The History of the Military Sea Transport During the Great War, a collection of Admiralty documents, is held at the National Maritime Museum, but is not indexed.

Records of commissioned ships and naval operations involving merchant ships are at The National Archives. Their Research Guide Royal Navy: Operational Records First World War, 1914–1918 provides fuller details.

* The Merchant Navy, 3 vols, by Archibald Hurd, (London: John Murray, 1921–29), the official history of the merchant navy in the Great War, has lots of useful information...
Come back and tell us if you make any progress.
 
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