Why were Skippers RNR equivalent to Warrant Officers?

Discussion in 'History' started by Skipperino, Sep 22, 2015.

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  1. Hello all; new to the forum, this is my first post.

    Just curious if anyone knows the answer to this question: skippers of fishing trawlers used by the RNR as minesweepers between the wars were considered equivalent to Warrant officers in rank (rate?), and also wore the uniform of a Chief Petty Officer.

    Any idea why this was?

    Any information gladly received :)
  2. Probably because they were unable to speak Dartmouth English and had not completed the Knife & fork course.
    Remember the RN at that time were very socially aware and class distinction was paramount.
  3. They weren't all Commissioned Warrant Officers .Lt. Skipper. George Ladley DSC. . Royal Naval Reserve HMS Forfar (d.2nd Dec 1940). Forfar's crew comprised RN RNVR and RNR officers and ratings
  4. Ok; but why warrant officer in particular? I mean; a Skipper RNR would have worn rank lace equivalent to that of a RN warrant officer. And what was with them wearing the uniform of a CPO?
  5. Warrant Officer was the lowest Commissioned rank and the poorest paid
    The Skippers were commanding DEMShips in war-time. The Warrant Officer rank was the
    lowest officer grade in the Royal Navy --and the most poorly paid.
    Under the Geneva Convention all aboard an armed vessel needed to be in uniform and if captured housed in separate officer and other ranks Camps.
    Any photograph of someone wearing a Chief's uniform will be a CPO. Warrant Officers wore one thin ring.
  6. For what it's worth, Swept Channels by 'Taffrail' (Capt Taprell Dorling DSO, FRHistS, RN) contains these passages describing the inception of the RNR Skippers before the First World War:

    ...Soon afterwards the Trawler Reserve was instituted with approval for 100 trawlers to be mobilised during any future period of strained relations, and for the immediate enrolment of 1,000 officers and ratings to man these vessels. This brought a new rank, that of 'Skipper', R.N.R., into the Navy List, and the first officer enrolled at Aberdeen on February 3, 1911. His name deserves to be remembered. It was Peter Yorston.
    Fifty-three skippers had joined by the end of 1911; twenty-five more enrolled themselves in 1912, and thirty-one more before the war period - a total of 109. In 1912 the Trawler Reserve was augmented to 142 trawlers and 1,278 ranks and ratings, and in this same year and the next, minesweeping trials were carried out with the old torpedo-gunboats...

    ...Innumerable are the strange yarns of minor difficulties with the minesweepers during the early days of the war.
    'Getting the fishermen into uniform, and bringing them under naval discipline, were necessary prelimineries to make them into a Minesweeping Service,' writes Captain M. W. S. Boucher, D.S.O., RN., who in 1914 was the Lieutenant (N) of the Halycon at Lowestoft. 'Enough officers' uniforms could not be produced at short notice for so many skippers. Each, therefore, was given an officer's cap and badge, and a set of uniform buttons which he was told to sew on to his best suit! The results were sometimes amusing, but were thought sufficient to comply with the terms of the Hague Convention whereby all combatants had to be in uniform.'
  7. Second World War Skippers RNR:

    WWII Minesweeping Skippers.jpg
    Skipper T H M Lowery talking to Skipper E R A Chilton, DSC, RNR, who commands another minesweeper. They have been together for the duration of the war and won their DSC's in the same operation.
    © IWM (A 8451)
    • Informative Informative x 1
  8. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    The MCA still refer to fishing boat skippers as 'skippers' and there is a different Certificate of Competency regime for engineers and deck officers in the fishing fleet ( until the size and propulsive power etc dictate otherwise). Class 1 Fishing is not the same as Class 1 Large Yachts is not the same as Class 1 Unlimited for deck or engineers.

    When doing armed boarding, the BO addressed fishing boat skippers as Skipper and big ship masters as Captain / Sir.

    Not an answer, just some context, maybe.
  9. Thanks for that Seadog; and everyone else for all the other answers.

    I'm guessing someone who held the rank of Skipper RNR wasn't necessarily in command of one of the fishing boats either-just like someone holding the rank of Captain in the RN isn't necessarily CO of a ship.
  10. Also Seadog; and I apologise for going off topic, but can you shed any light on my other thread regarding Ceremonial Dress being worn by those beneath flag rank?
  11. From the October 1919 issue of the Navy List:

    Navy List Jan 1914 Skipper uniform.jpg
    Correct. The Navy List shows Skippers RNR serving on committees, in shore establishments and in ships larger than trawlers. In each case, they rank as warrant officers junior to the commissioned officers.

    While the Navy List for January 1920 only shows Skippers RNR, the Navy List for September 1939 shows Skipper Lieutenants, Chief Skippers, Skippers and even an Honorary Skipper RNR.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Trawler Skippers were a separate show from the rest of the RN and not trained for more general appointments.
  13. Which makes me wonder how someone was supposed to tell the difference between a RNR Warrant Officer and a Skipper RNR.

    I know that a few years prior to this (before the war I think); Skippers of Fishing vessels amalgamated with the RNR had one green braid with no curl, Chief Skippers two, and Skipper Lieutenants...I can't quite remember. I wonder what the idea was there?
  14. Bit of confusion there on my part. Terribly sorry about that old sport.

    What I was in fact referring to there was the Fishery Reserve ( RNR (Trawler Reserve Emergency
    Section) Fishery Reserve) which was introduced in 1918 and disbanded in 1921. Only
    skippers wore a distinctive uniform which was a CPO RNR uniform with the addition of stripes on the sleeve.

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