A Uniform Response To Civilian Workers

, , , , , | Working | April 26, 2019

In 1936, my great-grandfather left the Royal Navy with the rank of Chief Petty Officer after 22 years of service. He then joined the Admiralty as a Naval Paymaster. During the war, he was posted to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Much to his chagrin, the authorities insisted that he be given a formal rank and appointed him Lieutenant-Commander. Although he had a uniform, he swore that he would never wear it.

One day, a US Sub-Lieutenant needed some information from him and demanded that he presented it to him on board his vessel the following morning. My great-grandfather went home and asked his wife to lay out his dress uniform.

“But [Great-Grandfather], you said you would never wear it.”

“[Great-Grandmother], tomorrow, I am making an exception.”

The following morning he arrived at the US vessel, in uniform, and was piped aboard. The vessel’s captain, being massively out-ranked by a Naval Lieutenant-Commander, asked very respectfully what he wanted. My great-grandfather said that Mr. [US Sub-Lieutenant] had demanded that he bring this information to him and therefore he was doing so.

One hopes that the US Sub-Lieutenant was never again quite so high-handed with a “civilian” worker, and also that he recovered from the chewing-out that he will have received from his captain.

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