Petty Officer’s Cap

A Petty Officer in the Royal Navy is a senior rating equivalent to the army rank of Sergeant. Unlike the army though, in the RN, senior rates have long worn distinctive uniforms to those of Junior Rates. Part of a Petty Officer’s uniform that is unique to the rate is the cap; the PO is the most junior rank or rate to wear a peaked cap and the cap badge affixed to the front is unique to this rate.

My example of a PO’s cap dates from around the Second World War and has a black fabric crown (white was generally only used in tropical areas before the end of WW2 and was usually a removable canvas cover):6E214C41-9E2C-48F0-BE07-B1A19A4EB44AAffixed to the front, on a mohair band, is the PO’s distinctive badge. A fouled anchor in a rope circle, surmounted by a King’s crown:CE56DA42-A450-48E2-A102-65766B96BCC5Thisbadge is embroidered from heavy bullion wire, with a metal anchor; the quality of is exceptional, even more so when one realises it is not a private purchase officer’s cap. This example dates the cap to after 1920 as the jewels on the crown changed at this date from green-red-green-red-green to green-red-blue-red-green:8CF1AFA1-AA6A-40FE-BDCF-6CE6E5FAF251A thin chin strap sits where the peak joins the body of the cap, secured by two fabric covered tin buttons:534DE9C0-CE48-4DFC-82CF-3B197568F669The peak is of a shellacked leather type material:2460F4B5-2A89-4E64-9BEF-1E0924589B7EInside there is a leather head band with a size of 6 ¾” pencilled on:AF50FBD2-560B-4337-9631-7C374F42C96BLifting the leather up reveals a hessian backing:2284738C-3B93-4D25-976C-8676E43E833BThe crown of the cap is in a black fabric:B1AB2558-D9EC-4AB3-92AD-CC8F7491FE3EInterestingly the construction of these caps was to completely change after the war, with the crown of the cap becoming a removable vinyl cover and losing all the padding which had given the cap its distinctive shape. The modern PO’s cap is much flatter and much more akin to an officer’s cap. These caps are increasingly collectable, this example being a luck find for me several years ago, where the dealer thought it was merchant navy cap and only worth a fiver!

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