Identifying all the details in a period photograph is frequently a collaborative effort, tonight’s photograph of a pre-1920 Chief Petty Officer is one such instance. My thanks go to Martin Brayley for his help in identifying the finer points of the sailor’s uniform and explaining the uniform details to me! This photograph is tiny (1”x2”) so I have scanned it in at as high a resolution as I could manage:Despite this some details remain fuzzy so please accept my apologies, but I felt the photograph was sufficiently interesting to include anyway. We can tell he is a Chief Petty Officer and the date of the photograph by the uniform.
He has collar badges: no cuff buttons: and a cap badge without a wreath: As Martin explains In 1920 all POs with four years seniority were granted the wearing of Class I CPOs style of uniform with gilt fastening buttons and two gilt cuff buttons. The CPOs cap badge was to be worn by POs and a new badge with the addition of a laurel wreath was introduced for CPOs. In 1925 the wearing of three large gilt buttons on the cuffs of jackets and White Tunics, previously restricted to certain CPOs only, was to be extended to all CPOs.
Behind his head can be seen the white ensign flying: And a cable drum is to the left of the photograph, covered in canvas: Although it is hard to tell from such a limited view, one would expect the ensign to be flying from the centre of the stern, indicating that this was a narrow ship, the background also emphasises that this Royal Navy warship is not a large one. My gut feeling is the photograph was taken on board a coastal minesweeper, motor gun boat or similar, and certainly nothing larger than an early destroyer. Sadly there is nothing to identify the man, ship or location but it is an attractive little photograph and is unusual in being an informal snap from a period when most personal photographs were formal studio shots.