Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Rank and Rate – Volume II – Insignia of Royal Naval Ratings, WRNS, Royal Marines, QARNNS and Auxiliaries
By E C Coleman
ISBN 9781847973085
Published by The Crowood Press (
RRP GBP £19.95

This is the second volume written by this author on the insignia of the Royal Navy and its related forces. The outstanding first volume was on the insignia of officers and the author has now complemented it with another excellent publication on the insignia of ratings. This publication has numerous colour images of the variety of badges worn and the accompanying text supports and describes them.

Previously it has often been hard to investigate ratings’ insignia as they wore a multitude of badges etc. This volume helps to overcome this deficiency in literature and it catalogues the numerous badges worn by RN Ratings and associated forces. If you need to identify a badge or know what was worn and when then this book will significantly help you.

Except for the Royal Marines the Royal Navy was slow to introduce distinguishing badges for “lower deck” personnel. The introduction of badges was four years ahead of the adoption of standardised uniforms and in a similar strain to officers the usage of buttons played an important part in distinguishing rank. Even small details on as cap badges such as the anchor design and the background colour were used to denote rank.

The introduction of reserve forces and other auxiliary arms broadened the scope of naval insignia and these are amply discussed in the text. The recruitment of nurses demanded a separate ranking system and insignia. The creation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service likewise also demanded a separate and new system of ranking badges.

Other auxiliary units, the volunteer and youth organisations also required their own ranking system and these are described in the text. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is also included as they provided an important and vital role supporting the Royal Navy. Although not part of HM Armed Forces, the Merchant Navy has played an exceptionally important role in the history of the RN. The Merchant Navy was originally a vital source of men for the Royal Naval Reserve and many Merchantmen served in the RNR. Hence the ranking system of the Merchant Navy is included.

The insignia covered in the book include stripes, buttons and badges. They are catalogued separately in order of rank, rate and introduction date. There are chapters on the insignia of Warrant Officers, (Chief) Petty Officers, Leading Hands, Engine Room personnel, RN Band Service, RN Division, RNAS, WRNS, Royal Marines, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS), RN Mine Watching (RNMWS) and the RN Auxiliary Service (RNXS).

Wherever possible the author has used actual examples and where this has not been possible he has used reproductions. The photographs used cover the past 150 years and these indicate how the badges were worn in “real life”. This book will appeal to collectors, those concerned with the authenticity of naval uniforms and those trying to date photographs. A “congratulations” is due to the author for creating a splendid piece of research.

April 2012