Thursday, 7 November 2013

Ranks & Ratings

Badges of Ranks, Ratings, Speciality Qualifications of Robert (Bob) John Sharplin

Petty Officer Sleeve (upper left) and Cap badge
Also worn by Stoker Petty Officer
The badges of rank – CPO (Chief Petty Officer) , PO (Petty Officer), LS (Leading Seaman), OS (Ordinary Seaman) etc. and good conduct stripes are worn on the left upper sleeve, and indicate just that - rank. The actual standard of training reached in that specialty is marked by the badge (with and without crowns and stars) worn on the right upper sleeve.

Chief Petty Officer – Sleeve buttons
(On each sleeve cuff) & Cap Badge
Also worn by Chief Mechanician.
➢ These were worn by Bob in his final rank.
In British naval practice, specialty and rating are generally unrelated. A man may have a high status in a specialty without advancing beyond a seaman's rating; or he may be a CPO but still not be highly qualified in his particular specialty. In such cases, advancement in rating would depend on leadership, education etc.

 Mechanician: [all with propeller with crown above, star below]:

Chief Mechanician
Mechanician, 1st Class
Mechanician, 2nd Class
Mechanician (O.S.)
Worn on right upper sleeve
➢ This was worn by Bob in his final rank
 Stoker: [three bladed propeller]
Chief Stoker [crown above]
Stoker Petty Officer [crown above]
Leading Stoker [star above]
Stoker, 1st Class [star above]
➢ Stoker, 2nd Class [Propeller only] Bob’s initial rating upon joining
Stoker, Fire Fighter (not in Pay lists)
Worn on right upper sleeve

Good Conduct Chevrons
Good Conduct Pay (for each badge)
Worn on left upper sleeve
➢ Bob wore the 3 chevrons shown on the left in his final rank

Bob’s Decorations: Medals & Clasps

The Atlantic Star
The Africa Star with France & Germany Bar
The 1939-1945 Star
The 1939-1945 Medal
Long Service & Good Conduct Medal

     Bob’s Medal has the France & Germany Clasp

     Bob’s Medal does not have the Clasp shown here.



The Royal Navy Long Service & Good Conduct Medal was introduced on 24 August 1831. It is silver and circular in shape and is based on the pattern of that issued in 1848. The suspender on the medal was changed to the present narrower width in 1875. The obverse of the medal shows the effigy of the reigning monarch at the time of the award. The reverse shows the image of a three-masted man-of-war surrounded by a rope tied at the foot with a reef knot with the legend 'For Long service and Good Conduct' around the circumference. The ribbon is blue with white edges.

An Other Rank who completes 15 years of reckonable service from the date of attestation or age 17½, whichever is later, and who holds all three good conduct badges, shall be eligible to receive the medal. However, there are a number of offences which would normally preclude award of the medal. Awards are only made after a thorough check of a sailor's record of service.

The service number, rank and name of the recipient is normally engraved around the edge of the medal as is Bob's. Also up until the early 1980s the name of the ship or shore establishment the recipient was serving on when he or she received the medal was also given. Unfortunately this information is no longer impressed on the medal.


The Légion d’Honneur is the highest decoration that France can bestow and is normally restricted to French Citizens.

On 25th July 2014 the French Government informed the UK Ministry of Defence that it wished to recognise the "selfless acts of heroism and determination displayed" by all veterans of the Normandy landings and of the wider campaigns to liberate France in 1944, by awarding them with the  Légion  d’Honneur. Thus it was to be awarded to not only those troops who landed on French soil but also to those members of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force who were there in support, the only exception made was that it would not be awarded posthumously!

So Bob earned it by being in the Cruiser HMS Mauritius (Note 1) at the D-Day landings and the Battle for Normandy, but, like many thousands of others did not receive his recognition, simply because they had died prior to any application resulting from 25th July 2014 announcement. A poor decision  leaving one with the impression of a French Government being parsimonious in not only disregarding those thousands who had since died but completely denying recognition of those who actually gave their lives for France in the campaign!

One who also shared this theft of any recognition was Bob's elder brother Perce who was there on HMS Apollo (Note 2).

1. At the “D-Day” invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 HMS Mauritius was part of Force D off  
    Sword Beach acting as a gun platform to "take out" German coastal heavily fortified gun 
    emplacements. She suffered some slight damage by gunfire from those German shore batteries.
    (For details of HMS Mauritius refer to "Ships & Shore Establishments Served In", Entry No. 15).

2. Perce Sharplin was a Chief Petty Officer Stoker on board HMS Apollo as part of "Operation
     Neptune" (Note 3) when on D-Day + 1 (7 June) she was assigned to carry the invasion forces most
    senior officers, Allied Supreme Commander General Dwight D Eisenhower, Naval Commander in
    Chief Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, General Bernard Law Montgomery and staff officers from 
    SHAEF to visit the assault areas. However she grounded damaging her propellers so the 
    passengers were transferred to HMS Undaunted, a U-class Destroyer, who returned them to
    Portsmouth. Apollo made her way back to Sheerness then on to the Tyne for repairs.
    (HMS Apollo, 8th of her name, was a 2,650 ton Abdiel class Fast Cruiser-Minelayer capable of 40 knots, built 1943,
     broken up 1962). 

3.  "Operation Neptune" was the cross-Channel crossing phase of "Operation Overlord", the Allied
     invasion of Europe. "Operation Neptune" placed all naval issues under the command of Admiral
     Sir Bertram Ramsey whose command skills had already been seen in 1940 with the part he played
     in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk. "Operation Neptune" required some 6,000 ships of all
     types and sizes.

4. In participating in these actions Mauritius, Apollo and Undaunted (9th of her name) all earned
    the Royal Navy 's "Normandy 1944" Battle Honour.