Using Rank as Title in Post War Civvy Street

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by stephenmyall, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. stephenmyall

    stephenmyall Member

    I have a question regarding rules of post-war peronnel using their rank as title in civilian life. Is there a level of rank that one can and a cannot use?

    My reason for asking is because my Great Uncle who was the Technical Director of a famous Dublin gunsmiths used his WW2 Capt rank on headed paper and correspondance. I find this particularly unusual. I am assuming as he was dealing with Colonels and Majors and foreign ambassadors on a daily basis he used his rank to impress, but I am not sure this was the proper code of conduct. My great uncle was a ballistic expert and wrote a book on the subject before he died in 1964. He was well known in Irish Sporting Circles particularly hunting. I have atached a 1953 newspaper article about him which may be of interest to any rifle enthuasts amongst us, but to demonstrate his use of this title.
     

    Attached Files:

    von Poop likes this.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Good Q...I've often wondered about this myself.
     
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers for that Owen,

    I always though the honorary rank was if you was affiliated to a unit as a patron. Ie my old Regt had an Honorary Colonel because he gave the Regt a shed load of money amongst other things.

    Andy
     
  5. stephenmyall

    stephenmyall Member

    This has motivated me to do more digging around in the attic to if I can come up with a similar letter for my man.
     
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I think that Gazette might confirm hon. rank.

    As an aside, I remember a veteran in our village always being referred to simply as "The Major".
     
  7. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    As an aside, I remember a veteran in our village always being referred to simply as "The Major".

    I knew a bloke like that once, he was actually a corporal, but everyone called him Major. :D
     
  8. martinb

    martinb Member

    I thought it quite unusual when I found a headstone in the local churchyard of a Petty Office John Scott who died 11 August 1942 aged 60.giving his rank Petty Office on the headstone.
    On checking found he had re-enlisted for the war 10th August 1940 as AB and promoted PO the next day.
    He served at HMS Beehive the MTB base at Felixstowe , but was invalided out of the RN 11.12.41- presumable due to throat cancer from which he died.. His death certificate gives his rank of Chief Petty Officer . He had previously served from 13 September 1899 at the age of 12 until 23 June 1923 when he joined the RNVR
     
  9. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    The same question pertaining to awards and decorations.

    In correspondence to my father, oft times, after his name his D.F.C. was listed.

    I don't recall my father using this in his own correspondence, only that received by him.
     
  10. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    An old Great War veteran friend of mine (who ended the war a Major and was a Lieutenant Colonel in WW2) told me that he believed anyone who used the rank of Captain or below outside of the army was considered a 'cad'. Not a phrase you hear much these days... :lol:
     
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I knew a bloke like that once, he was actually a corporal, but everyone called him Major. :D

    Thankfully 'ours' was the genuine article: only ever did business with ex-service, his way of showing solidarity. Delightfully eccentric man.
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I seem to recall Grandad used his rank on 'official' correspondence. Will have to ask Dad who the utility bills went to, but I'm sure he was 'Col.' on formal letters etc.

    There's a caddish/immodest/Non-U (or more politely perhaps, 'rakish'...) perception to blanket use of any former rank in all circumstances isn't there. Though I can see it carrying advantages and being perfectly acceptable in certain circles, particularly in more deferential times.
    (Edit - sorry, missed paul's cad post above while wandering off mid-post)

    [​IMG]

    Filmography by type
    Captain Romney Carlton-Ricketts
    Captain J. (Jeroboam) Barker-Rynde
    Captain Sir Harry Washington-Smythe
    Maj. Foskett
    Major Albert Rayne
    Major Hitchcock X2
    Lieutenant Colonel J. Algernon Hawthorne
     
  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Maybe not used as much now in official forms as previously, but certainly there were specific boxes for Title/Rank as well as for 'letters' after names. Not surprising then that letters sent would use them... esp if you had to make an impression of reliability with eg the bank manager.
     
  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Good point on the 'rank' boxes on forms - often still there, presumably mostly used by serving rather than retired these days?

    I thought Arrse might have done this.
    RETENTION OF OFFR RANK ON RETIREMENT

    Not read it yet, so don't know if there's a definitive answer, but if not maybe worth any resident arrsers poking the thread. Many on there understandably seem pretty good on rules & regs.

    Maybe there isn't an official answer - other than Debretts. I shall try and find my copy...
     
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I thought Arrse might have done this.
    RETENTION OF OFFR RANK ON RETIREMENT

    Good one, post 16 sounds definitive enough, quoting from

    'Debrett's Correct Form' (that invaluable book) says:

    'Field Marshals remain on the active list for life and so continue to use this rank. Other regular officers of the rank of captain and above may use, and be addressed by, their rank after being placed on the retired list.

    The word 'retired' (abbreviated to 'Retd') should not be added after an officer's name in ordinary correspondence or in lists, but only when it is specifically necessary to indicate that an officer is on the retired list, eg, one employed in a civilian capacity in a Ministry of Defence establishment, when it facilitates postal arrangements.'
     
  16. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    I have a few books authored by Capt. Basil Liddell Hart :)

    From the Wikipedia entry:
    His continued use of his rank angered the military establishment, which considered[citation needed] it bad form for an officer junior to Major to continue to use his rank in civilian life.
    And...
    During the planning for the Suez Crisis, Hart had been asked by Anthony Eden to submit plans for a campaign against Egypt. After his first four drafts were rejected for a combination of contradictory reasons, Hart was nettled and sent back the original when asked for a fifth version. Eden liked it this time; he called for Hart and patronizingly said; "Captain Liddell Hart, here I am at a critical moment in Britain's history, arranging matters which might mean the life of the British Empire. And what happens? I ask you to do a simple military chore for me, and it takes you five attempts — plus my vigilance amid all my worries — before you get it right." Hart replied, "But sir, it hasn't taken five attempts. That version, which you now say is just what you wanted, is the original version." According to Leonard Mosley, there was a nasty silence while the prime minister's face reddened. Then he reached for an antique inkstand and, maddened, threw it at Hart. Hart sat still for a moment and then, with a tactician's instinct for the devastating counterstrike, stood up, seized a wastepaper basket, and jammed it over Eden's head.[4]
    :D

    ----added ----

    One note in the discussion page says this is a complete falsification. In other words a lie.
     
  17. stephenmyall

    stephenmyall Member

    Very interesting reading from all contributors and I think Im getting close to the final answer of the original question, that is that my Gt Uncle may have been a "Cad" as someone previously described for using his Capt Rank in Civvy street
     
  18. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Worry not, in Brasil a "Colonel" is or was any large landowner, owning estates bigger than some British counties put together. Might never have ever seen the inner side of an infantry barracks, but I wouldn't go and contradict them :)
     
  19. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    An old Great War veteran friend of mine (who ended the war a Major and was a Lieutenant Colonel in WW2) told me that he believed anyone who used the rank of Captain or below outside of the army was considered a 'cad'. Not a phrase you hear much these days... :lol:

    There were a lot of jokes in the immediate postwar press (Punch, etc.) suggesting that anyone who still insisted on being called 'Captain' or 'Major' in civvy street was someone you should never accept a cheque from ...

    Best, Alan
     
  20. Driver-op

    Driver-op WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    When I left the army as a lieutenant I was granted that as an honory rank, but in the army I was addressed as 'Mister'. Had I been a captain I could have called myself that in 'civvy street', the place was full of the of course but I was just plain Mister.
     

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