I enjoyed the interesting series of articles on Captain Bray in ‘Brassbounder to Commander’ in recent issues of Sea Breezes.
I am researching some of the history and development of the apprenticeship system in British ships. I realise there were several apprentices in Captain Bray’s ship and there have been several photos of apprentices in your article.
One in particular has arrested my attention. It is in Part 4 and is of the Bray family and crew of Holt Hill on page 53. You have marked Owen Uoyd with a cross. Standing beside him, on his left, is (I suspect) another apprentice. My interest lies in this other apprentice’s uniform and in particular the left sleeve cuff which appears to have two horizontal buttons on it.
When the Standard Merchant Navy Uniform was approved and prescribed for officers shortly after World War I there was provision for apprentices to wear two buttons on the cuff. To the best of my knowledge the two button provision was never effectively implemented and I am at a loss to know why it was ever prescribed.
As an apprentice I wore three horizontal cuff buttons (Port Line 1946-1948) as did the apprentices in several other shipping companies and I have never seen a photo of two buttons only on the cuff of an apprentice.
Your article’s photo has caught my interest and I wonder whether any readers can shed any light upon this puzzle and more clearly confirm that two buttons only were earlier used by apprentices. If you can assist my research I shall be most grateful.
CAPTAIN BARRY THOMPSON
6/1 Longford Park Drive, Takanini