20th November 2021

Merchant Navy buttons by Stokes

Mark Stephen is sharing some of his grandfather’s (Charles) uniform buttons dating from his service in 1945-6.

 

Charles Edwin Millar Stephen was born in 1884 in Como, New South Wales, and died in 1966 in Brisbane.

Charles, c.1911.

The need for an official merchant navy uniform became apparent during World War 1. The standard was issued in September 1918. The uniform was inspired, not surprisingly, by that of the Royal Navy, including for the cap badges and buttons. The term ‘merchant navy’ was formalised as the ‘Merchant Navy’ by King George V in 1922, in recognition for the vital work they played during the war, including greater than 14,000 killed.

Chronicle (Adelaide), 31st March 1938, page 77.

The crown upon the buttons is a modified ‘naval crown’. The naval crown dates from Roman times. The current naval crown consists of alternating sterns and topsails on a circlet, and dates from the early 18th century. The anchor, unlike for the  various Royal Navies, is not befouled (the anchor rope twisted around it), and has the stock  tilted downwards to the left.

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