Crew's Uniforms


Apr 20, 2004
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Hello - I'm new to ET - this is my first post. Some here may perhaps know me from TT and TRMA.

I have some questions about Titanic crew's uniforms.

1. Can anyone tell me if the standard WSL officers uniform was navy blue or black, as I have heard contradicting info on this from many sources. They were shown as black in the Titanic movie.

2. Does anyone have a picture that shows details of the cap badge worn by the senior officers?

3. Why do officers sometimes have caps with white peaks, and sometimes with navy blue (or black!) peaks? I've seen both in use. Again, the Cameron film shows them as black.

4. Lastly, does anyone know where I might find a picture of just an ordinary able seaman on the Titanic, that kind of shows the uniform?

Many thanks
Jason
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Jason,

1. The officer's uniforms are made from "naval doeskin," a finely-woven wool (which today you can only get from the UK) that is officially termed, "navy blue," but is such a deep, dark blue that it's almost black in colour. Only in direct sunlight will you see a slight bluish tinge in the wool.

2. Which one? Depending on how long the wearer had worn the badge, there were at least two different styles of cap badges worn by Titanic's officers. The more senior officers wore an older style of badge; the junior, the newer style. Since the badges were made by commercial tailors and purchased by the individual officer, it's difficult to tell when the new style of cap badge first made its appearance. I have had both badges replicated in gold bullion (after many hours studying original photographs) and can send you pictures when I get the chance. From the photographic record, I can conclude only that Smith wore the older style and Moody wore the newer style. I suspect that Murdoch wore the older style, based on photos of him aboard Olympic, but he could have bought a new badge before reporting aboard Titanic. The newer style is worn by all the officers in the Cameron movie (on an older-style cap).

3. There were summer and winter uniforms, and many derivations of those. Sometimes, a "summer" uniform meant wearing the navy coat and a white-topped cap. April is close to the summer months, so Titanic's crew might have soon switched to the summer uniform had they had additional crossings.

4. You can visit my site for pictures of me in an AB costume on the set of "Ghosts of the Abyss." It's not 100% accurate (the lettering style on the cap tally is not correct, and Wardrobe didn't have a pair of bell-bottom pants to fit me), but it's about as close as you can get without resorting to a retouched original photograph.

Hope this helps,
Parks
 

Frank McElroy

Member
Dec 31, 2003
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Jason,
This is a W.S.L. Officers cap badge, hope it's what you wanted to know

Frankie Mac

85831.jpg
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Frank,

Unfortunately, that is not an accurate replica...it is one of several commercial versions that were rushed out to take advantage of the popularity of the Cameron film. Although it generally resembles a WSL emblem, many of the proportions are incorrect. Once I get home tonight, I will dig up photos of actual cap badges, along with my re-creations, so that you can compare the originals against the reproductions.

Parks
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Speaking of the uniforms, who was the manufacturer of said uniforms for White Star? I would imagine that there was some individual tailoring involved for each officer (I could be wrong, of course). In that case, is there any particular establishment in Southampton (I wanted to say Soton, sorry) that would have done this?
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Okay, Parks was kind enough to answer my question via PM, and gave me permission to post the answer for the edification of others:

"To answer your question on the list about uniforms...no single manufacturer of WSL uniforms. Individual tailors put together the uniforms from a standard pattern (which was the Royal Navy pattern). A popular tailor for WSL officers sailing out of Soton was Miller & Sons."
 

Pat Winship

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May 14, 1999
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I'm guessing that the "Naval Doeskin" mentioned by Parks is one of those fine woolens that's so tightly woven it doesn't have to be hemmed to keep it from fraying?

And Andrew, people aren't answering you because you keep posting the same question on different, and inappropriate threads.

Pat W
 

Dennis Smith

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Aug 24, 2002
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Hi all,

Just a bit of info on Millers.

My friend was R/O with Cunard and he bought his uniform in Southampton in 1978. The co. he bought it from was Miller,Rayner and Danco. I believe this was the original Millers as Cunard and other Southampton passenger Lines had always used the same place and it was Cunard who advised him to use this Co. As an aside I got one of my uniforms from Miller, Rayner and Danco in Liverpool, so it looks like they had an outlet in all the major passenger ports, but wouldn't like to swear to that.

Best Wishes and Rgds

Dennis
 

JHPravatiner

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Nov 2, 2001
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Yep, Pat. Doeskin was a fine, light, very high quality wool. Frock coats and formal overcoats for the Royal (and Imperial) Navy were made from it, in other words, the more formal garb naturally demanding better cloth. Ordinary service dress like reefer coats and bridge jackets were usually something like pilot cloth or other coarser wools.
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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Doeskin was the de rigeur material for officers' 'blues'. Latterly, some opted for barathea but this was regarded as a bit of a maverick choice.

Miller, Raynor & Haysom Limited (later Miller Raynor Danco) were represented in London, Liverpool and So'ton. They were presumably successors to Miller & Co.

Other MN outfitters were:

J.Baker & Co.Ltd of 23 Brunswick Street, Liverpool 2

S.W.Silver & Co. of London, Falmouth, Portsmouth, So'ton and Liverpool

I seem to recall two other Liverpool outfitters, I think one was Bell and the other Oliver; one was in Chapel Street, the other in Tower Building. There was also a shop opposite Hamilton Square station in Birkenhead but I think this was a branch of one of the above-mentioned.

An 'economy' service was provided to impecunious cadets etc. by L.E.G.Greenberg in Park Lane. They were still extant about six years ago.

Noel
 
Dec 14, 2004
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I see a lot of pictures of the stewards in their jackets and ties, but what about the men with the "White Star Line" sweatshirt looking tops? Were they considered the sailors of the bunch while stewards and pursers fulfilled the customer service duties?

And while I'm on the subject, were striped tops and the classic V neck shirts where the long collar falls over the back into a straight line parallel to the ground for navy men, or what? I'm so confused!


Thanks,
e
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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The people you see in 'White Star Line' jerseys are seamen and other deck crew. They generally also wore a typical brimless sailor's cap, again with 'White Star Line' lettering, but some chose to wear ordinary flat caps of the kind you see in any street scene of the time. Unlike the stewards, the deck crew didn't have a very strict uniform code. The Quartermasters (who were seamen with more specialised roles) wore the same type of sailor's cap, but generally with a tunic more like what most people think of as a 'sailor suit' complete with the big Jack Tar collar. Probably the bosun and bosun's mate wore this style also.

People got confused back in 1912, too. There was a great variety of uniforms worn on board, especially among the victualling crew (the people who looked after the passengers' needs rather than the ship). In survivors' accounts we often see references to 'officers' who could easily have been wireless operators, purser's clerks, or any of a variety of people who were similarly dressed in suits, ties and peaked caps.
.
 
May 3, 2005
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Some of the Titanic movies depict the quartermaster at the wheel in "Dress Blues"...the kind with white stripes, etc.,that is; similar to those in the Naval Services. Would this be correct attire ? In others some of the crew are shown with dark jerseys with White Star lettering in white ? Would they have worn the "Dress Blues" for special occasions such as leaving port and the less formal while underway ?
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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Kirstin, try page 142 of Titanic Voices. The class is not given, but I fancy uniforms were much the same in all classes.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
Contemporary photographs often show Edwardian seamen wearing what used to be called "monkey jackets" - short navy-blue coats. These appear to have been the preferred type of jacket for a wide range of seafarers, including stewards and stokers. Whether these jackets could be described as "uniform" is, however, another matter.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
I was married in my 'doeskin' uniform. Believe me it was not 'light' - more like what used to be called 'nap' - almost a felt-like material.
The day in question was very hot indeed.

Up until the invention of white plastic - you could buy white cotton cap covers. These were worn during the summer months. They were shaped like the top of a uniform cap (one size fits all) and had an elastic rim. When fitted over the top of the cap, they stretched taught.

We young fellers used to soak a new cap in a bucket of sea water then when really wet - shaped it to look like a U-boat commander's hat of WW1 vintage. This meant we had to ease the elastic of the cap cover so it would fit the newly distorted head-gear.

QMs were Petty Officers and wore a 'square-rig' jacket like the officers. In many cases, these jackets had six buttons unlike the officers who had eight on their jackets. Other ratings uniforms were very much like the British RN.
They would probably have had a square neck, loose kind of 'T' shirt worn under a close fitting wool jersey which had the universal sqare back-flap collar. Like the QMs, they would have round top brimless hats with a ribbon round it bearing the name of the ship. After the recognition of the British MN, it became an offence to wear the uniform without unauthorisation. It is still in the statutes attracting a fine of five pounds sterling.
There used to be a large number of firms, supplying RN and MN uniforms but they are nearly all gone.

The last time I had to renew 'stuff', the only firm I could find was Miller Raynor in Southhampton. before that, Geaves, Stinson, Malcoms etc etc were some of the names I recall.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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From the IMM/White Star Line rules---

Quarter-Masters:--

Blue Navy Serge Shirt, with White Star Badge and good conduct stripe on sleeve ...
White Drill Navy Shirt, with White Star Badge and good conduct stripe, in blue, on sleeve ..
Flannel Singlet, Navy Pattern ...
Flannel Singlet, Navy pattern...
Black Neck Handkerchiefs ...
White Star Cap and Ribbon ...
Pair Blue Serge Trousers, Navy pattern ...
Cloth Jacket ...

The foregoing Uniform is supplied by the company, free of cost, to the Quartermasters, and Jackets are also given to Lookoutmen.


-- David G. Brown
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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The QM's on the Titanic back in 1912 had less status, Jim. They were seamen with special duties, not petty officers. They had no authority over anybody else, drew the same pay as other seamen and wore a uniform like that of a RN rating, not an officer.

Kirstin, the type of uniform worn by your cousin would depend on which shipping line he served with and maybe what his precise duties were. 3rd Class stewards on the White Star liners generally wore a short white tunic with 5 brass buttons fastened right up to a round collar (ie no shirt or tie visible). Trousers were generally dark coloured. Their uniform included a dark coloured cap with peak and White Star badge, but that wouldn't have been worn below decks. The pic below isn't the clearest available but will give some idea. In this case the trousers are probably not uniform standard.

133761.jpg
 

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