Author Topic: RMLI or Royal Fleet Auxiliary  (Read 314 times)

Offline cad

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RMLI or Royal Fleet Auxiliary
« on: Saturday 08 May 21 00:20 BST (UK) »
I have just received this picture that was described as of a group of Royal Marine Light Infantry soldiers. On receiving it I am doubting the attribution, the inscription on the Botton right hand corner of the image has the letters NCO's (presumably for non commissioned Officers) and the date 1.10.12 but above that is FRA or FRR, it struck me that the position of the R might mean it should be read first making it RFA. The cap badges and uniforms bare no resemblance to the Royal Field Artillery but they could be the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
Please help me establish the subject of this photo. It is a real photograph\postcard, not postally used and nothing has been written on the back.

Wiltshire,Somerset : Cainey, Summers, Payne, Wallis,
Wales: Pugh, Watkins, Williams, Edwards,
London: Binden, Sullivan, Tickner, Tilt
Ireland: Tracey, Sullivan, Dalton

Offline T1

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Re: RMLI or Royal Fleet Auxiliary
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 08 May 21 07:01 BST (UK) »
This is most definitely a group of Non-Commissioned Officers of Royal Marine Light Infantry.  Date matches the details in the photo.

The obvious feature is is the cap badge, which resembles the globe and wreath of the modern Royal Marines badge, but is topped with a bugle horn (the symbol of light infantry).  The jacket with single breast pocket was unique to the Royal Marines.

The cap is the peak-less 'Brodrick' pattern which was worn by the army between about 1902 and 1905, but was withdrawn due to unpopularity (soldiers thought it looked like the German army cap, or a British  sailor's cap).  The marines uniquely kept this cap in service into to the first world war, probably because serving on Royal Navy vessels they had less of a problem with the naval appearance of the cap.

See https://greenhowards.org.uk/brodrick-cap/ for example.

T

Offline cad

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Re: RMLI or Royal Fleet Auxiliary
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 08 May 21 14:32 BST (UK) »
Phew, thanks for that. Your explanation confirms the research I made before deciding to purchase. It was trying to identify the acronym that led me astray.

What do you think inscription is then? is it possible that it is just the autograph of the photographer?

I have become interested in images of the RMLI because my Grandmother's Uncle, John Sullivan signed up to that regiment in 1911 and sadly was killed in action October 1917. We have no images of him so images like this are the closest thing I have to a representation of him.

I seriously doubt he is any of these chaps, I think they are older than him but is there any other information we can extract from this image?

Thanks again.
Wiltshire,Somerset : Cainey, Summers, Payne, Wallis,
Wales: Pugh, Watkins, Williams, Edwards,
London: Binden, Sullivan, Tickner, Tilt
Ireland: Tracey, Sullivan, Dalton


Offline T1

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Re: RMLI or Royal Fleet Auxiliary
« Reply #3 on: Monday 10 May 21 19:19 BST (UK) »
What do you think inscription is then? is it possible that it is just the autograph of the photographer?

The reference to "NCO"s must refer to the NCOs of some sub-organisation.  I would guess the letters FRA represent that, but it doesn't ring a bell for me.  As a group the men appear rather old, suggesting to me it may be some training or other specialist body within the RMLI.

is there any other information we can extract from this image?

As far as I can see they are all sergeants (the red rank chevrons can just be made out on their upper right sleeves).  Other than that I don't see any pointers.

I have a general interest in late nineteenth century and pre-WWI British uniforms, but as it happens my great grandfather also served in the RMLI, 1895 to 1905.

T

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Re: RMLI or Royal Fleet Auxiliary
« Reply #4 on: Monday 10 May 21 23:17 BST (UK) »
Thanks for the info, you have been very helpful.

It was searching through the military acronyms for a possible answer that led me to Royal Fleet Auxiliary, it just seemed the most likely out of the acronyms listed.

The RMLI seemed to be very into their moustaches at this time, the one clean shaven guy looks the same gene pool as Spike Milligan. There is certainly a good mix of characters here which is why I was drawn to this image- I felt there is something interesting going on here.

Thanks again.
Wiltshire,Somerset : Cainey, Summers, Payne, Wallis,
Wales: Pugh, Watkins, Williams, Edwards,
London: Binden, Sullivan, Tickner, Tilt
Ireland: Tracey, Sullivan, Dalton

Offline T1

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Re: RMLI or Royal Fleet Auxiliary
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 11 May 21 06:47 BST (UK) »
Moustaches were definitely a mandatory requirement for the army until 1916 - and I think the same applies to marines.

One possibility is that the last letter is actually an R rather than an A.  This could give us RFR for "Royal Fleet Reserve", which would actually make sense for RMLI.

As far as I know, these white inscriptions were written in reverse on the negative before the photo was printed, so I suppose that could explain why the big 'R' is in the middle - I have seen similar errors on photos before.

However, I'm not totally convinced - just an idea!

T

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Re: RMLI or Royal Fleet Auxiliary
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 11 May 21 11:34 BST (UK) »
Thanks again for your continued input...

you are right about the camera- I am a vintage camera nut and I am sure the writing was applied directly to the negative. The camera would have had a slide on the back and a stylus so that the photographer could annotate the image directly after taking the shot, such a camera would have been the Kodak Autographic 1A from 1910 I believe.
Wiltshire,Somerset : Cainey, Summers, Payne, Wallis,
Wales: Pugh, Watkins, Williams, Edwards,
London: Binden, Sullivan, Tickner, Tilt
Ireland: Tracey, Sullivan, Dalton