Royal Navy Epaulettes, 1914

Epaulettes were worn on the most formal uniforms, use of which was suspended during the First World War:

The epaulettes of the military branch were all gold with silver devices, while other branches had gold devices and a silver edging around the strap and crescent. When engineer officers became part of the military branch in 1915, they began to wear the epaulettes of the military branch, and in October 1918 the military branch epaulettes became standard for all officers.

Flag officers had thicker and longer bullions, with a smaller diameter for captains and smaller again for commanders and below. Sub-lieutenants and their equivalents, mates and commissioned warrant officers, wore epaulettes without bullion fringe, known as shoulder straps or scales.

Military Branch

Admiral of the Fleet




Commodore 1st or 2nd Class, Captain of 3 Years Seniority

Captain under 3 Years Seniority




Sub-Lieutenant, Mate, Chief Gunner, Chief Boatswain, Commissioned Telegraphist

Other Branches

Engineer Branch
Medical Branch
Accountant Branch
Naval Instructor Branch
Artisan Branch



Engineer Vice-Admiral
Engineer Rear-Admiral
Medical Director-General
Engineer Captain of 8 Years Service in Rank Engineer Captain under 8 Years Service in Rank Engineer Commander
Deputy Surgeon General Secretary to Commander-in-Chief of 5 Years Service in Rank Fleet Surgeon
Secretary to Admiral of the Fleet   Secretary to Commander-in-Chief under 5 Years Service in Rank
Paymaster-in-Chief   Fleet Paymaster
    Naval Instructor of 15 Years Seniority
Engineer Lieutenant-Commander Engineer Lieutenant Mate (E), Chief Artificer Engineer, Commissioned Mechanician
Staff Surgeon Surgeon Assistant Paymaster Under 4 Years Seniority
Secretary to Flag Officer, Commodore 1st Class or Captain of the Fleet Secretary to Commodore 2nd Class Chief Schoolmaster
Staff Paymaster, Paymaster Assistant Paymaster of 4 Years Seniority Chief Carpenter, Commissioned Electrician
Naval Instructor of 8 Years Seniority
Naval Instructor under 8 Years Seniority
Carpenter Lieutenant of 8 Years Seniority Carpenter Lieutenant under 8 Years Seniority  

Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Officers of the R.N.R. and R.N.V.R. wore epaulettes similiar to those of the regular Royal Navy, but with a distinctive badge in place of the outermost device within the crescent.

Commodore 2nd Class, R.N.R., Captain of 3 years seniority, R.N.R. Captain under 3 years seniority, R.N.R. Commander, R.N.R. Lieutenant-Commander, R.N.R. Lieutenant, R.N.R. Sub-Lieutenant, R.N.R.
    Chief Engineer, R.N.R.
Staff Engineer, R.N.R.
Engineer, R.N.R.
Assistant Engineer, R.N.R.
      Staff Paymaster, R.N.R.,
Paymaster, R.N.R.
Assistant Paymaster of 4 years seniority, R.N.R. Assistant Paymaster under 4 years seniority, R.N.R.

    Commander, R.N.V.R. Lieutenant-Commander, R.N.V.R. Lieutenant, R.N.V.R. Sub-Lieutenant, R.N.V.R.
      Staff Surgeon, R.N.V.R.
Surgeon, R.N.V.R.
Surgeon Probationer, R.N.V.R.
      Staff Paymaster, R.N.V.R.,
Paymaster, R.N.V.R.
Assistant Paymaster of 4 years seniority, R.N.V.R. Assistant Paymaster under 4 years seniority, R.N.V.R.

All text and images © Justin T. Broderick, 2013-2019 unless otherwise indicated.