Elder Brother of the Trinity

9 August 1941.  Churchill in the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House aboard USS Augusta with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When asked by a senior official of the French government in a hurried meeting in June of 1941 what uniform he was wearing, Churchill explained to the amazement of this man that he was wearing the uniform of the Elder Brother of the Trinity. Churchill insisted on speaking in French but his skills in that language were not on par with his skills using the English language which often caused confusion. His actual words describing his uniform were: “Frère Aîné de la Trinité” which translates as “Elder Brother of the Trinity.”

Another view of Churchill in the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House taken aboard HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Conference.

Churchill often wore the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House, an organization chartered by the British Crown in 1514 to oversea harbour pilots and aids to navigation. He was made an Honorary Elder Brother upon being appointed to the cabinet position of First Lord of the Admiralty in 1913.

 

Trinity House in London. Chartered in 1514 by Henry VIII, the organization has had multifarious functions related to navigation and pilotage over the centuries.

The official website of Trinity House describes the organization thus:

“Today, it maintains In their capacity as Master Mariners, the duties of the Elder Brethren began with the examination and regulation of Pilotage (initially restricted to the River Thames area), and have grown to take on other powers and responsibilities, including the siting and erecting of various aids to navigation (such as lighthouses, buoys, beacons and light-vessels), attendance at Admiralty Court to advise on maritime disputes and affairs, and of course to govern the multi-faceted Corporation of Trinity House, including the administration of the Corporation’s charitable function – the financing and upkeep of the UK’s largest-endowed maritime charity.”

www.trinityhouse.co.uk/about-us

 

Source: Churchill by Roy Jenkins

 

Another view of Churchill in his uniform as an Elder Brother of Trinity House while sitting next to President Roosevelt during the Atlantic Conference. As an aside, if you look closely at FDR’s feet you will see the steel braces he had to strap onto his legs to stand. With these braces holding him up, and with one or two of his military aides or children providing support, he pretended to walk.

This photograph was taken during the Sunday service with equal numbers of Royal Navy and US Navy personnel on 12 August 1941 held aboard HMS Prince of Wales. 

(Left to right, behind FDR and Churchill, are Admiral Ernest King, USN, then Commander-in-Chief US Fleet, US Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshal, General Sir John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Admiral “Betty” Stark, USN Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral of the Fleet  Sir Dudley Pound, First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy (the professional head of the Royal Navy with the First Lord of the Admiralty, a member of Parliament, having the ultimate authority. This was reorganized in decades after the war. (photo USNA)

 

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/