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)

 

Admiral Dudley Pound Wouldn’t Take His Own Advice

 

 

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound and the Prime Minister on the deck of the SS Queen Mary. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

 

Early in his tenure as First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Dudley Pound wrote to a close friend in the navy and said, “why have Commanders-in-Chiefs and do their work for them? If they are not capable of doing it they must make way for someone who can.” 1

Unique amongst the respective British service commands, the Admiralty had command, organizational and administrative responsibilities of a standard service ministry but also had operational control over the fleets.

Unfortunately, Dudley Pound didn’t take his own advice during the war since he often went over the heads of his C-in-Cs and gave orders to formations under their command.

During the disastrous campaign in Norway beginning in early April 1940, Pound went over the head of both the senior Royal Navy officer on the scene (Admiral Jock Whitworth) as well over the head Whitworth’s C.O., the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet. Pound even sent orders to individual ships. This caused immense confusion as you might imagine.

While many of the orders sent to RN ships fighting in the Norwegian campaign by Dudley Pound were thought to have originated with then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, many other times during the war Pound needed no prodding from Churchill to interfere in fleet dispositions during action with the enemy.

This could cause serious problems and occasionally disaster such as the infamous scattering order issue to convoy PQ17.

As an aside, the Chief of Naval Operations in the US, has no operational authority over US naval ships. He, or she, is responsible for everything concerning the navy but he doesn’t exercise command over fleets or ships. This has always been the case in the modern history of the US Navy.

In World War Two, Franklin Roosevelt picked Admiral Ernest King out of  a dead-end post which Admirals took a few years before retirement and made him Chief of Naval Operations. However, this gave King little power over the dispositions of the actual naval ships themselves since those were in fleets or other units under the authority of Commander in Chief US Fleet. This title had the unfortunate acronym of CINCUS.

After a spell, this did not suit Roosevelt who wanted one person in charge so he elevated King to the position of Commander in Chief US Fleet while allowing him to also keep the office of Chief of Naval Operations. This gave King immense authority over the entire US Navy. (And he sometimes went over the heads of his commanders such as Nimitz, not to change any of their fleet dispositions but to fire some of their subordinates).

Upon assuming the position of Commander in Chief, US Fleet, Admiral King immediately changed the acronym to COMINCH. King is the only man ever to have held the position of Chief of Naval Operations and Commander in Chief US Fleet simultaneously.

1 Roskill, Stephen “The War at Sea”

 

 

 

Women Perform “Men’s Work” Because of Labor Demands of World War Two

 

 

 

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Turkey Pond, near Concord, New Hampshire. Women workers employed by a U.S. Department of Agriculture timber salvage sawmill. Florence Drouin and Mrs. Elizabeth Esty, pond women, use regular logging pikes to bring the logs into place on the slip. (June 1943. Photo by John Collier, US Office of War Information, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

Many social movements including equality of women, equal rights for African-Americans, Hispanics, even gay people, were given new impetus because of dislocations in traditional society caused by the Second World War.

Many young people, especially males, whose parents or grandparents had never left their home county, ended up in foreign countries or huge industrial cities mixed in with Americans from all over. This widened the vistas of tens of millions.

Turkey Point USDA June 1943

Turkey Pond, near Concord, New Hampshire. Women workers employed by a U.S. Department of Agriculture timber salvage sawmill. Florence Drouin, using a regular logging pike, pushing up onto the slip logs which the pond men have just towed in. (June 1943. Photo by John Collier, US Office of War Information, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

As we would say now, people were “empowered” because of the simple reason that they were needed. Almost 12 million males served in the armed forces of the US during the Second World War along with 400,000 women. To replace these millions of young men and find enough workers to run farms and factories, millions of women began to hold jobs which in the past had been described as “men’s work.”

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June 1943. Turkey Pond, near Concord, New Hampshire. Women workers employed by a U.S. Department of Agriculture timber salvage sawmill. Norman Webber, front, and Ruth De Roche taking the finished boards from the conveyor and piling them according to size in the “pit”. (Photo by John Collier, US Office of War Information, courtesy of the  Library of Congress).

By doing jobs previously held only by white men, heretofore marginalized groups proved they could do much of the same work. After the war, although life went “back to normal”  it actually didn’t. Powerful social movements had been reinvigorated.

Pit-women relaxing after lunch, New Hampshire, June 1943

June 1943. “Turkey Pond, near Concord, New Hampshire. Women workers employed by U.S. Department of Agriculture timber salvage sawmill. Ruth DeRoche and Norma Webber, 18-year-old ‘pit-women,’ relaxing after lunch.”  (June 1943. Photo by John Collier, US Office of War Information, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

(I think these women could have drunk some of my frat brothers under the table).

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Turkey Pond, near Concord, New Hampshire. Women workers employed by a U.S. Department of Agriculture timber salvage sawmill. Mrs. Elizabeth Esty and Florence Drouin, “pond women,” pulling up logs towed in by the men.  (June 1943. Photo by John Collier, US Office of War Information, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

 

 

 

Commander-in-Chief Franklin Roosevelt in Alaska

 

 

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Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Quonset hut mess hall in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.

August 3, 1944
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx. 48-22:3868(497).

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Franklin D. Roosevelt fishing at Kodiak Island, Alaska.
August 7, 1944
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx. 48-22:3868(498).