One of the reasons the British Empire had such a hold on the oceans of the world was their control of key choke points for maritime traffic. These included the southern tip of India, that entire country then ruled by the British. Close by, controlling a key passage into the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal was modern day Sri Lanka, then the British colony of Ceylon.
The Royal Navy had numerous ships stationed in several bases on Ceylon although at one point after a series of Japanese attacks the British Eastern Fleet withdrew to Mombassa. The island itself hosted large numbers of British military facilities.
“Slim Jim” Somerville was one of the Royal Navy’s most successful fighting admirals in WOrld War Two. Prior to being sent out to command the Eastern Fleet, at that time a collection of old World War One battleships, Somerville had command the famous “Force H” from Gibraltar.
Curiously, Somevile had been placed on the retired list before the war because of a misdiagnosed medical condition of tuberculosis which he did not have. When recalled to the colours, he remained on the retired list thus receiving both his pension and his active duty pay.
Junior ratings wore long black socks with tropical rig. Higher rates, petty officers, and officers wore white socks. The chaplain, although classified as an officer for purposes of pay and food and uniform and quarters, actually did not have a rank. The Royal Navy believed the men would more readily consult the chaplain about their personal issues, one of his main functions, if he wasn’t officially an officer.