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AMERICA - MILITARY BRANCH & RANK INSIGNIA

Fleet Admiral of the US Navy Gray Shoulder Marks

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Fleet Admiral of the US Navy Gray Shoulder Marks

Unread postby ELSUPREMO » Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:32 pm

During World War II, Fleet Admiral of the US Navy Ernest J. King began to wear gray shoulder marks for a new gray uniform suggested by his wife who was from the South and had an affection for the Confederacy. Use of this uniform was short-lived as it was not popular. His shoulder marks were of the standard pattern of flat gray tapered boards with a rounded buttonless collar end and black thread embroidered fouled anchor and five black five-pointed stars in a circle. There have been reports of "experimental" variations of this consisting of an angular squared mark similar to the shape of currently used marks, but with gray cloth and the black embroidered devices. This is an invention and was not considered or done as it would have deviated from the standard design then used. Very few pairs of gray five-star marks were made, and are probably among the rarest of all US Navy insignia marks, are rarely seen, but do exist in a few private collections and museums.
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Unread postby J.T. Broderick » Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:17 pm

Martha "Mattie" King was from Maryland, which of course was not a Confederate state, though there were certainly Southern sympathies in the area. I have not read that Mrs. King was the source of inspiration for the gray uniform. It is recorded in several sources that ADM King never favored the working khaki, which he considered a land-forces uniform. The khaki was still pretty new to most of the fleet, having been authorized in early 1941, and king considered it to be only a "stopgap." He began working on a replacement soon after he got the CNO post in the spring of 1942. After a trip to Britain in July 1942, he expressed admiration for the RAF's blue-gray uniform, and soon had a tailor work up a naval uniform in a gray version of the Marines' herringbone twill fabric.

Despite protests from the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, King obtained Secretary Knox's approval for the gray working uniform in April 1943. After that date, working khaki officially entered a phase-out period. There was so much khaki material in the supply system, however, it outlasted King's tenure. His successor, FADM Nimitz, wasted no time reestablishing khaki as the standard working uniform and it was the grays' turn to enter a phase-out period. Working gray could not be worn after October 1948.

Five-star gray shoulder boards are understandably rare. King, of course, wore them, as did FADM Leahy, as grays were common in Washington where King held sway. After 11 August 1943, the standard gold shoulder boards were authorized to be worn with working gray along with gilt buttons. Leahy wore this uniform at the QUADRANT conference in Quebec in August 1943, he is standing on the right:
Image

King, curiously, is wearing blues, while Admiral of the Fleet Pound is in whites.

FADM Nimitz was known to abhor the gray uniform, and it was unlikely that he ever obtained a set. FADM Halsey is questionable, though I would say it is also unlikely. Gray remained unofficially banned in the Pacific, though it did occasionally make an appearance:
Image

Admiral King was known for tinkering with uniforms. When he was CO of USS Lexington he prescribed a uniform of white blouse with blue trousers and black shoes. Though his officers didn't like it, he brought it back when he was Commander Aircraft Battle Force, and when he was CNO made it official navy-wide as "Service Dress E." He also instuted wearing the light gray shirt with collar insignia with the service blues, and had his own non-regualtion dress whites, cut like khakis with a shirt and tie.

Best regards,
Justin
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Fleet Admiral of the US Navy Gray Shoulder Marks

Unread postby ELSUPREMO » Mon Mar 05, 2007 12:38 am

A fascinating account of the history of the gray uniform and insignia. Thanks.
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Re: Fleet Admiral of the US Navy Gray Shoulder Marks

Unread postby J.T. Broderick » Tue Mar 06, 2007 8:58 pm

ELSUPREMO wrote:A fascinating account of the history of the gray uniform and insignia. Thanks.


Thank you, it was my pleasure. Just to add a little more on the subject, here is a picture Admiral King in his grays, with a good look at the gray 5-star shoulder boards:

Image

The commander is ace submarine skipper Robert "Dusty" Dornin, note the four "lazy loops" of an aide to a four-star or higher officer. Note also that both officers have dispensed with the scrambled egg on the visors, a wartime measure which was authorized for all officers in service and working uniforms.

Another "war economy" initiative of King's was a black braid chinstrap for use in place of the gold. At a strategy conference in San Francisco, Admirals King and Nimitz emerged from a hotel, with raincoats over their blue uniforms. At the time, navy raincoats did not show any rank insignia, and King was wearing his cap with black chinstrap and plain visor. As the press moved in, a photographer shouldered the COMINCH-CNO aside, saying "Out of the way, chief, I want to get a shot of the admiral!" This may account for King wearing the gold chinstrap later in the war! (The anecdote is recounted in the biography of Chester Nimitz by E.B. Potter)

best regards,
Justin
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chart

Unread postby ryanemilia » Fri Mar 09, 2007 6:49 pm

Here is something I have been working on. J.T. Boderick and Medic thanks for the templates to modify and images that I have pilfered.

I know that I have left out the warrant officers I ran out of room and well I seem to always leave out warrants???

Image
Last edited by ryanemilia on Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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FLEET ADMIRAL OF THE US NAVY GRAY SHOULDER MARKS

Unread postby ELSUPREMO » Sat Mar 10, 2007 1:55 am

Great art work! I suggest you add the 1-star Commodore gray shoulder mark to complete the set. I am quite certain that it did exist as I have an actual pair in my collection of 1-5-stars gray shoulder marks.
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