What is the meaning of this Navy insignia?

My reason for asking:  I am trying to build a shadow box for my dad with his decorations and his accurate Navy rate badges.

My father was a Fire Controlman 2c (T) during WW2.  This was the highest rating he achieved.  I have this information from his actual Navy personnel file I obtained from the St. Louis archives.

We have in the family files some other rate badges that I don't know how they fit into his story.  I have attached some photos of the items I'm trying to understand.

1.     I've been told that the 3 chevrons with the arc across the top means a Chief Petty Officer.  I've also been told that the square-knot rate might have been a rate he was 'awarded' during training at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois.  I've been told that these rates didn't really mean anything once he left training and was assigned to his ship (USS Arctic).

2.     Anchor with 2 stars, with USN across the front - is this an actual Navy badge/insignia?  What does it mean, and when would it have been awarded to him?

3.     This is an example of a Fire Controlman rate; this is the rate I KNOW he achieved.  Can you confirm that this is his 1st class rate; his second class rate would have added a second red chevron.

Can anybody shed any light on the 'rope' rate badge, and the anchor pin?

Thank you very much.

  • Ms. Koehn,

    Regarding the first image, here is a thread that discusses it: What is the USN rate with a rope knot, ex-apprentice? - NAVY, COAST GUARD AND OTHER SEA SERVICES - U.S. Militaria Forum

    The center image is of a standard collar or cap device; it looks to be on the large side,

    so it would be a cap device.

    The last image is the Fire Controlman, third class insignia. You are correct in that two stripes would denote second class.

    Hope this helps!

  • One item to note is how often during WWII items of uniform changed, as did things like definitions of medals. Christian Belena's post is an excellent example as it is for 2 time periods.There are many resources to be found, just be careful on the date. This is a link to a WWII and beyond Navy periodical.

    All Hands Archive

    Browse to May 1943. Download the PDF. An article starts on page 29 (not screen #, but printed page #) that is fairly comprehensive, although it does not mention the rope icon in your first photo.

  • Thank you, Alan.  Regarding the anchor device - is this an award of some type, or just a part of a standard uniform?  Did everybody wear these?  If not, for what reason would my dad possibly been awarded it?  And when - during active service, or during training?

    Again, thanks.

  • No, this was the standard service insignia for enlisted personnel. They may not have been

    used during training, though; it might depend on the time period.

  • Cindy: I am a Navy Vet and have done a great deal of research regarding US Navy uniform traditions. Collar devices and/or cap devices (as they are called) come with the rank. So as a Chief Petty Officer, along with his crow (what we call the arm patch although it is specifically what we call the eagle at the top of the rank), he was given one set of shoulder devices upon his promotion. He would have had to purchased additional devices to cover the amount of uniforms he had (and one or two extras as backups.) These are not an "award" in the way of getting a letter of commendation or campaign medal. It is strictly a rank identifier.

    However, what you show in the center picture is actually the device (i can't tell what size it is by the photo) for a Master Chief Petty Officer which is one rank above CPO. A CPO would not have any stars.

    Petty Officers 1, 2, and 3 class also had them. They are silver and worn on only certain uniforms. Uniforms have changed a great deal over the years (for good and for bad.) As Martha states, a good set of information is All Hands magazine which has its complete archives available online as downloadable PDFs. You can also contact me if you have any Navy uniform-related questions. I'd be more than happy to help you.

  • He was only a CPO during his training (the 1st picture).  As I understand

    it, recruits may be given a rank (I know, that's a landlubber's term)

    during their training time.  When Dad 'graduated' and joined his ship, the

    rank he had during training becomes meaningless.  Is this correct?   If it

    IS correct, then does it follow that he could no longer wear the anchor

    device (the 2nd picture) once he left training?

    Also, nobody has been able to tell me what the square knot means on the CPO


    I do know for certain (based on his separation document) that while in

    active duty, his final rate was "Fire Controlman 2nd class (technical)".

    In the family files, we have his 3rd class rate badge (the 3rd picture).

    Thank you, Christian.

  • Cindy,

    That last bit of information may have solved the mystery.  The knotted insignia (actually a reef knot) was an old Navy sleeve insignia for an ex-apprentice.  Once the sailor became a rated seaman, he could wear the reef knot as an acknowledgement of his former apprentice status.  I was puzzled by the combination of the reef knot and petty officer insignia; however, with your last post it makes sense to see the badge as a training school insignia, temporarily denoting the leadership status of the wearer. 

    As the schools were hard-pressed to keep instructors on staff during wartime, "real" sailors could hardly be spared to lead the formations of students present at all the Navy schools.  So select students were appointed (there may have been a formal process) to various leadership positions to supervise the many mundane duties performed at the Navy schools. 

  • Cindy:

    Without reviewing your father's service records, it is somewhat confusing. I have never come across a situation where a person was given the rank of Chief Petty Officer in a boot camp or other training instance, and then demoted to a Second Class Petty Officer. I have an 1942 edition of the BlueJackets Manual at home and will have to look into it. I know that company commanders would give assignments to recruits in order to mimic real-world, real-navy situations. So, maybe your father was an acting "CPO" only at that time. He would then have been sent to the fleet as either an apprentice or undesignated.

    This explanation of the square-know rating badge is from a military forum website:

    That is an Apprentice Petty Officer First Class, (pre 1948 version). Worn by recruits while in training who were filling the duities of a termporay P.O. The original reg (March 1918), describes as "Rating Badges For The Use Of Enlisted Men Under Training At Training Stations". (Reference "United States Navy Rating Badges And Marks 1833 to 2008", pages 48 & 49, by John Stacey.)

    As I stated in my earlier response the device doesn't go with the CPO badge (the CPO badge would have had to have two stars on it as well.)

    Do you have your father's complete service jacket? (AKA service records)

  • Yes, I have his complete jacket - well, as complete as what the National

    Archives in St. Louis could provide.  I don't see anything in it regarding

    being a CPO.   Would the jacket also include his training activities?