British Royal Navy rank is designated by gold lace rings, the top ring having a curl. Officers generally wore their insignia on their shoulder straps, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers on their sleeves. The different branches were distinguished by different coloured cloth between these rings or on the borders of their shoulder badges, and had no curl above the rings.
|Military branch||No cloth, therefore the blue of the coat|
|Surgeon||Scarlet (later pink for medical service)|
|Instructor||Light blue, later white|
|Shipwright and constructor||Silver grey|
The cuff rings were straight for the regular navy, wavy for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and coiled for the Royal Naval Reserve. An embroidered slash crossing the cuff rings was worn on full dress uniform.
The decorations awarded to those in the British service are many and varied. Those listed here, while not necessarily a complete catalogue of British decorations, do include awards from both the first and second World Wars, and those awarded not only to British, but also to Commonwealth and Allied forces by the British government.
|Naval Cadet - A button on the collar lapel.|
|Midshipman - A white (red for Royal Naval Reserve, navy blue for Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) lapel flash, with a gold, brass or anodised naval button. Dress uniform had three gold buttons on the cuffs as well.|
|Commissioned Officer - One thin gold ring on the sleeve or shoulder flash.|
|Senior Commissioned Officer - One gold ring on the sleeve or shoulder flash.|
|Sub-Lieutenant - One gold ring on the sleeve or shoulder flash. (Engineer Sub-Lieutenant - purple, Assistant Paymaster [under four years] - white).|
|Lieutenant - Two gold rings on the sleeve or shoulder flash. (Engineer Lieutenant - purple, Surgeon - scarlet, Assistant Paymaster [over four years,also Secretary to a Commodore second class] - white).|
|Lieutenant-Commander - (Until early 1914, senior Lieutenant) two gold rings with one thin ring between, located on the sleeve or shoulder flash. (Engineer Lieutenant Commander - purple, Staff Surgeon - scarlet, Staff Paymaster or Paymaster [also Secretary to a Flag Officer other than a C-in-C, or to a Commodore first Class or Captain of the fleet] - white).|
|Captain - Four gold rings on the sleeve or shoulder flash. Those with three years seniority often wore individual insignia. (Engineer Captain - purple, Deputy Surgeon General - scarlet, Paymaster-in-Chief [also Secretary to a Flag Officer, if with over five years service as Secretary to a C-in-C] - white).|
|Commodore (Second Class) - Broad gold ring on sleeve of shoulder board. Like a Captain, the Commodore Second Class commanded his own ship.|
|Commodore (First Class) - (Ranked with Rear Admiral) one broad gold ring with a one-quarter width ring above it. On the full dress uniform a shoulder board with a Crown, two pips and an anchor could be worn. The Commodore First Class had a flagship Captain under him, and flew a flag, not a pennant.|
|Rear Admiral - One broad gold ring with a one-quarter width ring above it. On the shoulder strap is the same, or a shoulder board with a Crown over a crossed sword and baton, and one pip. (Engineer Rear Admiral - purple, Surgeon General - scarlet).|
|Admiral - A broad gold ring with three quarter width rings above it. On the shoulder strap is the same, or a Crown, crossed baton and sword, and threee pips.|
|Torpedo and Anti-Submarine|
|Naval Airman (other than Naval Airman S.A.M.|