- Letter Writer
- History - general, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1998 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Which Service Came First?
“Snow” Mackrell, a member, has forwarded some correspondence concerning his contention that the Navy is the “Senior Service” as, “after Federation, it was the Navy which formed the first of the Australian Armed Services in 1911 “. This is hotly contested by an Army Veteran who quoted the formation of “‘A’ Field Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery as a regular unit in 1871”
The Oxford Dictionary gives as one definition of “Senior”: “that (which) ranks before others in virtue of longer service or tenure of office. And for “Senior Service”, “the Navy as distinct from the Army”. The emphasis is on “longer service”, not necessarily “better service”.
Here is one explanation which seems eminently reasonable:
Since the time of Henry VII (1485-1509) “sole reliance could not be placed on conscripted merchant ships to hold the narrow seas in time of war,” and whilst the Royal Army did not exist, the Royal Navy (the King’s Ships) was growing strong. The establishment of a “standing Army” in Britain came at a much later date. Hence the convention that the Royal Navy is the “Senior Service”. The R.A.N. inherited this convention when it was established as a separate force from the Royal Navy.