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Thread: Use of RAF rank post-retirement, while working as an MoD civilian

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    Default Use of RAF rank post-retirement, while working as an MoD civilian

    I have had a handful of communications with a person currently working in a UK MoD historical capacity who, though retired from the RAF, continues to identify himself/herself* by rank (F/Lt) in all public correspondence I have seen (several letters, to several different people). *(I'd rather stay vague.)

    A highly-respected RAF historian told me that this use of rank while working as an MoD civilian is a no-no which really annoys him.

    The historian brought the issue to the attention of the ex-F/Lt's superior. Nothing has changed.

    I am simply curious about protocol, not out to make waves.

    Thanks,

    Matt

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    Hi Matt
    It is quite common for a retired Officer to be allowed by the MOD to use his/her "retiring" rank as a courtesy title. It is a courtesy and has no authority as such. Any authority that your correspondent may have in the MOD results from the responsibility level of the MOD job. It does sound a little pretentious on the part of your correspondent, and I think I might share your RAF Historian's annoyance. Try referring to him? simply as Mr.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Hi, Dick,

    Thanks for your reply. The use of rank, in this case, goes hand-in-hand with personality. I don't need to make waves by dropping the rank...but depending on circumstances it's a good option! Very minor issue, really.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    "A highly-respected RAF historian told me that this use of rank while working as an MoD civilian is a no-no which really annoys him."

    Debretts states:- 'Field Marshals remain on the active list for life and so continue to use this rank. Other regular officers of the rank of captain and above may use, and be addressed by, their rank after being placed on the retired list.

    The word 'retired' (abbreviated to 'Retd') should not be added after an officer's name in ordinary correspondence or in lists, but only when it is specifically necessary to indicate that an officer is on the retired list, eg, one employed in a civilian capacity in a Ministry of Defence establishment, when it facilitates postal arrangements.'

    It is really down to the individual these days, but is often encountered in the happy world of Defence. Hat's off to the 'respected RAF Historian', but I wouldn't get too wrapped around the axle about it. Sounds like the Flt Lt (Retd) is probably legitimate in his use of the rank.

    Rgds

    Jonny (not retired just yet!)
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Thanks, Johnny. Said ex-RAF F/Lt does not put (Retd) after the name. I agree with your sentiments on the issue; it's trivial.

    Cheers,

    Matt Poole Flt Lt (Never)

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    Ah well, I'm prepared to place a decent wager as to whom you refer!!!!!!

    If it helps, just try thinking of 'Captain Peacock' the floor walker in 'Are You Being Served'!!

    In the village pub near my home, a new comer introduced himself as 'Colonel'. Someone who knew the form, asked him if he was a full colonel or just a 'telephone Colonel', a title given to Lieutenant Colonels who answer the phone with; ' Colonel Buggins speaking'. Several others used to call him 'corporal' and this quickly dissuaded him from using his former rank.

    All that said, the use of a former title is a courtesy and it never bothers me to call somebody by their title. It's good manners and it costs nothing.

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    Hello All,
    And as a bit of light relief from this minutiae, consider an RAF Reserve Officer AND an MoD Civil Servant ON THE SAME Station as the same person! I was a Reserve (RAFVR, RAFRO, RAFR – it varied according to the season!) Officer. I was – at one stage, and unofficially – 2 i/c a small Flight in a very big technical Wing. If I pitched up in the hangar wearing uniform Combat Kit (“in the proper performance of my duties” – as per QRs) I was greeted by the Sgt/Cpl with “Good Morning, Sir. Your usual ‘With & 2 Sugars’?”. If, however, I appeared in civvies then it was “Hello, Cloudy, you’re behind with your coffee-swindle dues!”. Everybody on the Wing knew (or was taught) which was which. All part of the training of JNCOs, ORs, etc. The only problem I had was that this Sgt (Aerial Erector) who supervised the Wing Battlefield Training Exercises seemed to take a perverse delight in discomfiting Reserve Met Officers!! BUT – the system worked!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies

    PS Flt Lts (and/or their civvy counterparts) were, when I was involved in Air Min/MoD, regarded as a protected species - only to be hunted in the breeding season!
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Oldduffer, you are so right -- calling someone by his or her rank is good manners.

    Resmoroh -- thanks for the comic relief regarding rank. My acupuncturist here in the Washington DC area is an ex-Flt Lt navigator on Tornados (pre-Gulf War) and then he was on staff at NATO HQ. I'll send him your comment on Flt Lts as a protected species -- he'll enjoy that one.

    Very different from a retired Flt Lt adding rank to name in a civvie MoD job, I am reminded of aircrew I've known from 159 Sqn (Liberators, India), where a Flight Sgt pilot could be an ops-tested captain in charge of one or more crewmates who significantly outranked him. The skipper could only rarely drink with the officer(s) back at base, in either the Sergeants' Mess or the Officers' Mess, but airborne the lowly Flight Sgt was THE authority. And much respected.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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