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Submariners – Back to Black: 

On the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Submariners’ Dolphins and to recognise the unique ethos of the Submarine Service within the Royal Navy the First Sea Lord has announced that approval has been given for all qualified submariners, ratings and officers, to wear black cap covers. Black covers will now be the default except for ceremonial events.

Royal Navy history:  Did you ever wear a Cap Tally?

Cap tallies were being worn by Ratings in the 1840s as part of their uniform and formalised in the Uniform Regulations for Petty Officers, Seamen and Boys published 1857.  In February 1858, gilt wire lettering was introduced and adopted first by the CO of HMS WATERWITCH, Cdr P.R. Sharpe who had purchased some tallies from Thomas Stevens in Coventry and issued them to his ship’s company at one shilling each; they were later adopted as official uniform issue.  There were illustrations in the 1879 Uniform Regulations showing ribbons tied at the back with long ends hanging down. Between 1893 and 1911 they were tied in a bow over the left ear. From 1911, they were tied with the ends of the bow equal and not more than two inches long.

With the outbreak of war in 1914, the Admiralty issued orders that cap tallies were not to be worn ashore as a security measure.  In WW2, cap tallies were only issued with HMS, or HM Destroyer/Minesweepers. At the end of the war cap tallies were reissued with ship’s names, which remains the standard practice today.