For its Books, Boxes and Lists + civilian use of similar titles

Nothing to do with this story [really!] but do you know what the most used word in the navy is/was?

List, is the answer,  and not just paper lists, but the proverbial list of ship just prior to it plunging into the merky depths!

The vast majority of these lists are not colour coded, or associated with colour unless on the Sick Bay List one considers being "off colour" or "yellow fever jabs". On the Punishment List one might consider a "green rub"; on the clacker-basher's list [the Menu List] things like "yellow peril" = smoked haddock,  and I am sure that you can think of other examples as a play-on-words.

At all times in the Service, colours per se, have hindered peoples aspirations and ambitions. Many an excellent candidate was denied access to certain branches because of colour blindness [a man thing not occurring in women] or impaired vision requiring the use of spectacles, who subsequently went on to choose a non-Service career. Some disappointed recruits, hell bent on becoming a Royal Sailor, chose one of the  many branches open to them which did not require  20-20 vision or colour awareness. Colour awareness and 20-20 vision were prerequisites for the executive branches [seamen; radar; communications; sonar and gunnery] and for air crew, but few others, although the seaman branches [the executive navy] formed the bulk of the navy in personnel terms.

This subject would have had no influence on the criteria used to assess a persons eyesight requirements, for not only colours proper were used, but also the names of the colours were shown in print. Anybody qualified in the handling of these documents used them as intended, and never an incident occurred due to eyesight problems.

So, what colours were used?

 One of the earliest colours used was BLACK, but not the proverbial 'black box' of modern times, which incidentally was always called the 'red box' liberally fitted in flying machines in the 1950's**, but a BLACK BOOK! Note the date...way back in the 15th century! Really, all to do with Admiralty [naval] courts.  The references [in this case HCA 12] are National Archives @ Kew references.



...Admiralty: Black Book of the Admiralty. The Liber Niger Admiralitatis , or Black Book of the Admiralty, is an illuminated manual of instruction for the Lord High Admiral. It contains details on the appointment and ...

In court terms, BLACK was always associated with death, and if the presiding judge were to hand down a death sentence, he would don a black headgear of some sort of other as he delivered the method of execution.

Perhaps the best known BLACK is a Black List which is universally accepted as a list of baddies.

The Admiralty Black List:-


...Black List': printed copy of list corrected to 31 May 1916 and additional lists of names added to the list from 19 June to 6 July 1916. Original Correspondence From: War Trade Department. Folio(s): 92-199. ...

started at the time of the WW1 Battle of Jutland, was a list of merchant ships known to be supplying our enemies, [in WW1 known as the "Central Powers" and in WW2 known as the "Axis Forces"] in WW1 Germany, Austria, Turkey, Bulgaria, and in WW2 Germany, Italy and Japan.  Here is another Black List entry:-


...Black List: war trade reporting: trading with the enemy: patents held in enemy-occupied territory: war trade lists: debts to and from Norway: Black List policy in South America. Code 49 file 3 (papers 5616 - 6607). ...


After 'black list' in terms of common use, comes the proverbial BLACK BOX now in the 21st century, fitted in military and commercial aircraft as well as into trains and buses etc. When fitted in aircraft it is called a 'flight recorder'.  Everybody knows what it is used for and fears an event which would necessitate its analysis when taken from the air vehicle in which they had been either crew or paying passenger.

 BLACK it is the only colour which had a BOOK, LIST and BOX application.

There is a civilian BLACK BOX Company, well known in the computing world and in this context, worth a mention!

The accepted opposite of black is WHITE, but in this case, the Admiralty managed a LIST only, but two of them, extant at different time periods.

The first Admiralty WHITE LIST juxtaposed with their Black List, and was a list of international shipping companies who were used and trusted to be on our side in WW1.

This is a typical entry:-

Colonies, General: Original Correspondence. Correspondence, Original - Secretary of State. Trading with the enemy in China and Siam: copies of 'white lists' of approved firms. Original Correspondence From: Foreign Office. Folio(s): 87-116.

At the bottom of this page, I will quickly return to the colour BLACK?

Still in WW1, in the middle, the merchant ships who were double-dealing with both our enemies and ourselves, were placed on a  GREY LIST. Grey  is an intermediate color between black and white. Grey is a neutral or achromatic color, meaning literally that it is a color "without color." However, come WW2, the GREY LISTS were all to do with post war Economic Warfare [i.e., what to do with a defeated Germany]. They cover food, oil and many other subjects, and here are just two examples:-

Registry Number: INTR/62708/1/MFA. Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee Grey List [intelligence ....

...Grey List [intelligence targets prepared by CIPC], dated 1944 - 1945. Control Commission correspondence about the inclusion of libraries on the CIOS [Combined Intelligence Objective Sub-Committee] Grey List and post-defeat planning for Germany, dated March 1945. ...

Oil Working Party: Grey List

Ministry of Economic Warfare, and Foreign Office, Economic Warfare Department: Files concerning Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee. Oil Working Party: Grey List.

The second use of the Admiralty's WHITE LIST was of a more interesting and fulfilling venture. It was [and may still be - it was extant when I left the navy in 1983] extant throughout my naval career and it covered the whole topic of victuals [including rum] and their wholesale costs, with a suggested retail value on sale to ships pursers/victuallers/caterers. The Admiralty had worked out the cost of a typical meal served to the lower deck, which was multiplied by the number of crew victualled and the times the meal was to be served.  This gave an indication as to the cost allocated to the ship to be spent on victuals, some of which were paper-purchased from naval victualling yards world wide, or from ships chandlers* as cash-purchases or contract-purchases, giving to the victualler [in the case of a submarine for example, to the first lieutenant and the coxswain] a freedom to spend on feeding the crew from non-Service providers as and when available. However, woe betide a victualler who over-spent to give the crew a 'treat',  for his spending would need to be reigned in at a subsequent acquisition. The white list feeds [fed] the navy, and it serves [served] as a gigantic shopping-list with costs known and fixed.

* 1972 - You may well remember the case of corrupt naval caterers and their dealing with Portsmouth suppliers [chandlers].

Obviously, the navy did not cater for all victualling requirements [taken as a whole, things that would appear on a family shopping list, like nutty and toothpaste for example] and the NAAFI filled in the gaps to supply the fleet. They were subjected to the constraints of the WHITE LIST, and what follows is the text of an AFO [AFO 5080/1943] updated by a Victualling Regulation, namely V.2/4684/45 - 9 Aug 1945.  Note the reference to the "Naval Canteen Service" which predated the appointment of a NAAFI Manager [cruelly nick named the 'Damager'] to a ship or establishment. Naval personnel ran the Naval Canteen Service who were directly responsible to the Executive Officer/First Lieutenant, processing the profits made through the ship's welfare fund. When the fund-coffer was bursting at the seams, treats from the White List could be purchased, often referred to as "steak night" and this led to the introduction of 9-o'clockers, a supper treat for the lower deck, who pro rata spent more in the Canteen than did the Wardroom.

4411.—N.A.A.F.I. Price Lists (V.2/4684/45.—9 Aug. 1945.)

The following explanation of the application of Naval Canteen Service prices and price lists in H.M. ships and establishments abroad is promulgated for information.

2. The quarterly “ White List ” of the Naval Canteen Service is the standard price list for provisions, groceries and sundries of the normal kinds provided by N.A.A.F.I. for sale in H.M. ships and naval establishments at home and abroad, except as indicated in paragraph 7 for shore establishments abroad. The prices in this list are based on retail prices in the U.K., but duty-free prices are quoted for use where applicable.

3. Under war conditions it is not practicable to replenish stocks in all canteens in H.M. ships and overseas establishments from the U.K., and it has been necessary to obtain supplies direct from other sources, e.g. North America, Australia and South Africa. Practically all these supplies differ in brand, quality and pack from those normally obtained in the U.K., and the prices quoted in the “ White List ” cannot therefore be applied. Local price lists have accordingly been introduced showing the prices of articles obtained from overseas’ markets which are not identical with those quoted in the “ White List ” Different price lists for these articles are at present in use on different stations, owing to local variations in the cost of supplies, and this has been found to cause inconvenience and misunderstanding. In order to overcome these drawbacks, a universal supplementary “ White List ” is being introduced which will show prices for the main items obtained from sources other than the U.K. which are stocked by N.A.A.F.I. in naval canteens afloat and ashore abroad and which are not identical with the articles shown in the ordinary “ White List ” .

4. The range and origin of stocks held by N.A.A.F.I. on stations abroad of articles obtained from sources other than the U.K. generally varies according to the producing country handiest for the particular station. Thus, in certain areas stocks will be largely of North American origin, whilst in other areas they will be mainly of Australian origin. The full range of articles shown in the new supplementary “ White List ” is therefore unlikely to be available in any one area, but wherever the articles are stocked the prices shown in the list will apply.

5. Except as indicated in paragraph 7 commodities obtained from overseas sources which are identical with items in the ordinary “ White List ” are sold at the prices shown in that list. A large number of items will, therefore, continue to be available at ordinary “ White List ” prices.

6. The prices in the supplementary list will in some instances be higher and in others lower than the prices of corresponding items in the main “ White List ”, but, taken overall, and having regard to differences in packs and quality, this will not result in any appreciable variation in either messing costs or individual expenditure.

7. The prices charged for supplies to individuals in canteens conducted by N.A.A.F.I. in shore establishments abroad which are outside the physical limits of the dockyard or Customs area of the port are normally those applying locally for supplies made by N.A.A.F.I. to the Army and Air Force. In certain of these canteens it has been the practice for a considerable period to make sales at “ White List ” prices. Nothing in this A.F.O. is to be regarded as affecting the practice of charging “ White List ” (including supplementary “ White List ” ) prices at the particular canteens concerned. All general mess supplies, however, are charged for at “ White List ” prices or “ Supplementary White List ” prices as appropriate

8. The prices for local fresh produce, such as fruit and vegetables, are fixed locally by the responsible Area or District Manager of the Naval Canteen Service.

(A.F.O. 5080/43, Section I.)

A WHITE LIST to a civilian is typically:-

A civilian white list is a way of internet/email users knowing that you are bonafide and not a spam station. A whitelist is a list or register of those that are being provided a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. Those on the list will be accepted, approved or recognized. Whitelisting is the reverse of blacklisting, the practice of identifying those that are denied, unrecognised, or ostracised.  For example, after you have received an email, opened it and read it, and decided that it is innocuous and friendly, you can add the sender to your contacts list. Your contacts list is YOUR WHITELIST, and your ISP gives you an opportunity to amend their WHITELIST so as to avoid getting emails from a bad or annoying sender.

Although in no particular order , next comes PINK.

First the very well known PINK LIST.

Pink list

...Lists showing stations and movements of Allied and Royal Naval Ships (Pink Lists). The pink lists were printed at regular intervals, usually 3 or 4 days, showing the locations and movements of Royal Navy ...


ADMIRALTY (5): Suggested list of names and addresses of air stations for inclusion in "pink" ...

...list of names and addresses of air stations for inclusion in "pink" list: difficulty of finding "name" ships for naval air stations. ...



RESERVES (65): Harbour service craft: inclusion in Pink List, recommendations of sub committee on manning, ...

...Pink List, recommendations of sub committee on manning, various proposals, arrangements, etc. ...


 Naval pink was also used for the abuse of alcohol [see my page and also, though not truly navy, pink gin. Pink was also associated with some aspects or morale and discipline which were extremely sensitive and promulgated to very senior officers and commanding officers [notwithstanding rank] of all vessels and establishments. They were not seen or distributed like AFOs/DCIs for example, but the purport of the communiqué was made known at clear lower deck assemblies and also at divisional meetings.

See also this page for more definitions of pink

Lord Louis Mountbatten used to paint his ships in the 5th destroyer flotilla [he was Captain D in HMS Kelly] with a camouflage of mauve-pink paint based on the colours of a Union Castle liner which Mountbatten found difficult to pick up on the horizon. He had the naval stores mix it for him. The 5th D.S., called this "Mountbatten Pink" and the naval stores categorised it under that name - see Lord Louis biogaphy 1985 by Philip Ziegler, page 123 second paragraph.

 There was also a Civilian Pink List?   - No prize for guessing what it depicts!

The Independent on Sunday's Pink List 2013

101 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people that make a difference

Sunday 13 October 2013

EmailWhen the first Pink List was published in 2000, it was essentially a list of 50 influential people who were brave enough to be “out”. This year we received more than 1,300 nominations and had to reduce thousands of potential contenders to just 101. The judges decided that a Pink List contender can no longer simply be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and famous. They need to make a difference. This year, some Pink List regulars have graduated into a “we’ll always love you” list of their own, and we’ve given politicos their own space, too. That leaves room for more new faces, more change and more debate. This has been the year of equal marriage, but also the year when trans people finally began to glimpse the sort of respect and equality that gay people can, at last,  expect. We hope the list reflects that. Let us know what you think on  Twitter at #PinkList2013, or write to


...Lists of Ships Built (Blue Lists). The blue lists were printed at intervals varying from one to three months. They listed the ships being built for the Royal Navy and Dominion Navies including ...



...Lists of Minor War Vessels (Red Lists). The red lists were printed at regular intervals, usually weekly They listed all the minor war vessels in home waters under commands and included the vessels of ...

Other Naval RED things!

RED INK REPORT [knows as a Red-Inker]

For outstanding ratings.  Note: this, for a commissioned officer, has an adverse affect upon the officers performance!

A routine report written on a S264A in Red Ink and signed by the DO and the CO. Having a red-inker had several advantages where lists could be circumvented to accelerate the recipient to the top, like professional advancement course, roster adjustments for favourable drafting, accelerated promotions to higher rate, acceptance for prestige jobs like royal yacht service, shortening of provisional time before confirmation in a rate and several other advantages. It stayed on record for the ratings entire service thereafter. In many cases, subject to all other whole-man criteria being acceptable, it often led to CW1A papers being started on the man leading to a commission or a warrant rank [prior to 1949]. Note, CW stands for Commissioned and Warrant.  Associated with the CW1A was form S264C which was a report called forward by the Admiralty/MOD[N] when promotion boards were promulgated.

RED INK ADVERSE REPORT [A stain on a man’s record which stayed on his record but which could be rendered null and void if the man rectified his ‘problem’ subsequently by the time of his next routine report].

Written  by the DO on an S264A and signed by the CO. It was written in blue ink and then underlined in red ink. It told of the man’s severe and unacceptable short coming, which in the considered opinion of the CO and DO could be corrected if the man could work hard at resolving his ‘problems’.  It had an adverse affect in that in the short to medium term thereafter, any mitigation for defaulting acts contrary to QR and AI’s could be discounted resulting in the man being punished more harshly than otherwise might have been. It also made the man vulnerable to punishments like second class for leave or even to disrating if the man held a substantive rate.  Above all else, it was quite natural for certain members of the ship’s company to see him as a ‘bad egg' or 'a rotten apple’.


...Lists of Landing Ships, Crafts and Barges (Green List). The green lists were printed weekly listing landing ships, craft and barges in home waters and foreign stations under commands. They also showed the present ...

Although there is a mention of GREEN CHITS [associated with Pink Chits] it is not the case, and for Green Chits one should always refer to the GREEN BOOK. The Green Book was a guide to practices which could lead a man to be committed to RVH Netley to “dry out” for either alcoholic abuse or drug abuse.  In short, by the time a man’s personal abuse of himself had become of extreme concern to discipline {CO} and to the medical world {MO}, the Green Book was a catalyst for him being discharged ‘medically unfit’ or an ‘Administrative Discharge’ or a ‘Discharge Shore’ but rarely discharged ‘SNLR’ [Services No Longer Required] unless the person is unruly or undisciplined. In the 21st century RN, there is an Alcohol and Substance Misuse Education Policy which is laid down in BR3 Naval Personnel Management.

GREEN Armed Forces. These are either Friendly or even neutral, but not an enemy Forces.


Government Code and Cypher School: German Police Section: Decrypts of German Police Communications during Second World War. Translations of GP Orange messages with Orange callsign list.


Remember BLUE and ORANGE Forces in a major exercise?
BLUE Forces were the 'goodies' and ORANGE Forces were the 'baddies'. In the on-going and long lasting Cold War, 'baddies' were of course 'goodies' masquerading as  Soviet Block units.  Whilst live firings took place during these exercises, there was little chance or a real blue-on-blue tragedy as sadly occurs in a real hot war situation. 
Blue and Orange Forces in exercises is a product of the 1960's, when colours were looked upon as complementary. Complementary colors are pairs of colors which, when combined in the right proportions, produce white or black.  When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast and reinforce each other. Complementary colours are used on our roads [motorways mainly] where the police/ambulance/fire services have blue and the supporting vehicle have orange flashing lights. It is said that "yellow 'demands' violet; orange  blue; purple  green; and vice versa". Before the modern thinking of the 1960's, BLACK and WHITE, signified 'baddies' and 'goodies' although today, one has to be careful and aware of the sensitivities of such a statement. Although not written down as a fact, it is obvious why the authorities wanted to change from black/white to two different colours. In this cutting from the Times newspaper of 1951 in less fraught times, we can see an exercise where opposing forces are considered to be either black or white. A little later on in 1952, the opposing exercise Forces were known as RED and BLUE. See article below "Attacks on NATO Convoys.

Though indirectly for the navy

AIR RAIDS, "Purple" air raid warning list: revision; inclusion of fire force establishments.

Ministry of Home Security: Air Raid Precautions (ARP GEN) Registered files. AIR RAIDS, "Purple" air raid warning list: revision; inclusion of fire force establishments.


The colours used on this page for Lists  have been

BLACK - WHITE - RED - GREEN - BLUE - ORANGE - PURPLE - PINK, which are either primary colours or complementary colours.  Others exist but are derivatives from these colours. The colour Purple does affect the royal navy when applied to PURPLE AIRSPACE. Purple Airspace restricts the movements of aircraft when aircraft carrying members of the royal family are airborne and flying from point to point within the UK.

Before I leave you, two more things. There is no department which transcended the Visual Signalling Branch [the Buntings] for colours, for they of course have many different flags and pennants of varying shapes and colours. These are listed and each has a stores items number assigned to it. These date back to well before the Napoleonic Wars, and these beautifully drawn coloured images are kept for posterity at the National Archives.  The one Nelson would have known well and used, dates from 1795, ten years before the Battle of Trafalgar.  If appears in my search envelope as:-


Admiralty: Miscellanea. Manuscript list of numerical signals, with coloured drawings of flags.

Subjects:Armed Forces (General) | Navy

There are others of course!

However, whilst "colour searching", I came across a whole host of the word COLOURED referring to people and specifically to members of the Royal Navy, which is just what I wanted. I started to write a little dit on this subject, to include on this page title, but after many entries I realised that my title, which is designed to be purely neutral and thus innocuous, suddenly changed the other way with things which today are not PC and in some cases, upsetting. Some of you will know the expression LEP, which means <locally entered personnel>. If, for example, you were a Maltese man, you could join the Royal Navy on reduced wages when compared to the rest of the Fleet, full well knowing that you would be stationed in the Maltese Archipelago and never in foreign parts. However, the same man [or boy which was often the case, there being many Maltese boys at HMS Ganges in my time in boys training] could have joined the Royal Navy proper, serving all over the world and not necessarily even visiting Malta let alone being stationed there, and of course on full naval pay. In the latter case, this man would often join the Royal Navy for a decent wage and job, although many did not serve for long periods, for Malta had limited employment prospects and much emigration. After being paid in cash, the man could take as much money as he could spare to the supply officer [cash] - know  as SO[C] -  to remit the chosen amount home to his family and loved ones.  Malta, as a naval fortification, captured by Nelson from the French at the end of the 18th century, played fair by all Maltese people, LEP's or R.N., whether paid locally in Maltese notes and coins or remitted Sterling. They were treated and considered to be foreign [they were not British] but, because of their European features, colour was never an issue.  Language was, as Maltese is a very difficult and strange language made up of many different and ancient Mediterranean languages, but this notwithstanding was never a barrier, and the vast majority of the Maltese nation spoken English, and good English too. Despite many ups and down politically and socially, we relied on the Maltese base and they relied on the British as their paymaster, even though there were times when they thought [perhaps rightly] that we were not paying enough. This same bond was experienced with Gibraltar, again LEP's and R.N., recruits, although I don't remember any boys from Gibraltar being at Ganges during my time there.

For virtually every other part of the world where locals worked for the Royal Navy, this association never gelled in the same manner as it did in Malta and Gibraltar. Note, I didn't say Mediterranean? We had many locals work for us in Algeria and in Egypt where fleet dispositions were stationed in the wars, but these were employed on a need basis through a local agency and none joined the R.N., as LEP'S or Regulars.

Throughout the years, many men from countries around the world actually joined the R.N., and left homes where communications were bad or even none existent. Some where fortunate because they served in ships which occasionally visited their homelands allowing them to see their families once in a blue moon, but often was the case that there were no remitting facilities in these countries so loved ones never saw the benefit of men leaving to join the R.N., and remained living in poverty. What made matters worse was that these unsophisticated countries were almost all negro countries, and the navy were hard pressed to gain access to them by secure telegraphic means, although they were glad to have their men folk, politely, if somewhat euphemistically, called <coloured men> . In the earliest of days, some colored sailors resorted to posting money, British money, in  an envelope, and for many obvious reasons the money never arrived and the men were cheated. In other countries, attempts to remit money was made through the British Embassy in that country, but not all countries had an official British Government presence. It took a long time for the Admiralty to establish a reliable and trustworthy route direct to the pockets of a mans next of kin. This reference tells one a little bit about those times, this one during WW1:-


Colonies, General: Original Correspondence. Correspondence, Original - Secretary of State. Remittances sent by 'coloured' ratings on HM ships to their relatives; includes a list of addresses of colonial paying officers. Original Correspondence From: Admiralty. Folio(s): 174-181.



'Coloured' men in the navy [those mentioned above, as well as those domiciled in the UK on joining] in the early years of the 20th century were largely treated well and encouraged to study and to seek promotion. Other non-coloured personnel who had joined the R.N., from more sophisticated counties and usually of caucation origin, with suitable backgrounds and qualifications, had infinitely better opportunities and chances of getting ahead in the R.N., than did a coloured person, even with comparable qualifications. Very much in my time in the Service, a coloured person could [and did] climb the ladder of the lower deck to the non-commissioned warrant officer level, some being commissioned on merit into the wardroom [officers mess] as Warrant Officers, which became  Branch Officers, which became Special Duties Officers [SD's], with the Supplementary List [SL] Officers open for coloureds for rotary wing helicopter pilots/helicopter air crew short service commissions.  However, the top echelon of the wardroom belonged to a List called the General List [GL] and any very bright non-coloured officer could migrate from the SD and SL to the GL, but relatively few made the grade, such was the elitism of the Dartmouth trained officer on entering the navy. Young ratings, called Upper Yardsmen, could also gain direct access to Dartmouth from the lower deck qualifying as GL officers. To a rating on the lower deck an officer was an officer, but in the wardroom, the GL's were the high achievers, top guns, and superior. They went on to command at every level, with just a few vessels of the smallest size and highly specialised roles [diving support vessels for example] which could be commanded by senior SD officers. It wasn't until 1964 that coloured men could get to be GL Officers:-

Admiralty, and Ministry of Defence, Navy Department: Correspondence and Papers. FINAL SERIES: 1952-1964 (plus strays 1903-1951). Papers registered in 1964 (excluding honours and awards papers). Entry of coloured candidates to General List.

I left the navy in 1983 and I can honestly tell you that I can remember just one officer, who was an SD [Communicator] and a Cape Coloured! The current First Sea Lord, Admiral George Michael (Sir George) Zambellas, a one time Fleet Air Arm helicopter pilot, was just a young lieutenant when I left the navy after a 30 year career, and joined the R.N., in the same month/year as I was leading the coffin bearers in Westminster Abbey for the murdered Admiral of the Fleet Lord Mountbatten during his London Ceremonial Royal Funeral i.e., in September 1979.

There are quite a few other stories on the issue of  'colour' but I will leave them all aside and bid you