Pusser's Scuttlebutt
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The "Pusser's Anchor"...

A studio portrait of a Leading Seaman of the RAN NSW Naval Contingent to Egypt photographed after his return as he is shown wearing his medals. The two chevrons indicate eight years of good conduct. Photo: www.diggerhistory.info
The Leading Seaman insignia of the Royal Canadian Navy. Ratings wore their rank insignia on the left sleeve of the uniform, with good conduct chevrons underneath. A single chevron indicated 3 years of good conduct or "undetected crime", two chevrons for 8 years and 3 chevrons for 13 or more years. Depending on the uniform, rank insignia could be embroidered in gold wire on a black background, red on black, white on black, and commonly postwar, blue or black on white. Source/photo: http://mpmuseum.org

The "Killick" or "Fouled Anchor" is much used on our Pusser's products and merchandise and yet, it was noted by Tracy Dickerson of the Canadian Navy and currently stationed in Victoria, BC, that we don't explore the etymology of the symbol. Heres's his explanation:

"The word "killick" comes from a Scottish gaelic word referring to a primitive form of anchor. Small fishing boats would be held stationary by means of a large stone surrounded by a tangled root or some other construct made of branches wrapped around the stone.

"Interestingly, the rank badge of the "Leading Seaman" in most, if not all Commonwealth navies, used to feature [and still does - Ed] the classic "fouled anchor" most seen in naval tradition. Not coincidently, in Commonwealth navies, the word "killick" has come to be synonymous with the rank of Leading Seaman because of the association with the fouled anchor symbol. In the Royal Navy and the navy of the Canadian Forces, a Leading Seaman is often referred to as a Killick. Therefore, Killick and Fouled Anchor basically mean the same thing (in a sort of sailing sense)."

As a postscript to Tracy's submssion: The "Fouled Anchor", otherwise known as the sailor's disgrace, does not reflect on the wearer's seamanship ability, but had its origin in ancient times as a religious symbol of steadfastness, hope and salvation. The fouled anchor got its start as a naval insignia as the seal of Lord Howard of Effingham when he was Lord High Admiral of England at the time of the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588; he used the "Fouled Anchor" as his seal. The "Fouled Anchor" still remains the official seal of the First Sea Lord of Great Britain and has been integrated into many naval insignias throughout the world.


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Did you know? In earlier years on British ships, the "scuttled butt" was an open (scuttled) fresh-water cask (or butt) on ship decks from which issues of the daily tot of grog were served. As a gathering point to exchange daily rumors, the term "scuttlebutt" took on the meaning of gossip aboard ship.