IT was the late Lord Goschen who, forty years ago, remarked in the House of Commons that “discontent in the public service is a great calamity to the country.” Curiously enough, he was then referring to the efforts being made to raise the status of engineer officers in the Royal Navy. Were he alive to-day he would have greater cause to utter the warning, for if ever there was a matter calling for inquiry and remedial measures, it is the discontent which has arisen through the treatment of the engineer officers of to-day, and especially those who have been trained at Osborne and at Dartmouth. These are the officers who, instead of electing to remain on the upper deck and to become navigating, torpedo, and gunnery officers, have specialised in engineering duties and are therefore known as lieutenants ‘E’ and commanders ‘E.’ Numbering between two and three hundred, these officers have been promised over and over again that by specialising in engineering their position as executive officers should in no way be jeopardised, and that they should be considered eligible for appointments as admiral superintendents of dockyards and similar posts. They were, in fact, to remain on an absolute equality with the navigating, torpedo, and gunnery officers, except that by becoming engineer officers they abandoned the, right to command sea-going ships and, of course, fleets. Of these things there is no shadow of doubt whatever. There never was a clearer case of what was promised; and intended, and the officers in question have nothing, to fear by the fullest publicity.
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The Position of Naval Engineers. Nature 117, 577–578 (1926). https://doi.org/10.1038/117577a0