Re a recent obituary

Did you note that remarkable fact in Harding’s obit, that he was retained on half pay after his enormity with Lady Buck – a service tradition?!

Remarkable? Marshals – whether Field or Air Force – plus Admirals of the Fleet never do retire. So they don’t get pensions, just go on half pay.

OK, so it is remarkable, but I thought all knew it already?

12 thoughts on “Re a recent obituary”

  1. Can’t say I did know that, but then I’m not in those circles and don’t really care.
    It has got me intrigued though, are they expected to do any work whilst on half pay? Or at least potentially be recalled to active duty in case of war? Or is it a way to hide ‘pension’ liabilities or just came about before pensions were common?

  2. From the Georgian Navy onwards there wasn’t really retirement, nor pensions. Also, when there wasn’t a war on there was a significant excess of Naval officers. So, half pay. When you weren’t actually on board (or running a dockyard, etc) then that’s what you got, half pay. It was possible to say that you just didn’t have it for sea service any more and you’d just take that half pay forever. That was the retirement, the pension.

    Today? Just a holdover for that very top rank. There might be some attempted justification for it but really it’s in lieu of a pension more than anything else.

  3. If you’re a humble general, you just have go and work for General Dynamics after completely fucking up a 20 year vehicle procurement effort that results in vehicles that are more deadly to your own troops than they are the enemy, but at least prove very lucrative for General Dynamics.

    Swings and roundabouts, eh?

  4. Didn’t half-pay involve being liable to being recalled to the Colours if war broke out? [I presume that only those able to walk forward wielding a sword actually did get recalled.]

  5. Maritime Barbarian

    I heard years ago that retired admirals are brought every month by official car to RN HQ for a full briefing on current missions, deployment, etc.

  6. Necessary to distinguish here.

    It’s certainly not true of Rear and Vice Admirals. Could, just, be true of Admirals. Might be of Admirals of the Fleet.

  7. Anson’s trip around theworld in 1740-4 was imaginatively crewed

    “The provision of 500 troops was farcical. No regular troops were made available so 500 invalids were to be collected from the Chelsea Hospital. In this case, the term invalid referred to soldiers that were too sick, wounded or old for active duty but might be able to perform lighter duties. In any case, on hearing details of the proposed voyage, those that could get away did and only 259 came aboard, many on stretchers.”

  8. Even on half pay a 4ring+1wide ringer (or pongo equivalent) will be trousering around GBP6K per month. My RAF pension doesn’t even match that in a year – but then I was a mere junior officer. But, frabjous joy, I did get a 0.5% rise this year…

  9. Even Nelson was on half pay from 1788 to 1793 while he was waiting impatiently for the French to kick off.

  10. Those half pay chaps in Austen’s novels. This may be a hint: not wanted on voyage, even in the Napoleonic wars.

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