Ours is a Way of Life, not an adherence to a series of arbitrary rules. We obey the rules, not so much because we have to as because we want to. It is our self-discipline as individuals and as a group that makes us worthy to lead men.

 

Commander Frederick E. Grubb - Naval Customs and Social Practices

Frederick Ernest Grubb as a young officer in the crew of HMCS VANCOUVER, c. 1928-1936<br><br>Photo Catalogue No. VR993.68.29As the commander of HMCS MOOSE JAW, Frederick Ernest Grubb certainly knew how to obey the rules, including the rules of engagement while under attack. In 1941, Lieutenant Grubb's ship MOOSE JAW, along with HMCS CHAMBLY, sank the German submarine U-501, which was preying on a convoy of merchant vessels.

HMCS MOOSE JAW, the ship commanded by Frederick Grubb.At one point in the showdown, the submarine attempted to cross MOOSE JAW's bows. Grubb responded with engines full ahead, bore down on the U-boat and rammed it.

"Although it was a minor action among the many battles fought in World War II, it was of particular significance in Canadian history because it was the first occasion on which ships of the Royal Canadian Navy attacked and sank an enemy vessel in high seas." So wrote Commander Grubb himself, in a reminiscence of the event written after his retirement, a reminiscence prompted by differing accounts of the action that had emerged.

Postwar, F.E. Grubb became well-known for another piece of writing, one that established him as a gentle guide to the etiquette, social codes and procedural details of officer behaviour.

His Naval Customs and Social Practices incorporated these rules into a handy set of ready reference notes that offer advice on the way to behave at mess parties and dinners, and other career-making - or career-breaking - occasions, including how to give and return salutes, make and return social calls, and join a ship as a crew member.

Grubb's guide also tackled larger issues - the necessity of good manners in dealing with others, especially "inferiors", and the importance of demonstrating, as well as expecting, respect. Grubb's golden rule of behaviour was simple - "The basic law governing etiquette is the same the the world over – consideration of others", he noted.

Grubb also produced other useful notes for young officers, including How to Study. Although some of his advice sounds outmoded and quaint to our modern ears, much of it is timeless as a template for civilized behaviour.

For the full text of Grubb's notes in pdf format, follow this link to Naval Customs and Social Practices.

                                  ~ By Clare Sharpe, Museum staff member/webmaster