Sunday, June 16, 2013

ARMY OFFICERS MESS AND NAVY WARDROOM - Maintenance of Equal Social Status

Definition and Meaning of MESS
The Officers Mess – A Place to Promote Camaraderie

If you have served in the Army, Navy or Air Force or are familiar with Military life, I am sure you know what is an OFFICERS MESS

In the Navy an Officers Mess is called WARDROOM or Wardroom Mess.

There are two words in the term OFFICERS MESS.

OFFICERS is the plural of Officer and surely you know what the term “OFFICER” means, especially in the context of the Military.

But do you know what the word MESS stands for?

I am sure you know, but if you don’t know, then let me tell you.

Actually, the word MESS is an acronym.

The acronym MESS is the short form for Maintenance of Equal Social Status.


The very aim of an Officers Mess is to maintain Equal Social Status amongst all its members, irrespective of their ranks.

Long back, during a party, I heard an Admiral once say:

“ All Officers have equal social status. Ranks are for administrative purposes only ”

If I recall correctly, he attributed this maxim to Field Marshal Cariappa.

Field Marshal Cariappa probably felt that excessive rank consciousness at social functions would adversely affect camaraderie amongst officers.

As a consequence, this would damage cohesion of the officer cadre.

That is why in an Officers Mess, all members are equal and have the same social status, irrespective of the ranks and positions they hold outside the Mess. 

In the army there is a saying: Rank Has Its Privileges (RHIP).

But that is outside the Mess. 

Yes, RHIP operates outside the Mess or Wardroom.

Inside the Mess it is all about comradeship, friendship and fellowship and that is why all members enjoy equal social status.

An Officers Mess has three main functions:

1. It serves as a home for single officers (in-living members) where they live, eat and can entertain friends.

2. For married officers and their families, the officers mess serves as a social club where they can gather for moments of relaxation and recreation and bonhomie with fellow officers and their families. A good mess has many facilities for sports and pastimes.

3. For the ship or unit, it is the centre of social life. 

Each service has its customs and traditions pertaining to wardrooms and officers messes.

In the Navy, the Captain is not a member of the ships wardroom and customarily messes separately

The Captain or Admiral customarily enters the wardroom by invitation only.  

The seniormost member of the mess on board a ship is designated PMC and is the head of the wardroom.

The mess is a place for officers to let their hair down and relax in a cosy atmosphere and foster bonhomie. 

While it is courteous to show respect in a subtle manner to your seniors, the disgusting spectacle of fawning upon senior officers or appearing obsequious needs to be avoided in an officers mess.

In an officers mess, there must be absolutely no tension due to rank-consciousness. 

All members must interact freely and without inhibitions.

A good wardroom or officers mess has a stress-free happy high-spirited lively atmosphere which is conducive for promoting esprit de corps amongst officers. 

There is a saying: 

A Happy Wardroom is a Happy Ship

Maybe it is the same in the army too - a happy officers mess indicates a happy unit.

So the next time you go to an Officers Mess don’t forget that the abbreviation MESS stands for MAINTENANCE OF EQUAL SOCIAL STATUS

An Officers Mess is a happy place where you can forget about rank differences and interact freely and informally with your fellow officers.

I have had the best of times and made the best of friends in Navy Wardrooms and Army Officers Messes. 

Maybe, I’ll tell you about it, at least a few nostalgic yarns, sometime later right here in my blog.

Till then, Cheers and Godspeed.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

Did you like this blog post?
I am sure you will like the 27 short stories from my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:
If you prefer reading ebooks on Kindle or your ebook reader, please order Cocktail E-book by clicking the links below:

Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll
If your are a Foodie you will like my book of Food Adventures APPETITE FOR A STROLL. Do order a copy from FLIPKART:

About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
Professional Profile Vikram Karve:
Vikram Karve Facebook Page:
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog:
Twitter: @vikramkarve
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

No comments: