I’ve had a handful of questions recently about the rank situation in Warspite – in particular, the observation that three characters have been doing jobs they are not supposed, judging by their ranks, to be doing. I may not have explained matters properly <grin>.
Midshipwoman Jodie Powell should not be serving as the Captain’s Steward, as well as playing waitress when the captains meet for dinner on Warspite. However, Warspite doesn’t have the large crew of a fleet carrier, so the junior commissioned officer was the only one who could be spared regularly. (Or so they reasoned.)
Philip Richards was a Senior Chief before being reassigned to a desk (which he considers a fate worse than death). Originally, the RN intended to make use of him as a desk jockey for a year or two, then offer him a chance to become a commissioned officer. His quasi-promotion to Lieutenant-Commander sped the process up – it was basically winked at by the First Space Lord and his staff, who knew John would need someone who could replace the XO on short notice if necessary. This wouldn’t have flown under normal circumstances – and could easily have blown up in John’s face. Luckily, they returned as heroes <grin>.
Percy has the most interesting issues. He’s a corporal, but because of his family name and connections, there isn’t much chance of him NOT seeing promotion, unless he screws up so spectacularly he gets assigned to a remote asteroid mining station. His superiors saw the berth opening on Warspite, which wasn’t really expected to see action, and decided to slot Percy into the post to see how he coped with it. As it wasn’t a ‘real’ promotion, his superiors knew he could simply be returned to his old unit and held back if he did mess up.
(Percy would prefer to believe that the ‘old boys’ network’ wasn’t working in his favour.)
This created something of a headache for poor Hadfield. Percy had a good record, but no real command experience – and, if the Marines had to split up, Percy would be Section Commander. He squared this circle by assigning Sergeant Peerce to Percy, with orders to effectively treat Percy as a promising young officer (thus allowing Peerce to mentor Percy to some extent) … and to be ready to take over, if Percy screwed up. Peerce was not Percy’s subordinate, in any real sense; he was merely serving in an advisory role, feeding Percy rope to see what he would do with it.
I hope that makes sense.