The Naval Mess Dinner is filled with many traditions that are unique to the Navy. Army and Air Mess Dinners have many traditions as well but each element has their own traditions unique to them.
At the Mess Dinner, ranks are not used and instead, we refer to each other as Miss, Mr, or Mrs. While there are no ranks we have one overall President and a Vice President seated at each table. A tradition that RCSCC 94 Warspite has is to name the youngest Cadet as acting Commanding Officer. This year Miss K Schmidt was the acting CO of the Mess Dinner.
Toasts/ Grace/ Prayers
Before eating we have a Pre- Dinner Grace “For what we are about to receive, thank God”
After eating we have a Post- Dinner Grace “For what we have received, thank God”
Then we have the toast of the day. In the Navy, each day of the week has a toast, and this is a tradition we carry on. For RCSCC Warspite our mess dinners fall on Tuesdays so we toast to Our Sailors.
Here are the toasts;
Monday, to our ships
Tuesday, to our sailors
Wednesday, to ourselves
Thursday, to our navy
Friday, to our nation
Saturday, to our families
Sunday, to our absent friends.
Toast to the Corps “For all members of the ships company, past and present. To Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Warspite”
Toast to the Sponsor “For all the volunteers that dedicate their time and effort in support of Warspite we thank you. To the Navy League of Canada, Kitchener- Waterloo Branch”
Loyal Toast “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Queen of Canada”
Loyal Toast Response “Mesdames et Messieurs, la Reine du Canada”
Naval Prayer “O Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens, and rulest the raging of the sea, who has compassed the waters with bounds until day and night come to an end: Be pleased to receive into thy Almighty and most gracious protection the persons of us thy servants, and the Fleet in which we serve. Preserve us from the dangers of the sea, and the violence of our enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth and her Dominions, and a security such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our Commonwealth may in peace and quietness serve thee our God; and that we may return to safety to enjoy the blessing of our land, with the fruits of our labour, and with a thankful remembrance of thy mercies to praise and glorify thy holy Name. Amen.
Tradition in the Navy is to not stand during the toasts. When standing aboard a ship you may fall due to the harsh seas, leading to the toasts to be given while seated. This tradition is still used in Naval Mess Dinners.
Table of the Fallen Soldier
A more commemorative part of mess dinners is the Table of the Fallen Soldier. It is a way to honour service members who have fallen in the line of duty. This table reminds us to remember and appreciate their sacrifices and their families. Each part of the table has its own small significant meaning.
The table goes in a corner of the room where it will be seen but will not be in the way.
The table is set with a white tablecloth, and on top, it is set with a white place mat, plates, cloth napkin, and utensils. This represents the longing we have that the fallen soldiers could be present.
At the top of the plates, a white candle is placed in a simple candle holder. This represents the light of hope.
Beside the candle, a long-stemmed rose is placed in a simple vase. This represents the families who love and keep faith with those that serve.
A yellow ribbon is tied on the vase. This represents waiting for those who serve.
To the right of the plate, an upside down wine glass is placed. This represents that the fallen comrade will not be participating in the toasts.
A lemon wedge is placed on the plate. This represents the bitter loss of the fallen soldier.
Salt is sprinkled on the lemon wedge. This represents the tears that were shed for the missed soldier.
An empty chair is placed at the table. This represents the missing comrade.
At the end of each table are Vice Presidents, and they are allowed to call out other tables for the sake of laughs. Sometimes people are seen with elbows on the table, talking to members of other tables, not in proper dress, and other Mess “offenses”. If these members are caught breaking Mess rules they will have to have a punishment. These punishments always guarantee a laugh for the rest of the Mess.
This is a group who was caught breaking a Mess rule, their punishment was to sing “I’m a Little Teapot with actions”. It was a great performance!
RCSCC 94 Warspite was presented with a check for their outstanding work helping with the KW Poppy Fund. Bravo Zulu Warspite for all your hard work, and thank you to the KW Poppy Fund your generous donation.
Bravo Zulu Warspite for a fun and successful Mess Dinner! A huge thank you to everyone who supported the Mess Dinner and for the KW Naval Association for hosting us and to everyone who came out.