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The purple coloured epaulets were awarded to Marine Engineers by Queen Victoria to recognize their bravery during the sinking of the HMS Titanic. Purple is important in this context because for a very long time purple was a colour only worn by royalty, it was therefore special.

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Q: Why do engineers have gold and purple epaulets?
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Hello everybody, I'm marine engineer. Many people even those belonging to shipping profession have got a lot of confusions regarding the purple stripes. But, a lot of people are their who have cooked a lot of funny stories about the purple coloured stripes. Story 1: Some people think that the purple color is due to the purple coloured overalls of all the engineers working on titanic ship. And to give respect to all the engineers of Titanic, purple stripes turned to be the symbol of loyalty and dedication of engineers towards their profession and the purple overalls changed to purple stripes. Story 2: Some people think that there was a person named Jone who was a britisher and worked with full joy. And he was deadly dedicated to his profession and to honour that guy, he was awarded a little purple coloured heart. And that heart got converted to purple stripes. Reality: There are no such reasons at all but this purple colour is used to distinguish the engine side from the deck side. And the purple colour is selected because of the colour of overalls of all the engineers working on titanic. But this colour has got no connection with dedication and all, because then, this statement will become a contradiction for deck side people. They have also got dedication toward their profession but they don't have any purple stripes. So, gentlemen, purple stripes are just a symbol to recognise engine officer from deck officer. A good site that explains the reason for the different colours worn by different departments is available online via a search.

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