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stevejobs

Conscription into the Royal Navy, WW1

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stevejobs

Hello all,

 

I am researching conscription in the Royal Navy, 1916-1918, and I'm not having much luck. Could an individual be conscripted directly into the Royal Navy? Or would they only be conscripted into the RNVR?

 

Secondly, does anyone know of a good book regarding naval conscription during this period?

 

Many thanks!

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horatio2

As far as I know, conscription only applied to the army. The only (sort of) exception to this is the nearly 7,000 army conscripts who were transferred to (N.B. not conscripted into) the RNVR for service in the RND (i.e. those with 'R' prefix RNVR Official Numbers). Otherwise, the RNVR was, as the name implies, a volunteer organisation.

There were similar army conscript enlistments for RM short service in RMLI and RMA

Edited by horatio2

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stevejobs

Thank you, that might explain why I wasn't having any luck! Although I do find that surprising, the mean age of recruits into the RN jumps from 20 to 23 from 1915 to 1916 with a major rise in recruitment of those age 25+ and I assumed it was due to conscription. I wonder what could explain it?

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horatio2

Volunteer to join the RN before you get conscripted into the army?

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Magnumbellum
20 hours ago, horatio2 said:

As far as I know, conscription only applied to the army.

 

One can be nore precise. The Military Service Act 1916, and subsequent amending Acts, the only WW1 legislation imposing conscription, were, as the Act's title indicates, solely concerned with military service. The only way naval service came anywhere near it, was that serving members of the RN were excepted from military service so long as they remained in the RN.

 

Similarly, there was never any conscription into the RAF in WW1.

 

Conscription into the RN and RAF first happened with the passage of the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939,which, as the title implies, instituted conscription ino all three armed forces.,

Edited by Magnumbellum

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rolt968

I am a bit vague about this and can't remember exactly how this worked. I have no doubt that  someone on the forum will have the detail. (I have downloaded copies of the relevant newspapers but don't have them to hand.) At some stage late in the war, fishermen who were exempt were required to sign up to a particular Naval Reserve (but not mobilised). It created  ill feeling and mistrust in some fishing communities, I believe.

 

I am not sure if this was general or the idea of certain local tribunals.

 

I have never followed this up. On reflection I wonder if it was actually the beginning of the Fishery Reserve?

RM

Edited by rolt968

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clive_hughes

In the village where I live two brothers (single men, both in agricultural employment) joined up the same day in June 1916 aged 24 and 25 respectively. 

 

They entered the RNVR together, but while one went as a gunner into defensively-armed merchant ships the other by November, and now graded Able Seaman, was permitted to transfer into the RNR Trawler Section as a Deckhand.  In fact he went into Motor Launches and earned a DSM at Zeebrugge!  How he was able to shift from being a farm carter who'd always lived many miles from the sea, to qualifying as a professional grade seaman (which was what the RNR were) defeats me!  

 

Clive

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seaJane

My grandfather was a carter's son who joined the Royal Air Force when he was 18 and a few days (April 1918) and did officer training. Perhaps mechanics had something to do with it?

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horatio2
5 hours ago, rolt968 said:

I am not sure if this was general or the idea of certain local tribunals.

The Fishery Reserve was formed from the remains of the commercial fishing fleet in May 1917 (almost 400 boats are listed) when they and their crews were all requisitioned by the Admiralty, commissioned as HM Ships and continued all commercial fishing under the White Ensign. 700+ fishery skippers were given warrant rank in the RNR (WFS numbers in the Navy Lists) to continue their trade. In June 1918 some of these boats and crews were moved into a newly-formed RNR Emergency Trawler Section and became part of the Auxiliary Patrol (which the fishery boats had not been). 145 WFS skippers were transferred and given new warrants in the Emergency Section (WSE numbers in the Navy Lists).

None of the above count as conscription into the RN.

Edited by horatio2

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rolt968
41 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

The Fishery Reserve was formed from the remains of the commercial fishing fleet in May 1917 (almost 400 boats are listed) when they and their crews were all requisitioned by the Admiralty, commissioned as HM Ships and continued all commercial fishing under the White Ensign. 700+ fishery skippers were given warrant rank in the RNR (WFS numbers in the Navy Lists) to continue their trade. In June 1918 some of these boats and crews were moved into a newly-formed RNR Emergency Trawler Section and became part of the Auxiliary Patrol (which the fishery boats had not been). 145 WFS skippers were transferred and given new warrants in the Emergency Section (WSE numbers in the Navy Lists).

None of the above count as conscription into the RN.

Thanks Horatio.

I will find the newspaper reports and see if they match May 1917. It was only today that I realised that it might match up with the formation of the Fishery Reserve.

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horatio2
13 hours ago, rolt968 said:

I will find the newspaper reports and see if they match May 1917

I would be very interested know what they report.

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rolt968
On ‎16‎/‎09‎/‎2018 at 09:21, horatio2 said:

I would be very interested know what they report.

I will try to find them, but it may take a few weeks.

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wallace2

I am prepared to be corrected but surely those with R prefix numbers who joined the Royal Naval Division during and after 1916 must be considered as conscripted into the RNVR?

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horatio2
2 minutes ago, wallace2 said:

surely those with R prefix numbers who joined the Royal Naval Division during and after 1916 must be considered as conscripted into the RNVR?

There was no conscription directly into the RNVR. 'R' ratings were (and should be considered as) conscripted into the Army. They were transferred (within a few days) into the RNVR for RND service. I would agree, however, that the vital element of 'volunteer' for the RNVR seems to be somewhat absent!

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Wexflyer

According to the font of all knowledge, there was conscription to the English navy during WWI. I am not even going to try and correct this, as my changes are always reversed.

Wikipedia on conscription to navy in WWI

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Magnumbellum
10 hours ago, horatio2 said:

There was no conscription directly into the RNVR. 'R' ratings were (and should be considered as) conscripted into the Army. They were transferred (within a few days) into the RNVR for RND service. I would agree, however, that the vital element of 'volunteer' for the RNVR seems to be somewhat absent!

 

I just wonder whether effectively the men were given an offer they could not refuse, in other words, they were invited to volumteer for the RNVR, and signed a form to that effect.

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Magnumbellum
7 hours ago, Wexflyer said:

According to the font of all knowledge, there was conscription to the English navy during WWI. I am not even going to try and correct this, as my changes are always reversed.

Wikipedia on conscription to navy in WWI

 

As so often in Wikipedia, the phraseology is ambiguous, purporting to claim WW1 conscription to "all the military services". Since the naval service is by definition not part of the military servce, it is misleading to refer to "all the military services", as if there were more than one miitary service.

 

I repeat, there was no conscription to the navy in WW1.

 

 

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Wexflyer
8 hours ago, Magnumbellum said:

 

As so often in Wikipedia, the phraseology is ambiguous, purporting to claim WW1 conscription to "all the military services". Since the naval service is by definition not part of the military servce, it is misleading to refer to "all the military services", as if there were more than one miitary service.

 

I repeat, there was no conscription to the navy in WW1.

 

 

 

There is no ambiguity. In American usage, "military" encompasses the navy.

Edited by Wexflyer

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rolt968
On ‎18‎/‎09‎/‎2018 at 11:24, rolt968 said:

I will try to find them, but it may take a few weeks.

I haven't found what I had seen before, but I have found this (Aberdeen Press and Journal 11 October 1916). It is probably the beginning of the concerns. It is earlier than I thought.

Certainly not conscription, but apparently enforced enlistment for potential future mobilisation. (Headline exaggerates a bit.)

1610342203_PJ11Oct1916.jpg.57ec444def7ab689fa1f09c995d54b16.jpg

 

What were RNVR (V) and RNVR Y Reserve? (Any connection to RNVR men who had Y serial number prefixes and didn't actually serve (TNA)?

 

RM

 

 

Edited by rolt968

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horatio2

Thank you very much for that very informative press cutting.

The RNVR 'Y' Reserve was used as described at Kew:-

"These [Y] numbers seem to have been [were] allocated when men volunteered, to be replaced by a service number when they were called up. If only a Y number is found, the implication is that the man did not actually serve."

This is confirmed by the presence of RNVR (Y) enrolment papers bound in with a man's (later) RN engagement papers in engagement ledgers held at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. I have yet to find a separate numerical listing of 'Y' numbers allocated.

RNVR (Y) men continued in their civilian employment until called forward to the Fleet to begin their engagement. This obviously applied to fishermen who presented themselves for naval service (thus avoiding army conscription) as described in the cutting. I think the reference to "RNVR (V)" is a typesetting error for "RNVR (Y)".

A more accurate headline could have been "Fishermen not certified after Nov 1 - They must enrol for naval service if they wish to avoid conscription into the army."

I do not consider this Notice to be a precursor to the establishment of the Fishery Reserve 7-8 months later, which concerned the control of the fishing fleet by the Admiralty.

Edited by horatio2

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rolt968
2 hours ago, horatio2 said:

Thank you very much for that very informative press cutting.

The RNVR 'Y' Reserve was used as described at Kew:-

"These [Y] numbers seem to have been [were] allocated when men volunteered, to be replaced by a service number when they were called up. If only a Y number is found, the implication is that the man did not actually serve."

This is confirmed by the presence of RNVR (Y) enrolment papers bound in with a man's (later) RN engagement papers in engagement ledgers held at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. I have yet to find a separate numerical listing of 'Y' numbers allocated.

RNVR (Y) men continued in their civilian employment until called forward to the Fleet to begin their engagement. This obviously applied to fishermen who presented themselves for naval service (thus avoiding army conscription) as described in the cutting. I think the reference to "RNVR (V)" is a typesetting error for "RNVR (Y)".

A more accurate headline could have been "Fishermen not certified after Nov 1 - They must enrol for naval service if they wish to avoid conscription into the army."

I do not consider this Notice to be a precursor to the establishment of the Fishery Reserve 7-8 months later, which concerned the control of the fishing fleet by the Admiralty.

 

Thanks for all the information. I agree - not the precursor of the Fishery Reserve. If anything the Fishery Reserve was designed to keep fishing going as efficiently as possible not providing a potential pool of recruits for the navy or Trawler Reserve.

 

I also found a number of articles in the early spring of 1916. They were about allowing fishermen who had registered under the Derby Scheme to opt to join the RNR Trawler Reserve.

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Magnumbellum
On 19/09/2018 at 08:21, Wexflyer said:

 

There is no ambiguity. In American usage, "military" encompasses the navy.

 

As anyone who has come across references to "elevators", "sidewalks" and "witness stands" will know, American is a differet language from English. The  Military Service Act in Britain was so called because it conscripted solely to the Ar,my. When full-time conscription was re-introduced in 1939, but to apply to all three armed forces, the Act was suitably titled the National Service (Armed Forces) Act.

 

Call a spade a spade, and there is no need to confuse it with a fork.

Edited by Magnumbellum

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