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Remembered Today:

Navy Service Record


Paul Nixon
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I read harleychick's recent request with interest and picked up some useful information on interpreting Naval service records from the respondents to her posts. My overall knowledge though, is still lacking and I could do with some basic pointers (particularly as I have around 20 naval service records of varying degrees of complexity to interpret).

Please see the attached service record for one of the Chailey men I am researching - Harry Bristow. I would appreciate help with the following please:

1. Date and period of CS Engagements. What does CS stand for?

2. Am I correct in noting that he signed on for five years "with the colours" (is that the correct term for the Navy?) and seven years on the reserve and that the date of his signing on was 25th March 1903? I am confused because there are earlier dates on the document, going back to 30th January 1901 when he was a Boy 2nd Class at HMS St Vincent Training School. Does this imply that his reckoned service did not start until he attained the ranking of Ord (Ordinary Seaman?) on 25th March 1903?

3. Can somebody explain the concept of sub-ratings and how this fits into the overall scheme of things.

4. Badges. G1 = Good Conduct Badge Number 1? D1 = Deducted? What does R1 mean? Are there any other abbreviations that I can expect to find in this column and what do they mean?

5. List and No Column. What do the references refer to?

6. Class for Conduct. What does this mean? There is a reference here to a separate folio. Can I expect to find this at the NA and can anyone hazard a guess as to the type of information it would contain?

7. "Joined RFR on 4th March..." What does RFR mean?

8. Remarks. 10 /- gratuity for raising U1 13 [?] St Vincent [unclear]. Does this effectively mean that he was awarded a ten shilling gratuity on passing out of the training school?

Thanks in advance for your help. Having spent the last decade or so looking at army records, I am completely at sea <_< with naval records.

Finally three general questions:

1. Can anyone recommend a website where I can obtain comprehensive details of the ships these men were serving on (battleships-cruisers seems to be the best one that I have come across)?

2. Ditto on a good general website that will give me a greater understanding of navy organisation etc during the First World War era (Mariners List again appears to be a good one that I have found)

3. I'd like to read a good first hand account of what it was like to be a Stoker during the First World War? Can anyone recommend a good memoir by a stoker or, failing that, a good memoir written by an ordinary seaman?

A lot of questions I know but please don't let that daunt anyone.

Paul

Harry_Bristow_Service_Record.pdf

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Paul

1 CS = Continual Service (replacing a system where ratings signed up for a commission of a ship).

2 It was calculated from the age of 18, which is why the boy service didn’t count, I think that was also the case in the army. CS was 22 years but ratings served for 12 and normally could then sign on for a further 10 ‘to complete,’ his 12 was up in 1915, so the normal rules didn’t apply! A ‘short service’ 5+7 contract was introduced later.

7 Royal Fleet Reserve.

That should get you started!

Fred

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Thanks Fred - it all seems so easy and common sensical when you know the abbreviations. Feel free to continue posting!

Paul

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Paul,

6. Class for Conduct.

Reduced to the Second Class for conduct, is a warrant punishment authorised by the area Flag Officer or Courts Martial. Consists of extra work and drill for a period of up to 3 month. The folio could be the warrant or Courts Martial records.

Regards Charles

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Thanks Charles. So what does that mean in Harry Bristow's context?

With your information it would appear to me that he was reduced to 2nd Class on 19th December 1910. Then it appears to say 1st 9.7.11. Does that mean that he was re-instated to 1st class on 9th July 1911 (some seven months later)?

Paul

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Paul

While he was on the Lord Nelson he was committed for Courts Martial on 19th December 1910 for striking his superior officer lucky for him it was not proven and he was found guilty of a lesser charge He received 21 days imprisonment with hard labour, reduced in rank to Able Seaman, reduced to the 2nd class for conduct and deprived of one good conduct badge. He was dismissed his ship and drafted to HMS Pembroke for punishment. He seems to have been reinstated in July 1911 and advanced to leading seaman in Aug 1911, which is quite quick after a serious charge. The Courts Martial records would make good reading.

Regards Charles

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I read harleychick's recent request with interest and picked up some useful information on interpreting Naval service records from the respondents to her posts.  My overall knowledge though, is still lacking and I could do with some basic pointers (particularly as I have around 20 naval service records of varying degrees of complexity to interpret).

Please see the attached service record for one of the Chailey men I am researching - Harry Bristow.  I would appreciate help with the following please:

1. Date and period of CS Engagements.  What does CS stand for?

2. Am I correct in noting that he signed on for five years "with the colours" (is that the correct term for the Navy?) and seven years on the reserve and that the date of his signing on was 25th March 1903?  I am confused because there are earlier dates on the document, going back to 30th January 1901 when he was a Boy 2nd Class at HMS St Vincent Training School.  Does this imply that his reckoned service did not start until he attained the ranking of Ord (Ordinary Seaman?) on 25th March 1903?

3. Can somebody explain the concept of sub-ratings and how this fits into the overall scheme of things.

4. Badges.  G1 = Good Conduct Badge Number 1?  D1 = Deducted?  What does R1 mean?  Are there any other abbreviations that I can expect to find in this column and what do they mean?

5. List and No Column.  What do the references refer to? 

6. Class for Conduct.  What does this mean? There is a reference here to a separate folio.  Can I expect to find this at the NA and can anyone hazard a guess as to the type of information it would contain?

7. "Joined RFR on 4th March..."  What does RFR mean?

8. Remarks.  10 /- gratuity for raising U1 13 [?] St Vincent [unclear].  Does this effectively mean that he was awarded a ten shilling gratuity on passing out of the training school?

Thanks in advance for your help.  Having spent the last decade or so looking at army records, I am completely at sea  <_< with naval records.

Finally three general questions:

1. Can anyone recommend a website where I can obtain comprehensive details of the ships these men were serving on (battleships-cruisers seems to be the best one that I have come across)?

2. Ditto on a good general website that will give me a greater understanding of navy organisation etc during the First World War era (Mariners List again appears to be a good one that I have found)

3. I'd like to read a good first hand account of what it was like to be a Stoker during the First World War?  Can anyone recommend a good memoir by a stoker or, failing that, a good memoir written by an ordinary seaman?

A lot of questions I know but please don't let that daunt anyone.

Paul

post-8297-1129205299.jpg

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1 - As info. already given. Most signed on for a further 10 years as this meant they would receive both the LSGC Medal and attendant gratuity(after 15 yrs) and a long service pension. They would remain in reserve until the age of 50 (if they commenced 22 yrs before age of 28).

2 - Short Service Engagements were introduced in 1903 to encourage more adult recruits, with 5 yrs' RN and 7 yrs' RFR (or vice versa, equating with the Army).

His service number as a Stoker will indicate whether he was CS or SSE. CS number will prefix "K". SSE will be prefixed "SS".

3 - Unsure quite what you mean, but Stokers joined/transferred over age of 18 rather than option join as Seaman at 16. Stoker 2nd Class (Sto.2) equates to Ord. Seaman (basic adult rate on entry), made up to Stoker 1st Class after a year or so's good service and proficiency.

4 - Good Conduct Badge - awarded after first 4 years and gave recipient an extra penny a day for each earned. D1 should stand for 'Deprived' of the Badge - presumably because of the aforementioned offence when he would have been not far off getting his 2nd badge after 8 years. This would form a part of his punishment.

5 - List and Column denote refs. for ledgers for pay etc.

6 - Already covered, but would restrict privileges and duties (e.g. no unsupervised work). If he was returned to 1st class within 6 months this usually had less serious future implications.

7 - Royal Fleet Reserve. Established by Admiral Fisher to allow for immediate mobilisation of ex-RN (both SSE and CS men).

8 - Lots of gratuities (bonuses) were paid for participation in various actions or undertaking specific tasks.

Difficult to tell precisely what he got payment for, but assume he participated with the raising of U-Boat 1 (or 113) whilst he was on the books of St Vincent (Boy training establishment in Gosport, Hampshire). Should also have received a War Gratuity in 1919 for WW1 service.

There is an online transcription of "Kings Regulations and Admiralty Orders 1913". Google for it.

Number of WW1 sailors' accounts. Try Max Arthur's The Royal Navy 1914-19 (lots of different interviewees) or Band of Brothers by David Philipson (special reference to Boy training).

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Hi all

This is an interesting thread, not least because I was not aware that one could download Navy records. When I went to the NA just a couple of months ago I could only view microfilm and get poor quality photocopies of my great uncle's. When did the downloads become available and are all those who served before / during the Great war covered?

Thanks

Chris C

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Hi Paul,

I can add a few more details concerning Harry Bristow's RN service rom wha I am able to read on his SR.

First off he was not a Stoker - you mention in yr questions that you are looking for material on WWI Stokers - did you think Bristow was a Stoker??

In any event he was a member of the Seaman branch, & qualified as a Seaman Gunner in March '08 & requalfied in Oct '13.

As previously mentioned he served 21 days detention - he had also served 3 days previously in cells on 21-23 Oct 09.

His conduct ratings were poor as well. He was deprived of 1 GCB (Good Conduct badge) on 5 occasions - Oct '09, Dec '10, Feb '15, Aug '17 & Nov '18. So he would not have rec'd a Naval LS medal!

His time during WWI was served mainly on Destroyers - Stag, Sabrina & Ready

& Sandhusrt being a repair ship.

He was demobilized on 3 Mar 1919 & transferred to the RFR 4 Mar '19, but he elected to rejoin on 13 Aug '20 "to complete (time for pension)" & his SR is continued on the following page - the entry at the bottom in the handwritten box: "See Folio 212822' - so there is more to his post '20 service you should obtain as well.

Bryan

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Hi all

This is an interesting thread, not least because I was not aware that one could download Navy records. When I went to the NA just a couple of months ago I could only view microfilm and get poor quality photocopies of my great uncle's. When did the downloads become available and are all those who served before / during the Great war covered?

Thanks

Chris C

Chris

I discovered this last Friday, via the NA e-newsletter, though it may have been available longer. Made my weekend as I quickly located the record for John Pearson, also a Leading Stoker - tragically on the Invincible. Brilliant progress by NA as far as I am concerned.

Rosemary

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Thanks, they send me one too, I will have to take a closer look

C

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Further to Dick's comments -

The RN Good Conduct Badges (GCB's) during this timeframe were awarded after 3, 8, & 13 years respectively.

Bristow rec'd his first GCB on time, but the next two would have been awarded later due to his conduct problems. His 2nd GCB was awarded on 7 July '14 & 3rd on 15 Aug '17. At the conclusion of this SR page in Mar '19, he is in possession of 2 GCB's.

A book that I obtained recently & found quite informative is entitled "The Royal Navy - An Illustrated Social History 1870-1982" (Capt John Wells) I found it fascinating.

One thing I found interesting on reading his SR, is that altho his conduct ratings leave somewhat to be desired, his Ability form '14 onwards is graded as Superior, so he knew what he was doing on the job & was very good in his performance of his duties,

Bryan

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Is there a cost to download the SR's form the site??

Bryan

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Another good book on the Great War period is:

"The Sailors War 1914-18" (Paul Liddle)

Bryan

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Thanks everyone for your most informative and helpful responses.

Dirty Dick

My question regarding the sub-rating referred to Bristow's record where the rating and period of service are clearly defined but then within that there is a sub-rating section. I see though, from one of Bryan's responses, that that must refer to his qualification as Seaman Gunner so that's that little mystery cleared up.

Bryan

Yes, I was aware that he wasn't a stoker but I have a number of other men that I'm researching who were stokers and I'm fascinated to learn more about their roles in particular. For the life of me I can't see why anyone would want to enlist as a Stoker (unless the pay was better).

Which sources do you use Bryan, to obtain the information about the ships?

Again, thank you everyone for your swift and detailed responses.

Paul

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Thanks everyone for your most informative and helpful responses.

Bryan

Yes, I was aware that he wasn't a stoker but I have a number of other men that I'm researching who were stokers and I'm fascinated to learn more about their roles in particular.  For the life of me I can't see why anyone would want to enlist as a Stoker (unless the pay was better).

Which sources do you use Bryan, to obtain the information about the ships?

Again, thank you everyone for your swift and detailed responses.

Paul

Paul,

Stokers were generally higher paid that Seaman, I would think due to the type of work they were engaged in. I dont know the exact daily rates of pay in the RN - they would be noted in the Navy Lists tho. I do know in the RCN the rate of pay of a Stoker was higher that a Seaman or a Seaman Gunner, so I expect this was also the case in the RN. An RCN 2nd class Stoker was paid about $1.35 cents per diem. The RCN rates of pay were considerably higher than the RN tho.

Why did they inlist as Stokers?? - two reasons: the pay in the RN was a LOT better that they could have rec'd in a comparable job as a civilian laborer, & they got regular food & clothing & also perhaps they did not mind the hard back breaking work involved & as a bonus there was world travel, something these men could never never have afforded to do on their megre civilian salaries! The downside was the harsh discipline. The RN at that time was no 'stroll in the rose garden' - you did what you were told when you were told, or you knew about it very very quickly. Punishments for seemingly trivial offences (in civilian life) in the RN could be quite harsh. It took a special kind of person to survive 20 plus years service on the lower deck. You had to 'want to do this' to succeed, & many many did.

Had these men not survived I doubt many of us would be here today!!!

Bryan

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Thanks everyone for your most informative and helpful responses.

Which sources do you use Bryan, to obtain the information about the ships?

Again, thank you everyone for your swift and detailed responses.

Paul

Paul,

The Prime souces I use are:

"Ships of the RN" (J.J. Colledge. )

"British Warships" (Dittmar & Colledge)

"Shore Establishments of the RN" (B. Warlow)

"Tracing Your Naval Ancestors" (B. Pappalardo)

"Battles & Honours of the RN" (Thomas)

I have several others as well but these are the main & most important ones,

Bryan

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Don't forget that for someone who applied themselves they could easily end up as a CPO or even receive a warrant with a living standard far, far higher than anything they could hope for in civilian life.

If you look in Forester's "The Ship" - about WW2, you will see a warranted gunner was able to not only own a house, but have a maid as well.

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Bryan and healdav thank you. Not a job I would fancy at all.

One more general question that I should have included first time round.

On Bristow's record it notes that he is serving on Tyne and this is followed by (Stag) in brackets. Likewise, Sandhurst and then (Sabrina) in brackets. What's the meaning of this please?

Paul

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Tyne was the Destroyer Depot ship & the destroyers he is serving on are in brackets Paul. The destroyers are Stag & Sabrina & later, Ready.

Sandhurst was a repair ship,

Bryan

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  • 9 years later...

I am intrigued by this medal roll. It appears that this guy (Rooke) who joined in 1893 and died on HMS Monmouth was ineligible for the LSGC medal.

Can anyone make sense of this? Not eligible is my understanding. So since he went down on the Monmouth was he never entitled to it?

Thanks

post-11804-0-59927200-1418050432_thumb.j

post-11804-0-53710600-1418050451_thumb.j

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I must be being thick, but I can't see what might indicate he was not eligible...

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Jane, dittoed from ineligible in the line above for Webb

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