Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve

The Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve was founded in place of the Royal Naval Artillery Volunteers, which were established in the early 1870s when there was every possibility of a naval war with Russia. Men came forward in considerable numbers for a time, but finally the R.N.A.V. was killed by official neglect. When it was gone its value was realized. In 1903 the R.N.V.R. was formed to take its place, beginning with divisions in London, the Clyde and the Mersey. To the surprise of Admiralty officials, there was an immediate response to the call by just the right kind of recruit.

When war broke out in 1914 the strength was more than 4,000 officers and men. A large proportion of the R.N.V.R. was incorporated into the Royal Naval Division for service ashore, though some did get to serve on board ships. Then the majority of the first contingent was sacrificed in an attempt to save Antwerp. Together with the Royal Marines, they also fought ashore in the Dardanelles and on the Western Front. During the war the numbers of the R.N.V.R. increased to about 32,000 ratings.

The lower deck ratings were drawn from all classes of society. They included the ordinary seaman, A.B., leading and non commissioned rates in the various branches. They are entered for a period of four years, with re-engagements in four yearly spells. They were eligible for good service badges, although different qualifications are necessary than in the regular Navy.

The regulations laid down a minimum number of drills and a minimum amount of training which every rating had to put in. In his first year he had to attend forty drills, and after that twenty four every year. Each drill consisted of one hour's instruction in squad drill, rifle exercise, musketry, gunnery, torpedo work, signals, wireless telegraphy, seamanship, field gun work, boat work or physical training. Every headquarters or drill ship is open on certain evenings in the week for these drills. Most ratings will put in from sixty to eighty drills every year and many exceptionally keen men up to two hundred.

As well as the drills at headquarters, naval training was carried out in the ships of the fleet or in one of the home ports. Normally the obligatory period of training is fourteen days a year, but qualified ratings are allowed to volunteer for longer periods up to a maximum of three months on naval pay. In addition to the regular fortnight the London and Sussex Divisions of the R.N.V.R. offered a voluntary cruise at Easter for about 100 men. There were generally about four times as many volunteers for this cruise as there were vacancies.


The London Division is based in HMS. President

The Scottish Division was split into two in 1926. The Clyde Division had its headquarters at Glasgow, and the Greenock Sub Division used the Carrick, originally a merchant clipper, as a training ship.

The East Scottish Division has H.M.S. Claverhouse at Leith, and H.M.S. Unicorn at Dundee.

The Severn Division has H.M.S. Flying Fox at Bristol.

Mersey Division a has H.M.S. Eaglet in the Liverpool Docks and H.M.S. Irwell, removed from Manchester, at Birkenhead.

The Sussex Division has no port facilities for a training ship and has to be content with a big drill shed at Hove as headquarters, with a sub division at Newhaven.

The Tyne Division, which was founded in 1905, with a satellite group at North Shields, and the former cruiser Calliope for their training.

The Ulster Division was based at Belfast with H.M.S. Caroline.


Drill Course for Non-Efficient R.N. Volunteers

Training schedule for HMS President, 1904





RNVR (last edited 2012-06-20 22:46:30 by chrisbunker)