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WW1 RN Service Record Help Pt2

WW1 RN Service Record Help Pt2

Posted: 1341923639000
Classification: Query
Pt 2 RNSR as it failed to attach?

Hello folks I am attempting to decode my Grandfathers RN service record from 1908-1920. (1st January 1908 5+7yrs)

I have been relatively successful with the simple things like dates and postings but the Remarks column and the badges are beyond my understanding!!!! If some kind sole on this forum could shed some light on these it would be extremely helpful.

I also believe my grandfather who died in 1960 and was living in Belfast during WW2, may have served in some capacity in WW2 at approx 51yrs, as I have the Kings Badge 'For Loyal Service' (not the numbered silver war badge WW1) which my mother past to me as a child, and after all these years has propelled me on this quest. However I again am at a loss to know the direction for finding out how he may have obtained this? Unfortunately his 3 WW1 service medals have disappeared probably sold for cash during harder times.
Again if any one has any ideas it would be great!

Badges go something like this?
GI 31/12/10 (Granted good conduct?)
DI 14/1/15 (Denied good conduct?)
GI 4/1/16
DI 28/9/17
R? P? G? I no date (Restored good conduct?)
DI 8/8/19

Between 1910-14 Conduct was VG / Supr dropping to Fair Dec 1916-17
also looks like detained??? Det 42 days NC? HC Absence
before returning to VG / Sat 1917-18.

Being a stoker no doubt he may have enjoyed himself ashore???

Remarks column shows
mckn ledger ????
door ??? 6yrs 1/1/14
vide ??? Bacchante Ldgr Sept 1917 (Was posted on HMS Bacchente 1916-17)
Wes??? Wer??? 3yrs 1/10/17

Paid war gratuity HMS Attentive II list 151A

It has taken me some time to get this far as I have had little to go on (family all deceased) finding out on my way that I have some English blood in the mix as he was born in Kent in 1888, so any help would be gratefully appreciated on the finer details.

Thank you very much in anticipation.


Re: WW1 RN Service Record Help Pt2

Posted: 1342745459000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1342745550000
Badges refer to Good Conduct Badges, which could be Granted (G), Deprived (D) or Restored (R), the number indicates which of the 3 possible the note refers to; in his case he never got passed the 1st.

He received 42days day detention with Hard Labour (HL) for going absent without leave.

Under Character there are two entries either side of a date of 31 Dec (year). The 1st is the original Character/Conduct grade and the 2nd after the date is for Efficiency (in grade) and forms were later revised to add that in the heading. Both Character/Conduct & Efficiency were continually assessed but was usually only recorded on the last day of the year, some exceptions were men who had been under punishment or for men newly promoted & when changing ships.

Grades for Conduct were (as written on certificates) - Very Good (VG), Good (Good), Fair (Fair), Indifferent (Indif.) & Bad (Bad).

Grades for Efficiency were (as found on certificates) – Exceptional (Ex), Superior (Supr), Satisfactory (Sat), Moderate (Mod) & Inferior (Inf).

Remarks column. Like entries for Good Conduct Badges, remarks are out sequence with the list of vessels a man served on and are linked to record by symbols.
If you look at his part 1 certificate the remark beginning “transferred” show a symbol that is a X with dots, and this corresponds to the same symbol after the last date for the entry for HMS Speedy, so that is what the remark refers to.

Looks like he originally signed up for 5yrs (with 7yrs reserve commitment) but decided to transfer to full Continuous Service before that period ended. The Vide (latin meaning see) K 5126 is a reference to his second Certificate of Service (attached to this thread).

For the remarks on the 2nd certificate you will have to check where the corresponding symbols are, as you appear to have his original parchment you should find it easier than I can using the copy.

I believe the remarks are:

X (or some other symbol) Mch’n Ledger - I can’t find a link but these remarks often refer to pay ledgers, that unfortunately no longer exist. Could be award of 1st GC badge or a promotion.

(1) Over 6yrs 1/1/14 – refers qualifying for a pay increase relating for time in a particular rating.

(Unidentified symbol) Vide (see) Bacchante Ldgr Sept 1917 – almost certainly relates to his demotion from Leading Stoker to Stoker 18 Sept 1917

(2) Over 3 yrs 1/10/17 – looks like his Over 6 yrs pay rise was reduced to over 3 years

Paid war gratuity HMS Attentive II list 151A – refers to payment of his war gratuity as recorded in the Attentive’s pay list 15 1A.

Note re ships served on.
Many of the vessels listed are Accommodation or Depot ships eg Pembroke II at Chatham (not to be confused with the WWI RNAS at Eastchurch, Sheppey) was the former HMS Gannet (ex Wildfire, ex Nymphe) that was used as a depot ship for men on courses, between ships or serving on smaller craft, based in Chatham Dockyard, actual vessels not always shown.

Vivid II was similar to Pembroke II but at Devonport and at the time would have been the former gunboat HMS Cuckoo. In brackets following the entry for Vivid II is Kilcock, that is HMS Kilcock a Kil Class Patrol Gun Boat, that is John Briggs’ actual ship, Vivid II was the depot ship that had more room and facilities that his gun boat.

He remained with Kilcock but she moved around. After Vivid II (Devonport) she moved to HMS Eaglet (Liverpool), Idaho (Milford Haven) & Ganges (Patrol Base at Shotley). While at Ganges he transferred from Kilcock to the Minesweeper HMS Saltburn, looks like she was moved to Dover HMS Attentive II[III], whilst there he transferred to the Minesweeper HMS Ford (ex Fleetwood).
His final draft was to his Home Port of Chatham (HMS Pembroke II) for processing and discharge as Time Expired (completed his agreed term of service.

Re you comment about service in WWII, many Auxiliary Patrol Vessels were fishing vessels of various sorts taken up from trade by the RN during both WWI & WWII. During WWI crews of fishing vessels signed form T124 and became members of the Royal Naval Reserve (Trawler Section) RNR(T). Although the RNR(T) was abolished in 1921, the Trawler Section remained “apart” from the RNR proper, so if he was a coastal fisherman he may well have served at least some of the time during WWII.

If he did serve with the RNR there may be some record at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton.


Re: WW1 RN Service Record Help Pt2

Posted: 1342793992000
Classification: Query
Hello Jeff.

Thank you very much for a most comprehensive and concise response, it places all the code! into context for me and the explanations regarding badges, postings, vessels etc is most enlightening, its amazing what can be understood from a small record like this by the informed!

I don't believe I could have found this all out without the help from knowledgeable folk like yourself.

Thanks for the info re the WW2 possible service records at the FAAM Yeovilton, which will possibly be worth checking as I'm sure he was not a fisherman, but may have had some connection in WW2 with RNR or other support like Home Guard etc, as I think he was told old for regular service and living in Belfast at the time was not subject to conscription, so I will just have to keep digging on that front.

I appreciate it may be outside your knowledge base but can you speculate on the following if possible?

1. Badges, at what stages were these awarded? i.e. 3yrs/6yrs

2. Re getting busted 1917/18 is that likely for being rated as Fair in performance grade?

3. Are the records held at FAAM available on line or is a visit required?

4. Regarding the 42 days Hard Labour this seems quite a severe punishment and therefore is it likely there were other circumstances in addition to the AWOL. He was on the Halcyon at this time, based apparently at Lowestoft through out the WW1 period. Having just married my Grandmother in Dec 1914 in Lowestoft,(whom had obviously travelled from Belfast to join him) perhaps this may have had some impact on his conduct as it appeared to be reasonable until then!!!!(WOMEN)

5. Re the WW2 Kings Badge are you aware if records of issue where kept, I have tried Kew's on line system but there are reams of documents on pensions etc but no apparent medal type roll for this award/badge?

I hope these additional requests do not impose on your kindness so please feel free to pass on any or all of the above.

Again can I thank you for taking the time to read, and compile the detailed responses given which have been extremely helpful.

Kind regards

Re: WW1 RN Service Record Help Pt2

Posted: 1342882991000
Classification: Query

1. Badges, at what stages were these awarded? i.e. 3yrs/6yrs

A maximum of 3 GC badges could be earned and from 1860 to Jan 1946 they were awarded for 3, 8 and 13yrs with conduct marked as Good or above, until 1919 GC pay was 1 old penny per day, increased to 3 old pence per day 1 Feb 1919.

2. Re getting busted 1917/18 is that likely for being rated as Fair in performance grade?

No the grade of Fair 1st appears for year ending 31 Dec 1915 and indicates he must have been recorded in the Defaulters Book, probably several times. That could be for fairly minor offences of being improperly dressed, late on duty, late back from leave, not shaving – lots of stuff. That also co-incides with him being eprived his 1st GC Badge.

3. Are the records held at FAAM available on line or is a visit required?

No the FAAM records are not online for the WWII period, but a letter to the curator should help. Having said that your comment re being in Belfast, the RNR may be red herring (more in item 5).

4. Regarding the 42 days Hard Labour this seems quite a severe punishment ….

His character/conduct had some ups and downs over the 2 yrs (from 1915, re item 2 above), culminating his detention. You may think the punishment harsh, but that was military discipline at the time. Even today not many soldiers or sailors have a desire to repeat their experiences of Military Prison; perhaps that’s what is wrong with civil prisons.

HMS Halcyon Anti-Submarine & Auxilariary Patrol Depot ship based at Lowestoft.
John Briggs served on her from June 1911 to 21 Jan 1916 when he sentenced to 42 days detention, after that he was released from detention and sent to HMS Pemroke at Chatham awaiting draft to Intrepid. She was Depot Ship North Russia 1915-16 and was Depot Ship White Sea Command Apr 1917- Dec 1917 and was sunk as a block ship Apr 1918.

5. Re the WW2 Kings Badge are you aware if records of issue where kept, I have tried Kew's on line system but there are reams of documents on pensions etc but no apparent medal type roll for this award/badge?

King’s Badge – I believe the roll of King’s Badge awards is still with the MoD Medal Office, ( unlike the Silver War Badge of WWI, the WWII King’s Badge wasn’t numbered and the certificates issued with the KB’s weren’t even named. The King’s Badge was issued to wounded former servicemen, Merchant Navy, Civil Defence (fire watchers, air raid wardens etc) Home Guard, Auxiliary Fire Men, Police etc., who became disabled from war service.

It’s a catch 22 situation you can’t find his WWII medal (or King’s Badge) entitlement without knowing his service branch and ideally his service number; did he receive the WWII Defence Medal?

If he was serving in a Belfast Auxiliary Force during WWII, it’s possible he was injured in the Bombing of Easter 1941, when some 900 persons persished and a further 1500 injured. See

Hop that covers everything, if not just ask.


Re: WW1 RN Service Record Help Pt2

Posted: 1342887440000
Classification: Query
Jeff once again a comprehensive response!!!! Thanks for the info it all helps paint a picture of times past.

I know he had the 3 WW1 medals from the records, and was told he had sold 'his medals' at some point, but as to the defence medal or other, I have no knowledge.

However I will try the link you have sent me and with luck they may be able to help?

I will not judge him on his 42days HL remembering the adage 'Walk a mile in my shoes' no doubt they were difficult times for all including awkward sailors……….
This exchange has been of great interest and extremely helpful!

Thank you very much for your time and knowledge that you have given.
Kind regards

Re: WW1 RN Service Record Help Pt2

Posted: 1342889665000
Classification: Query
Sorry Jeff.....
Are depot ships i.e. Halcyon actual sea going vessels as opposed to Pembroke which is like a barracks posting (shore) before onward posting to Depot ship Intrepid (sea going vessel in North Russia/White Sea?)


Re: WW1 RN Service Record Help Pt2

Posted: 1343001811000
Classification: Query
Although some were hulks, Depot Ships were essentially operational vessels used as support and accommodation vessels, either mobile or static and sometimes shore establishments. They were used as supply and support vessels to smaller vessels like submarines, auxiliary patrol, fast attack boats, minesweepers etc., they provided more space for crews of the smaller vessels for meals, recreation, washing etc., when not on patrol.

Often some Depot Ships were located in RN Dockyards and were former warships renamed as a parent establishment but with a suffix number.

HMS Pembroke the Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham (now closed) was a "Stone Frigate", i.e. shore base. For HMS Pembroke & HMS Vivid, one will often see Pembroke II or Vivid II on RN Certificates of Service, which in those cases were renamed former warships used as depot or accommodation ships in Chatham & Devonport dockyards respectively.

There is a lot of information on the web, but much is based on one main publication and some is at best misleading and often incomplete/incorrect. I suspect the authors of some of the web based data, either don’t know about the other key publications to cross-reference to and/or haven’t read the notes and introductions correctly - That particularly applies to vessels using the suffix numbers.

Although they are essentially listings, the 3 key books for researching RN Vessels, bases and ships taken up from civilian trade are:

1] Ships of the Royal Navy, “The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy from the 15th Century to the Present”; JJ Colledge & Ben Warlow; Chatham Publishing. I have the revised 2006 edition.

2] Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy, “Being a list of the Static Ships and Establishments of the Royal Navy”; Lt Cdr B. Warlow; Maritime Books. I have the 2000 edition.

3] Ships of the Royal Navy, “An historical index Volume 2: Navy-Built Trawlers, Drifters, Tugs and Requisitioned Ships”; J.J. Colledge; David & Charles. I have the original 1970 edition. Many of the vessels in this last book are also listed in the latest edition of 1], albeit with less detail.

Picking up on some of the vessels John Briggs served on:

HMS Speedy (from 23 Jan 1910 to 6 June 1911) - Torpedo Gunboat, 810tons, 230 ft long 27ft beam, armed with 2x 4.7in, 4 x 3pounder guns and 3 Torpedo Tubes. Built Thornycroft, Chiswick, 18 May 1893, sunk by mine 3 Sept 1914 off Humber Estuary.

Her logs covering 18 Jan 1910 to 7 June 1911 are in the National Archives, Kew in piece numbers ADM 53/26502 & ADM 53/26503 but are not online, it is not possible to speculate of the content but most logs only cover day-to-day activities, position and course changes.

HMS Halcyon (from 7 June 1911 to 21 Jan 1916) – Torpedo Gunboat, 1,070 tons, 250 ft long, 30.5ft Beam, armed with 2x 4.7in, 4 x 6pounder guns and 5 Torpedo Tubes. Built Devonport Dock Yard April 1894, sold Nov 1919.

She appears to have been based at Lowestoft as Depot Ship for Anti-Submarine & Auxiliary Patrol Vessels, she was certainly formerly made Depot Ship Auxiliary Patrol Vessels, Lowestoft from August 1914.
Her Logs covering 24 Mar 1911 to 5 Mar 1913 are in Piece Nos ADM 53/21567 to ADM 53/21568 and from 6 Mar 1913 to 31 Mar 1916 are in Piece Nos ADM 53/43657 to ADM 53/43659 incl.

HMS Intrepid (from 14 Mar 1916 to 18 Dec 1916) – 2nd Class Cruiser 3,600 tons, 314ft overall, beam 43 ft 6in, armed 2x 6in, 6x 4.7in, 8x 6 pounder guns. Built Wigram Nov 1855, converted to Minelayer Sept 1910. Depot Ship N Russia 1915-16. Commissioned as Depot Ship White Sea Apr – Dec 1917. Sunk as blockship at Zeebrugge 23 Apr 1918.

He could have gained passage to Intrepid aboard another vessel or gone out to her in a motor torpedo boat that used Intrepid as Depot Ship – now way of telling now.
Intrepid’s logs 14 Mar 1916 to 18 Dec 1916 are in Piece Nos ADM 53/44868 to ADM 53/44877 inclusive.

HMS Bacchante (from 15 Feb 1917 to 31 Mar 1918) – 1st Class Cruiser, 12,000 tons, 472 ft overall, 69.5 ft beam, armed with 2x 9.2in, 12x 6in, and 13x 12 pounder guns. Built John Brown 1901. Parent of Reserve Fleet Nore, during WWI she was the ship of senior office at Dakar, Senegal.
Her logs 15 Feb 1917 to 31 Mar 1918 are in Piece Nos ADM 53/34657 to ADM 53/34668 incl.

If you are searching for anything on ships in the National Archives catalogue omit the HMS prefix.


Re: WW1 RN Service Record Help Pt2

Posted: 1343156728000
Classification: Query
Jeff once again you have dotted the I's, stroked the T's, and inserted the punctuation!!!!!

I can only again express my gratitude for the effort put into the response of my queries.

I hopefully in time will be able to exploit in the manner deserved, the leads that you have kindly supplied.

Kind regards
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