This page is remarkable!

Having read this, you will know all that there is to know about the pre WW2 Royal Navy.

A social history of the R.N., and all that it was in 1938 and the majority of 1939 in terms of a career for healthy young men. It was not written as a war/hostilities mobilisation or recruiting document.



It tells the story, the whole story, social and professional, of the Royal Navy JUST before the outbreak of WW2.  It was written in 1938/39 in a period called 'the phoney war', when Hitler and Nazi Germany had made many threats, broken many agreements and had made aggressive 'sweeps' leaving nobody in doubt that eventually, although no one knew quite when, Germany would declare war upon Poland, and therefore, eventually, upon the British Nation and Her Commonwealth.

Surprisingly, there is no mention about the forthcoming hostilities, and the article concentrates on being a sailor in the Royal Navy, choice of Branch, pay food clothing and accommodation, what nationality ones parents must be now and in the past [both mother and father] etc etc. For those of you, who like myself were Ganges boys', there is an excellent section on pages 10 - 12, pages 13 - 17 plus a couple of photographs integral to those pages. Facing pages 12 are two photographs of Ganges.  The top one shows cooks of the messes taking food from the main galley to their messes where all meals were taken - note the aprons worn to protect the duck suits which were the rig-of-the-day before AWD [Action Working Dress] or No 8's became the norm. The galley [for food preparation and cooking only] was about half way down the long-covered-way on the right hand side and the boy's shown are walking down hill towards the Rodney, Grenville, Anson messes the opening behind them leading to 'Laundry Hill', the Laundry proper, the Seamanship School etc, and the opening where the boy with the tray is standing, leading to the Library, the Gymnasiums, the short-covered-way etc.  The bottom picture is taken in the Annexe. The trees in both pictures suggest the time is summer, and that would agree with the officer and senior rate wearing white cap covers [all fore and aft peak caps were black -uncovered in winter, covered in summer] but note that the boy's are wearing black hats.  By my time, 1953, all, including the Captain, wore white caps in the summer and black caps in winter. When I joined, the old galley, though still there with doors locked {in fact I was in the mess right next door namely Rodney 12}, had been replaced by the CMG [Central Main Galley] - alongside the main gate area - where all meals were taken, prepared and cooked. A much better system all round!

The statistics shown on pages 13 to 17 will bring back many memories I am sure. With humour aforethought, at the bottom of page 13 under 'Physical Standard', the first sentence after the Age, Height, Chest Measurement columns, makes me smile. We had guys in my class who were 4' 10"/4' 11" but I can't remember them being 'educated' or of 'good physique' - quite simply, the navy wanted recruits, and within reasons, size etc didn't matter.

The ship opposite page 16, pennant number H60 was obviously sunk in the war because she is not shown in my list published just before the Normandy Landing in June 1944 - H60 is a blank entry!

Look at page 46 which shows the Ganges [RNTE Shotley] general mess menu for the week ending Saturday 4th March 1939 [remember the war proper started in September 1939].

I tell the story using THREE PDF Files, and they are fascinating, frank and all revealing. Here's hoping that you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed compiling them into PDF.




SEE ALSO this file which is all about NAVAL PAY & ALLOWANCES 1950 to 1985 naval pay

SEE ALSO this cutting from The Times newspaper of 15th August 1938.