This book, BR 1806, my edition 1958 [front cover shown in the left hand frame], is a must in any naval library, whether owned privately or by naval establishments. The picture in the right hand frame appears as the book's first inside cover page. Today, in the twenty first century, this picture would be symbolic, and this petty officer would represent all who serve in the navy irrespective of rank, or gender and includes Royal Marines.
However, this book looks at the Royal Navy, its organisation and its ability to fight wars and to protect the United Kingdom. It, and the data I will supply from a different source of information concerning the NAVY'S STRENGTH in the one hundred year period 1882 to 1982, concerns itself with NAVAL PERSON POWER only, which necessarily excludes the WRNS and the Royal Marines not engaged in seagoing ships. Now whilst I know that WRNS and Royal Marines not engaged in seagoing ships cannot be divorced from the Royal Navy and their support is implicit in the book, the book is written for the guidance of naval officers biased almost exclusively to the sharp end, namely for those who serve at sea. Before you decide to email me about the fairer sex, please note the title of my page is such that it precludes anything after the year 1982.
So why have I used the expression NAVAL PERSON POWER ? Returning to the picture above of our petty officer, he of course is symbolic of all those who served afloat, man and boy, officer and rating, RN and RM, and of course others too: HMS Hood, for example, went to the bottom with several officers and men from foreign countries, chiefly from new and old Commonwealth countries but also from European countries and Scandinavia. The ratings serving in a ship are talked of as the "ships company" and are addressed as such for ceremonial events. We also refer to the "ships complement" and this can loosely be translated as saying that all onboard drafted to complement billets, have proper [and therefore] responsible jobs. Prior to 1956, boys drafted to seagoing ships did not occupy complement billets and were bourne for training only. Boys were not listed in the complement billet returns rendered to the Drafting Authorities, but they were members of the ships company. In the lists of NAVAL STRENGTH below, boys are not included [until after 1956]. So why the watershed ? In 1956, at the time of the Suez War, so many men and ships were deployed to the Mediterranean and thence to the Near East, involving men from the RN [national servicemen were denied their demob and discharge by purchase was stopped], and Reserve Forces [called up en masse, the last time this occurred] that boys had to be used in complement billets to make up the shortfall in numbers. After that war, boys/juniors were doing proper jobs whilst undergoing OJT [on job training], later on to be armed with the proverbial Task Book.
So in summary, the lists of NAVAL STRENGTH figures, do not include WRNS, any Royal Marines, and no Boys until after 1956. Mind you, by omitting these figures it doesn't 'affect the price of bread' too much when RN numbers are high, but it does do when low and post-change 1990 when women became an integral part of the RN instead of being WRNS: for example, if I took the 2009 overall figure of 37.500 and took out 6000 Royal Marines and 2000 women, we are left with just 29,500 RN male personnel and that, for a maritime nation, is a pathetic return on our national security. In the data below, there are periods when numbers are on-going, year in year out. When that occurs, I jump to the next year which sees an alteration in ACTIVE NAVY PERSONNEL. So, if you want to find your year e.g., 1967, look backwards to the year before it for the numbers in 1967.
You will see above highlighted in blue and red, the lowest and the highest number ever bourne respectively. I have already told you that in 2009 the number is 29,5000.
So why did we need or keep so many naval personnel? Well just have a look at this list and not all of it is in the correct chronological order nor is the list complete. Britain was either directly involved, indirectly involved or had a major interest, in all of the following occurrences.
|Second Afghan War 1879-1882||Anglo-Egyptian War 1882||Atlas and Zulu Wars 1883-1888|
|War in the Sudan 1883-1885||War in Somaliland 1883-1885||Sino-French WAR 1884|
|Myanmar War [Burma] 1885-1887||American Civil War||West Africa Makaia War 1888|
|Abyssinian War 1887||Lu Shai Expedition 1889||Burma War 1890|
|Anglo-Manipuri War 1891||Britain France Germany Buganda Civil War 1885-1892||Yoruba War 1877-1893|
|Franco-Siamese War 1893||Matabele War 1893||Cod War 1893|
|Ashanti War 1893-1894||Sino-Japanese War 1894||Anglo-Adi War 1894|
|Nembe British War 1895||Anglo-Zanzibar War 1896||Anglo-Sudanese Reconquest 1896-1899|
|The Philippine Revolutionary Wars 1896-1897||British in Quebec 1896||Pathan War 1897-1898|
|Kiauchau War 1897||Thessalian War 1897||Uncle Sam's War 1898|
|Hut Tax War 1898||Samoa Civil War 1898-1899||Two Boer Wars 1898-1902|
|Six Day War of 1899||Ashanti War 1900-1901||War in China British Rajputs 1901|
|British Sokoto Conquest 1903||Moroccan Crisis 1903-1904||Russo-Japanese War 1904|
|Somali Mad Mullah War 1905||Zulu War 1906||Second Mad Mullah War 1907-1920|
|WW1 1914-1918||1919 Third Afghan War 1919||Irish War of Independence 1919-1921|
|Russian Civil War 1918-1920||Saud Sharif War 1924||British in Shanghai 1927-1928|
|British Nigerian Riots [Womens War] 1929-1930||Spanish Civil War 1931-1939||WW2 1939-1945|
|Cold War 1946-1990||IndoChinese War 1946-1954||Greek Civil War 1946-1949|
|Yangtse Incident 1947||Berlin Airlift 1947||Indo Pak War 1947-1953|
|Palastine 1945-1948||Canal Zone 1951-1954||Kenya 1952-1960|
|Malayan War 1948-1960||Arab Israeli War 1948||Korean War 1950-1953|
|Algerian War 1954-1962||Cyprus War 1955-1959||Sudanese Civil War 1955|
|Aden War 1955-1967||Suez War 1956||Egypt-Israel War 1956|
|Omani War 1957-1959||Cod Wars 1958-1961||Belize 1959-1989|
|Indonesian Confrontation 1962-1966||Bay of Pigs 1961||Cuban Crisis 1962|
|Indo Pak War 1965||Six Day War [Arab/Israeli] 1967||Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970|
|Northern Ireland Civil War 1968-1994||Indo Pak War 1971||Sudanese Civil War 1972|
|Yom Kippur War 1973||International Oil Crisis 1973||Turkey/Cyprus Invasion 1974|
|Mountbatten Murdered by the Irish 1979||Iran Iraq War 1980 - 1988||Falklands War 1982|
In this one hundred year period, it is impossible to calculate the deaths caused by these wars but thinking only of WW1, WW2, the Russian Revolution, Korea [with over 1 million dead] and other long wars, it has to be on the top side 300 to 400 million souls. Whatever it is, and clearly it must have been the most cruel part of all history, let use be thankful that we always HAD a strong Navy. At this point, think on just how vulnerable we are today with OUR weak navy. Amen.