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Royal Canadian Navy Special Entries

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Officer training during the interwar years

XES table, center
Detail from the XES poster. (NMA rcn-dsjones fonds.)


Royal Navy : Admiralty Circular No. 393 of 23 October 1859, [footnote: published Navy List, 20 March 1860), p. 241], effective 1 April 1860, defined cadet training as being for boys entering aged twelve to fourteen to obtain twelve months' instruction in a harbour training ship; then three further months of sea-going training ship for the purposes of practical instruction; then, subject to satisfactory conduct, appointment to the Fleet with the rate of Midshipman. The Eurydice was commissioned for this purpose.

HMS Britannia replaced HMS Illustrious in 1858 as a training ship specifically for naval cadets, and with HMS Excellent brought young midshipmen into a navy that was technologically advancing fast, but remained rooted in traditions dating back to Nelson and Blake. After five years as midshipman, an examination board would promote them to the new rank of sublieutenant, or throw them out of the navy. Those that passed went on to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich (opened 1873.) With the change from wood to iron construction, the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering also moved to Greenwich, and HMS Excellent developed curricula in mines, torpedoes and electrics. Admiral J.A "Jack" Fisher became Second Sea Lord in 1902, placing new emphasis on gunnery, submarines and torpedo boats; training establishments revised their courses. The year of 1905 saw not only the start of construction of Fisher's Dreadnaught, but also the opening of the brick and mortar HMS Britannia at Dartmouth, long after the old wooden two-decker had gone.

XES table, center
Detail from the XES poster. (NMA rcn-dsjones fonds.)

RCN, origins, ....

RCN, early officer training, up to 1922? 1924?, ....

With the National Defence Act of 1922, the Department of the Naval Service ceased to exist. Thus, the Hydrographic, Tidal, Fisheries Protection, and Wireless Branches were transferred back to the Department of Marine and Fisheries, while the Naval Branch joined the new Department of National Defence.

The Department of the Naval Service ceased to exist in 1922 (National Defence Act of 1922) becoming part of the new Department of National Defence. The nation was tired of war and the Navy entered a period of budget cuts. The Hydrographic, Tidal, Fisheries Protection, and Wireless Branches were transferred from the Naval Service back to the Department of Marine and Fisheries;

RCN, politics and decision 1921-22, to halt officer training in Canada and rely upon the Royal Navy

The reorganization of the Royal Canadian Navy began shortly after the First World War and was largely complete by early 1920. This post-war period of reorganization saw the demobilization of all officers and ratings not deemed essential, and by the end of 1922 this included the closing of the Royal Naval College of Canada and the discharge of the officers undergoing training. The end result was that Canada’s permanent naval force was composed of approximately 400 all ranks allocated to Naval Barracks, Halifax and Esquimalt, and the only two ships remaining, HMC Ships Patriot and Patrician.We hold (rcn-dsjones fonds) a document, or "poster", measuring 24 x 24 inches (61 x 61 cm), compiled by Geoffrey Phillips of Ottawa who consulted with John H. Beattie of Cobham, Surrey (U.K), and printed by Love Printing Service Ltd of Ottawa (moved to Stittsville in 1984, now unfindable; the owner Ian McJannet died March 2013.) It is undated; however it cannot predate Vadm R.S.G Stephens promotion to VAdm, seniority 15 June 1977. The archival quality of the paper and printing also suggest a date in the late 1970s. Geoffrey Phillips is elusive; we might assume, rather tentatively, that he is the Geoffrey Huntley Phillips, Special Entry #38, HMS Frobisher of 28 August 1935, engineering branch, promoted (RCN) Lieutenant Commander (E) to Commander (E) in the London Gazette of 19 January 1961. Retired 23 December 1963 (Crowsnest, January 1963.) John H. Beattie is the author of The Churchill Scheme: The Royal Naval Special Entry Cadet Scheme 1913-1955.

In 1922, as a result of a marked decline in the navy’s budget, the Chief of the Naval Staff recommended to the Government that reserve training centres should be established across Canada as an economical means of producing trained sailors. This proposal was accepted with minimal legislation as a "Naval Volunteer Force" was already authorized in the Naval Service Act of 4 May, 1910. Thus, on 31 January 1923 Privy Council Orders No. 139 and 140 simultaneously disbanded the Royal Navy Canadian Volunteer Reserve (formed in 1914), and formed the Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve with an authorized strength of 1000. The prefix 'Royal' being granted shortly thereafter.

The Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve was organized in company (100 all ranks) or half-company (50 all ranks) groups and by 1926 it was represented in each province according to population and facilities available. In 1935 these companies were redesignated as "divisions" and on 1 November 1941 they were commissioned as HMC ships.

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People, naval

Commanders of HMS Britannia Royal Naval College

People, political




HMCS Rainbow
HMCS Rainbow in 1910.
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