Royal Navy, Service Records

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by MuirHannah, Jan 14, 2020.

  1. MuirHannah

    MuirHannah Member

    My grandfather was in the Navy both before during and after WW2. I have got a copy of his service history but it's thrown up an anomaly. According to the MOD, between 1942 and 1944, he was at the barracks in Devonport, Plymouth, then at HMS Excellent II (Evolution) which I understand was an accounting base at Portsmouth(?) then he was with HMS Keren, an assault transport vessel. Searching forces records today though, I've discovered he served on a converted tanker called HMS Bachaquero which was used to transport tanks and Bren Gun carriers. Why would this have not been mentioned in his official MOD record?
    Thanks for any info.
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  2. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Men who served on 'minor' warships were entered on the books of a base ship - often a concrete frigate - for purposes of pay and rations - rather than the ship on which they were physically serving at any particular time. HMS Excellent was such a base 'ship' and as far as the MOD was concerned that was his ship
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  3. MuirHannah

    MuirHannah Member

    Thanks for clearing that up Robert. Best regards
  4. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    The original Certificate of Service (Form S459) would have been given to your grandfather when he left the Navy. The Admiralty/MoD did not keep a duplicate. The best they can do now is to compile a record from the Pay and Victualling Ledgers. As pointed out above this will not always show the ships on which they were actually serving. If you want to, post a copy of the record that you have on this thread - there may be something you have missed that others will spot. For instance the barracks at Devonport - HMS Drake - was
    also an Accounting Base for other units and, maybe of relevance in your grandfather's case, some were for training in the use of landing craft.

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  5. MuirHannah

    MuirHannah Member

    Hi Tim. Thanks, that helps because the 'new' ship that I have discovered he served on was a converted tanker used as an LST so that makes sense. I believe it was also about this time that he served in Combined Operations which I believe specialised in amphibious operations. Do you know whether his Combined Ops service would be carried out as a serving officer in the R.N or whether this was something separate?

  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Combined Ops brought men from all three services together but they still remained members of their individual services
  7. MuirHannah

    MuirHannah Member

    Thanks Robert. As a non-Service person, I need to ask what may same silly questions to try to unravel the workings of the Armed Forces.
  8. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    The Devonport area contained many outstations for training in Landing Craft and Combined Ops particularly for D Day.
    Note: Since you now indicate that your grandfather was an RN Officer, my comments regarding the Form S459 will not apply as this was the Form for RN Ratings.
    For info though I don't know if it applies to your grandfather's time on board (sight of his record would be useful):
    Extracted from ConvoyWeb
    HMS Karen
    Convoy MKF 30. Departed Port Said 8 Apr 44 Arrived Liverpool 21 Apr 44
    Convoy MKF 34. Departed Port Said 3 Sep 44 Arrived Liverpool 14 Sep 44
    Also, though not of your grandfather's time on board, have you seen photo of HMS Bachaquero here:
    File:The Royal Navy during the Second World War HMS Bachaquero at Bone IWM A 15709.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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  9. MuirHannah

    MuirHannah Member

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your reply. I had seen that shot of the Bachaquero, thanks. I believe this was a converted tanker borrowed from Argentina.

    I've dug out grandad's service record and he seemed to move around a bit during the war. Here is the relevant information;

    He started as a boy sailor and made his way up the ranks ending up as a Chief Petty Officer Telegraphist.

    Thanks for your help,

    Aug 1939-Oct 1939 Lucia A/PO Tel

    Oct 1939-May 1940 ? A/PO Tel

    Jun 1940-Dec 1941 Lanka PO Tel

    Dec 1941-Feb 1942 Drake PO Tel

    Feb 1942-Sept 1942 Impregnable PO Tel

    Sept 1942-Dec 1942 Drake/Excellent PO Tel

    Jan 1943-March 1943 Drake/Keren PO Tel

    Mar 1943-Oct 1943 Excellent II PO Tel

    Nov 1943-Dec 1943 Odyssey PO Tel

    Jan 1944-Apr 1944 Fabius PO Tel

    Apr 1944-Jukl 1945 Drake PO Tel

    Jul 1945-Sept 1945 Golden Hind PO Tel
  10. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Back to square one. A Petty Officer/Chief Petty Officer is a Senior Rating not a commissioned officer therefore your grandfather would have been given his Certificate of Service on discharge.
    I don't know how much you know already but here goes on your list. It will be difficult without further information to establish exactly what your grandfather was doing as many are accounting bases.
    HMS Lucia - submarine depot ship
    HMS Lanka - RN shore base at Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)
    HMS Impregnable - RN Training Establishment in Plymouth for communications ratings
    Drake/Excellent - not understood as HMS Drake was a shore establishment in Plymouth and HMS Excellent was a shore establishment in Portsmouth.
    HMS Odyssey - another Accounting Base located at the Collingwood Hotel, Ilfracombe
    HMS Fabius - RN shore base at Taranto, Italy. It is possible though that the reference refers to Operation Fabius, which was a rehearsal in May 1944 for the Normandy landings
    HMS Golden Hind - RN shore establishment at Sydney, Australia. Many RN servicemen were accommodated here prior to being sent to the British Pacific Fleet in anticipation of an invasion of Japan.

    What is he information that he was in HMS Bachaquero?

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  11. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    I know little about RN but from other topics like yours members have been advised to obtain copies of the RN Pay & Victualling Ledger as it gives more detailed information. There are copy pages in this topic but if you use the forum search facility you will find more topics on the P & V issues.

    Pay and Victualling ledger

    Forum member Hugh MacLean may be able to assist further.

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  12. MuirHannah

    MuirHannah Member

    Hello Tim,

    Thanks for all that detailed information. I got the details about HMS Bachaquero via Forces War Records by inputting his name and service number although, rather oddly, that was the only information they had. Drake/ Excellent makes snse as I compressed the records here a little . I think he spent 3 weeks at Drake and the rest at Excellent. His major skill was wireless telegraphy so I'm not quite sure where all the accounting bases figure. I'm sure my Aunt ( one of his daughters) also told me that towards the end of the war, he somehow became a 'writer' for Montgomery. Again, where and how that fits into the narrative I'm uncertain. I'm seeing her this weekend so I'll try and get some more info from her. The really sad part of his story is that he was one of those who couldn't really cope with the boredom of Civvy Street and 15 years after the war he took his own life.
  13. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Very sorry about your grandfather's fate.
    I'm afraid that any further information I could give you would be pure speculation rather than factual.
    Do you know what medals he had? If he has the France & Germany Star this would point to the Normandy landings or the aftermath. If you don't know you can contact the Medal Office to check which ones he was entitled to.
    Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility
    Hopefully some of your information will jog your aunt's memory.

  14. MuirHannah

    MuirHannah Member

    Thanks Tim. His medals were the standard War Medal 1939-45 with the 1939-45 Star. He also had an Africa Star and two Mentions in Despatches, a very brave chap by all accounts.

    Best regards

  15. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    The accounting bases may be a red herring. As said earlier he could well have been on their books for admin purposes (getting pay and food etc) but physically somewhere else such as on a small ship or shore establishment that didn't have its own paymaster etc
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  16. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Looking at his record I am surprised there is no Defence Medal. Citations for Mentioned in Despatches rarely exist nowadays, however the award will appear in the London Gazette. Sometimes it is part of a list, the heading of which gives a clue as to the circumstances for the awards being made. If you are happy to give me your grandfather's full name and Official Number (if you have it), I'll try and find him.

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  17. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    As already stated the way forward here is to obtain a copy of the Pay & Victualing Ledger - this may or may not give you some more detail not shown on his service record but is certainly the next step. Naval records are complicated to say the least and I have previously advised others if nothing forthcoming from the MOD then to pursue a Freedom of Information request (FOI).
    Although HMS BACHAQUERO does seem to fit into his role, I would not take it for granted on the bases of a note on another site without any further evidence.
    HMS EXCELLENT II (HMS EVOLUTION) and HMS ODYSSEY would be the stone frigates associated with his Combined Ops.

    Accounting bases are the norm on many Naval records and I would agree with Robert-w that the bases on some of the occassions were not where he was actually serving. This can be a problem in retrospectively trying to prove medal entitlement.

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  18. MuirHannah

    MuirHannah Member

    Thanks Tim. I've already managed to track down his London Gazette entries by going to the National Archives at Kew, which in itself was a fascinating experience. My grandfather took part in several amphibious operations (Torch Baytown and Ferdy) and he was mentioned in despatches for the way he kept control of his wireless set.

    Thanks again,

  19. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello Martin,

    Have your previous searches thrown up this website?


    Good luck with all.

    Kind regards, always,

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  20. MuirHannah

    MuirHannah Member

    No I haven't come across that site before Jim. Thanks for pointing that out. Will investigate.

    Best regards

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