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The Award of Good Conduct Badges and Badge Pay in the Royal Navy through the Years

Good Conduct Badges = GCBs

The rules for the Granting, Deprivation and Restoration of Good Conduct Badges and Badge Pay varied over the years. The rules for granting GCBs changed as follows :

Royal Navy

  • Jan 1849-1860 : GCBs awarded after 5, 10 & 15 years - Good Conduct Pay or Badge Pay awarded at the rate of 1d per badge per diem.

  • Jun 1860-31 Jan 1919 : GCBs awarded after 3, 8 & 13 years - Good Conduct Pay or Badge Pay awarded at the rate of 1d per badge. It is apparent from Admiralty circulars and memoranda that GCBs were not always awarded in accordance with the regulations.

  • 1 Feb 1919-30 Jun 1946. Good Conduct Pay or Badge Pay increased from 1d. to 3d per badge, per diem.

  • 1 Feb 1919: Royal Marines in future to come under the same regulations as Naval Ratings, as regards GCBs. Royal Marine ranks now in possession of more than three good conduct Badges to be paid at the new rates, for three Badges only; Badges in excess of three to be regarded as honorary, and in the event of a Badge being forfeited the forfeiture in the first instance to be applied to a paid Badge.

  • 1 Jul 1946 : GCBs awarded after 4, 8 & 12 years - Good Conduct Pay or Badge Pay, increased to 4d per badge, per diem, from 3d.

  • 1 Apr 1970 - Good Conduct Pay, to go with the award of GCBs ceased. Or to put it another way : the award of GCBs continued, but without Badge Pay.

Badges, once granted, can be deprived and restored in accordance with the regulations: the following example reflects how this is shown in a record of service which one can download from the National Archives : the source for this being the ledger :

This is how the same thing would be reflected on page 4 of a man's service certificate, should you be lucky enough to find a copy :

Date Badge Granted, Deprived, Restored
14 Aug 1914 1st Granted
17 Oct 1914 1st Deprived
17 Apr 1915 1st Restored
13 May 1915 1st Deprived
13 May 1916 1st Restored

Badge Pay would, of course, be stopped and started in line with the deprivation and restoration of the badge(s).

Good Conduct Badges and or pay were not due to all ratings all the time, from 1849-> e.g. 1859 Badge Money to Petty Officers and see notes for pay for 1870 : * Not entitled to Good Conduct Pay or Badges. Eligible for Good Conduct Badges, but not entitled to any Pay for the same.

To detail who was and who was not entitled to badges and badge pay for the whole period is beyond the scope of this article. It will merely point you in the direction of articles which detail those entitled and to those not. But the rules were liable to change during the 19th Century, depending on how difficult it was to recruit. Good Seamen and Stokers were hard to recruit and were therefore entitled to GCBs - There doesn't appear to have been a problem recruiting Cooks, Stewards and Domestics, therefore for much of the 19th Century they do not appear to have been entitled to badges or badge pay, although this appears to have been rectified either by the 20th Century or during the early years of the 20th Century.

The rules for the granting of badges and pay in 1861 are covered by Peter Davis at www.pdavis.nl/Q12.htm in QR & AI for 1861, Chapter XII, paragraph 28.

The rules for 1913 can be read at, and the rules for 1953.

Separate rules applied to the WRNS, QARNNS, RNVR, RNR, WRNVR, WRNR and T.124 in the 20th Century, so they are not included in the above.

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