Circular No. 9.-M.

Admiralty, 23rd February, 1869.

My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty being desirous of reducing the large number of persons borne as Servants on the books of Her Majesty's Ships, are pleased to direct that no more Ward Room Officers Servants shall hereafter be entered from the shore, and that Privates of Royal Marine Light infantry, who may volunteer for the duty, shall be employed as Personal Servants to Ward Room Officers.

Ward Room Officers Servants may be continued in Ships on Foreign Stations, commissioned prior to 1st July, 1867 until the Ships shall be paid off. Marines will be sent out for the purpose of being placed in Ships commissioned after that date, and any Ward Room Officers' Servants thereby displaced may be transferred to Ships having vacancies commissioned prior to 1st July, 1867 or be sent to England to be paid their wages and to be discharged.

In the Channel Squadron and Ships at Home, the change is to be made as soon as convenient opportunities occur. The number of Ward Room Servants (for the Mess) is to be increased from two to three in Ships commissioned after 1st July, 1867, and hereafter commissioned, the complements of which exceed 650 men ; and from one to two in such ships with less than 650 and more than 300 men ; and a Ward Room Cook's Assistant is to be borne in all 6th Rates, and in Sloops with 175 men, commissioned after 1st July, 1867 - these Servants are to be included in the present total complements.

The numbers of Privates of Royal Marine Light Infantry borne on board Her Majesty's Ships, commissioned after 1st July. 1867, or hereafter commissioned, are to be increased by:-

  • 7 in all Ships with more than 400 Men.
  • 6 in Ships with leas than 400 and more than 260 Men.
  • 5 in 6th Rates from 255 to 170 Men inclusive.
  • 4 in Sloops from 175 to 125 Men inclusive.
  • 3 in Sloops of 100 Men and Gun Vessels of 110 and 90 Men
  • 2 in any Vessels with smaller complements commanded by Commanders

In each case the total complement to remain the same as at present.

Stationary and other Ships with special complements to be specially dealt with.

The following are the Regulations to be observed with regard to Royal Marines attending on Ward Room Officers.

A Commander in a Ward Room Mess may have the option of taking a Marine as his Servant, instead of a Man with the special rating of Commander's Servant.

Such Staff Commanders, Staff Surgeons, Paymaster, Chief Engineers and Naval Instructors as may be entitled under existing Regulations to rank with Commanders, are also each to be allowed the option of employing one Marine for a Servant.

Two Ward Room Officers (except Marine Officers, who are to remain on the same footing as in Barracks), are to be allowed a Marine to attend upon them as a Servant, but where there may be an odd number of Officers borne, a Marine may be assigned to one Officer, giving the preference to the Senior Executive Officer.

In Flag Ships, or in other cases when Ward Room Officers are borne as supernumeraries, one Marine may be employed for every two Officers as long as they are so borne.

The Marine Servants are to receive - if employed by two Officers, 6s. a month from each Officer, and if employed by only one Officer, 10s. a month from him.

They are to be excused from keeping guard or watch, but are to work with the hands when required, except that one-third of the number allowed may be excused Idlers to assist in the Mess.

They are to attend Morning Parade and Evening Quarters and to be periodically drilled and exercised, according to their individual excellence, but never less than once a month, in order to keep up the knowledge of their duties as soldiers, and of their Gun Drill. They are to be inspected in "marching order" at least once in each quarter, and they are to be exercised in the duties of whatever may be their station in battle, as often as necessary to keep them thoroughly efficient.

No Recruit is to be employed as a Ward Room Officer's Servant. They are generally to be selected from Marines with Good Conduct Badges, but if any servant is reduced to the 2nd Class for a breach of the discipline of the Ship, the Officer is not necessarily to be deprived of his services.

They are to be subject in every way to the existing Regulations respecting leave. When landed for any specific purpose, with leave from the Commanding Officer, the duration of their absence is to be clearly defined. Any absence of a Servant on duty for his Master is not to be considered as leave.

As the Uniform of Royal Marines is not suitable to be worn when Men are attending at the Ward Room Table, or otherwise doing duty as Servants afloat or on shore, it is to be reserved for Servants to use only when performing military duties, Their Lordships are pleased to establish a special dress for Marine Servants, viz. :

Blue jacket "Drill" may be worn in lieu in warm climates.
Blue waistcoat
Blue trousers
Blue cap
Black neckerchief

This suit of clothes the cost of which is not to exceed 2. is to be supplied annually at the Government expense.

In the event of a detachment of Royal Marines being disembarked for temporary service on shore, the Marine Servants are to accompany it, should the emergency be such as to require their presence.

The Commanding Officers of Ships are to give every facility to Ward Room Officers, to enable them to meet any inconvenience which this change of system may unavoidably occasion.

As only Trained Men will be employed as Servants, and their efficiency as soldiers will be maintained, they are in no way to forfeit their prospects of Promotion to be Non-commissioned Officers when they become eligible under existing Regulations.

By Command of their Lordships,

To all Commanders-in-Chief, &c.

W. G. Romaine

Source: Navy List for June 1870

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