RN Training and Recruiting

[Work in Progress]

Recruitment of Novices into the RN (late landsmen)

27 Mar 1861 - Recruitment of boys in preference to novices

An order has been issued from the Admiralty that the entry of novices at all the ports shall be discontinued. This determination on the part of their lordships is a wise one, as an unlimited supply of boys of the best character can be obtained as fast as they maybe required. The boys may be longer before they are turned to any practical use than are the novices; but the boys prove a far superior acquisition to the service than do the novices.

[Other articles on this page also include some discussion as to the merits or otherwise of recruiting novices.]

10 Nov 1860 - Cadets Britannia - sick

Considerable anxiety has been created in many families by a report which has been current during the past weak that sickness was prevalent on board the Britannia cadet training ship, to such an extent that it would necessitate the removal of the cadets from the ship for the purpose of clearing her out, &c. Our Portsmouth correspondent has made the most minute inquiries into the matter, and finds there is not the slightest cause for alarm, or for the very exaggerated reports which have been spread concerning the ship. The cadets on board, as well as the novices, have had many of their number during the late wet weather suffering from colds, which have in 13 cases resulted in a slight attack of measles or low fever. In these cases the patients have bean immediately removed to the Royal Naval Hospital at Haslar, where roomy quarters, good nursing, and suitable diet - things not always obtainable on board a ship - could be provided for them. The condition of the Britannia in this respect has not been different from the town, where numbers, especially children, have suffered from the same disease, and undoubtedly from the name causes, as the cadets and novices on board the Britannia. The present cold weather has, however, considerably checked the sickness and there is every prospect of all being convalescent among their ranks by the time the cadets separate for their Christmas holydays.

17 Nov 1860 - Britannia - Cadets sickness - and Cadets Vs Novices

Our Portsmouth correspondent has renewed his inquiries into the condition of the naval cadets on board the Britannia training ship at Portsmouth, and also of those who have been admitted into Haslar Hospital. At the date of our last report on this subject (the 10th inst.) no deaths had occurred, but since then two have taken place, one from measles, and the other (Mr. Kirwan, son of the Dean, of Limerick) from fever. 22 cadets remain in Haslar Hospital, 18 of whom are, or have been, suffering from measles, and the remaining four from low lover. The chief medical authorities at Haslar have held a medical survey on board the ship and strictly examined her in every part, even to analyzing the water from her pump-well. They report that no local cause exists on board to account for the diseases which have exhibited themselves, and that they must have been imparted into the ship. The report also states that no ship could be in a more perfectly sanitary state, every part being clean, well ventilated, and dry. The report concludes by declining to recommend that the cadets and boys on board should be dispersed at an earlier period than usual, unless the sickness takes a more decided turn, there being every appearance of its strength being subdued. Since this report has been forwarded, the sickness has considerably abated, the last fever case admitted info Haslar Hospital from the ship being 14 days since. As will be seen, however, the cases of measles have been more numerous, and the death of Mr. Kirwan from fever only took place, yesterday. We are assured, however, on the best medical authority at the port, that both measles and fever are daily diminishing. There are now only two boys on board the Britannia who have not already, at some period of their lives, had the measles. Three only of the novices belonging to the ship are in hospital. Both measles and fever have, as we before stated, been to some extent of late prevalent in Portsmouth and its neighbourhood, and doubtless, but for the sanitary state of the Britannia and her cleanly, well-ventilated decks, referred to in the medical report, and for which all credit is due to her officers, the sickness on board might have spread to a much greater extent. It may be necessary to state that the Britannia is not only a "cadet," but also a "novice" training ship, and that while there are only about 180 of the former class at present on board, there are about 300 of the latter class. The number of cadets on board in the spring will be greatly increased, and it has now become a serious question, and one which doubtless, has received due attention from the Admiralty, whether it is not imperatively necessary at once to separate the two classes, which ought never to have bees placed in any numbers on beard any one vessel. The two most urgent points bearing on this cadet and novice question are - first, the question in a sanitary view; and secondly, in a scholastic one. The first few will doubt ; the second will be more seriously battled for, but any person who has been on board the Britannia during study hours aft, and gun-drill forward, will readily endorse the opinion now shared in by many, that the rough drill of the novices ought not to be carried on in the same ship with the study of the naval cadet.

29 Mar 1861 - Recruiting Boys as against novices - Britannia

In compliance with the orders issued by the admiralty, the 300 novices on board the Britannia training ship at Portsmouth will be draughted out of her, as required, to other ships. When the number of novices has been reduced on board to 150, the entry of boys will commence, and will be continued until their number reaches 150 - the maximum - by which time the whole of the novices will have been cleared out of the ship. The entry of boys for the naval service urgently requires being placed on a more satisfactory footing. An office attached to the Admiral commanding in each dockyard, where applications should be made, with a revised set of rules for the admission of boys, would appear to be the most simple and efficacious remedy. The present system of making applications on board the flagship, independent of the expense of waterage to the applicants, is attended with many evils

4 Nov 1861 - Britannia cadet training ship

The Britannia, naval cadet training ship at Portsmouth, has discharged her complement of Royal Marines to the shore, and received a fresh and less numerous detachment from the head-quarters of the Portsmouth division. Under the regulations of the ship as hitherto carried out the Marines were allowed to act as servants to the cadets on board. This has, however, now been altered; the Marine merely performs his military duty on board, while 40 men (civilians) have been specially engaged from the shore to act as the cadets' servants. In the employment of the same individual both as "servant" and "sentry" it was felt that a certain laxity of discipline might at exist which world not be at all desirable, and hence the present change. The novice system, too, has been at length banished from the Britannia, and this measure can only tend to the cadet's future comfort and health. Other measures are in contemplation of an equally important and comprehensive character. The one great want of the Britannia is a frigate to be attached to her under a commander, as a sea-going training ship. At present the young men are cooped up in too great a number to remain on board a stationary ship.

8 Nov 1861 - Move of Britannia to Portland

Orders have been received at Portsmouth from the Admiralty for the immediate removal of the naval cadet training-ship Britannia, Capt. Robert Harris, from that port to Portland. The Master-Attendant's department at Portsmouth Dockyard are ordered to lay down permanent mooring for the Britannia at Portland, so that as soon as they are ready for use the ship may be towed down to her new station. The order for the Britannia's removal was not totally unexpected at Portsmouth, owing to several circumstances which have recently taken place, but it will of necessity inflict a serious loss upon the trade of Portsmouth, the extent of which may be surmised when we state that the Britannia is estimated to cause, directly or indirectly, 30,000. per annum to be spent in' the town and its neighbourhood. The Britannia is moored in the most unhealthy part of Portsmouth harbour and has been kept there in spite of some isolated cases of fever which have occurred, and which at the time raised a great outcry from the friends of the youths on board. This obstinacy of officials in keeping the ship moored in a position that was, to say the least, of doubtful salubrity, has been probably justified by the fact of the average sickness on board the Britannia having been less than in most of the public or large private schools. As might have been foreseen, this perverseness is at length forced to give way, and the ship, instead of being moved to a more healthy position in the port, is now to be removed from the port altogether

13 Nov 1861 - Objections to move of Britannia to Portland

A deputation from the municipal authorities of Portsmouth have waited upon the Admiralty relative to the contemplated removal of the Britannia from that port to Portland, but nothing definite, we believe, has resulted from their interview beyond the fact that the Britannia will be removed from the harbour of Portsmouth, owing to reasons entirely irrespective of the sanitary condition of that part of the harbour where the ship has been moored. It is also understood that the original order of the Board may so far be modified that the Britannia may be eventually moored at Spithead or the Motherbank, instead of at Portland; and, as the removal of the ship from the harbour is the chief point insisted upon, Spithead in summer and the Motherbank in winter certainly appear to be the best positions that could be chosen for her. The cadets in their daily walks through the dockyard at Portsmouth, accompanied by their officers, inspecting the different ships fitting out in the basins, acquire a sound knowledge of the practical mode of rigging and fitting out a vessel. for sea, stowing her hold, &c. At Portland there is no dockyard, and therefore these important aids to the cadet's training as a seaman world not be available.

25 Nov 1861 - More on Britannia Cadets

The naval cadets on board the Britannia cadet training ship, at Portsmouth, received unexpectedly on Saturday leave of absence to visit their homes until the 24th of January, 1862, with the exception of some 40 who remain on board for examination on Thursday, after which they too will receive their leave. The cadet Christmas holidays generally commence some three weeks later, but the Admiralty have displayed a right spirit in sending the boys at once to their homes, and quieting the fears of their friends, considering the many exaggerated reports which have appeared in print respecting the ship: In the meantime the question of ship or college can be decided. The only positive remedy that ought to be applied - the completion of the outfit of the sailing frigate Eurydice as a seagoing tender - seems to have been altogether lost sight of in this "battle of the ports."

4 Oct 1861 - Wellesley training ship for boys - boys entered in preference to novices

The Wellesley, 72, flagship at Chatham, having been ordered by the Admiralty to be used as a training ship for boys and lads entered for the navy, is to have her present sea-going rig removed, and to be jury-rigged. About 150 lads have been already transferred to her from the various ships lying at Chatham and Sheerness, and as fast as boys enter at either of those ports they will be sent on board for training. The system of entering what are termed novices for the navy is to be discontinued, experience having demonstrated that boys below a certain age invariably make the best seamen.

17 Oct 1861 - Preparation of Wellesley as a Training Ship

The Wellesley, 72, guardship at Chatham, is being dismantled in order that her present masts may be removed and those of a 26-gun frigate substituted. The officers' cabins and her other internal fittings are also being removed, as she is to be converted into a training ship for boys and lads joining the Royal navy. About 250 boys are to be sent on board, a portion of whom have already arrived, and, in addition to the warrant officers now attached to the ship, some of the gunners from the Excellent training ship at Portsmouth will be transferred to the Wellesley to superintend the instruction of the lads. Notwithstanding that several hundred tons of stores have been removed from the Wellesley to lessen her draught of water, she stilt grounds at the neap tides, the depth of water in that part of the harbour being insufficient to allow her to swing with the tide.

24 Oct 1861 - Wellesley being prepared as boys training ship

A number of carpenters and mastmakers have arrived at Chatham from the Formidable, 84, flagship at Sheerness, and the Fisgard, 42, at Woolwich, to be employed in preparing the Wellesley, 74, flagship at Chatham, and fitting her as a training ship for boys and lads entering the Royal Navy. Already the most extensive alterations have been made on board the Wellesley, which, to enable the work to be carried on more expeditiously, has been removed higher up the harbour. The upperdeck has been levelled, and the guns, stores, and gear cleared away to provide the greatest possible space for the instruction of the lads in the broad-sword exercise and in various naval duties. With the exception of a few 32-pounders, the whole of the guns have been removed and landed at the dockyard. The rudder, weighing about 10 tons, has also been unshipped, the anchors and chain cables taken out, and the water-tanks removed, in order to lessen her draught of water. Notwithstanding this, however, the depth of water in that part of the harbour where she is now moored is so little that at nearly every low tide the Wellesley takes the ground. A few nights since she grounded so much that she had a list of 20 degrees. On each of the decks the most extensive alterations are in progress. The officers' cabins, storerooms, offices, &c., on the main deck are being cleared away to provide additional space for the lads, and, according to present arrangements, it is intended to accommodate them on the lower deck, which is to be given up exclusively to their use, the seamen being removed to the orlop deck. By the conversion of the Wellesley to a receiving and training ship the Admiralty have wisely determined on supplying a want which has long been felt at Chatham - namely, a vessel in which promising lads wishing to enter Her Majesty's sea service may be at once entered, instead of being rejected, as has hitherto been the case, or sent to other and more distant ports, simply because there was no receiving-ship for them at Chatham.

14 Nov 1861 - Wellesley conversion to Boys Training Ship

The sailing liner Wellesley, 74, which is undergoing conversion at Chatham for a receiving and training ship for boys and lads, has been removed from her moorings in the harbour to the floating shears to have her present lower masts removed, in order to be fitted with smaller masts and yards. A party of carpenters from the guardships Formidable 84, and Fisgard, 42, have been for some time past employed at Chatham in preparing and lengthening the masts of the Diamond, 27, attached to the sailing reserve, which are to be placed on board the Wellesley. In order to accommodate the large number of boys who will be attached to the Wellesley the most extensive alterations have been made in her internal fittings, and the interior has undergone a complete metamorphosis. The whole of the seamen pensioners now serving on board are to be discharged, and able and ordinary seamen only retained on board the vessel. With the exception of a few 32's to be used in the instruction of the lads, all the guns have been taken out and removed to the ordnance stores. The lower deck is to be given up exclusively to the boys, the seamen having berths and accommodation provided for them on the orlop deck.

18 Nov 1861 - Wellesley fitting as boys training ship

The Wellesley, 74, completed shipping her new masts under the floating shears, on Saturday, and this morning will he towed up to her former moorings at the head of Chatham harbour, where she will complete fitting for a receiving and training ship for boys and lads entering the Royal navy.

23 Aug 1861 - Boscawen - to be converted to training ship

The Boscawen, 70, fitting at Devonport for a training ship at Southampton was put into No. 1 dock yesterday, to have her bottom cleaned, examined, and repaired.

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