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World War I

As the war started, officers of the RNR working at sea quickly took up seagoing appointments in the Fleet, often in command of destroyers, submarines, auxiliary cruisers and Q ships, whilst others served in larger units, seeing action all over the world. A number qualified as pilots and flew aircraft and airships with the Royal Naval Air Service and thousands of officers and ratings served ashore in the Royal Naval Division in the trenches of the Western Front and at Gallipolli, whilst maintaining their service naval customs,  ranks and traditions such as wearing beards and using naval language in their general parlance, (often to the chagrin of their senior officers from the Army).

By the time of the Armistice in November 1918, the reservists of the RNR and RNVR had made their professional mark and their future seemed certain. As the usual post-war cuts in budgets and manpower hit home, changes in the administration and organisation of the RNR and RNVR occurred. New openings the Fleet were made available to volunteers and new specialisations were made available to officers and ratings alike. More training centres were opened and new service conditions were brought in, many of which continue to this day, for example the commitment to attend regular training, provide a short period of continuous activity in the Service every year and upon completion of these obligations the payment of an financial bounty would be the reward to the individual.

In the mid-1930s, with the storm clouds of the Second War looming overhead, numbers in the Royal Navy were again reviewed it seemed once again that even more people would be required to support the Fleet, should the country go to war.The formation of the Royal Naval Volunteer (Supplementary) Reserve (RNV(S)R) was the result in 1936. Their target audience was ‘a list of gentlemen interested in yachting and like pursuits’ who were keen to serve in the RNVR but who, otherwise, were unqualified by age, time commitment, or residence (ie they did not live near a training centre). Numbers increased rapidly and for an organisation that came about because of a pre-war shortfall, it remained in situ for a further 20 years.