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World War II

As war was declared, the Reserve Naval Forces mobilised to provide support to the Fleet across the board. Once again, RNR officers found themselves in command of destroyers, frigates, sloops. landing craft and submarines or as specialist navigation and gunnery officers in bigger units such as cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers. In the convoys, capitalising on their merchant navy experience, more often than not, the convoy commodores or escort commanders were RNR officers.

At the start of the war some 1,000 RNVR officers and 7,251 men responded to the call. Reserve officers were fully integrated with their regular counterparts both ashore or afloat indeed at one point, the total number of RNVR officers commanding HM Ships was said to exceed 2,000. Approximately 95% of coastal force craft were commanded by RNVR officers, as was a significant proportion of combined operations organisation. RNVR records cite some 1,781 British decorations, 2,546 mentions in dispatches and numerous foreign decorations being awarded to naval reservists including several Victoria Crosses and Distinguished Service Crosses; at the conclusion of hostilities, 48,000 reserve officers were serving their country. In 1950, Admiral of the Fleet, the Viscount Cunningham wrote:

"It is not I think widely known to what extent the Navy was dependent on the RNVR during the later war. In fact, RNVR officers outnumbered their regular shipmates in the proportion of about three to one, and there were few naval activities into which they did not penetrate and play a full part"