The original Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) was founded under the Naval Reserve Act in 1859 as a reserve of professional seamen from the British Merchant Navy and fishing fleets, who could/would be called upon during times of war to assist/serve in the regular Navy. The RNR was originally a reserve of seamen only but in 1862 this was extended to include recruitment and training of officers. From its creation, RNR officers wore a unique, distinctive lace consisting of stripes of interwoven chain.
A number of drillships were established at the main seaports around the coast of Britain and Ireland and seamen left their vessels in the base ports to undertake gunnery training in a drillship for a period of one month annually. After initial shore training officers embarked in larger ships of the fleet (usually battleships or battle cruisers) for a one-year period to familiarise themselves with gunnery and naval practice. Although under the operational authority of the Admiral Commanding Reserves, the RNR was administered jointly by the Admiralty and the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen in the Board of Trade throughout its separate existence. In 1910, the RNR (Trawler Section) was formed to actively recruit and train fishermen for wartime service in minesweepers and minor war vessels.
Officers and men of the RNR soon gained the respect of their naval counterparts with their professional skills in navigation and seamanship and served with distinction in a number of conflicts including the Boer War and Boxer Rebellion. Prior to the First World War, 100 RNR officers were transferred to permanent careers in the regular navy - forever after referred to as "the hungry hundred". In their professional careers, many RNR officers went on to command the largest passenger liners of the day and held senior positions in the shipping industry and government.
On mobilisation in 1914, the RNR consisted of 30,000 officers and men. Officers of the permanent RNR on general service quickly took up seagoing appointments in the fleet, many in command, in destroyers, submarines, auxiliary cruisers and Q ships. Others served in larger units of the battle fleet including a large number with the West Indies Squadron who became casualties at the Battle of Coronel and later Jutland. Fishermen of the RNR(T) section served with distinction onboard trawlers fitted out as minesweepers for mine clearance operations at home and abroad throughout the war where they suffered heavy casualties and losses. One such casualty was the H.M. Armed Naval drifter, Frons Olivae, which hit a Naval mine off Ramsgate on the 12/10/1915 in an explosion which killed at least five other seaman. One casualty, a Canadian national serving with the Royal Naval Reserve, was subsequently buried in the Hamilton Road Cemetery, Deal, Kent. A number of RNR officers qualified as pilots and flew aircraft and airships with the Royal Naval Air Service whilst many RNR ratings served ashore alongside the RN and RNVR contingents in the trenches of the Somme and at Gallipoli with the Royal Naval Division. Merchant service officers and men serving in armed merchant cruisers, hospital ships, fleet auxiliaries and transports were entered in the RNR for the duration of the war on special agreements. Although considerably smaller than both -the RN and the RNVR (three times the size of the RNR at the end of the First World War), the RNR had an exceptional war record being awarded 12 Victoria Crosses.
The RNVR joined with the RNR in 1958 to be called simply the RNR.
Please be aware that due to the way we collate, and cross reference our databases, some records will contain more information than that listed above.
Original Source: The Imperial War Museum RND Rolls of Honour. The Red Cross Wounded & Missing Lists 1915-1918. “The Cross of Sacrifice” by S.D. & D.B. Jarvis. “With Full & Grateful Hearts” by the RM Historical Society. The Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton. The National Archives “R.N.D. Royal Naval Division, Antwerp, Gallipoli & Western Front 1914-1918.” by Len Sellers. “The Globe & Laurel” Royal Marines Journal 1915-18. “Nelson at War 1914-1918” by Capt. Roy Swales RN(rtd.) “The 1914 Star to the Royal Navy & Royal Marines.” by W.H. Fevyer & J.W. Wilson. “The Diaries of Pte. Horace Bruckshaw RMLI.” by Martin Middlebrook. “Britain’s Sea Soldiers, The History of the Royal Marines 1914-19.” by Gen. Sir. H.E. Blumberg CB RM. “The Royal Naval Division.” by Douglas Jerrold. “Command in the Royal Naval Division.” by Capt. Christopher Page RN. “The Hood Battalion.” by Len Sellers. “Gallipoli as I saw it.” by Joseph Murray. “Call to Arms, from Gallipoli to the Western Front.” by Joseph Murray. Plus a countless number of private letters & diaries of RND servicemen.