History of R N Electrical Branch


Updated  Dec 2023 nof 12

Admiral Lord Nelson fought the Battle of Trafalgar without Electricity A profound statement which everyone can understand

However by World War 1, the Royal Navy had electricity and by World War 2 the Royal Navy had Radio Communication and Radar.

The first Electrical Officer was commissioned in 1918 but the Electrical Artificers were sanctioned on the 13th May 1901

An early Greenie before the Avo perhaps? “A trustworthy man to each gun, with directions to make the necessary connection and place his hands to take a shock."

However there was not an ‘Electrical Department’, standing on its own, until 1946

So what were the Electrical Officers and Electrical Artificers doing without a Department?

Very briefly electrical work and maintenance was carried out by the Torpedo Branch in the form of ‘wiremen’ and these were overseen by the Electrical Officers

The ‘Wiremen’ had volunteered to leave the Torpedo Branch and become ‘Electricians’. Training in those earlier days was carried out at H.M.S.Pembroke Chatham Dockyard, H.M.S.Vernon Portsmouth and for a short period, Roedean Girls School in Brighton

Various sections of HMS Vernon were dispersed to sites throughout the country following heavy air raids, one of which demolished Dido Building and killed 100 people in a single night.  On 3 May 1941, the main part of HMS Vernon was evacuated to Roedean Girls’ School at Brighton (HMS Vernon(R)) where bell pushes on the dormitory bulkhead were purportedly labelled ‘Ring for Mistress”.

In 1946, the Electrical Branch came into it’s own and in 1947, H.M.S.Collingwood at Fareham in Hampshire, which was ‘redundant’ as the ‘World War 2 Hostilities Only’ training establishment for Seaman and Communication Ratings, became the Royal Navy’s Electrical Radio and Radar School for a period, before embracing Communications Ratings again more recently

Since the 1950s there have been further changes, and training is now carried out at HMS Sultan

An update since the 1950s including a block diagram are here

Since then, Electrics, Electronics, Radio, Radar and now computers have become an ever increasing element of Naval Warfare

Royal Naval Electrical Branch Association - a commercial

The 1950’s saw a massive fleet spread across the world and whilst this was slowly cut back in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, there are still many thousands of ex Electrical Branch Ratings thinking, “I wonder what happened to my old mess mates of H.M.S.Rustybucket?

Launched in 2006 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Electrical Branch and with the specific aim of reuniting those who served together, we already have hundreds of members and old shipmates are linking up via the membership lists. For example, at the Association’s very first reunion, two shipmates met up for the first time in 51 years

We have members who are only recently retired or finished their time in the Royal Navy and are therefore still at work, to those who were serving when the Electrical Branch was formed in 1946

If you would like to join us then just complete the application form

Acknowledgements to Mike Crowe and Colin Bushell for the above items

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