Researching WW2 Naval Training Information

August 03, 2009

G'day Mac,

I'm hoping you can point me in the right direction so I can get some 'accurate' information on what ships may father served in/on during WWII. I'm a long time (ex) serving Soldier myself, (much to Dad's chagrin), having served in the Australian Regular Army from 1965 - 1985 full time, and 1985 - 1990 Army Reserve.

It's now time to start putting some of our family's Military history together. Dad is long gone & there's
bugger all in his paperwork other than references to the 'Establishments' mentioned below.

I have very little to go on except his Service Number, the day he enlisted & was discharged, & what appears to be a lot of training establishments where he may have 're-qualified' as a 'DEMS'.

This is what I have:

Dad's Service number was C/JX 337027 in the Royal Navy. He enlisted on the 21st of April 1942 and was discharged on the 10th May 1946.

He trained in/on the following ships/Locations:

The 'Glendower' from 21st April 1942 - 10 July 1942 as an Ordinary Seaman, (the 'Glendower' was actually a shore training base at a place called 'Pwllheli' in Wales from October 1940 to July 1946

The 'Wellesley' from 11 July 1942 - 6 August 1942 as an Ordinary Seaman

The 'Wellesley' from 7 August 1942 - 7 Aug 1942 Substantive rating was as an acting AB, (No idea what that means), but his non-substantive rating was as an acting SG (Senior Gunner)

The 'President III' from 15 Aug 1942 - 21 Apr 1943 Substantive rating was as an acting AB, (No idea wat that means), but his non-substantive rating was as an acting SG (Senior Gunner)

The 'President III' from 6 Oct 1943 - 4 July 1945 Substantive rating was as an AB, (No idea what that
means), but his non-substantive rating was as a Dems GL (Defense Equipped Merchant Ship ( DEMS ) gunner, trained to man the guns aboard Merchant ships.

The 'Pembroke' from 5 July 1945 - 28 Dec 1945 Substantive rating was as an AB, ((No idea what that
means), but his non-substantive rating was as a Dems GL The 'Monck' from 29 Dec 1945 - 10 May 1946 Substantive rating as an AB, where he was 'Released in Class 'A'

Where do I go from here?

I've enclosed a photo of his, (& mine) medals.

Hope you can help

Cheers and thanks in advance



Wellesley was a Naval Training School at Blyth Northumberland.

President 111 was a London establishment that merely carried the pay accounts for all DEMS personnel.

HMS Pembroke the Naval Barracks at Chatham.

HMS Monck
Function - at Largs HMS Monck was the HQ for Combined Training and included the Flag Officer. At Port Glasgow it was concerned with Carrier training while also serving as a Royal Navy Barracks and landing craft base. At Roseneath it was an ICE (?) school by '44.

Address and commissioning history - HMS Monck has a rather confusing history because of changes in its location and function. It was variously located in Largs , Port Glasgow and Roseneath...  all in the area of the River Clyde. Commissioned from 1/4/42 to 30/9/46.

Other information - HMS Monck (Port Glasgow). This facility was based at the harbour in the centre of Port Glasgow. It was used for the construction, assembly and repair of troop landing craft. The shore billets for the base were located south east of the town on the high ground known locally as High Carnegie. In the early 50's the remainder of the buildings on the high ground (long since redeveloped) became known as the Holy Family area.

As a child in the early 50's, I remember about 30 used troop landing craft were delivered to the quay side at the harbour in Port Glasgow. They were double stacked in a long row down the centre of the quay. I think they must have been returned for repair at some stage late in the war and got lost in transit for a couple of years or so!
[Para contributed by Ian Wilkins].

As to Naval rates,

It starts with Ordinary Seaman 11 for Sailors under 18 then at 18 one becomes an Ordinary Seaman, the next step is to Able Seaman after passing exams, one might be doing an AB's job without being fully qualified, and made an Acting AB.

Next up is Leading Seaman, then Petty Officer and finally Chief Petty Officer.


The records of British RN personnel are held at 3 different locations, depending primarily on the time when
a person entered or served in the Navy or an auxiliary service.

1. MoD. Ministry of Defence,
Bourne Avenue,
Middlesex UB3 1RF,

2. Centurion. Naval Pay & Pensions (Accounts),
Centurion Building,
Grange Road,
Hampshire PO13 9XA

In both of the above archives, only written enquiries from next-of-kin are accepted, and a search fee is charged.
There is an ongoing process of moving selected records from these locations to:

3. PRO. The Public Record Office,
Surrey TW9 4DU

Tel: +44 (0)181 876 3444

It is not possible to search PRO documents online, and the PRO does not undertake research on behalf of individuals. To access the documents held at the PRO one must either go there in person and obtain an entrance ticket, or employ a professional researcher to do the work for you. For more information on this, start at:


Best wishes,

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