The Royal Fleet Reserve and How to Join It

The Royal Fleet Reserve


How to Join It

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The information contained in the pamphlet is extracted from the various Regulations, which are liable to alteration : no person has any right to pay, pension or other advantage on account of apparent eligibility under the rules as herein published.

A copy of this pamphlet is to be given to every man eligible for the Royal Fleet Reserve who may be discharged after not less than five years’ service, and to every man enrolled or re-enrolled.

Establishment of the Royal Fleet Reserve.

  1. The Royal Fleet Reserve was established under the authority of "The Naval Reserve Act, 1900," and of "The Naval Forces Act, 1903," to provide a reserve of trained men for service in His Majesty's Fleet in time of emergency.
  2. It consists of:-

    • Class A.- Life Pensioners, who draw no retainer, but receive a Reserve Pension of 5d. a day at 50 years of age in addition to their life Pension.

    • Class B, and Immediate Class.- Men who have served for 5 years or more in the Fleet, but who are not in receipt of a Life Pension.

    • Class B, receive a retainer of 6d. a day, and a gratuity of £50 when they are 40 years of age and have completed 20 years’ service in the Fleet and Royal Fleet Reserve combined.

      • The Immediate Class receive a retainer of 1s. a day and a gratuity of £50 under the same condition as Class B.

      Men belonging to Classes A. and B. are required to perform one week’s drill at the Home Ports each year. Men belonging to the Immediate Class are required to do 28 days’ service in the Fleet each year during the manoeuvres.

      The various conditions of pay and service are shown below.

  3. Petty Officers and men of the Seamen and Stoker classes, and Non-Commissioned Officers and men of the Royal Marines, are eligible for Classes A. and B. and the Immediate Class as detailed below and in pages 4 and 5. The Seamen Class includes Signal, Telegraphist and Sailmaker ratings. Naval Police ratings serving in the Fleet as such before the 8th July 1810 are eligible for enrollment in Classes A. and B., but not in the Immediate Class. Men transferred to the Naval Police after that date are not eligible for enrollment in any class of the Royal Fleet Reserve.
  4. Places of Enrollment.

  5. A division of the Royal Fleet Reserve has been established at each of the three Home Ports. Men wishing to join should apply, either personally or by letter, to the Registrar at the Port at which they desire to attend the annual drill. Applicants for enrollment who may be living at a distance from a Home Port should apply by letter in the first instance, either to the Port nearest to their homes, or, if they prefer it, to that to which they belonged when in the active service. They should enclose their service certificates and, in the case of Pensioners, their identity certificates also.
  6. Full particulars can be obtained from the Registrars, whose addresses are as follows:-

    • The Registrar, Royal Fleet Reserve:-
      • Royal Naval Barracks, Chatham.
      • Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth.
      • Royal Naval Barracks, Devonport.


    • Royal Marine Artillery:-
      • The Registrar, Royal Fleet Reserve, R.M.A., Eastney.
    • Royal Marine Light Infantry:-
      • The Registrar, Royal Fleet Reserve,
        • Royal Marines, Chatham.
        • Royal Marines, Gosport.
        • Royal Marines, Plymouth.

      Enrollments are made at the Home Ports only.

    Liability of R.F.R. Men for Naval Service

  8. Pensioners will not incur any fresh liability by enrolling in Class A. of the Reserve. As Pensioners they are already liable to be called upon by the Admiralty to serve in the Fleet in an emergency.
  9. Men enrolled in Class B. are liable to be called into Active Service by Royal Proclamation in the event of a public emergency. This service may continue so long as the special emergency lasts, but in no case will it exceed five years.

    Men in the Immediate Class are liable for active service on the issue of a Royal Proclamation in the same manner as Class B. But they must also undertake to come into actual service for a period not exceeding three months before the issue of a Proclamation if the country is in danger and the Admiralty call them out.

    Civil Employment

  10. Men belonging to the Royal Fleet Reserve are allowed to follow any occupation in civil life, except that :-
    1. Telegraphists must undertake to follow their trade of Wireless Telegraph Operator in civil life.
    2. Men are not allowed to join the Immediate Class if their employment takes them to sea for more than two or three days together.

    Except as provided in paragraph 30, no man is allowed to belong to the Reserve if he ceases to reside in the United Kingdom, Channel Isles or Isle of Man.

    Men are advised in all cases to obtain the consent of their employers before joining the Immediate Class, in order that they may not risk losing their employment owing to absence for 28 days annually.

    Eligibility for Entry

  11. To be eligible for enrollment, applicants must either be in possession of one or more Good Conduct Badges, or have borne a satisfactory character generally throughout their active service, and in the case of applicants for enrollment in Class B, and the Immediate Class, the must have been recommended for enrollment by the Commanding Officer of their Ship.
  12. Class A.- Life Pensioners of the classes named on page 2, under 45 years of age, are eligible for enrollment within one year of being pensioned.

    Class B.- Men who have completed an engagement of 12 years in the Navy or Marines are eligible for enrollment in this class.

    Men of these classes who have served not less than five years’ "man’s time," may be enrolled if in all respects suitable, subject to the approval of the Commodore of the Royal Naval Barracks, or Colonel Commandant of the Royal Marine Division, as the case may be.

    Men desirous of joining Class B. must do so within five years from the date of their discharge.

    Immediate Class.- The conditions of enrollment in Class B. (see preceding paragraph) apply to this class also. Men are not eligible to join until they have been out of the Active Service for at least 6 months. They must be under the age of 32 years on enrollment. Men who are eligible may enroll in Class B. on discharge from the Active Service, and transfer to the Immediate Class after sic months.

  13. Telegraphists will not be eligible to join the Reserve until they have completed their first Continuous Service engagements.
  14. Men who have been discharged for misconduct, or who have not been allowed to re-engage on account of unsatisfactory character, and men who have not passed for Able Seaman or Stoker 1st Class, are not eligible.

    No man on the Established List of any of H.M. Naval Establishments will be enrolled in the Reserve.

    Medical Examination.

  15. Men are medically examined before enrollment and re-enrollment. Only able-bodied, healthy men are accepted.
  16. Men not residing near a Home Port who have been invalided and who have recovered their health are required, before presenting themselves for enrollment, to obtain a certificate from a Surgeon and Agent if possible, or from a local medical practitioner, that they are in good health. The cost of the certificate up to 2s. 6d. will be refunded.

    Application for Enrollment of Men serving.

  17. Men serving may make application through their Commanding Officer for enrollment in Class B. six months before they complete their Continuous Service engagement. If accepted, they will be acquainted at once, and be entered in the Royal Fleet Reserve from the date of discharge from Active Service.
  18. Candidates for enrollment should attend at the Royal Fleet Reserve offices on Saturday at 9 a.m., and they must be prepared to begin their week’s drill on the following Monday morning.

    Period of Enrollment and Re-Enrollment.

  19. Class A.- Men do not enroll for any specified period.
  20. Class B.- Men enroll for five years, except Special Service men, who are liable after discharge from the Active Service to complete the unfinished portion of their 12 years’ engagement. Re-enrollment in the case of all men whose services are required and who are fit for Active Service will be for periods of five years, or to the age of 40 (but see para. 22 as to the age limits up to which men are, exceptionally, allowed to re-enroll). Men who were serving in the Reserve or as Special Service men in the Fleet on 31st March 1906 will be eligible for re-enrollment under the same conditions up to the age of 55.

    Immediate Class.- Men must enroll for a period of five years. Those whose services are required will be permitted to re-enroll in this class for a second period of five years, or, if over the age of 32 years, until reaching the age of 37. On completing their period of enrollment or re-enrollment in the Immediate Class, men will be permitted to re-enroll in Class B. Special Service men will in any case be liable to complete 12 years’ service in the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Reserve combined.

    Rating to be held.

  21. On first entry in the Reserve, men,, (with certain exceptions), are enrolled in the last Active Service substantive and non-substantive rating held by them. In the second and subsequent periods of enrollment men in Class B. will be enrolled in the non-substantive rating for which they are reported fit. Acting ratings discharged from the Active Service after the 30th June 1912 must revert to their last confirmed substantive rating.
  22. From the 1st April 1912, the non-substantive ratings are subject to revision, after 5 years’ service in the Reserve in the case of Class A. men, and on re-enrollment in the case of Class B. men. The non-substantive pay of Class A. men already serving on the 31st March 1912, when called out in emergency, is not, however, affected by this rule.

    Royal Marines above the rank of Colour-Sergeant will revert to Colour-Sergeant on enrollment.

    Ex-Buglers may be enrolled as such, or as Gunners or Privates, at the discretion of the Deputy Adjutant-General.

    Men who may be qualified for enrollment as Seamen, Stoker or Marine will not be disqualified by subsequent service in another rating.

    Failing to Enroll.

  23. If a Royal Fleet Reserve man does not within three months from the expiration of each period of enrollment apply to be re-enrolled, he will be considered to have voluntarily quitted the Reserve and will be struck off the lists, and he will lose all the benefits of the Reserve due to his previous service, unless, in exceptional cases, the Commander-in-Chief or the Deputy Adjutant-General may otherwise direct.
  24. Retainer is not payable for any period intervening between two terms of enrollment.

    Periodical Training.

  25. Classes A. and B.- Men undergo a week’s training immediately on enrollment, and subsequently one week’s training in each calendar year in which the man enrolled. Men will not be required to drill in respect of the year in which they are due for final discharge. Instruction commences at 8 a.m. every Monday, except during Christmas and Easter holidays, and ends at noon on Saturday.
  26. Men in Class A. and men who were serving in Class B., or as Special Service men in the Fleet on the 31st March 196, who may elect to qualify for a Reserve Pension, will drill up to the age of 50 ; other men until they are regularly discharged from the Reserve.

    The training is carried out at the port of enrollment, unless special permission is obtained from the Registrar to perform it at another authorised Training Establishment. Special classes of instruction are formed at each of the Home Ports and Queenstown for Seamen, Stoker and Signal ratings, Sailmakers, Naval Police, Gunner and Torpedo ratings. Marines will drill at their respective Headquarters.

    The retention of Telegraphists in the Reserve will be conditional on their passing a satisfactory test of fitness for Telegraphist in the Torpedo Schools on conclusion of their periodical training.

    Immediate Class.- Men are required to perform 28 days’ annual training on board H.M. Ships during each year of their enrollment. This training will be carried out as a rule in June and July, during the Manoeuvres, and if possible, at least a month’s notice will be given of the date at which it will begin. Men in the Immediate Class who may be called into actual service on an emergency, for however short a time, will be excused their 28 days’ training for that year.

    All men on appearing for training must bring with them their Health and Unemployment Insurance Cards, or if exempted from Health Insurance their Exemption Books.

  27. No payment or retainer will be made to a Class B. man in arrears with drill on the 31st December of any year, i.e. performance of drill in respect of any year carries retainer up to the 30th September only of the following year. In special cases, however, when it is proved to the satisfaction of the Registrar that the failure of any man to perform drill within the prescribed period is not due to the fault of the Reservist himself, permission may be given for arrears of drill to be performed, and for payment to be made of any portion of the retainer which may have been stopped.
  28. Men who fail to perform their training in the Immediate Class without satisfactory cause are liable to discharge from the Reserve altogether, or, alternatively, to a penalty not exceeding £20 in addition to forfeiting any time towards Reserve Gratuity in respect of which they have not performed training.

    Travelling Expenses.

  29. Reasonable travelling expenses will be paid to men who have to travel more than 3 miles to the place of enrollment or training. In the cases of men returning from annual training, travelling expenses will be allowed either to the place whence they came or to any other place, provided that greater expense be not incurred thereby. Men desirous of attending at the Ports for enrollment or for annual training must first apply to the Registrar for a travelling warrant. Men who neglect to apply for a warrant or who, through carelessness, lose their warrant and consequently have to pay their own fare, will only be entitled to receive a refund of the warrant fare (i.e. three fourths of the full fare).
  30. Men who are found medically unfit on presenting themselves for drill and are sent home for treatment will not be entitled to travelling expenses if the cause of their unfitness is of such a nature that they cannot reasonably be presumed to have been ignorant of it before leaving for drill.

    Subsistence allowance, when the journeys to and from their homes occupy more than five hours, will be granted, but it is not payable in addition to provision and lodging allowance for the same day.

    Men appearing for enrollment will be granted lodging and provision allowance for any period of unavoidable detention between enrollment and training, if the amount does not exceed the expense of a railway warrant for a return journey.

    Pay when under Training.

  31. Classes A. and B.- Men will receive the Continuous Service pay of the substantive rank or rating in which enrolled, and provision allowance of 1s. 4d. a day, if not victualled or paid subsistence allowance of higher amount, and also 4d. a day if not lodged. Class B. will also draw retainer of 6d. a day.
  32. Immediate Class.- The Continuous Service pay of their substantive rank or rating.

    Retainer of 1s. a day.
    Embarkation allowance of 8½d. a day.
    Pay for any Good Conduct Badges to which entitled.
    Non-substantive pay, if qualified, not above S.G., S.T., or Q.M.
    Efficiency and Good Shooting allowance, in the case of Royal Marines, if qualified.
    Extra pay of 1s. a day when employed on Coaling Ship during training, not exceeding 10s. in all.
    Men will be victualled on the Service scale.


  33. Class A. receive their Life Pensions, but no retainer.
  34. Class B. receive a retainer at the rate of 6d. a day from date of enrollment. Payment is made quarterly to the men themselves only, except in the case of men allowed to serve in British merchant ships, who may arrange for the retainer to be paid to their wives, (see para. 29.)

    Immediate Class receive retainer at the rate of 1s. a day, payment being made quarterly to the men themselves.

    Gratuitous Clothing and Uniform.

  35. Classes A. and B.- A gratuitous issue of uniform clothing will be made on enrollment. Men already provided with uniform may receive an allowance of 10s. a year in lieu. At the expiration of 5 years or on re-enrollment as the case may be, an allowance of 10s. a year in lieu of kit will be paid.
  36. Immediate Class.- (a) Seamen and Stokers are required to maintain the same kit as Class B. Those who received a free kit on enrollment in Class B. will receive, when transferred to the Immediate Class an upkeep allowance of 10s. a year until 5 years from the date of enrollment in Class B. After then they will receive "1 a year whilst in the Immediate Class.

    (b) Seamen and Stokers who, on enrollment in Class B received 10s. a year in lieu of a free kit will receive an additional 10s., or £1 a year in all, when transferred to the Immediate Class.

    (c) Royal Marines will be treated as in clauses (a) and (b) above, and as they are required to maintain a larger kit than in Class B, additional articles will be issued free to them on transfer to the Immediate Class, or, if any of the articles are in their possession, they will receive the money value instead.

    The kit provided is as follows:-


    One serge suit, consisting of one jacket, one waistcoat, and one pair of trousers.
    Two duck working suits, consisting of two jackets and two pairs of trousers.
    One cloth cap, with peak.
    Two Cap covers.
    * Two check shirts.
    * Two check collars.
    One necktie.
    Two pairs of socks.
    One pair of half-boots.
    † Clothes chest or kit bag.

    Badges as necessary.

    * Master at Arms and Ship’s Corporals will wear white shirts and collars.

    † Men who elect to receive free kit will be supplied with a kit bag.


    Two serge suits, consisting of two jumpers (without cuffs) and two pairs trousers.
    Two duck suits, consisting of two jumpers (working) and two pairs trousers.
    Two blue jean collars.
    One cloth cap.
    Two cap covers (duck).
    One cap ribbon.
    One black silk handkerchief.
    Two pairs of socks.
    One pair of half-boots.
    Two flannels.
    * One canvas kit bag.
    One type. [showing name : to mark clothing with name in paint.]
    Badges as necessary.

    A suitable working dress will be issued on loan to Stoker ratings for use during training.

    Bedding will be issued on loan to men embarked for training.


    Classes A. and B.

    One forage cap, complete with cover and ornament.
    One blue serge tunic.
    One pair tweed trousers.
    One shirt (flannel).
    One shirt (cotton or linen).
    One pair boots.
    Two pairs of socks.
    One great coat (casualty).
    One type [see above.]

    The following are the additional articles included in the Immediate Class Kit:-

    One blue serge tunic.
    One pair tweed trousers.
    One flannel shirt.
    One cotton shirt.
    Two duck ordinary tunics.
    Two pairs duck ordinary trousers.
    One pair canvas shoes.
    One button brass.

    The above kits are always to be maintained complete and are to be brought up on each occasion of drill, when embarked for manoeuvres or temporary service, and when called out in emergency. Men appearing for drill with any articles of kit deficient will be required to make good the shortage at their own expense.

    * Men joining the Reserve will be allowed to retain their Service Kit Bag

    Additional Kit on Mobilisation.

  37. In order to enable men to complete their peace regulation kit to the standard war kit on mobilisation, and to provide themselves subsequently with other miscellaneous articles of clothing, men not dressed as Seamen will be credited with a Clothing Gratuity of £6 on joining their ships, and those dressed as Seamen with £3. A set of bedding will be issued to each man.
  38. Non-Commissioned Officers and men of the Royal Marines will be "fitted-up" on mobilisation according to the custom of the Service. Men in possession of serviceable articles of clothing (other than free issues referred to above) and not requiring similar articles in kind, will be granted compensation under the regulations for active service men for clothing not issued.

    Pay and Mobilisation

  39. When called out for service in advance of mobilisation, Immediate Class men will receive pay and allowances as when up for annual training (see para. 17). On General mobilisation they will receive the same pay and allowances as Class B. men called out for service as detailed below.
  40. Men of Classes A. and B. called out for service in the Fleet will receive the Continuous Service pay of the ratings in which they are enrolled, and of the gunnery, torpedo, or other rating, which, under the Regulations, they may be allowed to hold.

    During all engagements they will be paid for any good conduct badges to which they may be entitled by former service.

    Class A. will draw their pensions in addition to their pay.

    Class B. will receive a special war retainer of 8d. a day instead of the ordinary retainer, and if they should be detained beyond three years, 2d. per day extra.

    Allowances, gratuities, pensions for wounds or disability, allowances to widows and children, will be upon the same scale as for Active Service men of the Fleet of similar ratings.

    Pension and Gratuity.

  41. Class A.- On attaining the age of 50, duly qualified Pensioners in Class A. will receive a Reserve Pension of 5d. a day in addition to their Life Pensions. The award of this pension will not affect a Pensioner's claim to the Greenwich Hospital pensions of 5d. and 9d. a day, but when either of the latter is awarded the Reserve Pension will cease.
  42. Class B.- Men in Class B. will receive a gratuity of £50, in full discharge of all claims, when discharged from the Reserve at 40 years of age if they have completed 20 years’ qualifying service in the Fleet and Royal Fleet Reserve combined. Service in the Royal Naval Reserve and Army also reckons towards the qualifying service under certain conditions. Men may, however, be retained up to a maximum age of 45 years in order to complete 20 years’ qualifying service towards gratuity.

    The regulation in the previous paragraph is compulsory in the cases of :-

    1. All Continuous Service men and Marines enrolled in Class B. of the Reserve after 31st March 1906.
    2. Special Service Seamen and Stokers entered in the Royal Navy after that date.

    Men serving in Class B. or as Special Service men in the Fleet on 31st March 1906 who fulfill the conditions of service in the Reserve will receive a pension of £12 a year at the age of 55 years, or, subject to the discretion of the Admiralty, such men may, after 20 years’ qualifying service, receive a gratuity of £50 in full settlement of all claims, with release from all liability for Active Service.

    No man, however, will receive the gratuity or be released from liability for Active Service until he reaches the age of 40, unless previously discharged for medical unfitness.

    Men in Class B. who are invalided from the Reserve or refused re-enrollment on medical grounds after less than 20 years’ combined Active and Royal Fleet Reserve Service may be granted a gratuity if they are wholly unable, or able in a small degree only, to contribute to their own support, and if such incapacity is not due to their own misconduct. An increased rate may be given to re-enrolled men for each year in excess of 12 years’ combined service.

    Men serving in Class B. or as Special Service men in the Fleet on the 31st March 1906, though not 55 years of age, may be granted a pension of £12 a year if, having not less than 22 years’ combined Active and Reserve Service, they are certified to be wholly and permanently incapacitated for further service, provided such incapacity is not due to their own imprudence or misconduct. In cases where such men are wholly but temporarily incapacitated for further service, a pension may be granted for a fixed period renewable only after further medical examination.

    Pensions for Injury.

  43. A Royal Fleet Reserve man, if wounded or injured on service or on drill, will be entitled to the same rate of Naval Pension as an Active Service Seaman or Marine ; and if killed, slain, or drowned on service, or on drill, his widow and children will be eligible for the same pension and allowance out of Greenwich Hospital Funds as the widow and children of any Active Service Seamen or Marine of the same rating.
  44. Conditions of Award of pensions and Gratuity.

  45. The satisfactory carrying out of the prescribed periods of drill and good conduct whilst called out for service in the Fleet are necessary qualifications for a Reserve Pension or gratuity.
  46. Any man who, while competent to serve, seeks for and obtains his discharge from the Reserve, or who does not continue to re-enroll in the Reserve as the expiration of each successive period of enrollment (but see para. 13), will forfeit all claim to Reserve pension or gratuity.

    Class B., Discharge at the end of Engagement.

  47. At the end of each successive period of enrollment a Royal Fleet Reserve man in Class B. is entitled to claim his discharge, provided he is not at the time required by Royal Proclamation to serve in the Fleet.
  48. Purchase of Discharge.

  49. A man in Class B. may, if the exigencies of the Service admit, purchase his discharge from he Reserve.
  50. Subject to the requirement of the Service, men in the Immediate Class will be permitted to purchase their discharge from that class for the sum of £10.


  51. Any man who may so misconduct himself as to bring discredit on the Reserve will be liable to the dismissed without gratuity. The services of men who become physically incapable of service will be dispensed with.
  52. Rejoining for Active Service.

  53. If the services of a man in Class B. under 40 years of age are required, he may be permitted to re-enter the Royal Navy or Royal Marines in vacancies, if he is of good character and in all respects fit, provided he has served continuously in the Reserve since taking his discharge. In such a case his previous Naval or Marine Service will count towards Long Service Pension.
  54. Special Service men and men who have been allowed to take their discharge from the Active Service on special terms, in order to join the Reserve, may rejoin the Royal Navy only in exceptional cases. (See Note below).

    Royal Fleet Reserve men, whether belonging to Class A. or Class B., who re-enter the Active Service will be discharged from the Reserve from the date of their rejoining the Royal Navy.

    Note.- Under a special temporary arrangement, Special Service men serving in Class B of the Reserve are permitted to re-engage in the Active Service for a period of 3 years. Full particulars may be obtained on application to the Registrars.

    Service in British Merchant Ships.

  55. Men in Classes A. and B. are permitted to serve in any British Merchant Ship which regularly calls at some Port in the United Kingdom, but if it is anticipated that the voyage will involve an absence of more than six months from the United Kingdom, the prior consent of the Royal Fleet Reserve Registrar must be obtained.
  56. As regards men in the Immediate Class, see para. 5.

    Residence Abroad.

  57. In special cases men in Classes A. and B. may be permitted to proceed abroad for periods not exceeding six months, provided that the prior consent of the Registrar has been obtained. In such cases retainers of Class B. men will be withheld until their return.
  58. Change of Address.

  59. Change of address must always be reported immediately to the Registrar, the class and R.F.R. number being given in all communications.
  60. The sons of Royal Fleet Reserve men are eligible for admission to Greenwich Hospital School. The conditions of admission are contained in separate regulations, which may be obtained on application to the Director of Greenwich Hospital, Admiralty, S.W.

January 1914.

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