I have the Naval summary of an ancestor (Who served in the UK Navy during the 1920's) which lists the bases and ships he served on, with a small bit of other information too.

The document I have isn't titled, but it was obtained from the National Archives, and has listings titled 'Date and period of Engagements' and 'Ships etc served in'.

I have uploaded the PDF (153kb) here if you'd like to see it: http://www.ben-griffiths.com/_downloads/HarryGriffithsRecord.pdf

Is it possible to get a more detailed record from each post, reasons for discharge (or if he just resigned) and other information?

  • 2
    This is a great question, and how cool. Perhaps, "Naval summary" is standard source material for the UK. If it is, then you could improve the body of your question by showing that as a proper title or even adding an image/ snippet of the record. If it is not, then please reference where you obtained the current information you describe as, "the Naval summary."
    – GeneJ
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 23:55
  • Thanks - I have updated the question - I'll also add an image later today. It's currently in PDF form from the National Archives. Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 7:07
  • 1
    And I've uploaded the record now too :) Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 16:30
  • I see. That's great, Ben. That's some real handwriting! I love this stuff. Priceless.
    – GeneJ
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 17:59
  • Yeah it's pretty tough going to read it all haha Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 19:40

3 Answers 3


Although I am not familiar with the RN version of the document, it sounds as though it is similar to the Royal Australian Navy service record I have worked with.

My strategy has been that it is relatively easy to find rich references listing where particular ships operated and what they did (both in print and on-line). You know from the summary when your ancestor was on board, so you can cross reference to find the operations in which he was engaged.

One of my projects is to map the locations of each pair of ships when my father transferred from one to another. You can quickly build up the skeleton of a timeline with map that documents his service.

A simple web search for the ship's name (with relevant years) can sometimes find the published reminiscences of men who may have been his shipmates. Or at least who tell stories that will be similar to his experiences.

One caution is that the Navy has a habit of reusing names for vessels. So be a good genealogist and always check its "date of birth" (either keel-laying, launch date, or commissioning).

Some specifics on Henry Griffiths

Your document shows that young Henry committed to a 12 year term on his 18th birthday, but that he was in the Navy before that because he was posted to HMS Vivid (a training unit in barracks at Devonport) in July 1914 as a "Boy". So he joined up a fortnight before the war began.

His first ship HMS Powerful refers to one of two training units (based at Devonport) but aboard either HMS Andromeda (a Diadem-class of protected cruiser launched on 5 January 1898. converted to a training ship and renamed Powerful II on 23 September 1913) or HMS Caroline (a Satellite-class composite screw corvette launched in 1882, reassigned to harbour service in 1897 and then a training ship renamed Powerful III in 1913).

Several different vessels were used in Devonport for training purposes during WWI and rebadged Impregnable with a number while in that role. Some of them have truly amazing histories. Can you imagine your ancestor on HMS Howe (Impregnable I), a three-deck ship of the line on a keel laid down in 1860?

You have an absolute treasure trove here!

  • Thanks @Fortiter! Going to do some digging over the weekend to see what else I can find :) Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 19:37

The notation "Record Transferred to Card 1 Jan 1929" is an indication that Henry served beyond 1929. After that date, records were kept on a new card system. You should check with the Ministry of Defence to see if you can get his continuation of service, as they hold these records. http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/service_records.html

  • Excellent, thanks, I didn't realise there could be more :D Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 18:46

The source document is generally referred to as a "Continuous Service Record."

My understanding is that further details will be found in the original attestation or enlistment papers, which have been bound into engagement ledgers and are at the Fleet Air Arm Museum - these are for all branches of the RN, not just the FAA itself. But whether it contains more details of assignments, I've no idea, I've not seen any examples. (See "Tracing Your Naval Ancestors" by Simon Fowler (pub 2011) - there is an earlier and similar book from TNA but it appears to be out of print)


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