Each record provides an image of the original record and a transcript. The amount of information found in each transcript can vary, but most will include the following:

  • Name
  • Birth year
  • Birth place
  • Year
  • Rank
  • Seniority year
  • Seniority date
  • Archive
  • Description
  • Series
  • Piece number
  • Covering date
  • Document number


The image will provide even more clues about your ancestor’s life within the Royal Naval Reserve such as

  • Ships served on and the corresponding dates of service
  • Date and place of discharge
  • Promotions
  • Awards – For example, Bernard Edwin received the Order of the British Empire OBE for his valuable services in mine sweeping in 1919.
  • Notes on character and behaviour during battles – For example, Charles Gordon Denning was recommended for early promotion after the Battle of Jutland for the cool and skillful way he controlled the foremost gun while under heavy fire.

Discover more about these records

The British Royal Naval Reserve 1899-1930 records are held by The National Archives in their series listed ADM 337 and ADM 240. ADM is short for Admiralty and it identifies that these records, and any other records within ADM series, relate to the Admiralty. The collection contains Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) officers’ service records and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) service records. Officers’ service records were traditionally kept in registers, but near the time of the First World War, individual service cards were introduced and became a standard with the Royal Navy. The RNVR service records are of ratings or ‘other ranks’.

The RNR is an amalgamation of the Royal Naval Reserve, created in 1859, and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, created in 1903. The two forces were merged in 1958. At the beginning of the First World War, the RNR had 30,000 officers and men. Sailors within the RNR served at the Battle of Coronel, the Battle of Jutland, and in Gallipoli. Many others boarded trawlers searching for mines. Later in the war, some qualified as pilots and joined the Royal Naval Air Service. Even though the numbers of sailors within the RNR were far less than the Royal Navy, the service branch was awarded 12 Victoria Crosses during the First World War.