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Chapter 8: Home Front – 2

Recruitment of Ratings

Recruitment of ratings to the Royal Indian Navy was carried out in two categories (a) in the permanent cadre on continuous and non-continuous service engagements and (b) temporary cadre on special service and hostilities only engagements. Boy ratings were enrolled for a period of twelve years and direct entry ratings for a period of not less than six or more than ten years’ continuous service, followed by a further period of ten years’ service in the reserve, if required. The above period of twelve years’ service might be reduced to eight years, at the discretion of the Flag Officer Commanding the Royal Indian Navy, the balance being completed in the reserve, if required. The initial continuous service enrolment period for a direct entry rating was adjusted so that his age on completion was not below 28 nor above 32. The direct entry continuous service ratings normally were restricted to artisans, artificers and writers. The period of enrolment of a boy commenced from the date on which he was enrolled provided he was not less than sixteen years of age on that date. Every rating so entered or borne was distinguished in the ledger, pay documents, certificates and conduct sheets by the official number against his name and in the case of non-continuous service ratings by the letters “NCS” also.

Non-continuous service was restricted to ratings of the domestic branch and in special cases, with the approval of the Officer Commanding the Royal Indian Navy, to men temporarily required to fill vacancies in the lower rates of other branches which were not filled immediately by continuous service ratings. Only men with naval, military, air force or civilian experience as stewards or cooks were entered as such. Certificates of service or other evidence to show that recruits had the necessary experience were examined and, when circumstances admitted, a practical test was carried out before final entry was effected. Non-continuous service men, when entered for the first time or re-entered after a break in service were enrolled as stewards or leading cooks in the domestic branch and artisan third class as artisans. Men entered for the first time were always under 25 years of age. Enrolment or re-enrolment, with or without a break in service, was normally for 3 years. A

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non-continuous service domestic rating on completion of 10 years’ service without a break was transferred to continuous service to complete his period to secure the benefit of pension.

Special service ratings entered as ordinary seamen and stokers II class between the ages of 17£ and 24 and as ordinary signalman and ordinary telegraphists between the ages of 17| and 24, and were required to sign an engagement form S-55 for a period of 10 years, from the date of entry or the date of attaining the age of 18, whichever was later. Every man so entered or borne was distinguished in the ledger, pay documents and certificates and on his conduct sheets by the letters, “S.S.” and official number against his name. The first five years from the date of entry or 18th birthday or such less portion as the Officer Commanding RIN might direct, was in the active service and the residue in the Royal Indian Fleet Reserve. The rates of substantive pay of special service ratings were the same as those of continuous service ratings. Special service ratings were not eligible for advancement above leading rates but, if transferred to continuous service, they were eligible for further advancement subject to continuous service regulations.

When more ships were requisitioned for the Royal Indian Navy, personnel for the additional ships were provided by recruiting hostilities only ratings. These were merchant seamen, in some cases taken from the crews of the requisitioned ships. Although illiterate and ignorant of the specialist work as gunnery etc. required in the Royal Indian Navy, they filled an urgent requirement.

The rates of pay of Royal Indian Navy ratings had an appreciable effect on recruitment and consequently on expansion. At the outbreak of the war an ordinary seaman in the merchant service and his counterpart in the Royal Indian Navy both received Rs. 20/- a month with certain allowances. On 4 September 1939 the shipping companies agreed to allow a war bonus of 25%. A week later approval was given for a similar increase in the pay of hostilities only ratings. The pay of ordinary seaman then became –

Merchant Service Rs. 25/-
RIN (Hostilities Only) Rs. 25/-
RIN (Active Service) Rs. 20/-

On 31 December 1939 an increase in the merchant service basic rate was made and the following rates were introduced:–

Merchant Service Rs. 30/-
RIN (Hostilities Only) Rs. 25/-
RIN (Active Service) Rs. 20/-

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This process continued. The hostilities only rating lagged behind the merchant service from which he had been recruited and consequently the best type of men naturally remained in the merchant service and those who could not obtain jobs in it joined the Royal Indian Navy. There were, of course, exceptions also.1

The valuable part played by hostilities only ratings throughout the war cannot be over emphasised and deserves special mention. Initially these men came from merchant fleet, but as the war proceeded, many other types of men were enrolled and filled the gap caused by the lack of special service recruits. Particularly was this the case in the category of artificers and engine room personnel, but at a later stage when a general increase in strength was achieved, the domestic branches also had to depend on the hostilities only ratings for manning the services.

During the course of the war, 9,000 hostilities only ratings were recruited though wastages claimed approximately 4,600. Of this wastage there were over 1,800 desertions, the remainder being by discharge and death. Actually this desertion rate when considered in the light of the entire war, was in effect higher as, during 1943 about 500 Class V Motor Engineers were enrolled for service in the Landing Craft Wing, but were quickly discharged and replaced by Short Service (S.S.) stokers from General Service. The desertions were incurred mainly at times when rates of pay in the merchant fleet were increased. Thus the incidental wastage by desertion accounted for nearly 45%, a fairly high figure.

Early in the war, it was laid down that hostilities only ratings whose pay was considerably more than that of men of special service terms, should be replaced as soon as possible by short service men. Again in 1943 a definite plan was drawn up whereby it was thought possible that the large majority of lower hostilities only ratings (then amounting to 4,158) might be replaced by the end of 1945. Many factors were expected to complicate this programme, and, in fact, they did. The target showed a marked and rapid increase and lack of intake of special service men assumed serious proportions. The combined result of all this was to retard considerably any contemplated replacement. Finally, following stabilisation of the target in 1944, and after acquiring a steady intake of special servicemen, it was found possible to commence replacement in May 1945, and it continued steadily until the end of the war.

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Recruiting Demands and Intake

11 is convenient to divide the war into two periods as regards recruiting. The first period stretches from the beginning of the war |0 the end of 1941, and the second from the beginning of 1942 to the cessation of hostilities. During the first period, recruitment was undertaken solely by the Royal Indian Navy whilst the Inter-Service Recruiting Organisation took over from the beginning of 1942. Some direct recruitment continued even after this date but it was very limited.

The Recruiting Directorate of Adjutant General’s Branch was given the task of maintaining an establishment 4,396 strong, and of making up of a deficiency of 5,728 and its consequential maintenance. The borne strength quoted comprised only active service ratings, which the Recruiting Directorate was called on to maintain, but the deficiency provided for an intake sufficient to replace hostilities only ratings.

The following table shows the progress made year by year up to the end of the war:–

Position as on Active Service Target Strength Active Service Borne Strength Deficiency on Target HO Target Strength HO Borne in lieu Net working deficiency
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1.1.1942 10,124 4,396 5,728 7,794 2,056 3,672
1.1.1943 10,185 9,256 6,929 10,435 3,506 3,423
1.1.1944 25,274 16,745 8,529 13,272 4,743 3,746
1.1.1945 28,524 20,445 8,079 12,777 4,698 3,391
15.8.1945 27,707 23,567 4,140 8,224 4,084 56

For the first three years, no appreciable change was apparent in the deficiency despite the fact that in addition to the special service intake additional 2,642 hostilities only men had been signed on direct by the Royal Indian Navy.

The intake demand was controlled by training facilities available, and demands were never met fully. This was not the primary reason for the failure to eliminate the deficiency, the cause being the heavy wastage incurred and the developing increases in the targets.

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Intake of men in the RIN 
during World War II

Intake of men in the RIN during World War II

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It was only when the target had been severely controlled and restricted that progress was made towards wiping off the deficiency, which stood at only 56 at the-end of the war.

Prior to 1942 direct recruitment produced 7,193 ratings, and thereafter, until the end of the war, 8,476. From its inception until the close of the war the Recruiting Directorate produced 25,090 ratings. In addition 2,306 ratings were transferred direct from the army to the Landing Craft Wing. Thus through the Recruiting Organisation 58% of the Royal Indian Navy manpower was obtained, and through other sources, 42% – mostly direct recruitment.

These results speak well for the recruiting work carried out by the navy, particularly when the high proportion obtained up to 1942 is taken into account. The numbers within the service then were so small and the Recruiting Organisation generally was in its infancy as far as the expanded service was concerned. Excluding the army transferees the monthly recruitment figure was approximately 220. A major portion of this figure covered hostilities only ratings. The monthly average of special service ratings received through the Recruiting Directorate was almost 600.

In the later stages special service ratings were being recruited to replace the hostilities only ratings recruited earlier in the war, so that in effect a certain amount of duplication of effort was experienced during the course of the entire war. In the earlier days of the existence of the Inter-Service Recruiting Directorate the periodical naval requirements prepared by the Royal Indian Navy were somewhat haphazard. The controlling factor being the capacity of RIN training establishments, both as regards accommodation and instructional staff, intake in those days bore little or no relation to the actual manpower requirements. In the majority of branches deficiencies of special service ratings were so large that the only consideration was to obtain as many of the required standard as might be provided and trained. In nearly all cases training establishments were too small to deal with an intake sufficiently large to enable the RIN to man fully new construction ships; hence hostilities only ratings had to be recruited again in large numbers. This necessarily implied expansion of almost all training establishments. As soon as it was accomplished the navy was able to increase its recruiting demands. Unfortunately, by the time this increase was possible manpower resources had been drained of a large portion of the best material, particularly in the higher educational zones. As the other Services also required educated men the navy was never subsequently able to obtain its requirements in full.

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A brief note on the calculation of demands may here be of interest. Demands were normally calculated on the basis of the ensuing twelve months requirements. The basic figure in each category and branch was the deficiency of trained men against total requirements (target). To this was added the anticipated wastage of trained men during the following twelve months, and in addition such wastage for variations in target were next taken into account. These were either increases or reductions. The result was the required gross commitment in trained men at the end of the ensuing year.

Credit was then taken for the estimated output of trained men from recruits then under training, after making due allowance for wastage at rates obtaining at the time. Thus the net annual commitment in terms of trained men was arrived at. To this figure was added an allowance at the appropriate rate to cover initial training wastage, and the result was the total number of recruits necessary during the next twelve months on the assumption that the target could be met and establishments maintained in full.

The next step was to allocate the total requirements of each branch into a monthly intake. Here the controlling factor, as mentioned above, was training capacity. Normally specific demands were made for each of the following three months, as, according to the realization of these demands subsequent monthly intake was adjusted. If the balance remaining was within nine months’ training capacity it was shown as a bulk figure for the following nine months. Any excess over this balance had, however, to be accepted as a carry-over deficiency into the following year.2

Training of Ratings

The training of the rapidly expanding navy presented many difficulties. The main problems were the institution of courses not previously undertaken, shortages of instructors and equipment, and the difficult situation created by the pre-war policy of centralising all training activities within the dockyard area. This centralisation, though economical, did not favour rapid expansion of training establishments. Considerations of space compelled the transfer of training establishments beyond the confines of the dockyard. Work began on a new Royal Indian Navy Depot (Castle Barracks), Bombay, on the site of the old Bombay Castle. This Depot was intended to meet the wider needs of the Service, as

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envisaged by the recommendations of the Chatfield Committee, and was to provide accommodation for 400 Petty Officers and other ratings. The barracks were completed in January 1941 and subsequent improvisation allowed for the housing of a total of 1,000 ratings. This, however, was inadequate for the increasing wartime needs of the Royal Indian Navy. Some training schools were housed in Castle Barracks, others elsewhere in makeshift quarters until more permanent schools were set up. Because of these difficulties recruiting and rapid training of personnel were hindered.

Seamen Training

On the outbreak of war, recruiting for continuous service ratings (save boys and artificer apprentices) had ceased, hostilities only ratings were regarded on recruitment as fully trained professional seamen and, therefore, received no training other than that aboard ship on being drafted to sea. It was, therefore, with the training of special service ratings and boys that RIN was then mainly concerned.

Until mid-1940 the hulk HMIS Dalhousie was the Boys Training Establishment. When this establishment was moved to Karachi, the hulk was utilised for the training of special service ratings. With the expansion of the service arid recruitment, Dalhousie was found to be much too small. Ultimately the intake by recruitment had to be curbed for lack of accommodation in the training schools, and this too at a time when the service urgently required men. As Castle Barracks were completed, the training of special service ratings was moved there, but this afforded only momentary relief as space there also was extremely limited.3 This necessitated a further transfer of the establishment to HMIS Khanjar, an area of requisitioned buildings at Versova, some 18 miles from Bombay. The Khanjar was admittedly a temporary expedient, pending the construction of a larger and more permanent establishment at Kolshet (HMIS Akbar).

At the Khanjar all special service ratings received their first eleven weeks training consisting of educational and disciplinary courses. Thereafter seamen were transferred to the hulk Dalhousie for practical training for twelve weeks in seamanship which included one week’s sea-going training. The total number of rating! who were trained at one time at the Khanjar was:–

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Seamen 990
Stokers 330
Cooks (S) 90
Cooks (O) 90

In 1943 when the intensified campaign of the Recruiting Directorate had increased the flow of recruits, the Khanjar and other training establishments were unable to cope with the additional numbers and asked for recruiting to be curtailed. But as this might have affected subsequent recruiting adversely, it was arranged to open Naval Wings at the Recruit Reception Camps at Bangalore and at other places. Here recruits were held until they might be absorbed by the training establishments.

HMIS Akbar was commissioned on a tented basis in January 1944. All new entry training for seamen, cooks, writers etc. was undertaken there. New entry divisional courses for schoolmasters, artificers, stokers, writers and sick berth attendants etc. were also carried out. The hulk Dalhousie and HMIS Khanjar ceased to be new entry training establishments. Seamanship training Akbar comprised a 24-week course at the end of which a recruit passed out with the rank of ordinary seaman, although he had passed the examination for able seaman also. Advancement to the latter rate, however, required one year’s service to include, if possible, four months’ sea time.

From the middle of 1944 till the end of hostilities, there were no major alterations at HMIS Akbar. Considerable improvement was, however, made in the matter of sea training with the formation, in mid-1944, of the Bombay Training Flotilla consisting of HMI ships Cornwallis, Clive, Dipavati, Hira, Lai, and Milam. In June 1945, HMIS Gondwana joined the flotilla primarily as an anti-submarine training ship, but was utilised for the sea training of recruits from HMIS Akbar when anti-submarine training was not possible during the monsoon. HMAS Cornwallis was paid off in July 1945 and in November of that year HMIS Lawrence joined the flotilla.

Boys Training

Experience has taught that the best seamen are those who have been trained in the profession from their early youth. This was particularly the case in India where the standard of literacy was low. Sound knowledge of technical subjects is essential for the seamen who must have as basis a good standard of general education. This was fully appreciated in the RIN and in 1937 a plan was drawn up

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for a new and permanent Boys Training Establishment to replace HMIS Dalhousie. In the following year construction was begun at Manora, Karachi. This new establishment (HMIS Bahadur) was commissioned in May 1940 and was originally designed to house 250 boys. To meet wartime requirements it was later expanded to accommodate 500 boys. The Bahadur became a modern well-equipped school with adequate instructional apparatus and extensive playing fields.

During the war the recruitment of boys considerably increased. As a shortage of boys of the requisite educational and physical standards was experienced, it was decided to set up an establishment for junior boys between the ages of 14 and 15 to prepare them for entry into the Bahadur. Building work started on Chinna Creek, Karachi, in September 1941, and the establishment was commissioned as HMIS Dilawar in February 1942. Boys were admitted at half-yearly intervals, the capacity of the establishment being 240. With the rapid expansion of the service, the need for more continuous service ratings grew. To meet this as quickly as possible and to avoid further construction, it was decided that entries into the Dilawar should be of the same age as those for the Bahadur (i.e.) 15 to 17. Educationally, entries into the Dilawar were, therefore, one year higher. The annual output from those establishments was thus increased from 360 to 480.

Having signed on for continuous service, boys entered the Bahadur between the ages of 15 and 17, at 2 years pre-matriculation standard. There was a fresh intake every 3 months. The course of 18 months covered general educational subjects and science (including electricity, wireless, engineering science and magnetism) and naval subjects such as seamanship, divisional duties, service customs and regulations, naval history and field training. Advanced classes received elementary instruction in navigation. On completion of his course, a boy had attained at least the matriculation standard of other Indian schools. In 1945, the passing-out examination was accepted by the Madras Government as equivalent to the standard required for their inferior services.

One of the difficulties encountered during the period 1940-43 was that of obtaining suitable schoolmasters. Men temperamentally and morally fitted for the instruction of boys and with the requisite high academic qualifications were relatively few and not easily induced to join the Royal Indian Navy where pay was comparatively poor. Later the pay and status of a schoolmaster were raised and the situation eased.

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The hulk Dalhousie was moved to Karachi in 1944 where it was attached to the Bahadur for training purposes. Early in 1945 she became unseaworthy and was sold. HMIS Investigator was then provided as a sea training ship for Inns, in January 1945. Her commodious accommodation made her specially suitable for the job – she made a number of training cruises, including two to East Africa.

Mechanical Training

Towards the end of 1940 an expanded mechanical training establishment within the dockyard area was planned to train 500 ratings at a time. The new school was completed towards the close of 1941. Training of various hostilities only categories was then also undertaken, including motor engineers, boiler room chargemen, drivers (Steam I and II), greasers etc. Practical training was carried out afloat in HMIS Lawrence and other local naval defence vessels. The expansion of the dockyard within the next three years resulted in the shifting of the mechanical training establishment to a new site at Lonavala in the Western Ghats, about 80 miles from Bombay. The new school was commissioned at HMIS Shivaji in June 1945. It was designed to train a maximum of 720 ratings of all categories.

In 1942, when difficulty was experienced in finding suitable men for artificer artisans (acting IV class), a special pre-training scheme was evolved for men of Intermediate Science standard. They were to be given 6 months’ practical engineering instruction at the Civilian Training Centre, Pilani (Jaipur State) to fit them for recruitment into the mechanical training establishment as direct entry artificers. This arrangement was made possible by the generosity of Mr. G. D. Birla who supplied most of the training equipment free of charge. The centre was administered by the Labour Department. Later it was felt that efficiency would be increased by converting it into a Civilian Naval Centre (Civ-Naval Centre) under a RIN Engineer Officer. The change occurred early in 1944 and disciplinary training was added to the course with a naval staff of 3 officers and 36 ratings. There was a Labour Department staff of 60, administration remaining under that department. Later in 1944, recruitment to the Civ-Naval Centre, which till then had been poor, received considerable impetus. To cope with the growing numbers and also to improve the internal administration of the centre, about which there had been some dissatisfaction, the Naval Staff was increased to 3 Engineer Officers (including a Lt. Comdr. (E) in charge), 3 Executive Officers and one Supply

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Officer, in addition to the requisite Regulating Staff and Ship’s Company.

Gunnery Training

In 1939 for the first time since the Great War, expansion of facilities for gunners training was taken up. Close to the existing battery in the dockyard were installed one high angle section and R/F (Range Finder) Director with FKC (Fuse Keeping Clock) and FCB (Fire Control Box) equipment. Then in September, “the maximum possible expansion of the Gunnery School took place in the space then available. Fire control, ammunition, land fighting, and director sections were added in a building adjacent to the battery. In due course another battery was added, giving a total of five guns (4” Mk IV Q.F., (Quick Firing), 4” Mk. IX. B/L; and 6” B/L (Breach Loading) – the last being for the training of gun crews for armed merchant cruisers. In 1940, when the Navy Office moved out of its premises in the dockyard, a number of class rooms became available for theoretical and educational instruction, but at the same time the increased flow of naval stores caused part of the already small parade ground to be absorbed for storage purposes”.4

The policy of moving all training establishments out of the dockyard area was then being enforced. In any event the Gunnery School had become so cramped that a move was essential if efficient training was to be provided. Various locations were considered, but to all of them, there was some objection or other, and it was after some considerable time when a suitable site was finally found at Manora Sandspit, Karachi. Building operations were not seriously begun until early 1942. Meanwhile, the expansion of the school could not be delayed, and on 1 June 1942 it moved to 111 Palazzo on Malabar Hill being commissioned as HMIS Himalaya in January 1943. Two blocks of flats and a bungalow were requisitioned for accommodation and by the end of 1942 there were 500 to 600 ratings under training. That figure was maintained in 1944 after the schools had moved to Karachi. Thereafter, numbers remained more or less constant, showing only a slight increase. This new school had increased accommodation and was equipped in the most up-to-date manner, being the most modern of its kind outside the United Kingdom. For the first time it was possible to give detailed practical instruction and to allow trainees to gain experience of the actual

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instruments concerned. A memorandum from HMIS Himalaya summed up the change thus.

“The new Gunnery School in Karachi has proved in five months how vitally necessary an establishment of its kind was, and the results of the classes passing through during this period have been must gratifying. Ratings in the past had to be told in a class room how to turn handles, follow pointers and a host of other things which can only be learnt practically. Now this difficulty has been solved, and each instructor knows that he is in a position to show his class practically all that they will be called upon to do at sea. From the training point of view the answer has at last been readied and the difficulties of the past left behind.”

The necessity for a fully-equipped school was amply established by examination results, those at Karachi showing a vast improvement over earlier examinations held in Bombay.

When the difficulties relating to accommodation and provision of equipment were removed, the main problem to be faced was to obtain an adequate number of Instructors. At the beginning of 1944, against a sanctioned establishment of 8 Chief Gunners Mates, 16 Gunners Mates, and 10 other Higher Gunnery Rate Instructors, the Himalaya had only 3 Chief Gunners Mates, 5 Gunners Mates and 6 Higher Gunnery Rate Instructors. This shortage was neutralised by a simultaneous shortage in the number of ratings under training, as the Himalaya had only one-third of its total capacity. But in mid-1944 when the full complement of ratings was available for training, the problem of providing instructors assumed significance.

In 1944-45 the Himalaya was improved by the addition of new training equipment. The firing range was extended to accommodate Defensive Equipment of Merchant Shipping (DEMS) and Coastal force guns. A Chief Ordnance Artifice] was sent to the United. Kingdom for training and was subsequently promoted as the first Indian Warrant Ordnance Artificer.

Anti-Submarine Training

Enough has already been said under HMIS Machlimar in respect of anti-submarine training. Instruction commenced in April 1943 in the new school (HMIS Machlimar), which was later expanded to provide for the training of Harbour Defence Operators, instruction being given to RN, RIN, and Ceylon RNVR ratings. Instruction was also imparted to teams who would man a ship’s antisubmarine set as a unit. Bases were fully manned by qualified A/S officers. Ample equipment was maintained to execute repairs

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to all except the most modern sets. Adequate spares for the types 144Q, and 147B, which were the two main sets fitted in the ships, were kept at all ports. Attack Teachers for training in type 123 A sets were in operation in Bombay, Karachi, Madras, Vizagapatam and Calcutta. In addition, Attack Teachers type A/S type 345 for training in all type sets were installed in Bombay, Vizagapatam and Calcutta. A mass procedure Teacher type A/S 406 was installed in Bombay. A/S Type 84 and A/S Type 49 sets were fitted in Royal Indian Navy ships and boats. Fixed Defence Stations were then in operation in Madras, Karachi and Vizagapatam. The Bombay station was abandoned in July 1944 as unsuitable.

Torpedo and Electrical Training

The Torpedo Branch was the youngest in the Service. It was responsible for all torpedo, mining, paravanes, and depth charge gear in Indian navy ships and motor torpedo boats, and also for the efficient working of all electrical apparatus, excluding wireless, radar and anti-submarine gear. The utility of the Branch was fully demonstrated when Bittern and Black Swan class sloops and other vessels with modern electrical equipment were acquired, and with the introduction of motor torpedo boats.

Originally, certain Engineer Officers and Electrical Apprentices (E. As.) received courses in electrical maintenance, but these men lacked special theoretical and practical knowledge for maintenance of modern fire control gear etc., and the Engineer Officers were almost fully occupied at sea with their normal engineering duties. Thus the expedient did not prove a success. As a result, a number of Warrant Electricians were borrowed from the Admiralty. At the same time some officers and apprentices were sent for training to HMS Vernon, Torpedo and Electrical Training School in the United Kingdom. These officers and ratings, together with certain E. As who had received electrical training at the Mechanical Training Establishment, Bombay, formed the nucleus of the Torpedo Branch. A Torpedo School was opened in the dockyard in June 1942 and later moved to its new location at Rozi Island, in Jamnagar, in December 1942. The school was commissioned as HMIS Valsura and was sanctioned as a joint venture with the Royal Navy which supplied some instructors and whose ratings were trained in the school. In the middle of 1944 ML420 was allotted to HMIS Valsura for torpedo firing duties.

To co-ordinate all matters relating to torpedoes, mining and electrical subjects, a Staff Officer (Torpedo and Mining) was

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appointed at the Naval Headquarters in November 1943. In March 1944 a Torpedo Officer was appointed for duties on the East Coast (on the staff of the Commodore, Bay of Bengal) and one for the West Coast (on the staff of the Flag Officer, Bombay).

Electrical Mechanics Training

After the formation of the Landing Craft Wing, electrical maintenance was undertaken by 3 types of Ratings – Wiremen (H.Os), Electrical Artificers from General Service, and a newly created rate known as Electrical Artificers. This arrangement was not satisfactory. Men employed on the same work were on varying conditions of service and had been trained in different ways. E. As (LCW) had received only a brief course in Bombay.

The E.A. (LCW) Branch worked independently of HMIS Valsura until December 1943 when an officer from the torpedo school was deputed to take charge of the training of ratings for the Landing Craft Wing. As the quality of ratings engaged on electrical maintenance in the Landing Craft Wing was not found satisfactory, and as HMIS Valsura was unable to undertake their training, the school was attached to HMIS Khanjar which later came to be known as HMIS Hamla. In February 1944 a new Electrical Mechanics Branch was formed. This was intended ultimately to take over all electrical maintenance in the landing craft.

Lack of equipment was so grave in the early stages that it seriously dislocated the training programme, as originally planned. This difficulty was overcome, but a shortage of instructors still remained, and in early 1944 the school had only half its sanctioned establishment of instructors. Candidates for entry into this Branch were selected from stokers and seamen ratings, undergoing their new entry courses at HMIS Akbar. The electrical course was intended to fit them to take full responsibility for all electrical care and maintenance of 8 to 10 Landing Craft. It was estimated that ?? electrical mechanics were to be trained by the end of July 1944.

As part of the reorganisation of the Landing Craft Wing, it was decided that the training school for electrical mechanics, previously located in HMIS Hamla, should be transferred to HMIS Valsura. This was effected in May 1945. The need for a qualified Electrical Officer at the Naval Headquarters was felt and an electrical officer of Commander’s rank was loaned by the Admiralty in December 1944. The number of electrical officers borne increased from 25 to 58.

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Signals Training

Until 1941 the training of communication ratings was carried out in a Signal School in the dockyard area. Up to 1939 the output of trained boys had been somewhat less than 100 annually. In 1940 the training of communication boys was transferred to HMIS Bahadur. But the great increase in the number of special service ratings necessitated the opening of a new school at Colaba in April 1941. Their training period was then cut down to 5½ months, including the New Entry Course. This was unavoidable but it resulted in the drafting of inadequately trained communication ratings to ships and shore stations. However, by 1944 the situation had considerably eased and it was possible to extend the training period to approximately 8½ months including 2 months in a sea-going training ship.

Besides the instructional staff of 44 ratings and a Ship’s Company of 260, the school had accommodation for a total number of 930 ratings, undergoing training. 70 officers and 930 ratings were the maximum that were accepted for training at any one time. The school was originally under the administrative and disciplinary control of the Commanding Officer of the RIN Depot but later it was made an independent establishment and commissioned as HMIS Talwar. The sloop HMIS Cornwallis was allotted to it for practical training. The establishment was purely a RIN commitment, but the Admiralty had built some class rooms and loaned a few instructors. The following were the various kinds of courses undertaken in the Signal School:–

Ordinary signalman’s preliminary course, ordinary telegraphists’ preliminary course, ordinary radar operators’ preliminary course, radio mechanics preliminary course, visual signalmen III’s course, visual signalmen II’s course, V/S I’s course, wireless telegraphists 3’s Course, wireless telegraphists II’s Course, wireless telegraphists I’s course, convoy leading signalmen’s course, convoy yeoman’s course, leading coders’ course, petty officer coders’ course.

Radar Training

The training of efficient radar operators created many problems, owing to lack of instructional facilities and the paucity of technically qualified instructors. Up to June 1944, limited training was carried out in Signal School, Bombay, and in HMIS Cornwallis which was commissioned as a tender to that establishment. That training, however, was far from satisfactory and, in February 1944, it was decided to build an up-to-date Radar School at Karachi.

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Until HMIS Chamak, the new school was completed, as a temporary measure, radar ratings were trained in HMIS Himalaya where a number of sets were installed. HMIS Madras was refitted as a radar training ship and commissioned as a tender to the Radar School. This led to some improvement in the standard of training of radar operators but the problem still remained acute.

The introduction into Naval ships of new and more complicated sets, action information centres and the like, rendered a complete re-organisation of the radar branch necessary. The branch was, therefore, re-organised into two distinct sections: (a) Radar Plot (R. P.) Ratings who were responsible for manning all warning sets, manning action information centres and carrying out all plotting duties in ships; (b) Radar Control (R. C.) Ratings who were responsible for manning all gunnery and, target indication sets and for fire control. Similarly a re-organisation was found necessary in the radio mechanics branch which was divided into two sections (a) Radio Mechanics (W) – having as their responsibility the maintenance of ship-borne wireless telegraphy and radar equipment and (b) Radio Mechanics (S) – having as their responsibility the maintenance of wireless telegraphy equipment of all types and who would normally work ashore.

During 1943 some radio mechanics were sent for a preliminary course to the George Telegraph Institute, Calcutta, but the results did not justify this procedure and it was dropped. Radio, mechanics were selected from the best of communication and radar personnel and were trained at HMIS Talwar. Up to the middle of 1944, however, results were not satisfactory. In June 1945, HMIS Chamak was commissioned, and in September, the whole situation had greatly improved. Through the generosity of Headquarters, Base Air Forces, South East Asia, arrangements were made for a section of the No. 2 School of Air Force Technical Training, Ameerpet, to be placed at the disposal of the RIN, and for instructors and instructional equipment to be provided. Results from this school were excellent, and this high standard was maintained.

Domestic Training

New entry writers and stewards received their professional training at Castle Barracks under the supervision of an Accountant Training Officer. Cooks, after the 6 weeks’ Divisional Course at HMIS Machlimar proceeded to Success, a requisitioned house formerly part of HMIS Khanjar, for a 8 weeks professional course. This was followed by 4 to 8 weeks practical experience of galley

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work. In 1944 the training of cooks, stewards and writers was transferred to HMIS Akbar. A separate cookery school was set up there. The standard of cooking for both officers and men had greatly improved and instruction in bread making introduced.

Hospital and Medical Training for Ratings (Sick-Berth Attendants)

Until February 1944 the training of these ratings was carried out in Castle Barracks under the supervision of a medical officer. Most creditable work was done by the instructional staff, but training space was limited and it was very difficult to give adequate practical training which was an important feature of that course. Later the situation had radically improved when a new training establishment was opened at Sewri, Bombay, with which was attached the new 350 bedded RIN Hospital. That ensured adequate practical work.

Miscellaneous Training


There was no special minesweeping instruction in the navy. But steps were taken to put certain selected personnel through intensive courses and devote more attention to that subject. Ships fitted for minesweeping and their personnel gained experience by practical minesweeping operations at sea.

Fire Fighting

Up to the end of June 1943, no special steps were taken in connection with fire fighting. The naval authorities deemed it essential that all naval personnel should be trained in fire fighting, as many ships were lost during the war through fire. Early in 1944, a school was established in Bombay, which commenced to give short courses to officers and ratings. It continued in operation up to the end of the war.

Damage Control

Damage Control was first taught at HMIS Valsura and at HMIS Shivaji, whilst a series of lectures was issued to ships and establishments. In 1944, an RIN Officer was sent to the United Kingdom to take a course in Damage Control. On his return he opened the Damage Control School in Bombay. It conducted short courses to officers and ratings and continued to operate till the end of the war.

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Anti-Gas Training

So far as was possible every new entry rating was given a short course of instruction in anti-gas training and wearing of respirators at the RIN Depot, Bombay, but, in some cases, the needs of drafting had made it impossible for all men to undergo this course.

Physical Training

The training of Physical Training Instructors was first carried out at HMIS Khanjar. The scope of the Physical Training Instructors (P.T.Is) Branch was enlarged considerably when the New Entry Training Establishment (HMIS Akbar) was commissioned in 1944.

Measures to Promote Recruitment

The rate of recruitment prior to August 1942 was quite inadequate to meet the growing needs of the navy. To step up manpower and promote recruitment, various measures like war services exhibitions, publicity through press, cinema and radio, increase in rates of pay, goodwill tours in the Punjab, East Bengal, Assam, West Coast and South, were undertaken. As a result, rapid strides were taken in attaining the required target and, in fact, it even exceeded the target in some of the branches of the navy.

War Services Exhibitions

“No country geographically situated such as India can be secure without a strong, well-disciplined and modern navy”, declared Vice-Admiral J. H. Godfrey, C.B., Flag Officer Commanding the Royal Indian Navy, in a speech on RIN Way at the War Services Exhibition at Lahore. Vice-Admiral Godfrey referred to the importance of the role that naval defence played in India’s total defence, and added that the Royal Indian Navy had sought in the Punjab a large proportion of its sailors because the province had a reputation for producing excellent fighting men. It was, therefore, most appropriate that the navy should be represented as it was in a War Services Exhibition in the capital of the Punjab.

A War Exhibition Train travelled to all parts of India in 1943 to step up publicity in respect of the defence of the country. Naval personnel consisting of officers, and some ratings were drafted to man the naval section of the exhibition train.

Publicity Through Press, Cinema and Radio

Advertising was a necessary feature of voluntary recruitment and was closely linked with priorities. The Royal Indian Navy

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received a good share at the end of 1943 and a steady stream of posters, pamphlets and hand bills was produced in the important languages during the following year. At the same time the local advertising organisations were built up in the field with their information bureaux and literature with local appeal. Two films “Enemy in Sight” and “All Valour” were made by the Directorate of Services Cinematography and were shown in important recruiting areas.

Relations between the Royal Indian Navy and the Indian press and public were cordial. These were further strengthened by judicious efforts to promote public interest in the Service. These efforts took several forms. The naval section of the Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate put out a constant stream of publicity concerning the operational and training activities of the Service. This contributed to a good coverage in the press and on the radio, both in India and overseas. In addition to the reporting of formal functions such as the commissioning of HMIS Shivaji and the opening of the Cornwallis Fleet Club, there was a great deal of publicity for Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service. Newspapers and the radio displayed much interest in this new branch of the Service and published many reports and photographs. On the operation side, in addition to the activities of the RIN sloops and escort ships, which were adequately publicised, the Arakan campaign of early 1945 attracted much attention. Public relations were represented in the Arakan by a team of two Royal Indian Navy observers (later increased to three), one officer photographer, one officer cinematographer, and two cinematographer ratings. Through their efforts, newspapers and the public were kept fully informed of the achievement of RIN in action, notably the splendid performance of the Landing Craft Wing, coastal forces, and sloops.

On the film side, the Royal Indian Navy section of the Public Relations Unit was strengthened by the recruitment on loan from the Royal Navy of a competent producer whose first assignment was the production of a film on the Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service. This was completed and distributed through information films of India to commercial cinemas. In addition to news-reel material, one or two documentaries on the work of the Royal Indian Navy were also made available.

On 21 October 1944 India celebrated Navy Day for the first time. This met with considerable success and aroused enthusiasm not only in the ports where parades were held but also in inland centres where public meetings were organised. A spate of radio and press publicity accompanied Navy Day.

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Among other publicity activities a full-scale model of a Fairmile was constructed in masonry at Patiala, in February 1944, at the special request of His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala to inculcate naval interest within that state. Inter-Service boys boxing tournaments were held in Lahore and Delhi, which served to arouse public interest in the Service. Boys of HMIS Bahadur and Dilawar, who represented the navy at His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief’s Garden Party in 1944, showed that the naval boys training compared favourably with the other Services.

Publications included RINLOG, the monthly journal of the service, several pamphlets on the Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service and various naval posters. Facilities were afforded to war correspondents and other journalists to visit ships and establishments and report on the work of the navy.

Increase in Rates of Pay etc.

In 1942, owing to the impression that limited recruitment to the navy was the result of unfavourable rates of pay, as compared with technical recruitment to the army, active service rates of pay were enhanced. The scales were revised for the seaman, stoker, communication and writer branches. This had a natural repercussion on the rates of other branches which led to a subsequent increase in the domestic and instructor branches. Even these increases did not help much and a further revision was made improving the scales of pay of all the branches.

In 1944, a general revision of pay was undertaken, need for enlarged recruiting again being the main reason for it. Emphasis was laid on improving the pay of junior ratings in order to attract recruits. The pay of senior ratings was also increased.

Goodwill Tours

The Flag Officer Commanding Royal Indian Navy conducted extensive tours throughout the country and addressed Chambers of Commerce, Universities, Rotary Clubs, National War Front Meetings and Indian State audiences. In general, he dwelt on the need for India to have a strong navy and advocated the growth of navy-mindedness in the Indian people. He mooted the formation of a . Navy League for India. Moreover, in 1944, a Naval Flag Officer, Vice-Admiral J. H. Godfrey, visited a few recruiting areas in Northern India. After visiting the Khyber Pass and Peshawar, he drove from village to village all down the Grand Trunk Road from Mardan to Lahore,

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People who had never before seen a ship, much less a man-of-war, travelled long distances to welcome HMIS Dipavati on her goodwill cruise to ports on the south-west coast of India. They saw full-dress parades on shore by 200 Indian naval ratings, headed by the Pipe Band of HMIS Akbar, and they went aboard HMIS Dipavaii to inspect her fighting equipment and mess decks and to take tea with her Officers on the quarter deck. Crowds of as many as 15,000 people assembled in some of the ports to see the demonstrations and the march past.

In July 1943, it was decided to send a RIN officer on a lecture tour of the United States of America and Lt. Cdr. HMS Choudri, RIN was selected for this task. The object of his visit was to tell the U. S. Navy and the American public about the RIN. He visited naval establishments and ships, ship-building yards, aircraft factories and munition plants, as well as civilian clubs and organisations. He spoke to groups of people at many places and did a fair amount of broadcasting.

Degaussing Organisation

For nearly five and a half years since 1940 a Degaussing Organisation staffed by officers of the Royal and the Royal Indian Navy existed to give protection to ships visiting Indian ports. Hundreds of ships were fitted in Indian ports with equipment to protect them against magnetic mines. This process is known as Degaussing and aims at neutralising a ship’s magnetic field so that she can pass safely over a magnetic mine without detonating it.

The knowledge of degaussing possessed by the naval personnel afloat was considered to be inadequate by the Senior Inspector Degaussing (India). Therefore he commenced in August 1944 a series of lectures to ship’s personnel (officers mostly) on this subject. The amount of work undertaken by the Base Electrical Officers and their staff increased rapidly during 1943. Early in 1944 sanctions were obtained for (a) increase in staff and employment of civilian electricians (b) additional workshop machinery and tools and (c) an establishment of electrical stores at each base. Difficulty was experienced in obtaining these stores but the position improved after some time. Degaussing ranges started operating in Bombay, Vizagapatam and Calcutta. ‘Wiping and Deperming’ were carried out in Bombay and Calcutta, but the use of the unit in Calcutta was somewhat limited as only ships not exceeding 300 ft. in length or If feet draft could be accommodated. HMIS Barq was taken up as the first mobile Deperming unit. It was later condemned

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as unserviceable in July 1944, and Motor Mine Sweeper 132 was converted into a Wiping and Deperming Vessel to take its place.

The DEMS Organisation was under the executive control of a Captain DEMS stationed at Bombay who was responsible to FOCRIN for administrative control. A staff officer DEMS was stationed at the major ports while the Royal Indian Navy supplied officer instructors for gunnery purposes from its reserves. Rating instructors were provided by the admiralty. While all DEMS instruction came directly under Capt. DEMS (India), Officers concerned in each port were directly under N.O. I/C for purposes of discipline, leave, etc.

As soon as the war broke out a Chief Ordnance Artificer was drafted for gun mounting duties to Calcutta. Guns were mounted on three armed merchant cruisers Carthage, Antonio and Ranpura at the Garden Reach workshops. Hundreds of other Allied merchant ships calling at Calcutta were fitted with guns. It was a hectic job and sometimes done in 24 hours and anywhere up and down the Hoogly, wherever the ship was anchored or tied up.

DEMS Instructional Facilities at Indian Ports

During the war period, the policy of the Admiralty was to provide training facilities for Defensive Equipment of Merchant Shipping (DEMS) personnel at the main ports of India. A factor which determined the amount of training that might be given to ratings was the length of stay of a merchant ship while discharging or loading cargo in a port. For that reason, the important ports of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta provided the main facilities hot only for training but also for gun mounting, gun inspection work and services in connection with naval armament stores.

Gun training facilities are briefly enumerated port by port:–

Karachi. Arrangements were made to train DEMS and MRA (Marine Regiment Artillery) personnel at HMIS Himalaya,

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Manora. Equipment available of particular usefulness for DEMS ratings included 4” B. L. Mk IX, 3” 20 Gwt. 12 pdr. 12 Cwt. H. A./L. A., 20-mm. Oerlikon, .5 machine gun, .303 weapons and Holeman Projectors. For eye-shooting, a fully equipped Dome Teacher and Miniature Tracer firing range were available. An Air Recognition Centre and associated equipment were made available and a 35 mm Sound Projector showed suitable Instructional films. Four Excellent Pattern II Towed Targets were available together with a high speed. Air Sea Rescue launch capable of towing a high speed E Boat Target. Aircraft Co-operation was with the Royal Air Force. 14 Target Towing Aircraft eventually became available.

Bombay. This was the Headquarters of the DEMS Organisation in India which was under the control of a Captain RN The A.A. Training Centre was situated at Colaba Point and facilities existed for close range A.A. firings at Aircraft Towed Targets. The first Dome Teacher constructed in India was also in operation at Colaba. In 1943 an L.A. School was added and equipment included 4” B.L. Mk IX, 4” Q. F. Mk XIX, 12 pdr. HA/LA and single Bofors. RIN provided the Officer Instructors while ratings were provided from RN resources. The Aircraft Recognition Section for Bombay was situated at that school. The equipment installed, included a Hunt Teacher Epidiascope, and Shadowgraph. Up to 21 October 1943 officers and ratings from 934 ships were trained.

Calcutta. The DEMS Training Centre here was situated near the Combined Base Barracks and Gunnery Training Establishment at Behala and consisted of a Dome Teacher and Miniature Tracer Firing Range. (MTRF). The equipment for both arrived some-time early in 1944. Other facilities in the form of Lecture Room, Stripping Room and Oerlikon Instruction were provided at the Gunnery Training Establishment. A Night Look-Out Table and an Aircraft Recognition section for the port were provided at the school. A suitable Firing Range existed about 10 miles from the Base for A.A. Firings but for some time there was a shortage of Target Towing Aircraft.

Madras. Facilities here consisted of a Lecture Room, Cinema and MTFR Building. No Dome Teacher was available but sanction existed for a Portable Dome which was installed in 1944. A Clay Pigeon Range was in use. An A.A. Range was under construction in 1943. A 30-yard moving target range was also in use. Aircraft for sleeve towing were not available. 1,417 officers and ratings were trained up to 1943.