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Chapter 9: Home Front – 3

WAC(I) Naval or WRINS

The Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India) was formed on 9 April 1942. Its object was to assign some of the jobs pertaining to the military service to women and thereby release men for service in the field. The Corps was constituted by means of an Ordinance No. XIII of 1942. It was first formed to provide personnel for service in the army. Later on it was expanded so as to include naval and air forces in India also. The Ordinance was, therefore, amended to enable the employment of WAC(I)s for service with all the Armed forces.

The minimum age limit fixed for entry at the time of the formation of the Corps was 18. It was later realized that girls normally left the school between the ages of 16 and 17, and before attaining the age of 18, many of them joined service with civilian firms etc. In order, therefore, to facilitate their joining the Corps straight from the school and to obviate the loss of recruits who might be diverted to other employment on account of the restriction concerning the minimum age, the Ordinance was amended to lower the minimum age to 17.

In the beginning the wives and daughters of serving European personnel volunteered in sufficient numbers to take up all available appointments. As time passed and the experiment of employing women in place of men proved successful, demands for WAC(I) increased enormously with the result that early in 1943 recruitment fell short of actual requirements. In the early stages, recruitment was carried out by company/platoon commanders. This system was not entirely satisfactory because such commanders were naturally more interested in obtaining recruits within their own stations. Hence early in 1943, WAC(I) ATROs (Assistant Technical Recruiting Officers) were appointed to enlist women generally from all places. Towards the end of 1943, however, recruitment fell far short of the requirements, hence all possible steps were taken in the matter of publicity to further it.

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The personnel employed with the RIN were formed into a separate wing called the naval wing in February 1944. They were called the “WRINS” – Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service. They wore naval uniform resembling the one worn by the WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service) except that the brass buttons bore the crown and Star of India under the “foul anchor”. For officers, the smart tricorn topped off a trim blue jacket and skirt, with white shirt and black tie. On the shoulders appeared initials “WAC(I)” in light blue. Ratings also wore initials on their shoulders and sported the same snappy caps as worn by WREN ratings. Hot weather “rig” was equally smart with a few minor differences from its opposite number in the British service. As more and more naval personnel appeared in India, and the country became more sea-minded, its women were eager to do their bit for the navy. Enrolled Indian ladies wore white jackets and sarees with the same initials and “distinction lace” if they were officers, and initials and ‘distinction badges’ in the case of Auxiliaries (ratings).

Recruits joined the naval wing on general or local service terms, as cipher operators and coders, teleprinter operators, switch-board operators, stenographers, typists, clerks, confidential book correctors, mess caterers etc. Applications from experienced motor drivers were also invited. General service officers and auxiliaries, who received free accommodation and messing in addition to their pay and allowances were liable to be posted to any naval shore establishment in India (with the exception of HMI Naval Office, Chittagong, which was staffed by volunteers). Local service was open to women who lived near a naval shore establishment where vacancies existed and who could carry out the duties required of them while living at home. They were not asked to serve away from their home stations, but accompanied their husbands or relatives on whom they were dependent, if the latter moved to another part of the country. If there were no RIN establishments near their new homes, they were transferred to the army or RAF wing of WAC(I) on similar local service terms.

Pay for auxiliaries ranged from Rs. 65/- to Rs. 140/- and for officers from Rs. 150/- to Rs. 500/- Auxiliaries received an initial uniform allowance of Rs. 180/- (or Rs. 300/- if stationed where winter uniform was required). Rs. 80/- was admissible annually for replacement and Rs. 10/- monthly for upkeep of uniform. Up to Rs. 10/- monthly was admissible as a transport allowance and auxiliaries received Rs. 3/- for each occasion when night duty was performed on switch operation boards and in signal centres.

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Medical attention was provided free and 28 days leave was granted annually. Officers received the same allowance as auxiliaries, except that the initial uniform allowance was Rs. 250/- (or Rs. 370/-if stationed where winter uniform was worn).

From June 1944, all recruits under-went two weeks’ preliminary training at HMIS Talwar in the accommodation built for the purpose at the Signal School. A commandant and additional instructional staff were provided. The recruits were taught naval organisation, office routine, and the regulations of the RIN and WAC(I) Naval Wing. Those earmarked for cipher work spent another six weeks at Talwar in specialist training. Typing instruction was given to WRINS at the Accountant Training Office, Bombay. In November 1944 new entry training was transferred to the Inter-Service Basic WAC(I) training centres which opened at Ahmednagar in November 1944 and Calcutta in January 1945. Additional WRIN instructors were allotted to both those centres where naval and WAC(I) subjects were taught. Recruits were trained in a happy and pleasant atmosphere and it was not surprising that they were reluctant to leave those places on completion of courses. The WRINS unit at Ahmednagar was named HMIS Jahanara and the naval component of the Calcutta establishment was called HMIS Nalini.

Courses for officers at HMIS Feroze were commenced in April 1944 and were originally of fourteen days duration. Subsequently courses were increased to 24 days. 88 WRIN officers in all attended the various courses in 1944. Officers directly recruited from civil life who were required for communication duties underwent a four weeks training course in HMIS Talwar after completing the divisional course at HMIS Feroze. Administrative officers were trained at the WAC(I) Officers Cadet Training Unit, Daghshai.

Serving detachment and unit officers attended refresher courses of one months’ duration in Delhi. A two weeks’ course was held in February 1944, at the Selection of Personnel Directorate, Meerut, to instruct 4 WRIN officers from the various ports to carry out modified tests for the selection of WRIN communication officers. It was decided that four WRIN officers should be sent to the United Kingdom for a two months’ course at the Anti-Submarine Tactical Course at Liverpool. Those officers on completion of their training were appointed to act as “movers” at the Anti-Submarine Tactical School at Bombay. The Deputy Director WRINS, Chief Officer Cooper and two administrative officers also proceeded to the United

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Kingdom where they were attached to Women’s Royal Naval Service establishments and training centres for a period of two months to undergo a course of instruction in WRNS methods of administration and training.

First Indian service woman who visited the United Kingdom was second officer Kalyani Sen, of the Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service. With Chief Officer Margarat Cooper and second Officer Phyllis Cunningham she went there at the invitation of the Admiralty to make a comparative study of training and administration in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

The Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service was under the Command of the Director WAC(I), Chief Commander The Countess of Carlyle, who was assisted by two Deputy Chief Commanders, Douglas and Ranga Rao. The appointment in December 1944 of Miss Ranga Rao, an Indian lady well known in educational circles, to that responsible position was a popular one. It emphasised in particular the efforts made to interest Indian women in the Corps. The Deputy Director WRINS, Chief Officer Cooper was responsible to the Director WAC(I) for the administration and welfare of the WRINS at Naval Headquarters and the principal ports of India.

WRIN Headquarters at the Naval Headquarters was reorganised and for administrative purposes integrated with other branches and sections. The Deputy Director WRINS was assisted by an assistant Deputy Director, a Staff Officer to deal with the appointments of WRIN Officers, a Staff Officer who was responsible for the drafting and advancement of the WRINS, a Staff Officer to deal with all problems connected with welfare and amenities and a Civilian Gazetted Officer in the Manpower, Co-ordination and Statistics Branch to deal with matters relating to statistics and returns. Owing to the expansion of the WRINS, and the necessity which thus arose for a more direct supervision of all WRIN units, Assistant Directors were appointed in November 1944 on the Staff of the Flag Officer, Bombay and the Commodore, Bay of Bengal. These Officers were directly responsible to the Deputy Director WRINS for all units on the West Coast (Bombay, Karachi and Cochin) and the East Coast (Calcutta, Chittagong, Vizagapatam and Madras) and acted as advisers on all matters to the Flag Officer, Bombay and the Commodore, Bay of Bengal, respectively. As the strength of the auxiliaries at the port of Calcutta increased to 92 in August 1944, a second unit was formed there.

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Promotion rules for the WRIN officers and advancement rules for WRINS were promulgated in January 1945. The orders laid down for commissioning of WAC(I) officers as Fourth Officers for six months, until confirmed as suitable at the end of that period, came into force on 1 February 1945. The various rules and regulations relating to service in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps generally, promulgated in the form of Army Instructions (India), Indian Army Orders etc. from time to time were consolidated, and a compendium of such regulations affecting the WRINS, adopted to naval conditions and in naval terminology, was prepared. The designations of “Company Commander”, “Platoon Commander”, and “Staff Captain” were changed during 1944 to “Detachment Officer”, “Unit Officer”, and “Staff Officer”, respectively, in conformity with naval terminology.

WRIN hostels were opened at Karachi, Cochin and Vizagapatam. Marble Hall, a large new house in Warden Road, Bombay, was allotted to the Naval Wing to accommodate trainees and personnel serving in Bombay. WRIN officers acquired the Admiral’s House as their Mess. New messes to house more officers were opened both in Bombay and Delhi.

Naval Law and Discipline in the RIN

Until April 1942, all legal work at the Naval Headquarters was handled by the Naval Secretary in addition to his other duties. The necessity and importance of having a specially qualified legal officer was soon realised, and a beginning was made by appointing a Reserve Officer who had been a lawyer in civil life as Assistant Naval Secretary. Paymaster Lieutenant G. Kennedy, RINVR, as he then was, was the first officer to be so appointed. In April 1942, this appointment was designated as Assistant Deputy Judge Advocate. He worked with the Naval Secretary and shared the legal work with him performing other secretarial duties.

In September 1942, all legal work was transferred to a separate legal branch within the Naval Secretary’s department consisting of a Deputy Judge Advocate and two Assistant Deputy Judge Advocates. Paymaster Lieutenant Commander G. E. Walker, RINVR, as he then was, was appointed as the Deputy Judge Advocate and Paymaster Lieutenant Kennedy was transferred to Bombay as the Assistant Deputy Judge Advocate. The other appointment of ADJA which was tenable in Naval Headquarters remained vacant until April 1943 when Lieutenant E. E. Jhirad, RINVR, was appointed to this post. As the post was tenable only by an

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officer of the Paymaster Branch, this officer was transferred to that branch.

In October 1943, the legal branch was redesignated the “Naval Law Branch”. It was also decided that the officers of this branch should no longer belong to the Paymaster Branch but to the Special Branch. The appointments were upgraded. The DJA was now designated as Judge. Advocate (with the rank of Commander), ADJA in Naval Headquarters as Assistant Judge Advocate and the ADJA in Bombay as the Deputy Judge Advocate. The object of the change was that the DJA should attend all courts-martial while the JA and AJA should do the entire legal advisory work and reviews of courts-martial. It was, however, found in practice that the DJA was not able to cope with Vail the outstanding courts-martial work and the AJA was also required to proceed on tour to conduct courts-martial.

With the expansion of the service and increase in the number of courts-martial, an Assistant Deputy Judge Advocate was appointed in Bombay early in 1944. In 1945, an Assistant DJA was also appointed to the staff of the Commodore, Bay of Bengal, in Calcutta, but soon after the end of hostilities this appointment was abolished.

The most important feature in the development of the legal side of the RIN was the joint issue of RIN Instruction 72/1943 and Admiralty Fleet Order 2810/1943. These orders laid down the mutual powers of command and discipline of the Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy Officers and gave senior members of one service the right to give orders to the junior members of the other.


It is not unlikely that rapid expansion of an organisation might affect certain parts of it adversely. The Royal Indian Navy was no exception to this. During the first four years of the war it expanded so rapidly that some of its integral parts took a little time to settle down. The result was a lowering in the standards of discipline. This was largely due to the following reasons:–

a. Influx of a large number of inexperienced officers, only a small percentage of whom had undergone a disciplinary course.,

b. Shortage of experienced petty officers involving the necessity of promoting to this important rate men without any length of service.

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c. Recruitment of men with little or no background of discipline or naval tradition, and the compulsion of keeping their training to the barest minimum in order to meet pressing commitments.

d. Lack of a regulating branch and Provost staff.

e. Absence of detention quarters. Imperfect understanding of the Articles of War owing to the absence of translations in the languages of the various classes of ratings.

f. Paucity of amenities in ships and shore establishments.

g. In certain cases, lack of opportunity to take active part in operations even after a long period of training and subsequent inaction.

The cumulative effect of all these factors, however, was not as great as might have been apprehended. The sympathetic understanding of the situation by the senior officers, coupled with firm measures taken early in the war in cases which threatened to undermine discipline, had a very steadying influence on the service as a whole.

With the commissioning of HMIS Feroze (a training establishment for new entry reserve officers) at Bombay, in December 1943, steps were taken to ensure that all officers underwent a disciplinary course. The increased intake of men permitted the recalling of other men to complete their training, and at the same time care was taken to see that the initial training of all ratings also included a disciplinary course. A Regulating Branch was also introduced in 1943, and the beneficial effect of this as well the Provost Staff was reflected in the improved Provost reports received at the Naval Headquarters. Provision for inter-service and inter-allied discipline was made and the provost officers and members of the provost establishment and the military police of the different services were given reciprocal powers of arrest. Sanction was obtained for the building of detention quarters at Bombay, but they were not read) for use till the middle of 1945. The articles of war were translated into the principal Indian languages and published. Welfare did its share of work in providing amenities and in generally improving service conditions. Cases had occurred of deserters from one Service enrolling into another. Regulations were drawn up whereby deserters were to be returned to their original service. This step minimised cases of habitual desertions.

Owing to the provision of the Naval Discipline Acts which laid down that only executive officers of the regular service could sit upon

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courts martial, the holding of such courts presented considerable difficulties during the earlier years of the war. This was overcome by wartime expedients, namely, the seniority of the President was reduced from substantive Captain to Acting Commander; the legal minimum number of members was reduced from five to three, though five members continued to sit unless the Commander-in-Chief RIN gave special permission for a smaller number. The safeguard requiring two ships to be present when a court martial was held was also withdrawn in the case of shore bases. Arrangements were also made with the Commander-in-Chief East Indies Station for officers of the Royal Navy, who were serving in bas e appointments at Indian bases, to be placed temporarily on the books of HMI ships to enable them to sit on RIN courts-martial.

Regulations for the discipline of land and air forces embarked in H.M. and HMI ships were issued in 1945, as no such regulations then existed in respect of Indian forces. The approval of the Secretary of State was obtained in 1945 to place members of the WRINS under naval discipline, but early in 1946 it was decided by the Government not to proceed with legislation for this as the service was to be disbanded.

With the cessation of hostilities several “Defence of Indian Rules and Orders affecting naval authorities were cancelled, such as:–

a. Navigation and Anchor Lights Order 1940.

b. The Darkening of Ships Order 1940.

c. Flare up Lights (Ships) Order 1940.

Restrictions on the movement of small craft in harbour for pleasure were also removed late in 1945.

Military Prisons

The Military Prisons established in India were meant entirely for military personnel. The army authorities made it quite clear early in the war that they had no room for naval prisoners. In 1944, however, there was a case of 4 RIN ratings in the United Kingdom being sentenced to detention, which led to the forming of new legislation. These men were sent to India to serve their term of detention. According to naval law a sentence of detention could only be served in naval detention quarters or military detention barracks, and there was, therefore, no place available for sending these ratings to do their term. To overcome this difficulty a notification was issued by the Government of India, under Section 81 of the First Schedule to the Indian Navy (Discipline) Act, setting apart and declaring four cells in Indian military prisons and Indian Air

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Force prisons and detention barracks at Trimulgherry as naval detention quarters. By another notification issued concurrently with the first, all rules and regulations applicable to Indian military prisons and Indian Air Force prisons and detention barracks were made applicable to the naval detention barracks also which were built in 1945 (vide para 3 above) at Marve, Bombay.

Historical Survey of RIN Pay and Allowances – Officers’ Pay

1936 – Revision

The pay scales introduced in 1919 had become completely out of date in the context of the various changes that had occurred since then, more particularly the acquiring of combatant status by the naval service in 1928, which led to its being renamed as Royal Indian Navy in 1934. The main reasons which prompted a revision of pay scales were:–

a. The scales were not adjusted to conditions prevailing after World War I.

b. No changes corresponding to the revision carried out for army officers in 1928 had been made for the navy.

c. With the passing of the Navy (Discipline) Act and the raising of its status in 1934, the navy became the senior-most service and yet no increases in pay had followed.

d. The general increase in the cost of living since 1919 had made the pay scales totally inadequate, and officers were finding it difficult to maintain the standard expected of them. Financial worries were affecting the morale and efficiency of officers.

e. Low rates of pay failed to attract the right type of volunteers for the service.

A revised pay scale was accordingly promulgated in 1936 with the approval of the Secretary of State. The salient features of this revision were:–

a. The basic pay was more or less the same as for Royal Navy Officers converted at 1s. 6d. to a rupee. This was in consonance with the policy adopted in respect of Indian Commissioned Officers of the Army whose pay was related to British Service Officers, serving in the United Kingdom.

b. An Indian allowance was introduced for officers of non-Asian domicile. This again was done on the analogy of the army.

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c. A marriage allowance was sanctioned in respect of officers who were of or above 30 years of age. A higher rate of this allowance was approved in respect of officers of non-Asian domicile on the consideration that the cost of educating children was higher in the United Kingdom than in India.

d. A shore allowance was also sanctioned in respect of officers living ashore and not in a mess.

1942 – Revision

Experience showed that the 1935-36 revision had led to certain anomalies and had also become a little out of date more particularly after the outbreak of World War II. A serious anomaly was that, with the grant of shore allowance to officers living ashore, a premium was placed on shore service, but this in turn made afloat service less attractive – a situation which could certainly not be viewed with equanimity. It also became evident that the pay scales were inadequate particularly for junior officers. It was, therefore, decided to revise the pay scales suitably. I n drawing up the new pay scales the following features were kept in view:–

a. The Royal Indian Navy was, in comparison to the other two services, at a disadvantage because sea service was not popular as yet. Service at sea also entailed prolonged separation from families.

b. The educational standard on entry was higher in the navy particularly with regard to subjects like mathematics, electricity, etc. This aspect limited the field of recruitment.

c. Conditions of living in a ship, and even in a shore establishment, were such that there could be little, if any, difference in the basic pay of Indian and European officers.

d. The normal duties of a naval officer called for a sound knowledge of gunnery, navigation, engineering etc. It was, therefore, necessary to include an element of corps pay in the basic rates themselves.

The new scales introduced in 1942 were directly comparable to the Royal Indian Air Force scales up to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. For the rank of Commander and above, the army rate of corps pay for a Sapper and Miner unit was adopted. The other relevant features of age and length of service were also kept

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in view in drawing up the new scales. The main features of the 1942 revision were:–

a. With the inclusion of an element of corps pay in the basic pay scales, it was not considered desirable to have any distinction between the executive and the engineer branches.

b. Two new ranks of Midshipman and Acting Sub-Lieutenant were introduced with the basic pay of Rs. 275/- p.m. and Rs. 370/- p.m., respectively, because reserve officers of these ranks were being recruited in India. Previously Midshipmen and Acting Sub-Lieutenants served their time with the Royal Navy in the U.K. and received Royal Navy rates of pay and allowances.

c. The rates of marriage allowance were reduced and the distinction between Asian and non-Asian officer was maintained. The stipulation that an officer should have attained the age of 30 years before qualifying for the grant of marriage allowance was removed.

d. The existing rate of Indian allowance was kept intact. It was decided that officers of Asian domicile could also draw the allowance when serving ashore/afloat beyond Indian limits.

e. Shore allowance was abolished.

f. Compensatory allowance was extended to all officers serving ashore in Bombay or Calcutta and in small ships having no living accommodation.

g. Rent for accommodation ashore was fixed at 5% and 10% of pay for single and married accommodation, respectively. The rent for accommodation on board ships and in shore messes was to be 5% of pay.

h. The messing allowance at Rs. 2/- per day was continued in lieu of rations to officers serving afloat.

i. A separation allowance was introduced for married officers serving afloat.

j. New stages in the pay were introduced for:

i. Lieutenant Commanders after 10 years of service as such;

ii. Commanders after 2 years of service as such; and

iii. Commanders after 4 years of service as such.

The existing stage of “Commanders after 25 years total service” was abolished.

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1943-44 – Improvements

Certain improvements were effected in 1943–1944. These were:–

a. Uniform Allowance. – The amount was raised from Rs. 650 to Rs. 870 in 1943 and then to Rs. 930 in 1944. For Midshipmen the allowance was raised from Rs. 500 to Rs.630 with the further proviso that an additional sum of Rs. 300 would be admissible on promotion to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant.

b. Specialist Allowance. – The rate of specialist allowance for reserve officers was increased from annas 12 per day to Rs. 1/8 per day.

c. Separation Allowance. – This allowance, which was originally admissible only to married officers serving afloat, was extended to all officers of non-Asian domicile, whose families were residing in the United Kingdom and to all officers serving overseas or in non-family stations or areas in India.

d. Indian Allowance. – This allowance which was hitherto admissible to Commissioned Officers of the rank of Sub-Lieutenant and above, was sanctioned for Midshipmen also, the rate being Rs. 50 p.m.

e. War Service Increments. – Increases in pay for prolonged War service were introduced, based on the corresponding rates in the U.K. The rate was Rs. 51/- per month on completion of 3 years of service in the case of the Lieutenants and below (and warrant officers) and Rs. 69/- per month in respect of officers of the ranks of Lieut-Commanders and commanders. Additional sums of Rs. 17/- and Rs. 23/- per month, respectively, were admitted to the above categories on completion of each subsequent years’ service.

f. Combined Operations Allowance. – This was made admissible to officers of the rank of Lieutenant and above at Re. 1/- per diem.

g. Coast Craft Pay. – This was sanctioned at the following rates:

i. Lieutenant and above Rs. 2/- per day.

ii. Sub-Lieutenant and below Rs. 1/5 per day.

h. Instructors’ Allowance. – Rs. 38/- per month.

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i. Medical Officers. – An additional pay of Rs. 50/- a month was sanctioned for medical officers seconded to the Royal Indian Navy.

j. Naval Provost Organisation. – An extra pay was approved for officers of this organisation.

k. Field Allowance. – Rs. 30/- a month when serving in full field service areas in or ex-India.

l. Corps Pay. – For Army Officers seconded to the Royal Indian Navy and electing to army rates of pay.

1945 – Changes

Certain far-reaching changes were made in 1945. These were:–

Grant of the same rates (with effect from 1 November 1944) of marriage allowance for officers of Asian and non-Asian domicile.

Introduction of a family allowance code on the same lines as in the army. Married officers already in service were given the option of electing the family allowance code.

In addition to the above, orders were issued approving the grant of a bereavement allowance to widows and families of officers who died, and the grant of a minimum maintenance allowance to the families of deceased and missing commissioned officers of no-Asian domicile.

The effect of the various revisions was that the scales of pay of Commissioned Officers of the three Services, were brought more or less on the same level. The equilibrium was again disturbed in 1945 by the application of the British Service rates of pay to officers of non-Asian domicile in the Army and Royal Indian Air Force. This resulted in the navy pay scales being lower, with the consequent adverse effect on the morale of the naval officers.

Warrant Officers –

1936 – Revision

The pay scales of British Warrant Officers of the Royal Indian Navy were revised as under:–

Rupees per month
On appointment 270
After 3 years’ service 290
After 6 years’ service 320
After 9 years’ service 340
After 12 years’ service 370
After 15 years’ service 390
After 18 years’ service 420

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These officers were, in addition, made eligible for the grant of a separation allowance of Rs. 30/- a month when serving afloat. Further, they were entitled to other allowances.

The underlying idea in revising the pay scales was to ensure that the Service would attract the right type of volunteers. As in the case of commissioned officers, the principle on which the revised rates were based was that British Warrant Officers of the Royal Indian Navy should receive a rate of pay equal to the Warrant Officers of the Royal Navy plus an Indian element for service in India. The Indian element was, however, merged in the basic pay and was, therefore, not paid as a separate item.

1938 – Revision

A commissioned warrant rank was introduced in 1938. The object was to raise the status of branch officers consequent on the increasing responsibilities devolving on them. Promotion to the newly-created rank could only be made after 10 years’ service as a Warrant Officer.

Certain improvements were made in the pay scales of Indian Warrant Officers. While no increase was made in the initial stages, substantial improvement was made in the quantum of increments leading to a higher maximum pay. With all these increases, the rates of pay of Indian Warrant Officers were still appreciably lower than those for British Warrant Officers.

A separate scale was also laid down in respect of Warrant Schoolmasters.

1942 – Revision

The outbreak of war in 1939 and the acceptance by the Admiralty in 1941 that the Royal Indian Navy Warrant Officers had the same status as the Royal Navy Warrant Officers, made the existing pay code of the former category completely out of date. In addition, there were certain other features which called for a total revision of the pay scales. These were:–

a. The existing low rates caused actual hardship to the serving personnel.

b. The rates were insufficient to attract Royal Navy personnel to transfer, on loan or permanently, to the Royal Indian Navy.

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c. Warrant Officers were specially selected men of proved worth and integrity and in a sense formed the backbone of the service.

Moreover, the great practical experience possessed by them in gunnery, seamanship, etc. made them more valuable than direct entry commissioned officers.

d. Besides their practical experience, Warrant Officers had also to qualify professionally through stiff examinations for promotion.

e. The pay scales of the commissioned officers, with whom the Warrant Officers were now comparable in status, duties and responsibilities, were being revised.

In consideration of the reasons set out above, a revision of pay scales of Warrant Officers was carried out simultaneously with that of the commissioned officers in 1942. In drawing up the revised scales the general principle that service ashore should not be more attractive than service afloat was followed. In addition, the following concessions were introduced:–

a. Marriage Allowance. – Warrant Officers were granted the same rates of marriage allowance as were applicable to commissioned officers.

b. Indian Warrant Officers were authorised an increase in their pay of Rs. 50 a month in consideration of their improved status.

c. A messing allowance in lieu of rations was also approved, the rates and conditions governing its grant being the same as for the commissioned officers.

d. The rate of separation allowance was increased from Rs. 30 to Rs. 40 per month, and it was extended to Indian Warrant Officers under the same conditions as for the commissioned officers.

e. Shore allowance as such was abolished and provision of accommodation on shore was authorised on payment of rent not exceeding 5% or 10% of the salary for single or married accommodation, respectively.

1943–1944 – Revision

In 1943, the privilege of drawing salary by cheque was extended to the Warrant Officers. In addition, the following extra allowances were sanctioned:–

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a. An additional messing allowance at Re. 1 per day for Warrant Officers (and Midshipmen) required to join the wardroom mess.

b. A naval armament store allowance at Rs. 10 per month.

c. Compensatory allowance for Bombay and Calcutta as for commissioned Officers.

d. An expatriation allowance of Rs. 50 a month to Indian Warrant officers on revised rates of pay.

e. An instructions allowance of Rs. 10 per month.

f. An increase in pay for prolonged war service (introduced at the end of 1944). (g) A separation allowance for non-family stations as in the case of commissioned officers.

1945 – Revision

In 1945 again basic rates of pay for Indian Warrant Officers were increased to the level of British Warrant Officers (less Rs. 75 per month representing Indian allowance). Indian allowance was made admissible to Indian Warrant Officers when serving afloat outside certain geographical limits. The rate of marriage allowance was raised to the level of that admissible for officers of non-Asian domicile. Also family allowance code was introduced with effect from 26 September 1945.


1934 – Revision

The basic principle of the 1934 revision of pay of the ratings, was to provide reasonable increments in case of advancement to the higher rates. This objective was sought to be achieved by reducing some of the existing rates and raising others. A common basic pay was laid down for the seaman, stoker and communication branches, and a completely new scale was introduced for the writer branch. The following pay scales were approved:–

Minimum Rs. per month Maximum Rs. per month
(a) Seaman, Stoker and Communication Branches 20 85
(b) Engine Room Branch 20 120
(c) Artificer/Artisan Branches 35 120
(d) Writer Branch 40 100
(e) Domestic Branch 20 100
(f) Medical Branch 20 80

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1937 – Revision

The two salient features of the 1937 revision were:–

Raising the pay scales of the communications branch from Rs. 20 – 85 to Rs. 20 – 400. This was considered necessary in view of the increasing complications in the technique of naval signalling.

A new branch of electrician (W/T) was also introduced to provide highly qualified men for duty with the Royal Indian Navy wireless station then being built in Bombay. In consideration of the special qualifications required, the following scales of pay were sanctioned:–

Rs. per month
Electrician (W/T), IV class 70-5-75
Electrician (W/T), III class 80-5-90
Electrician (W/T), II class 95-5-105
Electrician (W/T), I class 100-5-120
Chief Electrician 130

1938 – Revision

An Establishment Committee was constituted in 1938 to revise the scales of pay for the artificer/artisan branches. This was considered necessary, because the personnel position in these branches had become most unsatisfactory.

1941–1942 – Revision

Serious difficulties were experienced in the recruitment in 1941-42. By that time recruiting had been centralised under the Adjutant General in the Army Headquarters. The Director of Recruiting was convinced that unless the pay scales of sailors were increased to the level of that admissible to technical recruits in the army, all naval recruitment would come to a standstill. It was, therefore, decided that the rates of pay of the following branches should be revised:–

a. seaman

b. stoker

c. communication

d. writer

The revision of pay for these branches resulted in serious repercussions on the other branches, whose pay scales had not been revised. This led to a revision for the domestic and instructor branches, also.

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1942 – Revision

A further revision in pay was made in 1942. In the first phase the most important change that was made was to increase the pay of “boy seagoing” in all branches. The rates for “artificer apprentices” were also increased.

Subsequently, in 1942, a further revision of the pay scales of the artificer branches was undertaken. The unique position of this category of personnel made it necessary to deviate from the pay scales applicable to such highly skilled personnel of the Royal Indian Air Force in Groups I and II.

Radar Operators. – A new branch of radar operators was introduced in 1942 on the following scales of pay:–

Rs. per month
Radar Operators (OD) 60
Radar Operators (AB) 65
Radar Operators (Leading) 70-5-75

1943 – Revision – Schoolmaster

The pay scale of CPO schoolmasters was raised from Rs. 95-5-130 to Rs. 150-10-200. This increase became necessary for the purpose of attracting volunteers possessing the required qualifications.

Regulating Branch. – A new branch of regulating ratings was created in 1943 on the following pay scales:–

Rs. per month
Regulating Petty Officer (PO) 90-5-95
Master-at-Arms (CPO) 100-5-110

1944 – Revision

The following new branches were introduced in 1944:–

a. Artificer Branch – Direct Entry

b. Radio Mechanics (W)

c. Stores Branch

d. Musicians

e. Electrical Mechanics

Photographic and Cinema Branches

The shortage of manpower and the higher technical and educational standards required of ratings, called for a further revision of pay scales, The main features of this revision were:–

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a. An increase in the pay of boys after 12 months.

b. An increase in the pay of:

i. petty officers and chief petty officers in all branches except schoolmasters;

ii. artificers, artisans and electrical mechanics from 3rd class upwards.

c. An increase in the pay of all ratings of the engine room, domestic, medical, writer and stoics branches,

d. Increase in the rate of non-substantive and good conduct pays.

Other Concessions introduced from time to time

Apart from the various revisions in pay scales in which a reference has been made in the preceding paragraphs, certain Other concessions also were granted from time to time. These were:–

a. Expatriation Allowance. – To be admissible to ratings at Rs. 7/- to Rs. 14/- per month for:

i. service in a ship operating from a base outside Indian territorial waters and not under the command of the Commander-in-Chief or RIN

ii. service at a port outside Indian territorial Waters for the entire period of absence from India,

b. Batta. – Admissible to ratings when serving in HMI ships – Not to be granted in conjunction with extra duty allowance and war messing allowance. Rate ranging between Rs. 5 to Rs. 11 per month.

c. Extra Duly Allowance. – Granted to sailors while serving in a Local Naval Defence Vessel. The allowance was not to be admissible during leave and refits and could be drawn only provided Batta and expatriation allowance were not drawn. Rates of extra duty pay ranged between Rs. 3/- to Rs. 10/- per month.

d. War Messing Allowance. – Was admissible at the rate of Rs. 3/- per month and was discontinued with the Introduction of the new ration scale for ratings as from 1 January 1944.

Victualling of the RIN through Contractors

Before World War II victualling of RIN ships was done through contractors at ports. This system which worked satisfactorily in peace time was continued for the first two years of the war when

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danger was remote from India’s shore, and the expansion of the fighting services had not yet begun to strain the supply position in the country. In Bombay, between 1939-42, the Victualling Section in the Dockyard, under the Naval Stores Officer, was developed to a certain extent so as to cope with the victualling of ships, but eventually it proved to be inadequate. At other ports ships continued to be dependent on direct supply from the contractors.

During 1942, with war close to India’s eastern ports, it became apparent that the existing contractor system could not be depended upon. Breakdown in supply was a frequent occurrence because,

a. contractors were unable to obtain supplies, and

b. rumours of possible bombing of a port upset the civilian contractor and his staff, who in some cases fled.

On such occasions the navy had to call upon the army for the supply of its urgent needs. In Calcutta, in December 1942, initiative was taken to institute a separate victualling organisation for the RIN, when a small staff was sanctioned. But it was soon found that this small beginning was a mere “brushing of the surface”. Eventually it was decided to obtain all victualling stores for the navy from the army sources. The arrangement made was for the then Royal Indian Army Service Corps to supply naval requirements in bulk. Detailed distribution to ships and establishments was the responsibility of the Royal Indian Navy.

Base Victualling Organisation

To work out this new system in practice, a Base Victualling Organisation was formed in April 1949. Base Victualling Officers (then known as Supply Victualling Officers) were appointed at ports, and their function was to obtain and keep bulk supplies from the Royal Indian Army Supply Corps, and to make detail issue to ships and establishments, as necessary. An experienced officer of the Royal Indian Army Supply Corps was appointed at the Naval Headquarters to advise and assist the new dealings with the RIASC The staff and scope of the original organisation was soon inadequate and had to be increased. At the same time a Victualling Directorate was formed at the Naval Headquarters in January 1944. Base Victualling Officers were at first obtained on loan from the army. Eleven RIASC officers were thus appointed until such time as RIN officers were trained to take over from them. Arrangements were subsequently made for a number of RIN officers to undergo preliminary training at a RIASC depot and to attend a short supply

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course with the Corps. The period for which the army officers were loaned was to last till July 1945.

Early Difficulties

With the introduction of the new system, some problems arose which included numerous complaints regarding the quality of foodstuffs supplied. There was reason to believe that some forma contractors had instigated these. This was counteracted by efforts to impress on both the officers and ratings the serious food situation which faced the whole country.

Base Victualling Officers needed road and water transport of their own to ensure timely delivery of foodstuffs to shore establishments and to ships in harbour. These had to be provided. Halal mutton or goats meat had to be frozen for supply to ships with cold storage rooms. This was a problem and occasioned considerable anxiety, until the army cold storage plants were established at various ports. These new plants and the existing civilian plants were utilized for freezing fresh “halal” mutton and storing it against the requirements of the ships. Atta was one other commodity about the quality of which complaints were frequently received from all over India, and from all the three Services. As a remedial measure, a comprehensive inspection system was set up early in the war by the Quarter Master General’s Branch, which was expanded from time to time, to meet the needs of the armed forces, particularly in the system of inspection, sampling, acceptance and distribution. At the time of the enquiry into the RIN system of victualling in 1946, the organisation for inspection of foodstuff was itself undergoing a progressive reduction.

Standard Rations

Till 1944 ration scales in the RIN were based separately lor Europeans, Indians and vegetarians. On 1 January 1944, a new standard scale of rations for ratings and boy, was introduced, thus providing a composite uniform scale for all (lasses. The new scale, though basically non-vegetarian, provided alternatives for non-meat eaters. It also provided a scale of equivalents to the standard ration articles which might be taken up optionally by commanding officers, thus catering for elasticity and variety in diets. The following factors were taken into account when the new scale was determined:–

a. availability;

b. calorific value;

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c. palatableness;

d. variability for diet purposes; and

e. suitability for sea-going ships.

Other Ration Scales

In addition to the new standard scale of rations, a number of other scales were introduced to cover special cases. Some of these were army scales adapted for application to the Royal Indian Navy, while others were peculiar to the navy. The following examples will illustrate it:–

a. The British troops field service scale, authorised for officers serving ashore in field service areas and for Royal Navy ratings attached to the Royal Indian Navy.

b. The British troops basic scale, authorised for officers serving ashore in certain concessional areas in India.

c. A special non-cooking scale for officers and ratings serving in petrol carriers which were not allowed fires.

d. A special scale for extra issues for coastal forces.

e. The Indian troops road and rail scale for ratings travelling by rail on duty or on leave.

f. Army light scale and composite ration packs for landing craft personnel on combined operations.

General instructions regarding victualling and victualling accounting procedure were embodied in a Victualling Directive which was completed and issued in December 1944.

Stores Preservation and Pest Control

The RIN was represented in the “Inter services Stores Preservation Organisation”. Government sanction was given to the appointment of four Pest Control Officers under the Director of Victualling. These were Civilian Gazetted Officers who after training-with the Chief Inspector of Stores and Clothing at Cawnpore, took up duties at various naval stores depots and victualling store-yards to control and eliminate damage to stores by biological pests. They were employed by the Victualling Directorate from April 1945 to April 1946 when they were transferred to the Naval Stores Department.

Cookery School

The RIN Cookery School in HMIS Akbar, the Shore Training Establishment at Kolshet, Bombay, gave instructions to officers’ and ships’ cooks. (This school was originally started in

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HMIS Khanjar in 1942, thence transferred to HMIS Machlimar and finally to HMIS Akbar in 1944).

There was a bakery attacked to the Cookery School where cooks were taught bread making. To begin with an RIASC bakery section was obtained on loan to train a proportion of cooks as instructors. A considerable number of cooks thus qualified and later on the entire instruction passed into the hands of cook instructors.

Catering and Messing

Catering and messing received considerable attention. Assistance was forthcoming from the Catering Directorate of the Quartet Master General’s Branch and much of their helpful advice was incorporated in periodical “Messing Information Circulars”, issued by the Victualling Directorate. Ships and .shore establishments were frequently visited by the Director of Victualling and his assistant, who gave them personal advice and assistance. RIN Meet Orders and temporary memoranda were issued from time to time containing instructions to commanding officers.

With the formation of the naval wing of the Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India), subsequently named Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service, various naval wing hostels sprang up which required careful attention in regard to catering and diet. Complaints not attended to in time would have adversely, affected recruiting. In the early stages, the difficulties were mostly, owing to lack of capable mess caterers and domestic staff.

These difficulties were, however, eventually overcome with the assistance of the Indian Base General Hospital at I,m know from where an experienced WAC(I) Mess Caterer was sent to Bombay to advise on catering and diet for the RIN hospital as well as the naval wing hostels. It was not till April 1945 that the appointment of a Catering Officer at the Naval Headquarters was made with the object of improving the catering and messing for officers and ratings in the RIN.

Mobile Victualling

When many RIN ships and small craft began to operate on the Arakan Coast, in close co-operation with the army, the wisdom of placing demands through the RIASC was abundantly proved. In the case of ships, however, which were operating in dangerous waters, it was hazardous or impossible to undertake victualling from shore. The RIN had no Victualling Store Issue Ship, but the Royal Navy undertook the responsibility of revictualling RIN ships operating on the Burma coast.

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Clothing and Mess Traps

Up to 1944 the provision and distribution of clothing and mess traps was the responsibility of the Naval Stores Department. It was then decided that this work should be taken over by the Victualling Branch which would be more in accordance with Royal Navy procedure. This led to a further expansion of the staff and reorganization of the Victualling Department in November 1944.

Post-War Changes

With the cessation of hostilities in August 1945, the need for maintaining stocks of supplies at the various ports diminished. Accordingly there was a change in policy which resulted in the decision to close down the Base Victualling Offices at most of the ports. The result was that the ships and establishments at those ports had to draw their supplies direct from the RIASC There was reversion to peacetime practice in the matter of clothing and mess traps also which once again became the responsibility of the Naval Stores Department. It was intended that Bombay on the West Coast, and Vizagapatam on the East Coast, should be retained as RIN Victualling Bases so as to provide a nucleus in the event of future expansion. But with the new post-war plans for the integration Of the three services in regard to rations and supplies, there was a complete reorientation of policy.

Lessons Learnt

The experiences of World War II proved:–

a. Food and its supply and distribution, have a direct bearing on the efficiency and morale of the service and it should be taken into account in planning, training and operations.

b. Service personnel must be educated in peace to appreciate the consequences of war on the world’s food supply, and trained to make the best of what may be supplied to them under the circumstances.

Naval Stores Organisation in India

In 1939 the naval stores organisation like the small fleet it served, was comparatively unknown. When war broke out, like all other supply services, the Naval Stores Department was faced with tremendous problems in the matter of staff accommodation, supply and many other matters. Indeed it was doubtful whether any other organisation was so completely unprepared or so awkwardly placed in regard to the responsibilities imposed upon it. Requirements for any ship (regardless of ownership and destination), which could

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not be met from normal sources of supply became the responsibility of the Naval Stores Department, if the ship was sailing in convoy.


The entire staff consisted of 2 civilian officers, 27 storehouse staff and 24 clerks. The organisation had been at this level or lower for some 40 to 50 years. The two civilian officers had “grown up” in the service from the days of the Royal Indian Marine; neither of them had any Admiralty training, or any knowledge of modern fighting equipment, or indeed of the likely requirements of a modern fighting vessel. None of the inferior staff had any technical training though they had to handle technical equipment: they had very limited experience of store keeping. In short, as a service it had no experienced core on which to expand. The whole weight of the increase of work, consequent upon the outbreak of war, fell upon the two civilian officers. Reference to the history of the RIN Dockyard would provide statistics of the large number of H.M. and HMI ships refitted, and auxiliary merchantmen, armed merchant cruisers, armed boarding vessels and hospital ships converted during the first months of the war. Huge supplies of stores were required for these purposes as vessels had to be brought up to a war complement of stores, while in the ease of new ships, the making up of the new stores equipment for them also devolved on the Naval Stores Officer (NSO).

Both the civilian officers had retired by May 1940, and there being no one to follow on, it was necessary to ask the Master General of the Ordnance Branch in India to provide one stores officer. The difficulties of obtaining suitable civilians when other services were allowing much better terms, were great. The salaries of the storehouse staff were at least 25 per cent lower than those in other services in India. The system followed was based rather on long-standing practice than on regulations and was very much out of date.

The requirements of staff in the years 1940-42 were very difficult to plan since there was no clear idea of what the commitments would be. Many authorities outside the scope of the RIN administration had to be dealt with. Financial control was such that the only possible policy was of “doing what we could”, and did not allow of arguing a case with the Government of India for expansion, when more than 50 per cent of the work was on account of services under His Majesty’s Government, which had no definite claim upon the organisation, and in the case of the Admiralty they had stated clearly that they did not intend their ships to make

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regular calls on the RIN organisation. However, by 1943 financial control was simplified and at the end of hostilities, the staff had increased to 57 officers, 305 storehouse staff and 390 clerks.


In 1939 the whole of the RIN organisation was centred in HMI Dockyard. This included the headquarters and training establishments. In 1940 the activities of the dockyard increased considerably in dealing with the taking over of 30 local naval defence vessels, fitting out 4 Armed Merchant Cruisers, 3 Armed Boarding Vessels and 6 Hospital Ships, and there was dreadful congestion. In these early days requisitioning of sites and buildings outside the dockyard was extremely difficult. It was not until early 1941 that the Stores Department managed to secure approval for two Bulk Store Depots, some 20 miles from the Dockyard. By the end of 1942 these had been opened and four more had begun to function at other naval bases. Two more storage depots and three storage points were opened by the middle of 1943. In Bombay the covered accommodation had been increased from 190,000 square feet to approximately 500,000 square feet, plus 1,200,000 square feet of open storage by the end of 1943.

A serious handicap was that the dockyard was not served by railway. Some 1,103,000 packages were dealt with by rail and sea, and every one had to be man-handled on and off trucks – the actual tonnage dealt with running into many tens of thousands of tons, considering the large percentage of heavy lifts. The Dockyard possessed 2½ ton portable crane, during the first two years of the war. Additional requirements were on order for over two years before being met.

In the matter of spare gear for ships Naval Stores Officer was held responsible until about the end of 1943. The lack of experienced officers to deal with all the gear sent out by the Admiralty in that year for their ships was keenly felt.


The vast requirements that had to be catered for made it most difficult to establish provision of stores on a reasonable forward basis. To begin with, approximately 1,200 items had been obtained from the United Kingdom before the war and the remainder mainly through a few Ships chandlers in Bombay. The Supply Department had dealt with only a very few items such as oil, petrol, coal etc., so that naval requirements in the matter of general stores were

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completely unknown to them. This was very largely the fact that the average requirement of most of the items was too small to be dealt with by the Supply Department before the war and fell mainly within the local purchase powers of the Naval Stores Officers.

There was no proper inspection service, and no specifications or patterns existed, so that difficulties arose in June 1940 when it became necessary to obtain supplies through the Supply Department. The lack of specifications together with the vast range of non-standard articles being demanded by all types of craft, both RIN as well as those outside the Service, led to confusion and delay. It was estimated that stores worth approximately 1,110 lakhs of rupees were purchased in India during the war. A very wide range of materials had to be procured for sampling, and whilst the Controller of Inspection was responsible for examining and passing all supplies, it was necessary for the Department to exercise a constant watch over these activities to ensure that reasonable standards were in fact accepted.

Planning the requirements without any guidance about the possible expenditure was extremely difficult; but in June 1940, professional officers were asked to give some kind of estimates in the matter of materials, steel, timber etc.; and this was the first real attempt at forward supply arrangements. But the ever-increasing demand on the services of the dockyard soon made even these estimates totally inadequate; also, by the time some of these supplies were received e.g. steel plates, the sizes and lengths were totally unsuitable for the type of work that the dockyard was expected to undertake. The sizes were based on requirements of sloops and local naval defence vessels of similar sizes – whilst, in fact, major action damage repairs to destroyers and cruisers were being undertaken. The same situation arose in regard to the range of general stores – at the beginning of the war there were some 10,000 items of regular supply, many of which were obsolete by the Royal Navy standards; these had expanded to something like 35 to 40,000 items by the end of the war.

In 1941, the Admiralty advised that all possible supplies must be obtained locally, and the Royal Indian Navy set about building up production in India. In the matter of clothing and mess traps, this had been well established by the end of the year, but the RN set up a Victualling Depot in Bombay, and since they were not bound to purchase through the Supply Department at that time, very soon cleaned up the RIN supply of caps, badges, socks and stockings and the like resulting in serious delays in deliveries.

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The professional staff of the Electrical Department was of considerable help and very soon an excellent range of electrical fittings of special Admiralty patterns were under production in Calcutta, including even very good Aldis lamps. .

It was not until the end of 1941 that any real picture of the type and number of vessels it was intended to add to the fleet was known. Many training establishments were set up, requiring technical gear which could only be obtained fro n the U.K., and, as in the case of spare gear etc. required for repairs to H.M. ships,* long delays occurred before supplies arrived from the U.K. It was not unusual in the case of training establishments for Naval Stores Officer to receive a sanction for several lakhs worth stores and gear, and break it down to items like general stores, electrical equipment etc.. The result was that much time and labour had to be spent by the officers, setting up the establishments, in roughing up details of likely requirements before any demand could be made out. Meanwhile, recruitment in the Service went ahead but months elapsed before general stores requirements were met.

The control of commodities set up under the Supply Department for indigenous supplies hampered the Naval Stores Officer who was frequently advised that certain stocks, required very urgently, were reserved for the Defence Services. The RIN stores organisation was still comparatively unknown. In 1942, it was suggested that the Royal Navy should set up a Common Depot with the RIN so that requirements of all ships and establishments might be reasonably met. This, however, was not agreed to by the former on the ground that it was not considered necessary. It was stated that Eastern Fleet Orders required only essential operational items to be maintained. This did not, however, alter the fact that numerous ships called daily for stores of all kinds in Bombay, having been unable to get them at other bases. The Admiralty had some idea no doubt of the type of craft calling at Bombay but no idea of the range of stores held there.

By the end of 1942, the Royal Navy began to set up various shore establishments for personnel in Bombay. This added to the already heavy responsibilities of the Naval Stores Officer as he had to provide practically all that was required except buildings.

The general stores position in RN yards abroad became progressively worse, resulting in heavy demands on the RIN. The Naval Stores Officer had a large number of units of the Eastern Fleet to deal with during the period. These naturally could not all be met and the serious state of affairs, after repeated representations

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to senior RN Officers, was eventually brought to the notice of the Admiralty with the result that in 1943, a Main Stores Depot, N.S. K.O., (Naval Stores Keeping Office) LCB (Landing Craft Base) and several other special stores organisations were set up. These establishments, however, began to raise heavy demands on the Royal Indian Navy organisation due to delay in the arrival of supplies from the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The result of all this was that the supply position and forward policy were in a continual state of flux. .Tremendous quantities of stores were wanted and most demands were stated to be essential for operational needs, so that it was almost impossible to discriminate and keep in stock sufficient item’s to meet emergency requirements. The Naval Stores Officer dealt with approximately, one million demands from ships and establishments during the war.

In May 1943, proposals were submitted for expansion based on experience of the war up to that time, on the assumption that a similar degree of demand would continue, and after several months, approval was given to this. The Admiralty sent out staff and agreed to supply all requirements. This was necessary as the Supply Department was, by then, completely unable to deal with the range of stores required from indigenous sources.

Responsibilities for Supply

It was not generally realised that RIN Stores Department had to deal with” regular demands from the following, in addition to its own requirements, which expanded ten to fifteen times, from the commencement of hostilities:–

a. RN ships and shore establishments.

b. Allied naval ships.

c. Merchant vessels – requirements for gun crews, telephone instruments, cleaning gear and degaussing requirements.

d. Hospital ships – quite a range of gear.

e. Hired transports – hammocks and general naval special stores for sea transport. This became a separate service under the Deputy Sea Transport Officer at the end of 1942.

f. Merchant Ship Repair Yards on behalf of the Director General Ship Repairs.

g. Victualling stores for RN ships and establishments up to 1942.

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h. Supply of naval forms to all the above. Many special requirements had to be purchased or made for ships (b) to (f) above owing to the inability of owners or agents to get supplies.

There were regular calls on RIN services by the Middle East Yards and Establishments and the Persian Gulf during 1941 to 1943 for bulk supplies of various commodities.

Considerable assistance was given to the RN authorities in storing landing craft for the initial Burma Operations, owing to the loss of most of their stocks of stores in the Bombay Explosion, and a large part was taken in kitting up special parties, forces etc. mounted in Bombay for the Burmese and Malayan campaigns.

The victualling supplies for RN ships were arranged by Naval Stores Officer, Bombay, until early 1942 and requirements of the RIN Fleet remained Naval Stores Officer’s responsibility until May 1944 when a separate service was set up.

General Observations

As the events revealed, it was essential to have a common naval stores service in Bombay by the end of 1940. More might have been achieved if it had been established earlier. If the Admiralty had come in from the commencement, much more might have been done in establishing a wider range of Admiralty pattern manufactured articles in India; as it was, orders large enough to warrant production or attract ‘the attention of interested manufacturers could not be placed.

The setting up of the numerous Supply Depots for Royal Navy Stores in Bombay in 1943 was not the best arrangement, ft led to a scramble for accommodation and stores at the expense of efficiency. The necessity for establishing a thoroughly efficient Stores Inspection Depot was urgently felt.

Naval Armament Supply Organisation In India

Ordnance Officer RIN Group Bombay

The limited ammunition requirements of the small RIN fleet which existed before 1939 were catered for by the Ordnance Corps of the Indian Army. There was only one Armament Depot involved and this was in Bombay. This consisted of two sections, an Ammunition Storage Depot at Butcher’s Island, and a small section on the mainland with storage for guns and spare parts and an ordnance workshop for repairs. The Officer-in-Charge of the

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area arranged for the supply of, and repairs to, ammunition, guns and other armament stores for the RIN. He was known as the Ordnance Officer, RIN Group, Bombay.

Naval Armament Supply Officer

With the outbreak of war in September 1939, and the rapid expansion of the RIN fleet, there was an increased demand for guns and ammunition which were of new types peculiar to the navy. The army could no longer continue to supply the navy’s requirements satisfactorily. At the request of the Government of India, the Admiralty, in April 1940, sent out an expert (Mr. P. J. Hawkins) to advise on the question of starting a Naval Armament Supply Organisation in India. The Hawkins Report led to the loan by the Admiralty of a high ranking officer to the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy, to plan the taking over of the Naval Armament Stores from the army. This officer (Mr. R. W. Mettell, OBE) arrived in India in September 1941 and was appointed to the staff of FOCRIN at Bombay.

With the appointment of a Naval Armament Supply Officer, the gradual withdrawal of the army staff at Bombay was begun. They were relieved by British or Indian Armament Supply Staff who were civilians. But it was a slow process. Simultaneously, to meet the increasing requirements of the RIN as well as H.M. ships operating in India and Far Eastern waters, stocks of ammunition, guns, gun spares and other types of naval armament stores were shipped out to India.

To find replacements for the army staff who were withdrawn was a difficult problem. The Admiralty lent a very small staff in 1942. This consisted of a few officers of the directing staff together with storehouse-men for charge of stores, laboratory-men for examination of explosives and fitters for overhaul of guns. This nucleus had to train Indian personnel as clerks, storehouse-men, laboratory-men and fitters. A number of Indian storehouse-men and laboratory-men with previous training in the Depot at Singapore arrived in Bombay with the fall of Singapore in February 1942. They were a very valuable and welcome addition.

Formation of the Naval Armament Supply Organisation

The Master General of the Ordnance continued to be responsible generally for the naval armament and inspection services in India, and the bulk of the work was carried out by the Indian Army Ordnance Corps. But it was felt by the Naval Headquarters, the

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Senior Armament Supply Officer (India), and the Deputy Director of Armament Supply, Eastern Theatre, that this should be the responsibility of the RIN FOCRIN, therefore, after consultation with the Master-General of Ordnance, approached the Admiralty in September 1942 for the necessary assistance. The Admiralty agreed in March 1943 to send a nucleus of experienced staff to strengthen the proposed new Royal Indian Navy organisation.

Government of India sanction for the Armament Supply Organisation was issued in November 1943. This involved:–-

Transfer of the Naval Armament and Inspection Services in India (including the Royal Indian Navy Group of the Ordnance Depot, Bombay, and the Magazine Depot at Butcher Island) from the administrative control .of the Master-General of the Ordnance to the Flag Officer Commanding, RIN.

The merging of the Royal Navy and the Royal Indian Navy stocks.

The establishment of Naval Armament and Inspection personnel for the RIN Armament Depot, Bombay.

Devising of general procedure for the new organisation.

Part of the reserves of naval explosives (including large quantities for the Royal Navy) were to continue to be stored and maintained in Army Ordnance Depots in the absence of sufficient accommodation in the Royal Indian Navy Armament Depots.

A number of Junior RINVR officers were trained in Bombay for assuming eventual charge of small Depots to be opened up at the various ports. Up till then naval armament supply duties at these ports were carried out by the Base Gunnery Officers.

In 1944 and 1945 with the very rapid growth of the organisation and the planning of operations in South East Asia, a large number of trained personnel were provided from the U.K., but their number did not at any time exceed 70.

Inspection of Ammunition and Guns

Inspection of the work on Naval Armament Stores, according to Admiralty practice, was the responsibility of the Inspection Department and not that of the Armament Supply or Holding Departments. The same principle was followed in India and staff was gradually provided from the United Kingdom to replace the Army Inspectors who were doing this work at first. One army Inspector (Ordnance Mechanical Engineer) was, however,

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transferred by the army in September 1943 to act as the head of this side of the organisation with the rank of Commander. Other RINVR officers were appointed to assist after short courses in the United Kingdom. Close liaison was maintained by the Naval Ordnance Inspecting Officer, Royal Indian Navy, Bombay, with the Deputy Inspector of Naval Ordnance Colombo (on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief East Indies who visited India periodically.)

Merger of Stocks of Ammunition and Guns

At the beginning of the war all naval ammunition and guns in India were the property of the Royal Indian Navy, with the exception of a few guns and corresponding outfits of ammunition held mainly in Bombay and Calcutta on RN account, for the arming of Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) in the Far East. During the early years of the war more naval ammunition stores were shipped from the U.K. for RIN ships, and also considerable quantities for the use of RN ships and DEMS This entailed the holding of two separate stocks in Depots with consequent duplication of ledger, which proved very wasteful in effort and led to many errors. It was accordingly agreed in 1942 between the Government of India and His Majesty’s Government that all stocks should be deemed the property of the Royal Navy and should be brought on one ledger as from 1 April 1943, and that any issues to RIN ships and services should be on a repayment basis and that financial adjustment should be made after the war.

Storage of Ammunition and Guns

In January 1942, at the time of the over-running of Malaya by the Japanese, it was realised that a long war in the Far East involving the use of warships based on Ceylon and India was inevitable. The Government of India was asked by His Majesty’s Government to provide storage accommodation for a large quantity of naval ammunition reserves, including 10,000 tons in some central strategic depot and smaller quantities at depots conveniently sited at the various ports in India, which were likely to be used by warships of all types. The army agreed to provide for 10,000 tons at Pulgaon near Nagpur in the Central Provinces where a large army depot was then under construction and to provide storage for smaller quantities in existing depots. All this ammunition was placed under the care of the RIN Armament Supply Service.

In addition to the storage and maintenance of part of the stocks of naval explosives in India in the Army Ordnance Depots, assistance

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was received from the army authorities in the handling If naval explosives by army Embarkation staffs at the ports, rail transport, supply of common user items (e. g. 3” mortar etc.) from army stocks in India and inspection proof of naval explosives, which could not be -undertaken in Bombay pending the receipt of apparatus on order.

Depots and Administration Headquarters

The Headquarters of the RIN Armament Supply Service was originally situated in Bombay and comprised a Senior Officer (Mr. Mittell) and one clerk. Co-ordination work was carried on in Delhi by the Staff Officer Gunnery at the Naval Headquarters. In December 1943 the Bombay organisation was moved to New Delhi and was absorbed as a section under the Commodore of Administration. The staff, by then, had increased to a Senior Armament Supply Officer, a Deputy and an Assistant Armament Supply Officer. This was augmented by an Officer Supervisor and 6 clerks from General Headquarters.


RIN Armament Depot, Bombay, consisted of two depots, one on the mainland having care of guns and non-explosives, ammunition and explosives of all types being stored on Butcher Island some five miles out in the harbour. This was the original depot in India and acted as the ‘mother’ of all the other depots to be opened up. Originally the depot on Butcher Island was designed to hold about 2,000 tons of ammunition, but many new building works for storage and laboratory facilities were carried out and stocks were built up to approximately 13,000 tons. It was necessary, in addition, to acquire three hulks for accommodation of some of this quantity and moor them off the Butcher Island. Storehouses were filled to the .utmost capacity and even storage under tarpaulins in the open had to be adopted. A very valuable and necessary assistance was rendered to the Royal Navy in Bombay by the periodical docking of naval ammunition ships (Armament Supply Issuing Ships) of which there were at one time some fourteen or more. However, this involved a great deal of work by RIN Armament Depot, Bombay, in unloading and supervision of docking.

On the mainland of Bombay, adjacent’ to the dockyard, the original storehouse workshop and main office accommodation of the original Ordnance Depot was extended to cover an area three or four times the original site, and a large godown had to be acquired in the civil port area at Carnac Bunder to accommodate the greatly increased stocks of non-explosives.

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Some idea of the growth of the two depots in Bombay during the war may be gathered from the number of workmen employed which rose from 200 to approximately 2,000 in the peak period.


Storage of naval ammunition of all types at the very large Army Central Ammunition Depot commenced in October 1943 when a Naval Group, which in’ time grew to seventeen large magazines, each capable of storing approximately 750 tons of ammunition, was formed. The army generously undertook to provide all labour and even do the accounts and consequently a staff of only three Naval Armament Supply men comprising one Junior Officer, one store-houseman and one laboratory-man, was kept there. This staff acted as a liaison party to advise the army on details of storage requirements, nomenclatures of stores, refit of repairable stocks etc. The main function of the depot was to act as a second line of reserve to Bombay by keeping stocks of ammunition for which there was no immediate day-to-day demand. The depot was also admirably placed for feeding by rail the small depots at ports such as Calcutta, Madras and Cochin.


Although there was no depot in Calcutta at the outbreak of war, certain stocks of guns for Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships were kept there and small supplies of ammunition were maintained in Fort William. A certain amount of work on guns and provision of ammunition was carried out by the Base Gunnery Officer with the assistance of army personnel. By October 1942, the work had grown to such an extent that a Lieutenant RINVR, who had been trained in Bombay in naval armament supply work, was sent there to act as Officer-in-Charge of Armament Supply (short title OCAS Calcutta) . Along with this officer, a small nucleus staff of storehouse-men, laboratory-men, fitters and clerks was provided from Bombay. This depot grew until approximately 300 men were employed in 1945. In December 1943 an additional Officer of higher grade took over as OCAS to cope with the rapid expansion of depot facilities which ensued in 1944. Storage for guns and non-explosives was provided in requisitioned property in Garden Reach Road in Calcutta.

A Magazine Depot for storage of 500-600 tons of ammunition was built on Port Trust land at Molasses Sidings, but bulk supplies of explosives of all types were left in the Army Depots, mainly at Jamalpur, some 200 miles from Calcutta, In order rapidly to supply

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ammunition to small warships calling at Calcutta, for refits and dockings, SS Ashridge, a hulk, capable of taking some 1,400 tons of ammunition, was stationed at Diamond Reach, an isolated anchorage, some 30 miles down the Hooghly river from Calcutta.


During the early part of the war some armament supply work principally in connection with the arming of DEMS and issues to local defence vessels, was carried out at the naval base, under the superintendence of the Base Gunnery Officer. Ammunition was stored in Fort St. George. In October 1943, the use of Port Trust Magazine was acquired for further storage; and with the increased activity, an Indian Civilian Junior Officer to act as OCAS, together with a small nucleus armament supply staff was sent there. More ammunition was kept under army control at their depots at Avadi, and finally Gummidipundi, where some 1,400 tons were stored. The OCAS was also responsible for all accounting for guns and gun spares and for the ammunition stored in Fort St. George (600 tons) and Port Trust Magazines (400 tons).


In the early stages of the war, Karachi was used as a port for equipping DEMS under the Base Gunnery Officer and for local defence ship work. Here again, the work grew to such an extent that in October 1943 an English storehouseman was sent there to act as OCAS under the control of the Naval Officer-in-Charge. Guns and non-explosives stores were kept in requisitioned premises and approximately 1,000 tons of ammunition in the nearby Army Depot at Drigh Road under army charge. In 1945, just before the war ended, a Junior Officer from the United Kingdom was sent out as OCAS.


In the early days of the war a small stock of guns and ammunition was kept in the Naval Base under the control of the Base Gunnery Officer, principally for the use of local defence ships and coastal forces craft. Plans were made, however, as early as 1941 for the construction at Malakapuram, some two miles from the base, of a small ammunition depot to store warheads and depth charges for the proposed RIN motor torpedo boat flotilla which never actually materialised. In 1944 with greatly increased work on coastal force craft, and with the formation of an RN landing craft wing, the uncompleted depot at Malakapuram was taken over in July 1944, and OCAS with a small staff was sent there to take over from

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the Base Gunnery Officer and to hasten the completion of the depot. The depot was completed early in 1945 with a storage capacity for 500 tons of ammunition, together with a gun workshop, offices and non-explosives store building. With the largely increased ammunition requirements of landing craft, further storage (1,500 tons) was obtained on loan from the army in Waltair Ordnance Export Transit Depot, some 10 miles from Vizagapatam. The naval magazines in Waltair were, however, completely under the charge of the OCAS at Malakapuram who provided labour and maintained the accounts.


In order to cope with the supplies of ammunition to ships operating on the Arakan coast, a small depot of a very temporary nature was opened at Chittagong in June 1944 by a storehouse-man, who was reinforced in October 1944 by an OCAS and small staff. Calcutta acted as a “mother” for this depot which finally closed down in June 1945, when all stores were evacuated to Calcutta.


The amount of armament supply work at Cochin was of a very limited nature during the major part of the war. Any supplies were drawn by the Base Gunnery Officer from Bombay and kept in a magazine built in the naval base. With the formation of a landing craft base at Cochin, however, a depot of some 500 tons in size was commenced in June 1944 on Willingdon Island and almost completed by the end of the year. An OCAS with a small staff was sent there in March 1945, and reserve ammunition, guns and stores provided from Bombay.


In 1944 Admiralty requirement for storage of 1,500 tons for the landing craft training and operational base arose at Mandapam. It was found practicable, however to supply this base by means of an Armament Supply Issuing Ship based on Trincomalee. No actual complete shore armament supply base was, therefore, set up although a junior armament supply officer was appointed in March 1945.


Mine work in India was mainly carried out in Mine Depot Ships, one of whom SS Gurna was stationed in Bombay for about two years. Bulk stocks of mines were, however, held for some time

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in one of the hulks in Bombay harbour and at Pulgaon. A project for the building or acquisition of a depot at Asonsol or Durgapur, near Calcutta, to deal with aircraft mines was dropped. All mines and their components were, however, removed from India before the end of the war.

Torpedo Depot, Mankhurd, Bombay

An excellent, up-to-date Torpedo Depot was built at Mankhurd, some 15 miles from the city of Bombay, to cope with the anticipated work on torpedoes for the proposed motor torpedo boat flotilla. When this flotilla did not materialise, the depot was loaned to the Royal Navy on 1 November 1944 and was used as an overflow depot for Colombo, to repair torpedoes for the ships of the East Indies Fleet.

Action at the end of the War

In the succeeding year, all the war bases – Calcutta, Madras, Cochin, Karachi, Mandapam, Malakapuram (Vizagapatam) – were closed down and all stores including those in army depots concentrated into three depots – Bombay (10,000 tons), Pulgaon (5,000 tons) and OETD (Ordnance Export Transit Depot) Waltair (8,500 tons) which were envisaged as post-war RIN armament depots. Thus all stores with the exception of those at Pulgaon were brought under the complete control of the RIN naval armament supply organisation and ammunition tonnage held was reduced by dumping to 23,500 tons.

Naval Equipment –


Reference has been made earlier to the difficulty of obtaining suitable officers, both uniformed and civilian, for the naval stores organisation in India. In 1940, the Master General of the Ordnance, however, came to the rescue and lent the Royal Indian Navy eight officers. The Admiralty eventually agreed to the loan of more officers from the United Kingdom.

Motor Transport

The following motor transport was supplied to the Royal Indian Navy:–

10 Ton Lorries 2
5 Ton Lorries 18
3 Ton Lorries 679
3 Ton Chassis 232
15 Cwt. Trucks 366
Station Wagons 193
Motor Cycles 17
Jeeps 21
Ambulances 29
Workshop Lorries 12
Breakdown Lorries 7
Water Tank Lorries 7
Staff Cars 29
Motor Cycle Combinations 2

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It does not mean that this number of motor vehicles was in use by the Royal Indian Navy, as many of the units supplied were in replacement of vehicles which had been written off. The situation as regards supply of motor transport was quite good, but difficulty was experienced in keeping all vehicles on the road due to lack of maintenance facilities. Maintenance and repair work went sometimes beyond the resources of the local army authorities, and it became necessary to set up its own organisation, to enable the Royal Indian Navy to carry out its first-line maintenance.

Petrol, Oil and Lubricants

The Royal Indian Navy was responsible for collating estimates of all petrol, oil and lubricants for both Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy. In this connection, the Flag Officer Commanding RIN was represented on Petrol, Oil, and Lubricant Division, South East Asia Command. With the stepping up of operations in South East Asia Command, it became necessary to obtain closer liaison with the Commander-in-Chief, East Indies, as required information was not being received sufficiently in advance to permit of adequate provision being arranged. As war progressed, adequate liaison arrangements were made, and the estimating organisation was fully capable, then, of making provision for petrol, oil and lubricant requirements to keep pace with the speed of advance.

Boats: The following were supplied:–

30’ Motor cutters 7
25’ Motor cutters 12
16’ Motor Dinghies 4
32’ Service cutters 22
30’ Service cutters 33
27’ Whalers 53
Drop Keel Dinghies 16’ 7
Diving Boat 1

India was short of motor boats and the position was acute. 35 foot motor cutters were coming from the Director General, Shipbuilding and Repairs, at the rate of one a month and this slowly

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improved the position. A number of Diesel motor boat engines and outboard motors arrived at varying periods during 1945.


During 1944, all stocks of coal for Royal Navy, Royal Indian Navy and sea transport, were amalgamated under the control of the Principal Sea Transport Officer (India), who entered into joint handling contracts for all Indian ports, except Calcutta, where port handling was arranged by the Chief Mining Engineer, Railway Board.


The question of fumigation of hired transports was raised by the Deputy Principal Sea Transport Officer (India) and early in 1944 Government accorded sanction to the fumigation of His Majesty’s and His Majesty’s Indian ships by the cyanide method instead of sulphur. The scheme involved the following:–

a. Cyanide fumigation squads at Calcutta and Bombay, with suitable buildings and a qualified officer of the Royal Indian Navy. The Fumigation Officer, Bombay, was to be in general control of both ports.

b. In addition to fumigation of His Majesty’s and His Majesty’s Indian ships, the Royal Indian Navy also undertook the fumigation of hired transports.

c. Fumigation of commercial ships also was undertaken by the Royal Indian Navy against payment by owners.

Due to reports of damage to instruments in His Majesty’s ships by cyanide, the Admiralty urged the use of carboxide until such time as they were able to carry out thorough tests. This was agreed to and the first shipment of carboxide came in March 1945.

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

The supply of air conditioning units was arranged for Anti-Submarine Fixed Defence Station, Madras, Anti-Submarine Fixed Defence Station, Vizagapatam, Type X room, Calcutta, Anti-Submarine Fixed Defence Station, Calcutta, Range Finder Shop, Gun Mounting Depot, Bombay, and Anti-Submarine Training Centre, Bombay. These supplies did not include air-conditioning fitted as part of work projects.

Air conditioning of sick bays in sloops was decided upon in 1944,. but the plant was not expected to arrive until late in 1945. At an inter-services meeting held in the Engineer-in-Chief’s Branch

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in February, 1945, to decide priorities for air conditioning of hospitals, Royal Indian Navy sloops were placed at the top of the list. It was anticipated that, with that priority, it was possible to air-condition the sick bay of each sloop immediately she was available for re-fit.


Prior to 1945, few salvage facilities existed in the Indian waters. Sanction was, therefore, obtained in April 1943 to form a Naval Salvage Organisation under the control of the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy. The organisation was administered by a Chief Salvage Officer in Bombay with Assistant Salvage Officers in Calcutta, Madras, Vizagapatam and Chittagong. Two specially equipped salvage ships, the Bhadravati and Chinthe were adapted and proved invaluable for the work. The latter unfortunately sank in dock but was salvaged soon.

In addition to the RIN salvage vessels, a special scheme earmarked one of the best ocean-going Port Trust tugs, at each of the six major ports, as emergency rescue tugs. These proceeded as and when required with an augmented crew, and with one of the Assistant Salvage Officers to act as adviser to the Master.

The work of the organisation during the war included the following salvages; Mine Sweeper No. 154; SS Agiogi Victores; SS Unita; SS Ashridge; SS Jeanette Skinner; SS Ashralion; SS Samida; SS William B. Ogden; HMIS Karachi; Motor Launch 830; HMIS Shillong. In addition, various small craft and aircraft received aid, varying from minor assistance to major salvage operations.

In the Bombay Explosion, distinguished service was rendered by all the available salvage staff, both at the time and during the subsequent reconstruction period. Commander Longmire, RINR, the Chief Salvage Officer, nearly lost his life and was not out of danger for some time before recovery was assured.

Research and Development

In October 1944, Government of India agreed to the establishment of a Directorate of Admiralty Research and Development (DARD(I) ), under the administrative control of the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy, who was acting as agent for the Admiralty for this purpose. The Directorate had its headquarters in New Delhi, a Warrant Officer in the Royal Indian Navy Office, Bombay, and Technical Officers available for duty at the

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various ports and bases in India, as required by the programme of work.

The Directorate received requirements for research or development, to be undertaken, from the Commander-in-Chief, East Indies, and the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy, and in this connection, Liaison Officers were stationed at Colombo, Kandy and Trincomalee.

The programme of work undertaken, covered fifteen main items as follows:–

R 1 – Ordnance, Gunnery and Explosive Stores

R 2 – Torpedoes, Mining and Minesweeping

R 3 – Submarine Weapons and Equipment

R 4 – Anti-Submarine Weapons and Equipment

R 5 – Electrical Equipment

R 6 – Combined Operations – Equipment and Stores

R 7 – Special Craft and Equipment

R 8 – Navigation, Equipment and Instruments

R 9 – Waves and Beach Study

R10 – Chemical Investigations

R11 – Biological and Mycological Investigations

R12 – Miscellaneous Devices

R13 – Temperature, Humidity – Habitability

R14 – Information on Enemy Weapons

R15 – Transport and Storage Conditions.

The Directorate maintained contact with the Admiralty Technical Departments and arranged an interchange of naval technical information between India and the United Kingdom.