Reply To: 1910s Navy Service Record – Interpretation

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Frank Scott

    The ref to 12 years at the top of the Service Certificate is that he originally ‘signed on’ for 12 years, not that he served 12 years. In fact he served much less than that being medically invalided from the service in June 1914 via Haslar, the Royal Naval Hospital in Gosport, owing to some problem with his ears (‘Dis’possibly meaning ‘fluid discharge’). Thereafter there are references to tracing him for pension, possibly referring to confirming where he was, and that he was the person to whom the (medical disability) pension was being paid.
    Looking at his Efficiency (Ability) assessments variously ‘G’ (Good) x 1, ‘Inf’ (Inferior) x 2; ‘Mod’ (moderate) x 2; he was not a star. In service certificate code ‘VG’ (Very Good) = Normal; G = Below average, mod & inf even lower. This is borne out by his sentences to ‘Cells’ for up to 21 days, sentences that could be handed out at defaulters without recourse to outside approval. He does not seem to have been bad enough to go to Detention Quarters (RN Prison).
    Similarly for Conduct he declines from ‘VG’ for first assessment to ‘G’ for all but his final discharge assessment, when ‘G’ (Good) actually meant that he was far from Good!
    Under ‘Class for Conduct’ you should note that he was 6 months on ‘2nd class for conduct’, which was something handed out to those who were continual petty offenders, and had an impact on leave, etc.
    The sailor that you wanted in your ship was certainly not this one. What you wanted was a man whose service certificate showed unbroken VG for conduct, and at least Sup (Superior) for efficiency in current rate.
    I would suspect that the RN was only too happy to be rid of F.G. Buckingham, and the medical problem provided a good excuse.