Monday, 15 May 2017

WWI Canadian Navy Records



The Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve was established in May 1914 and started recruiting in many cities across Canada.



My paternal grandmother's brother, Wilfred Tait enlisted in the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve on 1 Sept 1914 at the age of 17.

In 1917 many ships did not make it out of England's ports but were sunk by German U-boats (submarines). The allies rallied and sent submarine chasers to hunt the u-boats so ships could travel to and fro, and escorting ships bearing troops and supplies for the war. The u-boats also menaced the waters of the Canadian Maritimes.
The Naval Reserves were called to action.





Wilfred applied to the Government Radiotelegraph Service on 12 October 1917 and this week I received his service record and ledger sheet. He already had some telegraphist training and could operate at 14 words per minute in the Continental Code.




Wilfred was now a W/T (Wireless Telegraphist) Learner of the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RNCVR) and sent for training on the HMCS Niobe. The Niobe was one of the first two ships of the Canadian Navy and in 1917 was a headquarters used for training.





On the 10 June 1918 Wilfred was promoted to a Class 4 W/T Operator. His rank was Warrant Officer. All personnel were to swear an Oath of Allegiance.






On 11 July 1918  Wilfred was assigned to the HMCS Seagull, a patrol depot boat. There were several boats attached to the Seagull and Wilfred was on the HMCS CD-49 (a naval drifter) as Officer in Charge from July 11 to October 25...





 ...then on the HMCS Loos (a battle class trawler) from October 26 to December 23.
December 24th he was assigned back to the Niobe and was there until he was demobilized at Canso DF Station, NS on 15 July 1919.






Ordering the Records:

LAC assured me they will be digitizing these records at some later-to-be-determined date, but I couldn't wait!

Clicking on the Navy link of the First World War section we see what records they hold at LAC. Wilfred Tait didn't stay in after the war, so I am concerned with only the first two parts.
  • Service Ledger Sheets for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Naval Reserve (RG150, 1992-93/170)
  • Service Files (RG24, 1992-93/169)
Click on the link for the Service Ledger Sheets and we get an explanation about them and a database search to see if our ancestor is listed. The ledger sheet is almost the same as a document in the service file, and details the dates of promotions and the name of ships he served on. I typed in the surname Tait and there he was, listed with three other unknown-to-me Taits. 

To see if there is a service file, go to the Advanced Search and type in 24-167 and the surname - so I typed in 24-167 tait. And there he is with six other unknown Taits.

Now I had all the information I needed to order the copies.

To order copies of the navy service records I went to the Library and Archives Canada Order Form page to do an online application.  After agreeing to both terms, next page must choose Textual Documents.  I chose to get emailed digital copies of the records. Fill in as much info as you can from the info just gathered.  Next page I filled in my personal information. Down the page is *Method of Payment... Check the box that is for the General Public (unless you happen to work for the government and have the codes). Submit. They assessed the file then sent me an invoice for the copies.  Once they received payment by credit card they emailed me the file in a PDF. I received 42 pages* for a total of $13.78. I sent a separate request for the Service Ledger Sheet and that was a whopping 13¢.  It is almost the same as the Naval Signal document in the service file. Each one only took less than 3 weeks from ordering to receiving. 

There are ships logs at LAC (equivalent of war diaries), but that are not yet digitized, you would have to go to LAC to view them.

In this search and discovery you will find that some Navy terms are different from the CEF and the list of Abbreviations Used in Military Records will come in handy.

Note* Some pages are the back of a document that have a date stamp on it, an envelope, a small slip with his name on it, etc.. Apparently some files contain photographs, my file did not. Drat!



Relevant Links

The Canadian Navy List, 1918 pdf

The Navy

Service Ledger Sheets

Search Navy service files

Search Ships Logs

File Order Form




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