Hostilities Only is the story of my father Robert Brooks’ time as a Hostilities Only rating in the Royal Navy during World War 2. Over one million people (923,000 men and 86,000 women) served in the Royal Navy during that War. Thousands of men and women enlisted after a recruitment campaign to help meet the threat of maritime Germany.
Volunteers came from all walks of life and most had no experience of living at sea. Yet after intense training, these recruits would play a vital role for the duration of the war. Hostilities Only sailors became a navy within a navy. Fighting in all the maritime theatres of war, the Royal Navy gave them nicknames: ‘Churchill’s Pirates’ and ‘Harry Tate’s Navy’. Many were killed or presumed missing in action.
Theirs is one of the great untold stories of the Second World War. Hostilities Only isn’t just a record of my father’s service, it commemorates all those who lost their lives at sea.
The Payment and Victualing Ledger (pdf 413KB) provided the framework for my Father’s service record from 13th October 1941 to 14th April 1946. The Service Record (pdf 603KB) covered his training at HMS Collingwood, posting to HMS Europa (The Sparrows Nest) and the first draft to HMT Southcoates.
For records of officers and ratings who saw service from 1939 (including ‘Hostilities Only’ service in the Second World War and Korea), write to:
Directorate of Naval Pay and Pensions,
NPP(Acs)1E Centurion Building,
Tel. 023 9270 2174
Enquiries must be sent in writing. It is stated that they only accept enquiries from next-of-kin or first-generation descendants and these record archives charge a search fee (currently £25).
The Payment and Victualing Ledger
|HMT Southcoates||Ordinary Signalman||13 October 1941||20 January 1942|
|HMS Europa||Ordinary Signalman||21 January 1942||19 March 1942|
|HMS Western Isles||Ordinary Signalman||20 March 1942||21 April 1942|
|HMS Western Isles||Signalman||22 April 1942||22 April 1942|
|HMT Tranquil||Signalman||23 April 1942||29 April 1942|
|HMS Stronsay||Signalman||30 April 1942||2 May 1942|
|HMS Fairy Knowe||Signalman||3 May 1942||12 May 1942|
|HMS Western Isles||Signalman||13 May 1942||17 June 1942|
|HMS Fairy Knowe||Signalman||18 June 1942||25 July 1942|
|HMT Windermere||Signalman||28 July 1942||10 Oct 1943|
|HMS Europa||Signalman||11 Oct 1943||26 Nov 1943|
|HMT Beaver||Signalman||27 Nov 1943||28 Nov 1943|
|HMT Ephrata||Signalman||29 Nov 1943||21 Jun 1944|
|HMT Europa||Signalman||22 Jun 1944||27 Jun 1944|
|HMT Celia||Signalman||28 Jun 1944||11 Feb 1946|
|HMS Victory||Signalman||12 Feb 1946||14 April 1946|
My father’s story begins with Until the End of Present Emergency