Call for Information: Can you help to create the story of Royal Naval Artificers?

Engine Room Artificers, 1871

The University of Portsmouth’s successful MA in Naval History is producing some exciting research into the social and cultural background of the Royal Navy.  Distance Learning Student and ex-Royal Navy Artificer, John North, is  researching the history of Artificers in the RN, and is calling on the public to help him write a history of the Branch and its men.

“Second to None” – 2018 will see the 150th anniversary of the introduction of Artificers into the Royal Navy. As yet there does not appear to be any definitive history of Artificers since their introduction in 1868 with the introduction of Engine Room Artificers, with the rank of Chief Petty Officer, through Artificer engineers with the rank of Warrant officer, created in 1898 and Electrical Artificers introduced in 1901.

There were further additions with Ordnance Artificers appearing in 1919, Air Artificers in 1938, Air Electrical in 1942 and Shipwrights in 1947. There have been many establishments associated with Artificers, from the original hulks in Chatham and the Tamar through HMS Caledonia in Rosyth, HMS Ariel and Daedalus, HMS Collingwood, HMS Condor and HMS Sultan.

Boy Artificers,1906

The modern Artificer was the brain child of Admiral ‘Jackie’ Fisher, who introduced the scheme for the training of Boy artificers, the forerunners of Artificer Apprentices, in 1903. This was consolidated in 1906 with the commissioning of the hulks Audacious and Erebus as HMS Fisgard in 1905 a name which became synonymous with Artificers until their demise in 2010.

It is hoped that there may still be reminders of how life was for Artificers through this 150 years that may help with the compilation of a properly researched history that may be ready for the anniversary next year.

Anyone who has any memorabilia, reminiscences, photos or documents that they would be willing to share then please contact me at:

New Entries, 1969

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6 Responses to Call for Information: Can you help to create the story of Royal Naval Artificers?

  1. Teresa Hill June 14, 2019 at 1:24 pm #

    Hi there, my father was an Electrical Artificier First Class. His number was DRN 928515 – name Anthony Russell Herbert Hill. I was born in 1961 but never met him. I would love to know if there are any records of him anywhere. Google, in this case, has not been much help. I know my mum was born in 1944 but I don’t know when my father was born.

    • John North July 22, 2019 at 3:55 pm #

      This site may help.

      • Andy Holloway December 11, 2022 at 10:43 am #


        I am part of the Exeter City Football Club [ECFC] History Group and we are researching a former player who died in WW2 who played for ECFC in the 1938/39 season. His name was Alexander TURNBULL and he was an Electrical Artificer 3rd Class serving on HMS Lauderdale when he died on 25th December 1944.

        As an ex RM WO2 myself with sea going experience, can i ‘presume’ that he would have been a CPO?

        Any information that you might have to help us expand on his histroy would be most welcome.


        Andy Holloway

  2. Bryan Woodford October 2, 2019 at 11:11 pm #

    My life as a Shipwright Artificer in the Royal Navy. I served my apprenticeship as a yacht and boat builder with A H Moody and Son of Swanwick on the Hamble River. At the age of 19 years I joined the part time RNVR which guaranteed me entry into the R N for two years National Service rather than Army or RAF. My first two weeks annual training with the RNVR was spent undertaking a trade test in Portsmouth, and for the second year in a frigate during the 1943 Fleet Review. I was called up in April 1954 and served in a frigate for 18 months. My pay was half that of a regular and I also had to buy my doeskin No1 suit.
    Pay and conditions of service improved and on completion of N S I continued to serve in the R N for 23 years. My first job in the RN was removing panelling from the Royal apartments of the Royal yacht Victoria and Albert. After leaving the service in 1977 I became the Vice Chairman of the R N Shipwrights Association. Since leaving the R N I have published three local history books regarding the village of Warsash in Hampshire which also includes details
    details of HMS Tormentor the WW2 Combined Services Base, and pictures of Wren Shipwrights. The above notes are just a quick short summery of my R N time.

    • michael keulemans May 23, 2020 at 10:58 am #

      Have you any memories of the Victoria and Albert and how her contents were dispersed?
      I m writing her complete history.

  3. Paul Leeson May 17, 2023 at 4:17 pm #

    I was a National Service ERA from May 1954 but have not been able to find mention of national service artificers, so far, in history posted on the internet.

    If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

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