Family history

Hello everyone,
I was wondering if anyone can please help by pointing me in the right direction? I am trying to trace the service numbers of two people (now deceased)who served in the Royal Navy in WW2.
A) My father who was an officer who served on HMS Warspite
B) My partner's father who joined the RN in 1942 & served on HMS Belfast
Any help would be much appreciated.


Book Reviewer
Re your father, Naval Officers used not to have numbers. You can trace your father's career through the Navy List, runs of which are available in the National Archives in Kew and in Portsmouth public library (& elsewhere I suppose).

Once you have the ship names you can start either by looking to see if anyone has written up that ship's history or by chasing through the indexes of The Official History of the War at Sea (SW Roskill, HMSO). For Warspite see also Cunningham's autobiography 'A Sailor's Odyssey'.

TNA at Kew has ships' logs & also Captains' Reports of Proceedings, and lots of other correspondence etc. You can also try the Admiralty Library in Portsmouth which has some manuscript accounts by various people of various things, and very helpful staff.

When cruising the Navy Lists, see if any of the other officers became famous later - they may have left autobiographies.


Hi Guys

Firstly I will introduce myself I'm a Pongo medic (reservist - ex regular) in Liverpool who is doing family history research on a past family member. I am looking for some help regarding possible enlistment date but firstly I will tell you what I know about this person.

D/SSX 27583 Able Seaman Samuel Holmes was born 24th February 1920 born in Aintree, Liverpool to parents Henry and Mary Holmes. I think he enlisted in Liverpool and started his basic training at Devonport though I noted the named HMS Drake (accommodation blocks?). I have denoted part of his service number such as D = Devonport (basic/ trade training?), SS = Short Service and X = Seaman or communications.

He might of served from the outbreak of WW 2 (3rd September 1939) serving on HMS Fearless initially with the Home Fleet at Scrapa Flow and Norway campaign. Then after repairs and refit HMS Fearless served on the task force at Gibraltar with Ark Royal I think escorting convoys to Malta. He died of wounds along with other ship's crew after an engagement with Italian aircraft and torpedos on 23rd July 1941.

So what questions do I have or can you point me in the right direction of -:

1. By looking at the service number can you anyone tell me when he is likely to have enlisted - actual or probable date?

2. The duration of basic and trade training and what he would of learnt as an ordinary seaman? and then as an Able Seaman?

3. When a ship is in action (HMS Fearless was I think hit aft) would of been his role ie a gunner or a part of a fire party or something else?

Many Thanks and Regards

Pete Keegan


War Hero
The National Records Office at Kew hold the service records of WW2 servicemen. They may be able to supply you a copy. You have a name and a service number so it should not be a problem. There may be a charge.


War Hero
His service record will be able to tell you when he enlisted and will also tell you what branch he was. It will also list his training establishments.
Details of how to obtain service records here:

He also is listed on the Plymouth Naval War Memorial :

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