When I joined the navy....

I filled in a coupon from the newspaper. Sent it off to the address and got a quick reply with some general info. Filled in the application form and sent it by return of post. A few weeks later I received another letter informing me of my RT date etc. Did everything in the one day, and then went home to wait it out. Joined 7 months after applying, never had to make a phonecall to the AFCO, and turned up at HMS Raleigh with the kit that was on the list. Simples.

The navy I joined wasn't the same one that I left and I don't have any regrets.

How was it for you?


War Hero
I initially applied as an RM Musician aged 15, took the recruiting test & interview same day, medical about a week later, then off to Deal for audition. Got offered a place playing different instruments with a wait to join in excess of a year. Sacked that plan, went to Ford's as an apprentice Toolmaker instead.

Tried to join as a direct entry 'tiff 4 years later, passed RT, failed RE (Tiffs maths test). Re-interviewed as a Stoker, joined 6 months later.
Pretty much the same as you. Coupon in a Sunday paper. RT and Interview in Dorchester. A few weeks later Medical at RNR Southampton (Forget the name now). 8 months later joined HMS Raleigh at the grand age of 16 and still wear the uniform today. No regrets at all.

Likewise, no phonecalls and one visit to a careers office. Unlike the process of today

Have a good one, wherever it takes you



Book Reviewer
November 1950, took my signed forms to Bristol Recruiting Office....early December had Medical....February 1951 arived at the gates of Victoria Barracks. Where have all those years gone ?
Like all 15 year olds I wanted to be a fighter pilot so I went to a careers fair at my local town hall with the intention of speaking to someone who could help me in my quest to fly F14s and play volleyball while wearing dog tags.

After running the gauntlet of local council representatives trying to sign me up on gash public service college courses and people trying to sell really shit franchises to my mum, I found the RAF careers stand. I spoke to the chap for a good ten minutes and I can honestly say his attitude and lack of enthusiasm completely put me off the idea of joining his shite organisation forever.

Reluctantly, as if he was doing me a massive favour he routed around in his bag and gave me a leaflet about becoming an RAF policeman or a chef, I threw it in the bin in disgust and walked away completely dejected wondering what the **** I was going to do with my life.

At the other end of the hall I noticed a stand with sexy green camo and guns on it, ooooooh shiny, so I went and had a chat with the pongos. I found them to be very likeable and a complete breath of fresh air compared to the crab Corporal I'd encountered earlier. With my projected GCSE grades, I was told I could go to Welbeck and eventually become an Officer in the REME repairing helicopters and tanks and stuff, sounded awesome to me. Only snag was that I wouldn't be paid while at Welbeck and my old dear wasn't really in a position to support me while I was there but hey ho, I could probably sort something out with the bank of Grandad if the worst came to the worst.

While seriously considering the Welbeck option, I heard a tanoy announcement: ''The Royal Navy will be giving a video presentation in such and such a room in five minutes.'' I thought **** it, I'll check it out. I'd heard of the Navy, I knew they had ships and did that thing with canons at the Royal Tournament but that was about it really. Being from North London, I can't say I'd really had any exposure to them or the sea for that matter.

So I went to the lecture, I was the only person who turned up. The Chief there was brutally honest and basically said that this time next year I could be at sea on a Destroyer, ******* around with massive guns and missiles while tearing up foreign ports in sunny places. He explained that the Army's offer of Welbeck was a very good option that I should consider but that as an Artificer in the RN, I'd get the same qualifications, while being paid and while serving on a proper ship and not stuck at college.


5 months later, after failing my medical twice (piss test), I was on the train to Raleigh. I just took what was on the kit list and that was that. Other than the Chief at the careers office, I never spoke to a single matelot before being met by the PO at Plymouth train station. I didn't even know that the Navy still wore flairs and I thought they were joking when I was issued my rig.


My illustrious career with HMRC was dead to me as soon as I discovered I wasn't busting tax evading driving instructors by staking them out and taking them down but pushing a trolley round with buff files and placing them on desks or typing numbers into computers. All for the princely sum of 7k pa.

After a year of that pizzle my line manager and section head were whinging at me about my lack of enthusiasm, I told them to **** off and walked down the careers office and told the Chief I wanted to join up. He said "what as?" I said "Diver" he said "Righto, OM it is." One RT test, two copies of Navy News, 3 months and returning some paperwork about uniform sizes later, I was at Raleigh. I was terribly unprepared, I didn't ask anyone what Iron I needed or how to run, I simply did what I was told and passed out 8 weeks later. It must have been a miracle.
The last of the old days of occifer recruitment (1990s)...

Public school early nineties - "you'll be joining the CCF of course, the alternative is hanging round old peoples' homes. You've got three options - the army, where you can sit in a puddle wearing a dead bird on your beret (RRF badged school) and by the way we were on the front page of the Sun last term for a "sgt" shooting a load of first years with an air pistol; the RAF, where you get to argue about who pulled the most Gs in the chipmunk, or the RN, where you can do a bit of windsurfing and we'll throw in a trip to Gib to have a jolly back to the UK in BIRMINGHAM - I know you're only 14, but I'm sure you'll find something fun to do out there....."


Then, once a year, a nice old chap who did ex-commander impressions and wore a tweed jacket would come and ask leading questions along the lines of "have you thought anymore about how much you'd enjoy being a seaman officer - all the gin you can drink and you get to play tennis with the daughters of governors of Caribbean islands?"

Lower Sixth - "you know, we're always keen to sponsor chaps like you through sixth form and uni to make sure you feel duty bound to actually turn up at Dartmouth when you've finished lashing it up with your mates - did I mention Dartmouth has its own beagle pack? It'll be just like here, but you get paid...."

Filled in a form, attended AIB, passed, tipped up at BRNC five years later to discover half the fleet had been paid off, WIGS was a thing of the past, and, to cap it all, they'd severely curtailed the ballroom dancing lessons on the quarterdeck to just once a week - how was I going to marry some latin american dictator's daughter and be set up for life.......?

Edited to add - I knew nothing of irons - I just sort of blithely assumed there'd be stewards for that sort of thing - and at no point did I go anywhere near a careers office. We essentially took the system on trust....
Last edited:
As 90% of my family were ex-RN it seemed the way to go. Went to Croydon recruiting office for the RT and interview, a couple of days later a rail warrant and an appointment card for my medical in London then a few weeks after that a letter came saying I'd been accepted and to wait for my entry date.

6 months later I rocked up to Ganges main gate with all the gear I was told to bring and just did as I was told. I was 16 and a JOEM as I was interested in elecktrickery and guns..the perfect branch for me.

Left after 33 and a bit years still thinking I was 16 except I didn't do anything I was told.
The first time.....

I went along to the careers office. It had not long moved from Truro into the Army Careers Office in Redruth. The Careers Office in Redruth was where my Grandad was Recruiting Sgt after WW2. I ended joining the RN in my mum's old bedroom (they used to live there as well as sign people up in those days). I knew about the RN and what it was like as my brother was a flagwaver at the time. I failed my first medical in Plymouth at Mount Batten (iirc) as we didn't use civi docs back then in my local town. I got sent to Pompey to Haslar to have my heart checked out for a murmur. After being given the ok to join medically I rang my nan to give her the good news as she was in a hospice dying slowly from stomach cancer. A couple hours later she passed away. I like to think she was waiting just to hear the good news!

A few months later I got on the train with only the kit I was told to bring by the AFCO. I joined the train with two others from my area. Obviously we got talking and eventually joined Raleigh. At Raleigh we were beasted by the staff as well as the PTI's. I remember having to various forms of exercises in front of the others in the quadrangle.

I don't know what I got in my RT when I applied all I knew is I wanted to be an OM(AW) and that's what I was when I was in. Most of my entry were either AW's or C's The AW's went on to become ADAWS ratings.

The second time...

I rocked up at the same AFCO it was pretty much the same except for some decoration had been done since the first time. It took 5 months from filling out the rejoining forms to going through Raleigh's gates 7 years after I first went through. A lot has changed, I only had to do 2 days there though. This consisted of drawing new kit (not as much as the first time I joined), taking an Oath (never had to first time round), dental checks and loads of forms to fill in.

Despite putting GUZZ as my preference, the Joss still told the manning office I wanted Pompey and I got sent up there after my extended weekend. So after two days of being in the mob I was sitting as QM as Horsea Island gate.

Do I regret going outside? Maybe a little but if I hadn't I wouldn't have gained the lifeskills I did as a qualified teacher and running my own business.

Do I regret rejoining? Not one bit. That saying "If only I knew then what I know now" Well the info I knew then helps with the now !


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Once upon a time it was even quicker than that (this is really going to go back a bit ..). On his 18th birthday (the first day when nobody could stop him) my father took the train to London, found a recruiting office, and was on the train to the Norfolk Regt depot the same evening.
Clipped a coupon from FHM (when it was good!), had an interview in Hull AFCO, went to the AIB about 3 months later, passed (the only one out of 8!) and afterwards was approached by the Board President (as I was only 15 at this point) about my A Levels, and did I want to be sponsored to go to Cambridge?

Did the VIth form thing, went to Cambridge for a visit, hated it, so went to a decent research based red-brick. Joined BRNC the same weekend most of my mates went to Uni - on a train from Doncaster, gradually meeting people in suits heading to Devon. By the end of it we were all in the same carriage. Got on the bus, got to BRNC and then started naming my kit and filling in forms. I still haven't won the bastard Sports Lottery after 12 years of playing!
Didn't have any say in the matter, left school for the summer holidays and was quite surprised to see my father and uncle ( Careers advisor RN) down to St Levens gate where the RN had a purpose built wooden garden shed which doubled as an office. Given a cup of tea and told to do some sums etc. One week later went to HMS Drake for medical even though I felt good. One week later sent on holiday to Shotley carrying no more than a towel and toothbrush. 4weeks in the Annex holiday. Then to my utter amazement marched across to Ganges main gate. 27 years later they let me out.......no regrets.
3 brothers already in the mob so no brainer when I left school, sat the RT at Hull recruit office, following Monday had medical in Newcastle. 3 months later on way to Raleigh......kit to bring ?, footy boots and cozzy if you have them otherwise just turn up.
Was at a MN training school aged 15 1/2 went to the recruiting office had an interview and did the test Had to take some paperwork
home and get my Parents to sign so as I could join at under 16 with their consent .Back for a medical about 4 weeks later and handed the paperwork in . More tests and told to go home and wait . Got a joining date and instructions about two weeks after giving me two weeks notice to be at Charing Cross recruiting Office and a train ticket . No items to be taken other than spending money .
At St Vincent new entry section we were issued with every thing RN--and everything civilian was put into a box to be sent home.
New entry joiners were not allowed out for 4 weeks --too busy keeping your kit clean and training getting into the RN way of doing things.
and of course sewing in your name with red embroidery thread--chain stitch and our personal blanket name sewn in with black wool .
Happy days really .RN personnel weren't allowed civilian clothing untill about 1960?? so RN kit was all you wore at that time.

Was having a quiet drink in the Black spot Inn went out back to ease springs. Crunch on the back of my head, woke up aboard.
I was a landsman for a few weeks then up the friggin riggin and keep your eyes peeled Jack.
In the real world, Broad Street may '65, medical, education test, and then the interview with a chief tiff giving me ten thousand reasons why I should join as a Tiff and not a seaman. I had more than enough "O" levels, but at 15 I just loved that square rig with it's nice blue collar. Tiffs looked like bus drivers with one little red anchor in a circle with a red crown over it. That wasn't going to impress much fanny was it?
End of June joined Raleigh, Phew, missed Ganges by two week's thank god, and was joining Terror Barracks by Christmas. By the time I joined a ship for a full commission I had been in the Andrew nearly two years. Fuckin transient I was and it set a trend in my life.
Got talking with a mate who was home on leave and thought ... yeah why not - had to be better than stagnating in the sticks! So waltzed into the Careers Office in Pompey in 1971 and said I wanted to join up as a Med Tech ... turned out that a GCE in Woodwork didn't count, so settled for MA and 8 weeks later was on a train for Raleigh!
Have not got a clue what an AFCO was (or is) didn't have any pre joining courses/fitness tests to do or tip up with any special kit. Arrived in Raleigh, had my hair cut , learned to run around, march etc etc and 8 weeks later passed out and went to Haslar!

22 Yrs later having travelled the world, assisted in the odd war or two and generally had a thoroughly good time came out with a pension and some good memories / mates.

Any regrets ... Not one!

Similar threads

Latest Threads

New Posts