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WW2 Royal Navy

Hi, I am researching my Grandfather at the moment.

My grandfather served in the royal navy during WW2. He volunteered when he was 20 years old.

Unfortunately he passed away when he was 32 years old, 2 days before my dads 2nd birthday. We no very little of him. we do have his service records from the war, and I am trying to work out what they mean.

I am uploading it here, in the hope that someone could help me with it?

Im finding the writing quite challenging to read so any help from anyone who has an understanding of it all would be amazing - thanks in advance

His name was Andrew Irwin, from Rutherglen in Glasgow

Born in 1921, died in 1954

There is some writing at the top of the page, that I cant undertand?

Then it mentions "collingwood" - which I understand is the training base in Portsmouth?

The "substantive rating" - could anyone explain what this is?

And then the rest, Im unsure if these are ships? or bases? and I also dont know where they are?

I have lots of photos of him, on ships - with other men, so would love to share these & see if any of the other men could be identified too.


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War Hero
Your Grandfathers rate no longer exists in the Modern RN, however from scouring the internet I have discovered that he was an Engine Room Mechanic 4th Class, this probably equated to the rate of Able Seamen.
basically he was a stoker, a term still in use in today's navy.
Collingwood is what your Grandfather would possibly have called a "Stone Frigate" or in real words a shore establishment. Collingwood is now and has been for years the ERN Electrical school, though in the past it may have also trained stokers.
A substantive rate means the rate that he had been awarded, sometimes in shortage situations men were tasked to act in a higher capacity, this was termed an ACTING rate.
The last place mentioned is HMS Victory, which is still known as Vicky barracks to many, this is where he would have been issued with a civilian suit and discharged from the service.
It was an Honourable discharge hence the Class A.

Edited to state that he joined as a signaler, hence HMS Collingwood, he then became a seamen and finally a ERM

Out of interest visit here for possibly more info
Last edited:
Thankyou so much for this,

Are you able to tell me if he was abroad at all?

His sister passed away about 10 years ago, and said he had said his ship was sabotaged in the far east? Im just struggling to know how to find anything out


War Hero
Looks like he was shore based in India:
HMS Braganza 2

HMS Copra was Southend London see:

HMS Chilwa
On to Calcutta. Oh dear, LST 3037 had sailed for Singapore. We had been quartered in a Private House called ‘HMS Chilwa’. This was the place where men were trained who went into Burma to harass the Japanese behind their lines.

Why not read this gents memoirs (very short) here?


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Reading between the lines a bit, your man seems to have been the engine man in landing craft and so employed landing commandos or other troops on the coast of Burma.

Collingwood was built during the war as a vast barracks for initial training of new entries. Victory means a man was on the pay ledgers at the RN Barracks but not necessarily physically there. Northney was the Landing Craft base on Hayling Island where crews did their initial training on the craft itself before, usually, being sent up to Scotland to train in actually landing men ashore as part of Combined Operations.


HMS Braganza and Braganza II was the Naval Base in Bombay, India. COPRA(BM) stands for, Combined Operations Pay, Records & Accounts. I would think BM stands for Bombay.
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