The Naval Historical Branch
Forged from two separate institutions - the Historical Section of the Naval Staff and the Admiralty Library - the Naval Historical Branch enjoyed a varied history at sites across London before moving to Portsmouth in August 2004.
The Naval Historical Branch provides historical perspectives on current issues for the Naval Staff, Ministry of Defence and Central Government, but also responds to a wide variety of questions on naval and maritime history for the general public. When first created, the Historical Section was instructed to produce histories for circulation within the Navy. Since then we have broadened our horizons, and now publish in the academic press.
The Admiralty Library collection, built up over the last two hundred years, contains at least 160,000 volumes and is possibly the best collection of Naval Books in the UK. The Historical Branch's archive dates back to the point at which the Historical Section was first founded by Winston Churchill in 1914. It is the official repository for the Royal Navy's Corporate Memory (including Royal Marine and RFA papers) and consists of around 120,000 records.
Included in its records however are items from much earlier periods and in addition a most valuable service is the ability to identify specific papers in those miscellaneous files held with the National Archives at Kew. Many of you will be aware of the problem where you are seeking information on a specific vessel/action or man which was not sufficiently famous to justify a "box" to themselves - but which are contained in the miscellaneous series. The Naval Historical Branch will in many instances be in a position to locate those records and point the researcher in the right direction. In addition, by the time you read this the whole of the Admiralty Collection held in the Hydrographic Office at Taunton will have been deposited with the Naval Historical Branch at Portsmouth, where they are to be catalogued before eventually (after some years) currently intended to be deposited with the National Archives at Kew. From August 2004 therefore enquiries for copies of old charts and documentation relating to the Admiralty Hydrographic Service will be housed at Portsmouth. A smaller collection of purely non Admiralty Hydrographic Data will remain at Taunton.
The greatest asset that the Naval Historical Branch can deploy, however, is its subject specialists. A small team of eleven highly-trained civilians responds to questions on any naval subject.
Enquiries should be addressed to:
The Naval Historical Branch,
HM Naval Base,
Portsmouth, Hants, PO1 3LU
By David Clement
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For a number of years, I have been trying to find any information regarding a WW1 stoker called William Kennedy. In 1918,the Leeds Absent Voters register stated he was on HMS Rifleman. He married a few months prior to this absence, and the marriage certificate stated he was born c.1896.
I know nothing else about him.
I haven't been able to find his RN record number, medal entry, pension, etc., as his name is quite common. He was last seen in Leeds in 1925.
Can you suggest anywhere I might research, that can help, please? I have already written to Portsmouth, Swansea, London and visited the NA and Greenwich for information on both William and the Rifleman.
Ann Hadley (nee Sams
I would like to find out more about the service record of my father Leading Telegraphist W E Same who joined the RN in September 1939 and was killed off the West African coast in, I think late 1941 or early 1942. I have his medals and a posthumous commendation but that is all. I know he was at Dunkirk and subsequently on an MTB in the Mediterranean. He was wounded, hostpitalised in Alexandria, convalesced in Johannesburg and was on his way home on a troop ship containing Italian POWs when she(I think the old Empress of Canada) was torpedoed and he was killed.
Anything you can tell me or perhaps point me in the right direction would be very gratefully received Regards Ann Hadley
Dear Noel Christopher ( posted 8/11/10 , I have only just picked this up. If you forward the scans, I will look at publishing them to see if anyone can identify them, though the NH Branch are probably the best bet.
( SW Soundings Editor )
send to Soundings (at) this webaddress
Dave Hills Webmaster
The Naval Historical Branch has told us that the telephone numbers previously given in this article are now well out of date. At present the only method of contacting them is via the postal address given in this article.
My grandpa was on the German trawler ship 37 ex Schleswig and died at this
day. I am interested to find persons
veterans, documents, pictures or movies
when the ship was sunken. No documents
in German navy department documents were destroyed by bombs and fire in 43+
45 in Berlin.
Who please can give me informations ??
best regards from Germany
I was recently given, on loan, a set of 6 photos of WW1 warships either as individual ships (HMS Princess Royal, HMS Campania,and SMS Derfflinger)
or 2 as groups of ships steaming in company.One of which appears to be HMS Cardiff leading the High Seas Fleet in to internment.The rest are taken on the bridge of a warship (Possibly HMS Cardiff as it looks to small for HMS Queen Eliszabeth) and consist of 6 senior officers, of whome only Admiral Beatty I can identify. These may be taken at the time of the High Seas Fleet surrender. They are originals and mostly of good quality for their age. Are they of interest to you and if so who should I contact, I have scaned them. So could forward copies for examination.They were in an album of WW1 photographs aquired by a friend who is a aviation buff and he says that there are photos of aircraft on ships as well, although I have not yet seen these
I enjoyed the branches hospitality some 3 months back discussing with Chris Page the general format of my dissertation for WW1 Studies at Birmingham University. I am now down to specifics and enquiring about papers you may hold on (1) Admiral Lord Fisher (2) The Dover Patrol 1914-1918 (3) Actions against the occupied Belgium coast (4) St George's Day firstname.lastname@example.org
hello all, i forgot to give you my e-mail it,s email@example.com thanks john baxter
hello, i am trying to find out which armed r.n.p.s trawlers were involved in the rescue of suvivers of the lusitania, it was said that five trawlers of the r.n.p.s. left queenstown on the 7 may 1915 and two of them which were coaling at the time the brock and bradford raised steam and left, i wondered if anyone could help me to confirm this, regards, john
I am trying to trace surviving seamen who served on HMS Valiant 1940-1942. My great Uncle 'Wilkin Nuttall' served onboard HMS Valiant prior to joining HMS Thorn (submarine). He was killed on HMS Thorn in 1942.
If anyone has information on how to contact men who served on HMS Valiant, I would be very greatful. Please e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul F Leadbeater
If anyone has any information, my e-mail is "email@example.com" and my address is 15, Burberry Close, Afon Village, Newport, NP10 9JU.
Paul F Leadbeater
My Father served abord RML 551 during the Second World War. I am in possession of a cigarette case, which the crew that my Father served with, presented to their Captain (Lieutenant Maurice B Sproull). The case is engraved with the names off the crew and I would like to obtain some history of the boat and the crew members.
Can you provide me with possible sources of information?
prior to 1972 these were the comments in the mechant seaman's discharge book when he paid off.
Thre was also G and DR (Decline to Report)
Iam aVolunteer in Plymouth Naval Base Museum ,specifically involved with tours around the De-commisioned SSN COURAGEOUS.Is the Historical Branch Connected with The Royal Navy Museum ,so that questions that are asked can be dealt with on a broader front??