RNB Portsmouth

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Between the Wars

After the war HMS Victory’s administration had the task of 'demobilisation' - releasing men in the barracks from military service.

Demobilisation leaflet of Able Seaman R Stewart RNVR, c.1919. (RNM)
Demobilisation leaflet of Able Seaman R Stewart RNVR, c.1919. (RNM)

The barracks still had problems with space. Warrant Officers in particular had limited room. Between 1923 and 1926 constructors undertook building work on a new accommodation block to the north of the Parade Ground. The new 70-cabin block opened to Warrant Officers in December 1926

King George V bestowed a great honour when he approved the introduction of the King’s Colours to the Royal Navy, previously only given to the Army. Portsmouth was the first Command to receive their Colours on 29 June 1926. Chatham and Devonport accepted theirs later that year.

During the 1930s all three of the decade’s reigning monarchs paid visits to the barracks. King George V and the Prince of Wales visited before reviewing the Home Fleet in Weymouth, 1932, followed by King Edward VIII in June 1936. King George VI also visited in May 1937 for his Coronation Naval Review.

During the interwar years the barracks pioneered much social change in the Royal Navy. Much of this was the result of the mutiny at Invergordon in 1931. In 1935 the Admiralty set up a Welfare Organisation in the Commodore’s Block in the barracks. The Welfare Organisation aimed to help Portsmouth based sailors with any personal problems they had. The home ports of Devonport and Chatham soon followed suit.

Other innovations included the establishment of Victory Housing Society, providing cheap houses for sailors living in Portsmouth and a scheme to retrain sailors who were about to retire from service.

In September 1938 Hitler’s Germany had invaded Czechoslovakia – breaking the Munich Agreement. Again the barracks’ administration was occupied with mobilisation for war. The barracks called up Royal Naval Reserves to man the Reserve Fleet and again HMS Victory was packed to bursting point.

Discover what happened to RNB Portsmouth in World War Two, select Next