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Britannia and Dartmouth College: the training of Royal Navy officers

Catalogue number 108004

Imperial German Navy Marineakademie, 1901

A Group of officers and cadets in front of the main building of the Marineakademie. At the time of this photograph, the director was either Ludwig von Schröder or Alfred Ehrlich, both Kapitan zur See. The two officers sitting front row extreme left and right may be Army officers. The Naval Academy was founded in 1872 at Kiel and remained there until the move to Flensburg in 1910. It has been suggested that the move to Flensburg was in reaction to the Social-Democrat atmosphere of Kiel, incompatible with the aggressive naval policy begin developed by the Kaiser Wilhelm II and von Tirpitz (Jörg Hillmann 100 Jahre Marineschule Mürwik. Festansprache anlässlich des Festaktes am 24. November 2010.). There were strong links between the British and German naval officer training establishments prior to World War One (see below).

Recto; "Kiel, 30.III.01"

Verso; "Fräulein Doris u Grese...Greifenhagen Stetten" franked Kiel 31.3.01"

13.9cm x 8.9cm Photograph


Catalogue number 100096

HMS Britannia and HMS Hindostan

The Royal Navy's link with Dartmouth began in 1859 when the wooden hulk, three-decker HMS Britannia was moored off the town to serve as a Royal Navy ship for the preliminary training of Naval officers but there was not sufficient space to accommodate the cadets correctly and the two-decker HMS Hindostan joined HMS Britannia in 1864. Britannia was replaced in 1869 by the three-decker HMS Prince of Wales, renamed HMS Britannia and it is this ship that we can see in the photograph. We can see the covered walkway joining the two ships which together provided accommodation and training for over 30 cadets. The black barge-like object just below the stern of HMS Hindostan is the heated winter swimming pool used by the cadets. The cutters are out on both ships.

13.9cm x 8.9cm Photograph


Catalogue number 66033

The two ships moored in the river Dart

Another view of the pair HMS Hindostan, left, and HMS Britannia, ex-Prince of Wales, right. The string of masted cutters are probably from Britannia. The white object to the centre right and just off the quayside is the summer open-air swimming pool for the cadets.

14.7cm x 10.1cm Photograph


Catalogue number 49016

Physical exercise

Physical fitness was considered important for the cadets and here we have a group exercising with Indian clubs. Boys are using the racquets court ashore. We can see the stern of HMS Britannia in the background.

7.9cm x 7.4cm Photograph


Catalogue number 107016

The Royal Naval College, Osborne, 1904

As the Royal Navy evolved and warships became more technical, it was considered that accommodating several hundred cadets in two wooden hulks was not the best way to train the Navy's future officers. Discussions began at the Board of Admiralty in 1895 and a two-tier shore-based training system was decided upon with a common programme for all officer entrants regardless of their desired choice of branch or service. New entrants first went to the newly-built Royal Naval College, Osborne (opened in 1903) in the grounds of the late Queen Victoria's Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. This postcard of the dining room at Osborne shows boys of the first intake.

Recto: "Ernest Cowes 19 Juillet"

Verso: Addressed to "Mademoiselle Jeanne Tisserand" in Lyon

13.9cm x 8.2cm Printed image


Catalogue number 71084

Cadets at the Royal Naval College, Osborne

Cadets were very young when they joined the Royal Naval College, Osborne, being between 12 and 13 years old, and trained there for two years before moving on to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth for another two years. The boys were housed in the bungalows seen in the background.

13cm x 8cm Photograph


Catalogue number 131033

Rope splicing drill, Osborne 1909, recto

Young Midshipmen learning the different ways of working ropes on the square at Osborne College.

Verso: Franked Cowes, 1909

13.7cm x 9cm Printed image


Catalogue number 131033

Rope splicing drill, Osborne 1909, verso

This postcard was sent by F.W. Ogers, Assistant Master (French) at Osborne College (Navvy List, 1907) to Dr Dörr, Director of the Liebig Real Schule, Bockenham, Frankfurt, Germany. It illustrates the close links that existed between the Royal Navy and Germany. Ogers writes that the Head of Osborne College will be "delighted" to receive someone from the "Humboltschule" (sic). He also asks if Dörr had received his contribution to the Viëtor fund. This was a fund set up to promote a new approach to foreign language teaching emphasising oral work and phonetics as opposed to the classic method of simply doing translations.

Verso: Franked Cowes, 1909

13.7cm x 9cm Printed image


Catalogue number 49016

The construction of a new College building at Dartmouth

The new Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth was built on the high ground to left of this photograph and work began in 1903. We can see HMS Britannia and HMS Hindostan in the background and the schooner Syren (attached to the college as a training tender) in the center of the photograph.

Recto: "Dartmouth" in black ink.

27.3cm x 18.9cm Photograph


Catalogue number 107080

H.M.S. Britannia with H.M.S. Espiegle

From right to left, we have H.M.S. Britannia, the heated, outdoor swimming pool, H.M.S. Espiegle (a Cadmus class sloop at Dartmouth up to 1910) and what may be the barque-rigged steamship H.M.S. Wave.

13.9cm x 9cm printed image


Catalogue number 90 F8

River Dart before the construction of the college

The college was built from 1902 and opened in 1905 on the wooded hill called Mount Boone just behind the town. We can see the wooden hulks H.M.S. Britannia and H.M.S. Hindostan moored off the shore, right of center in the photograph.

Recto:"Dartmouth from Warfleet creek"

20.3cm x 13.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 128033

S.M.S. Moltke, Dartmouth 1905

German warships were frequent visitors to the Royal Naval College until the development of a menacing new German Navy led Britain to abandon "Splendid Isolation" and, in the face of German hesitation for an alliance, to sign the "Entente Cordiale' and France became its European ally. The visit of S.M.S. Moltke may coincide with the opening of the new college buildings in 1905.

Verso: Franked "Dartmouth 1905"

12.5cm x 7.5cm printed image


Catalogue number 61028

Commander and staff, around 1889

Captain N.S.F. Digby was Commander of the Royal Naval College from 1889 to 1892 (first row, third from the right). From the cuff buttons, we can identify a Commander (to the left of Digby), two Lieutenants with over 8 year seniority (first row, extreme right and behind Digby and to his left). To Digby's immediate right, there are two Lieutenants. Also on the staff are several civilian teachers (see bowler hats) and three priests. In the background, several Cadet Chief Officers wearing double-breasted jackets have sneaked into the photograph.

26.8cm x 21.6cm Photograph


Catalogue number 61027

A term of young Cadets

In 1878 Lieutenant Mainwaring introduced the custom whereby a photograph was taken of each term which passed out of Britannia. This group are far too young to be passing out and are more likely first term cadets of 12 to 13 years old. Many group photographs were taken at this place prior to the move to the new college. Cadet Chief Captains were nominated to maintain order amongst the boys, see last row extreme left and front row extreme right.

26.7cm x 21.2cm Photograph


Catalogue number 66032

HMS Wave

The barque-rigged steamship HMS Wave was moved to Darmouth in 1884 so as to give training in steam machinery to the cadets.

Recto: "HMS "Wave" in Dartmouth"

15.3cm x 10.2cm Photograph


Catalogue number 100117

A visitor to Dartmouth (detail)

Warships and especially training ships from other navies paid frequent visits to Britannia and later to the College. This detail of a photograph shows a three-masted steam corvette much like the German Bismark class one of which, Moltke, visited Dartmouth in 1902 for the laying of the first stone of the new college by King Edward VII.

13.5cm x 806cm Photograph


Catalogue number 104085

German training ship SMS Charlotte at Dartmouth, 1910

The new College, on the hill to the left of the photograph, was finished in 1905 and HMS Hindostan has been moved to Plymouth. Her place was taken in 1905 by the Cadmus-class sloop Espiegle (commissioned in 1902) until 1910. We can see HMS Espiegle just off the bow of HMS Britannia. The visitor is SMS Charlotte, a three-masted, twin-funneled, steam corvette of the German Navy used as a training ship.

Verso: See below

13.9cm x 8.7cm Photograph


Catalogue number 104085

Verso of photograph "SMS Charlotte"

The postcard was sent to Professor André Charbonnier, a Modern Languages teacher at the college. He was called up into the French Army in 1914. It was sent by Karl Heinemann and is dated "Flensburg, 23 May 10". The German Naval Academy opened in 1910, was Heinemann a teacher at the Academy or was he a Naval Cadet who had been through Darmouth College? He went on to become an engineer and designed several semi-automatic weapons during the inter-war years.

Verso: Extensive text written in German with black ink

13.9cm x 8.7cm Photograph

Catalogue number 70116

French Navy ship Bougainville, 1887

The Bougainville was a three-masted steam sloop launched as the transport ship the Allier in 1875. She was attached to the French Ecole Navale from 1887 to 1912, probably for the same reason as HMS Wave at Dartmouth i.e. to give trainee officers some experience of steam machinery.

Recto: "Le Bougainville (ex-Allier) ā Dartmouth 1887"

25.8cm x 19cm Photograph