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Four joined Royal Navy Certificates of Service John Crewse Norsworthy Branscombe

Date: 1883-1912
Overall: 358 x 216 x 13 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Sydney Branscombe
Object Name: Certificate
Object No: 00046726

User Terms

    John Crewse Norsworthy Branscombe served in the Royal Navy and the Royal Navy Fleet Reserve in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He joined the navy at the age of fifteen in 1883 and initially volunteered for a ten year period. Every single member of the Royal Navy and later the Royal Australian Navy (formed in 1911) have their service details including their rank, training undertaken and postings to various ships or land based facilities recorded on a certificate of service. Many of the ships on which John Crewse Norsworthy Branscombe served were posted to the Australia Station in the 1890s and early years of the twentieth century.

    SignificanceThis is a typical example of certificates of service issued to members of the Royal Navy and the Royal Navy Fleet Reserve. It documents the career progression of John Crewse Norsworthy Branscombe from a boy sailor to Chief Petty Officer.
    HistoryDuring the 19th century Britain was preoccupied with increasing its colonial territories and maintaining the empire. The British Royal Navy (RN) at the height of its power divided the world into strategic zones or stations that were manned by a squadron of warships responsible for cruising and protecting British territories and shipping. Until the 1850s Australasia was covered by the East India Station, a vast area that included the Indian Ocean and the waters around Australia. After pressure from the colonial governments of New Zealand and Australia the RN formed the Australia Station as a separate command in 1859.

    The station was established to guard British shipping and trade in the Australasian region and ensure sea routes were open and safe. In 1859 the Australia Station included the territories of New Zealand, Chatham Island, New Hebrides, Loyalty Islands, Fiji and Australia.

    In 1887 a conference was held in London and Australian authorities expressed concern at the increasing activity of the Russian Navy in the Pacific area and requested more resources. Britain agreed to provide an additional five cruisers and two gunboats. The vessels were to be based in Sydney under the control of the Commander of the Australia Station and the ships were to remain in the confines of the Australia Station, unless authorised by the governments of the colonies. The ships were also given colonial sounding names including MILDURA, WALLAROO and KATOOMBA. The MILDURA arrived in Sydney in September 1891 and served in Australian waters until 1905. Branscombe served on the MILDURA from February until December 1902. He later served in the Royal Navy Fleet Reserve and completed weekly stints on the PYRAMUS, CAMBRIAN, ENCOUNTER and the PIONEER between 1908 and 1911.

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