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Punishment for offences
in the Royal Navy

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This page takes 'National Service' as the generally understood term in 1950s Britain, meaning conscription into the armed forces for young men after World War Two.

The first stage of punishment

If we naval national servicemen committed any offence, we were asked for our card. This was kept by the person demanding it until the offence had been reported to the necessary authority and action taken.

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Sentencing the punishment

To receive our sentence we paraded in front of an officer according to the severity of the offence. After being told our punishment, our cards were returned.

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Types of punishment

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Punishment was awarded according to the seriousness of the offence. The officer in charge 'rewarded' a minor offence with a ticking off; a more serious offence went to the captain of the ship or establishment and the even more serious offences were dealt with by court martial.

All in all punishment was light on board ship - especially on small ships - offenders were more often than not let off with a good talking to. Examples of other punishment could be stoppage of leave, stoppage of pay and being required to double round a parade ground in full kit with a rifle over one's head for as long as the petty officer in charge of 'men under punishment' thought fit.

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The offence of whistling

Certain offences were traditionally considered quite serious. Whistling was one. This came from sailors in sailing days broadcasting an impending mutiny by whistling.

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