Special Entry Scheme (Royal Navy)

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The Special Entry scheme was instituted in 1913 to provide the Royal Navy with an additional source of officers for the Military Branch. Boys were entered at a later age, 17½ to 18½, than the normal Selborne Scheme entry, at a point in their education when they were likely to be leaving public school. Once entered as Naval Cadets the boys were trained and educated for a considerably shorter period of time, one and a half years or less, before joining the Fleet, compared to the four years and eight months of those who joined in the usual way.


In February, 1913, a committee composed of Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas (Chairman), J. A. Ewing (Director of Naval Education), Captain Henry T. Buller, and Charles Walker (Head of Commissions and Warrants Branch), was convened to discuss the scheme of training for the Special Entry Naval Cadets, and tendered its report on 21 April.[1]

42 Naval Cadets were entered in September, 1913. The regulations prescribed a year and a half of training but this was shortened to 11 months.[2]

The first Special Entry officer promoted to the rank of Commander was Alan MacG. Sheffield (Merchant Taylors' School) on 30 June 1931. The first two promoted to the rank of Captain were Gerald M. B. Langley (Wellington College) and Philip Ruck Keene (Haileybury) on 31 December 1936.[3]


1. The number of Naval Cadets to be admitted under the following Regulations will be about thirty in each of the years 1914, 1915 and 1916.

2. Candidates for admission must be not more than 18½ or less than 17½ years of age on the 1st of June of the year in which the examination is held. No nomination is required. Applications should be made to the Secretary of the Admiralty, Whitehall, S. W., not later than the 1st April. A form of application to be filled in by the parent or guardian of the candidate may be obtained from the Admiralty.

3. Candidates must be of pure European descent, and the sons either of natural born or naturalised British subjects. In doubtful cases the burden of clear proof will rest upon the Candidate.

Candidates must be unmarried.

4. Applicants who satisfy these conditions will be invited to appear before a Committee at the Admiralty. This Committee will interview each Candidate and examine credentials furnished by the headmaster of the school he is attending or last attended. A report will be obtained beforehand from the headmaster for the information of the Committee as to the Candidate's conduct, abilities, past training and general promise of suitability. On the report, of this Committee it will be determined whether the Candidate shall be admitted to compete. Candidates will be required to pass at the same time a Medical Examination, according to the prescribed regulations, as to their physical fitness for the Navy.

5. Every candidate must he in good health, and free from any physical defect of body, impediment of speech, defect of sight or hearing, and also from any predisposition to constitutional or hereditary disease or weakness of any kind, and be in all respects well developed and active in proportion to his age. It should be particularly noted that full normal vision-as determined by Snellen's teats—is required for Candidates for Naval Cadetships. A memorandum is issued by the Admiralty which gives details of the physical requirements of Candidates.

6. Candidates admitted to compete will present themselves for examination in June by the Civil Service Commissioners. Particulars of the examination can be obtained from the Secretary, Civil Service Commission, Burlington Gardens, W.

By arrangement between the Admiralty and the War Office a candidate who is admitted to compete in the examination for special entry as a Naval Cadet may, if he so desires, and provided he fulfills all the necessary conditions, present himself at the same time for admission to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, or Royal Military College, Sandhurst, or to Supplementary first appointments in the Royal Marines, in which case he must express definitely his order of preference before the examination has begun. For particulars of the conditions of entry to the Royal Military Academy and Royal Military College, application should be made to the Secretary, Civil Service Commission.

Regulations for Supplementary first appointments in the Royal Marines may be obtained from the Secretary of the Admiralty.

7. A list of successful candidates in order of merit Will be published by the Civil Service Commission.

8. Successful Candidates will be appointed as Cadets to undergo a course of training for a period of l½ years. During this period they will be accommodated on board a cruiser, part of the instruction being given on board and part on shore.

On completing this course, and passing out satisfactorily, they will join the Fleet as Midshipmen. They will become Midshipmen later in age than Cadets who enter through Osborne, but their services in that rank will be shorter, with the general result that except for the effect of tho accelerated promotion which they may obtain by doing well in their final examinations, their age will usually be about a year more on attaining the rank of Lieutenant. This will be no bar to their advancement according to merit. The same subsequent career will be open to them as to Officers who have entered the Navy through Osborne and Dartmouth.

9. Naval Cadets under training will be subject to the Regulations for the time being in force respecting such Cadets.

10. Parents or Guardians are required to make a private allowance of 50l. per annum to Cadets from the time they join the Naval Service until they reach the rank of Acting Sub Lieutenant (namely for a period of about 3 years and 4 months) and thereafter a private allowance at the rate of 20l. a year for the period (usually not exceeding two months) that they remain Acting Sub-Lieutenants with pay at the rate of 3s. 6d. a day before becoming Sub-Lieutenants.

On reaching the rank of Sub-Lieutenant, an Officer is required to provide himself with the uniform of a Commissioned Officer.

11. Cadets will be paid 1s. a day from the time of entry until they become Midshipmen, when their pay will become 1s. 6d. a day. On reaching the rank of Sub-Lieutenant an Officer will be paid 5s. a day. The commencing rate of pay of a Lieutenant, reached after at most two years as Sub-Lieutenant, is 10s. a day.

A Sub-Lieutenant can meet his mess and other necessary expenditure on the pay of 5s. a day.

12. The parent or guardian of every Cadet is required to provide outfit under the regulations in force. The outfit, together with a sextant, costs about £60.

13. All travelling expenses for Cadets are advanced by the Paymaster of the Naval Establishment to which they are attached, but will be charged to the Cadet.

Such money as may be required by Cadets for any special circumstance will be advanced by the Paymaster under the authority of their Commanding Officer.

14. Parents or Guardians of Cadets must, in all cases of permanent change of residence, inform the Admiralty and the Commanding Officer of the Ship in which their sons are serving.

15 Cadets may be required to withdraw at any time, if in the opinion of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty—

(1) they fail to obtain a satisfactory standard, or

(2) their conduct is unsatisfactory, or

(3) they are considered unsuitable for the Naval Service.

16. It will be open to Officers, after reaching Commissioned rank, to volunteer for service in any one of the special branches, undertaking either Navigation, Gunnery, Torpedo, or Engineering duty.

By Command of Their Lordships.


Admiralty, 1913.[4]


  1. The National Archives. ADM 116/862.
  2. "Royal Navy", The Times, 5 September 1938, p. 7.
  3. "Royal Navy", The Times, 2 January, 1937, p. 15.
  4. The Navy List. (April, 1914). pp. 863-863a.