Armament Supply Department

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Armament Supply Department
Board of Admiralty Flag 20th Century.png
Department overview
Formed1919
Preceding Department
Dissolved1940
Superseding department
JurisdictionGovernment of the United Kingdom
HeadquartersAdmiralty Building
Whitehall
London
Department executive
  • Chief Superintendent Armament Supply
Parent departmentDepartment of the Director of Naval Ordnance

The Armament Supply Department also known as the Gunnery Branch[1] was created in January 1919, when it replaced the Department of the Director of Armament Supply. For a large part of its existence it was was part of the Department of the Director of Naval Ordnance. In 1940 it was renamed and became a department in its own right for the second time retaining its old name the Department of the Director of Armament Supply.

The department was controlled and directed by the Chief Superintendent Armament Supply.

History

In January 1919 the former independent Department of the Director of Armament Supply was renamed the Armament Supply Department and its depots were likewise renamed Royal Naval Armament Depots (RNAD) in 1920. The change of nomenclature recognised the inclusion of torpedoes and naval mines (which had been managed separately during the war) alongside ordnance as part of the new department's responsibilities. The department became a subsidiary component of the Department of the Director of Naval Ordnance. The vulnerability of the armament depots to air strikes was now acknowledged, so the Admiralty explored the feasibility of building magazines underground, initially at Ernesettle (just north of Bull Point, Plymouth) where four such magazines were built and at the recently established RNAD Crombie (near HM Dockyard, Rosyth) where six were built.

Despite the cost, and sustained resistance from HM Treasury, plans were then laid down for the development of several far larger subterranean depots, with sixty magazines proposed at Dean Hill (near Salisbury) and ninety at Trecŵn (near Fishguard). Approval for these was only given in 1938-39, when war seemed all but inevitable, and they took several years to build; in the meantime a temporary depot was established (and later made permanent) on the site of a former colliery at Broughton Moor in West Cumberland. Once war was declared, however, the development of similar underground complexes was abandoned in favour of faster solutions, with railway tunnels, warehouses and other improvised locations made use of.

Thus, whereas in early 1939 only five home RNADs were listed in the Navy List (viz. Woolwich, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Chatham and Crombie), by 1945 over thirty are mentioned, in addition to these five, with nine more RNADs in various locations listed as sub-depots of the 'Central Naval Armament Supply Depots, Wolverhampton'. Similarly overseas, the 1939 list of seven RNADs (Gibraltar, Malta, Hong Kong, Singapore, Simon's Town, Bermuda and Ceylon) had grown to a list of over twenty (with several more sub-depots in addition). In 1940 it was renamed and became an independent department retaining its former name from 1918 the Department of the Director of Armament Supply. On 1 January 1965 control of the naval armament depots passed to the Ministry of Defence and they became part of the Royal Naval Supply and Transport Service (RNSTS). The RNSTS was formed from an amalgamation of the Directorates of Naval Stores, Victualling, Armament Supply, and Movements.

Head of Department

Chief Superintendent Armament Supply

References

  1. Admiralty, British (1929). The Navy List. London: H.M.S.O. p. 412.

Bibliography

  1. Admiralty, British (1929). The Navy List. London: H.M.S.O.
  2. Admiralty, British (1939). The Navy List. London: H.M.S.O. .