During the Second World War the Royal Navy used a variety of methods for acquiring enough suitable men to train as officers. Whilst initially successful, the rapid expansion of coastal forces and landing craft required ever greater numbers of junior officers and the force was competing with both the RAF and the Army for the best candidates. The Royal Navy recruited from public schools, yachtsmen, grammar school boys and even raised up men from the ratings. One pool of potential officers the navy wished to exploit were those Grammar School boys not yet old enough to join the navy, but willing to serve in the Home Guard or a cadet force until such time as they came of age. Sam Kilburn was one of these:
“…one day I saw a notice in the Post Office advertising a scheme called the Youth Entry scheme for joining the Navy. I immediately got the forms filled them in and sent them off. Some weeks later I got a letter and a travel warrant and was told to report to Darlington for a set of interviews lasting three days and if successful it would mean that I could go into the Navy as an Officer Cadet. I was successful and was put on reserve until I was seventeen and was given a badge to sew on my Home Guard Uniform”
The badge itself is a dark blue felt disc, embroidered in red:As can be seen the design is a laurel wreath, with RNYE and the naval crown within it. The back of the badge has a backing of tan cloth:The badge was worn by members of the Sea Cadets, Home Guard or Air Cadets before they were called up on the sleeve of their cadet’s uniform. The potential officer candidate then continued his youth service until he was of age to join the RN. The scheme was advantageous for the Navy as they got the pick of the brightest young men, whilst the candidates were guaranteed a chance to become and officer and thus avoided the random chance of conscription, where they might end up in the Army, RAF or even down the mines as a Bevin Boy. I have searched n vain for a period photograph showing a young man wearing one of these badges, but if anyone does have one please let me know.