Reconstitution of the RNVR

Reconstitution of the RNVR

Following the First World War an exhausted RNVR took a few years to draw breath after the prolonged conflict.  The reservists trickled back to their divisions and awaited a decision from the Admiralty as to their future.  Then, in 1921, the RNVR was officially reconstituted with ‘East’ and ‘West’ Scottish divisions, and HMS Unicorn became the headquarters of the East Scottish Division, interestingly with Edinburgh as a subsidiary unit.

Ratings learning ropework, wearing ‘East Scottish’ cap tallies. Judging by the height of the deckhead, this photograph may have been taken onboard HMS Claverhouse.

The Edinburgh RNVR division was given the WW1 monitor M23 as their headquarters, and this was duly renamed HMS Claverhouse, as the Scottish RNVR names had been traditionally taken from the great forebears within the Graham family,  in honour of the Duke of Montrose having founded the RNVR.

The Duke recorded in his memoirs that “Their Lordships did not approve, as they had been advised that if the ship was called by the name of the ‘bloody butcher’ there would be a riot in Edinburgh.’  He reported that the ship had already been named!  However this anecdote seems strange as the ‘bloody butcher’ usually refers to the Duke of Cumberland, whereas John Graham of Claverhouse, the victor of the Battle of Killiecrankie, was best known as ‘Bonnie Dundee’, though  he had earlier earned the soubriquet ‘bluidy Clavers’ for his persecution of the Covenanters!

Whatever the story, the reserve division in Edinburgh duly remained HMS Claverhouse, Clyde Division was named HMS Graham, and the sea tenders for Tay and Forth were respectively HMS Montrose and HMS Killiecrankie.

The name HMS Claverhouse survived until the entire unit was disbanded in the disastrous cuts of 1994, which saw all three Scottish city-centre RNR Divisions closed; HMS Graham in Glasgow, HMS Camperdown in Dundee and HMS Claverhouse in Edinburgh.