A Potted History

"Potted" and in tabular form so that information can be added or amended easily and used as a "What happened when?" reference. Please feel free to contact Jan Larcombe if you disagree with anything or have any notable dates to add 

A fuller (and more accurate) history is now available at Hist1325 on this website



First full time Photo Reconnaissance Squdron, No 2 Sqdn RNAS operating out of RNAS Dunkirk


AFO 3444 Issued Creating a Photographic Branch of Non Substantive Ratings. The AFO called for six Ratings who were to be drafted to HMS Snapdragon. Ratings previously employed on Fleet Photographic Work were able to volunteer for the new branch 


The Royal Naval School of Photography opened at Tipner Ranges under the control of HMS Excellent. First OIC was WO AW Smith


Examination for Photographer 1st Class introduced.


First darkrooms designed from the outset in Protector and Guardian


Approval given to create a Substantive Photographic Branch. The aim was to train 24 ratings per year. First promotion to Warrant Officer Photographer .

1939 Control of the Photographic Branch transferred to the Fleet Air Arm. Aerial photographic training started at RAF Ford. Royal Naval Film Unit formed at Tipner..


Flying pay of 1s 6d per day introduced for those on flying duties


Home Fleet Photographic Unit formed in HMS Guardian then Valiant and finally Dunluce Castle at Scapa Flow. First Hostilities Only (HO) ratings joined 


First Photographers joined the Fleet Requirements Unit after three month course at Ford. First WRNS Photographers started training at FORD 

1943 ??? 

Rabbit firms authorized 


RNSOP moved to Felpham, Bognor Regis. Admiralty banned sale of photographs to media by individuals.


Strand House the HQ of RNSOP burnt out by cigarette thrown out of a window

1947 RNSOP moved to HMS PEREGRINE RNAS Ford. Photographers came under Fleet Air Arm control


Naval Airman (A) (E) and (O) became Naval Air Mechanics and separated from the Naval Airman Branch


Photographer 3rd Class introduced.


FPU moved to Fraser Gunnery Range Eastney.


RNSOP moved to temporary home in Whitecroft House, HMS Ariel, Lee on Solent


First Peregrine Trophy competition.

Sept 1963

RNSOP moved to HMS FULMAR, Losiemouth.

1966 Preliminary Examination for Phot 1 introduced


WRN Photographic Assistants introduced


FPU moved to Frazer Building, HMS EXCELLENT, Whale Island.


 The Royal Naval School of Advanced (Later Applied ) Photography (RNSAP) set up in Frazer Building. First of the new WRNS Photographer courses.

1st April 1972


RN basic photographic Training moved to JSOP RAF Cosford.

RNSAP moved to purpose built building on West Battery, Whale Island


"Sideways Entry" into the branch introduced.

1983 ?

FPU moved to Tipner. RNSAP closed


Fleet Photographic Unit transferred to CinC Fleets control.


Fleet Photographic Unit became Surface Flotilla Photographic Unit (SFPU)

1993/4 RAF withdrew from Joint Basic "PhotoG" training. RN and Army basic course CN 1317 introduced


Fleet took control of Plymouth and Faslane Phot Sections  from Defence Logistics Organization and units became Fleet Regional Photographic Sections (West and North). SFPU became FPRS (East)


Image Analysis (was Photographic Interpretation) became part of the photographic branch task

28-4-2003 Control of Joint School of Photography  transferred from the RAF to the Defence Intelligence Steering Committee. School became the Defence School of Photography (DSOP)


Imperial War Museum became depository for all RN images over 3 years old

Christmas 2003

End of Darkrooms in all ships and shore establishments (uniformed)


RAF rejoined joint basic training. 28 week course number CN 5300 introduced