The Australian Naval Force and later the Royal Australian Navy initially adopted the Royal Navy practice of not allocating service numbers to officers. Permanent Naval Force ratings were assigned official numbers without any prefixes.
During the Second World War officers were assigned a “pay number” which was used for administrative rather than identification purposes. Naval reserve ratings were assigned numbers with a prefix to indicate the port at which the person enlisted:
PA – Port Adelaide, South Australia
B – Brisbane
F – Fremantle, Western Australia
H – Hobart
PM – Port Melbourne, Victoria
S – Sydney
W – Williamstown, Victoria
In addition, members of the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RANVR) had an oblique stroke and “V” added to their prefix (e.g. PA/V). RANVR Naval Auxiliary Patrol (NAP) ratings who had been mobilised were given prefixes indicating their port of enlistment followed by “/V(NAP)” (e.g. F/V(NAP)). Members of the RANVR NAP who had not mobilised were identified with prefixes indicating their port of enlistment followed by “/P” (e.g. PM/P).
From January 1966 all naval personnel were issued personal numbers prefixed with a code to indicate the category of service.
- Permanent Naval Force
O – Male officer
L – Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service officer
N – Nursing sister
R – Male sailor
W – Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service
X – Exchange officer
Y – Loans officer
Z – Loan sailor
D – Naval Dockyard Police
J – Papua New Guinea division officer
G – Papua New Guinea division sailor
P – Naval Dockyard Police
- Emergency Reserve Forces
H – Emergency Reserve sailor
S – Emergency Reserve officer
- Citizen Naval Force
A – RANR sailor
B – RANVR sailor
C – RANR officer
E – Emergency list officer
F – Royal Australian Fleet Reserve sailor
K – WRAN reservist
M – RANR (Sea-going) officer
T – Retired list
V – RANVR officer
National Archives of Australia, series A6769, service cards for navy officers, 1911–70.
Navy Office, Commonwealth Naval Orders 653, 1 November 1965.
R.D. Williams, Medals to Australia, with valuations, 3rd edition, Pocket Book, Dubbo, New South Wales, 1990.