Commander A.P.Pettman.

Capt, Superintendant.

Russell Cotes Nautical School - Parkstone Sea Training School

Captain Superintendant: Allan P Pettman RN  (RCNS: 1927-1938)

1880 -1938 

ALLAN PETER PETTMAN. Royal Navy Retired, Engineer Commander.

Born: 28 Sept 1880, School House, Dunkirk, Kent.

Died: 29 July 1938. Buried - Parkstone Cemetery

Allan Pettman was a son of Charles Pettman a Kent, School Master.

Royal Navy


Allan Peter Pettman entered the Royal Navy in 1901 at the Naval Engineering College, Keyham. This latter became the Royal Naval Engineering College (RNEC) Manadon. Direct Entry Engineers had been introduced into the Royal Navy since 1895 to meet a rising demand for Engineer Officers.


Upon graduation from the Engineers College he became a ‘Probationary Assistant Engineer with a Seniority of 1st June 1902.

On 6th August 1902 he was posted to HMS PACTOLUS with the ‘Channel Squadron’; ‘Additional for Training’.

HMS PACTOLUS was fitted with most troublesome water tube boilers. Eventually these boilers known as ‘Blechynden Boilers’ proved so unreliable they had to be removed.  The Pelorus Class Cruisers had varying Boiler Types which were being trialed by the Admiralty. HMS PACTOLUS and her sister ship HMS POMONE were both fitted with this unreliable boilers, no doubt  Assistant Engineer Pettman, learnt much about Steam Machinery.


Cruiser: Pelorus Class

Built: Armstrong, Elswick. 1896 to1898

Displacement 2,135 tons

Armament: 8 x 4 inch – 8 x 3pdr – 2 x 18 inch Torpedoes

Speed; 20 knots

Complement: 224


He was promoted Engineer Sub Lieutenant on 23rd March 1903 and would join HMS HOOD, some 3 months later on 25th June 1903 for the Commissioning.


Battleship: Royal Sovereign Class

Built:  Chatham Dockyard. 1889 to1893

Displacement 14,190 tons

Armament: 4 x 13.5 inch – 10 x 6 inch – 10 x 6pdr.  12 x 3pdr.

Speed; 15 knots

Complement: 712

1904  China Station

On the 21st June 1904 Engineer Sub Lieutenant Allan Pettman took passage on HMS TERRIBLE to the China Station. HMS TERRIBLE was a Cruiser that spent many Commissions on the China Station. She took part in the Boxer Rebellion/Uprising 1899/1901, landing troops to relieve the Siege of the International Legations in Peking.

Later in 1920 HMS TERRIBLE was renamed HMS FISGARD III, becoming an Artificers Training School.


Cruiser: Powerful Class

Built: J & G Thompson, Clydebank.. 1894 to1895

Displacement 14,200 tons

Armament: 2 x 9.2 inch – 12 x 6 inch – 16 x 3pdr.  12 x 3pdr.

Speed; 22 knots

Complement: 894

1904  China Station (continued)

On arrival on the China Station, Engineer  Sub Lieutenant Pettman joined HMS THETIS, he would remain on the China Station for the next 2 years.

At the start of WW1 the Apollo Class Cruisers were amongst the oldest ships remaining in service.

She was deliberately sunk in attempt to block the canal at Zeebrugge Raid during the First World War, on April 23, 1918.


Cruiser: Apollo Class also known as Aelous 2nd Class Protected Cruisers

Built: J & G Thompson, Clydebank.. 1890 to 1892

Displacement 3,400 tons

Armament: 2 x 6 inch – 6 x 4.7 inch – 8 x 6pdr.  1 x 3pdr.

Speed; 18.5 knots

Complement: 273

1904 (continued)

In July of 1914 he transferred to HMS VENGENCE for Training with the Engineer Captain of the China Station. HMS VENGENCE, a pre-Dreadnought was built for the China Station, as were her sister Battleships, HMS ALBION, CANOPUS, GLORY, GOLIATH and HMS OCEAN.

HMS VENGENCE    29 July 1904

Battleship: Canopus Class 

Built: Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness  1898 to1902

Displacement 12,950 tons

Armament: 4 x 12 inch  12 x 6 inch   10 x 12pdr.  6 x 3pdr.

Speed; 18 knots

Complement: 750


Remaining in the China Station Sub Lieutenant Allan Pettman sat and passed his exams for promotion to Engineer Lieutenant whilst onboard HMS HOGUE, 22nd July 1905. He remained on HMS HOGUE an Armoured Cruiser, gaining further Engineering experience .

HMS HOGUE       22 July 1905

Armoured Cruiser: Cressy Class

Built: Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness  1900

Displacement 12,000 tons

Armament: 2 x 9.2 inch – 12 x 6 inch  12 x 12pdr.

Speed; 22 knots

Complement: 760

Sunk; 22 Sep 1914 by U.9 in North Sea

1905 (continued)

In December 1905 he was posted to HMS DIADEM, recently arrived on the China Station fresh from the Channel Fleet. Captain E.F. Pears RN in command. In 1905, in Hong Kong, HMS DIADEM’s Football Team were to win the Challenge Shield, a knockout competition.


1st Class Cruiser: Diadem Class

Built: Fairfield Shipbuilding, Govan.  1896 

Displacement 11,000 tons

Armament: 16 x 6 inch   14 x 12pdr.   3 x 3pdr.

Speed; 22 knots

Complement: 677


The year 1906 proved to be one of ‘highs and lows’ for Allan Pettman,  In April 1906 his promotion to Engineer Lieutenant came through.  However service on the China Station, working continuously in extreme heat in the Boiler & Engine Rooms took its toll. By late 1906 Lieutenant Pettman was a very sick man.

On 10th November 1906 Engineer Lt. Allan Pettman was invalided back to HMS VICTORY in Portsmouth and placed on the sick list.

Some months later in failing health he was placed on half pay and retired. Half Pay for a Lieutenant, with a Seniority of about 1 year would be less than £100. per year.


In January 1911 Allan Pettman, Age 30yrs. having retired sick from the Royal Navy, had regained some of his health and was living in West Hampstead, London

Allan was employed as an Assurance Clerk for the Railway Passengers Assurance Company.

The Company was founded in 1841 and would sell passengers Insurance along with tickets to travel for their rail journeys. It wasn’t very long before the Government saw a revenue raising opportunity, the Chancellor of the Exchequer secured an agreement with the Company that the Company would pay a ‘Percentage Tax’ on each Insurance Premium rather than levy a ‘Stamp Duty’ that the booking clerks would have to collect. 

Railway Passengers Assurance Company Poster.

On issuing the Tickets & Policy the booking clerks assessed ‘Passenger Risk’ based on the class of travel offered;  2nd and 3rd Class was in roofless carriages carrying a higher degree of risk than those in 1st Class with carriages with roofs. It is claimed as the very first Accident Travel Insurance offered to the travelling public. 

For the cost of  threepence, a 1st Class Ticket, the  Railway Passengers Assurance Company would, for a fatality, pay £1,000 to the family. For twopence it was £500.

Booking Clerks received 10% commission on the tickets they sold.


In 1913, Allan Pettman married Katherine Hoare in Christchurch, Hampshire, they returned to Hampstead to live.

1914  World War 1

On the outbreak of War in 1914, Engineer Lieutenant Allan Pettman was recalled to the Active List (4th Aug 1914 - The London Gazette 7th August 1914, page 6203).

He joined HMS PRINCE GEORGE in Devonport, on 6th August of that year. Upon Commissioning in August 1914, HMS PRINCE GEORGE, was immediately involved in escorting the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to France. On 25th August, the Plymouth Royal Marines battalion embarked and were transported to Ostend.

Later in 1915, she went to the Mediterranean for the Gallipoli Campaign, and saw action in bombardments of Turkish Forts, where she received damage. 

In January 1916, she was back at Gallipoli, evacuating over 3,500 troops. She returned to Chatham and became an accommodation ship. In 1918 she was converted to a Destroyer Depot Ship and renamed HMS VICTORIOUS.


Battleship: Majestic Class, , a pre-Dreadnought Battleship

Built:  Portsmouth Dockyard. 1894 to1896

Displacement 14,900 tons

Armament: 4 x 12 inch – 12 x 6 inch – 16 x 12pdr.  4 x 3pdr.

Speed; 17.5 knots

Complement: 670


On 8th December 1914 Engineer Sub. Lt. Allan Pettman was posted Additional for Training to HMS VICTORY . He undertook the Fuel Course and the Turbine Course.

Unfortunately illness had raised its ugly head again, and notwithstanding the recall to the ‘Active List’ Lieutenant Allan Pettman was again placed as sick.

1914  RNC Osborne

Upon completion of his further Engineer Training, on the 19th December 1914,  Engineer Lieutenant Pettman was posted as an Instructor to the Royal Naval College (RNC), Osborne.

Osborne House situated  in East Cowes, on the Isle of Wight had been a Royal Residence for Queen Victoria. Used as a summer rural retreat, the property was built between 1845 to 1851. Queen Victoria died there in January 1901. The estates surplus to Royal requirements became a  Royal Naval College in 1903 and remained so until 1921.

Education at Osborne  - the Selborne Scheme.

Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Fisher introduced the scheme by which the Military (the Executive) and the Engineering branches of the Royal Navy would be amalgamated.

With the move from ‘Sail to Steam’, Engineering had become increasingly important in the Royal Navy. The movement of Ships were now dependant upon machinery with its complexities of boilers, steam and reciprocating engines. The Engineer Officer now played a large role in the Ships, direction, speed and endurance, a far cry from the days of control by Captain and the Sailing Master. 

However Engineering Officers were very much looked upon by ‘Command Officers’ as lesser beings, it was regarded as; ‘ungentlemanly to go down the coal-hole’.

Admiral Fisher saw this as a major problem to a ‘team running the ship’ of the new ‘Dreadnought Navy’. He considered the way ahead was to amalgamate the two branches much as had been done with the amalgamation of Navigation into the Executive branch.

Lord Fishers’ vision for the Dreadnought Navy was to have;

One system of Entry to the Royal Navy,

One system of Training  … and/. 

One system of Supply …. to support the Royal Navy.

Until Lord Fishers plan was implemented, Cadets were entering the RN either as ‘Sea Officers’ or as ‘Engineers’. 

Initially the Admiralty Board resisted the plan but Lord Fisher had his way. 

1914  RNC Osborne  (continued)

The amalgamation of the ‘Executive’ and ‘Engineering’ branches was completed in November 1905.

This was the environment into which Engineer Lt Allan Pettman stepped when he joined the Royal Naval College.

The RN College itself was not in Osborne House, but was a series of Dormitory and Gunroom buildings built, where once stood Queen Victoria’s Stables. The buildings were named after famous Admirals a practice favoured in many training establishments.  Nearby at Kingston, a short walk from the College were the Workshops and on the River Medina was HMS RACER, a 970ton Sloop, plus its tender usually an MTB.

The 400 odd Cadets received tutoring, in Mathematics, Geometrical Drawing, History & Geography, English Grammar and French. At Kingston, training covered; Seamanship, Signals and Flagwork on the lawns,, Boatwork and Sailing. There were Workshops where the young Cadets learnt Carpentry, how to saw, plane, dovetail and paint. In the Smiths shop, the Cadets turned out models and moulds in sand, hammered real brass and made ash trays.

Engines were stripped, pistons were examined, oiled and reassembled, boilers were opened, propellers turned as the Cadets learnt a whole new engineering vocabulary.

1915. Allan Pettman was passed his Engineer Lt. Commander Examinations and was promoted Engineer Lieutenant Commander, Seniority; 26th  February 1915. He was to become the Head of Engineering at Osborne.


On the 6th May 1919 for recognition of services during the war, he was promoted Engineer Commander. He remained at the RNC Osborne until his retirement;  He was placed on the retired list, 12th May 1919.

Engineer Commander Allan Pettman for services in the 1914-1918 war was awarded;

1914 Star  -   1914-1920 British War Medal  -    1914-1920 Allied Victory Medal


Russell Coates Nautical School (RCNS)

In 1927  Commander Allan Pettman RN Rtd. was appointed as Captain Superintendant of the Russell Cotes Nautical School (RCNS)

1933 (RCNS) – Nautical Assessor 

In November 1933 Commander Allan Pettman was appointed a ‘Nautical Assessor of the County Court of Dorsetshire.

Nautical Assessors are called upon by the Courts (High Court, Court of Appeal-County Court, Admiralty Court) to provide the Court with an expertise on the matters of seamanship, navigation and other facets of nautical skills that may be required in the Courts proceedings.

The Nautical Assessor normally sits with the Judge on the bench during a trial and would give expert opinion on Nautical matters to the Judge.


The Times, Monday, Aug 01, 1938


ALLAN PETTMAN, R.N., retired, Captain-Superintendent

Russell Cotes Nautical School, Dr. Barnardo's Homes,

Parkstone. Funeral service School Chapel, 3 p.m.

to-morrow (Tuesday). Interment Parkstone Cemetery.



1. The Navy List, various;  1914 to 1945, Admiralty, HMSO.

2. Royal Navy Ships Dispositions (various), Home Waters. 1940-1945 

3. Ships of the Royal Navy; The Complete Record of All Fighting Ships, JJ Colledge 

    and Ben Warlow, Casemate, 17 Cheaop St., Newbury, RG14 5DD, 2010. 

4. The London Gazette – various editions; 1912-1945

5. Jane’s Fighting Ships, various editions, 1922 to 1945, Sampson, Low, Marston & 

     Co. Ltd. London. 

6. Ancestry, FMP, Origins & LDS Indexes

7. The Life of a young Cadet at the Royal Naval College, Osborne, Daily Mail 

    Newspaper, 28th Jan 1908.

8. National Archives, London, ADM 171/91, Naval Officer Medal Rolls.