An on-going problem of the Royal Navy for at least 100 years before the outbreak of the First World War was to have enough men available to man the additional ships commissioned in wartime. During World War One the Royal Navy had several classes of reserves and New Zealanders were represented in all.
The Auxiliary Patrol was the front-line force in the defence of initially the British Isles, but later also the Mediterranean, against German mines and submarines. A wide variety of vessels were used, many fishing vessels requisitioned but also yachts and motor boats and from 1917 Admiralty-built trawlers and motor boats.
In order to further its reconnaissance role and to rescue downed pilots the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) developed armoured cars as early as September 1914. While this was not the first use of such vehicles, they were quickly absorbed as a function of the RNAS.
The Royal Naval Division was a naval unit that fought on land as infantry. It participated in the Gallipoli campaign and then in France on the Western Front. A number of New Zealanders served in the Division including Bernard Freyberg who won the Victoria Cross.
The Women’s Royal Naval Service was created in November 1917 as a result of heavy naval losses in the previous years and a resulting shortage of manpower for active sea service. At least two New Zealand women joined it ranks. Its personnel served in a variety of duties before being disbanded in October 1919.