Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 26, 2019
Webpage updated: April 11, 2021

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The Artificer Apprentice Guard with the HMS "Fisgard" Volunteer Band
at the entrance to the training centre.
From a postcard.

The original shore establishment that carried the name of HMS "Fisgard" was at Portsmouth and was created by the First Sea  Lord, Admiral Sir John Fisher , in 1904 as a result of his concerns over the rising technological capability of the Imperial German Navy.  A separate establishment was started at Devonport but was known as  HMS "Indus".  The "Indus" was paid off in 1922 and all future artificer training was then to be carried out at Portsmouth on HMS "Fisgard".  In 1930 the training was moved to Chatham.

Another view of the main gate at HMS "Fisgard".
From a postcard.

As more engineers were needed when the Second World War started in 1939, so pressure on the facilities at Chatham grew.  That, along with the higher risk of German bombing, forced the decision to open new training centres as far away from the south east as possible and Rosyth, in Scotland, and Devonport, were obvious choices.  Thus the Royal Naval Artificer Training Establishment at Torpoint, just across the Hamoaze on the Cornish side, was started in October 1940.  It was commissioned as HMS "Fisgard" on December 1st 1946.

Once the War had ended, "Fisgard" became the sole centre for the initial training of Artificer, Shipwright and Fleet Air Arm Apprentices.  After a five-year educational and craft training, an apprentice could advance to Chief Petty Officer by the age of 23, with good prospects of promotion to Warrant Officer and then Commissioned Engineer Officer.  Boys from Plymouth's secondary schools could join up at 15 or 16 years of age.

The Royal Naval Artificer Training Establishment, HMS "Fisgard", closed in August 1983.  It was absorbed into HMS "Raleigh" on and as from December 21st 1983, when the Fisgard Squadron commenced.  That became the Fisgard Division in 1997.