A Short History of the University Naval Training Division (UNTD)

(much of this taken from various editions of “The White Twist” with additions and corrections by John MacFarlane)

During World War Two the Canadian navy was short of qualified officers and sought ways of producing more of them. Naval Order 2854 (19/06/1943) stated that units “will be known as University Naval Training Divisions of the university to which attached, short title UNTD.” The first division had been initiated in September 1942 by Professor A.W. Baker at the Ontario Agriculture College as an experiment. There were already successful air force and army versions of this officer training programme in operation and a naval one was needed.

Originally students the entered the UNTD as Ordinary Seamen or Stokers Second Class on strength of RCNVR Divisions, and dressed as seamen. Training was carried out during the academic year – but they were not called for active service until they graduated. Two week training courses were held at the beginning of the summer and ended as soon as possible to free up students to go on to summer jobs.

Professor Baker was taken into the service as a Lieutenant-Commander RCNVR and toured Canadian universities in cities where reserve divisions existed to set up UNTDs. Captain Brock, Commanding Officer Reserve Divisions, accompanied Baker to the University of Toronto. Baker went on to establish 16 Divisions in 1943 and 14 were in operation by the end of the academic year with the others recruiting in the fall.

By the end of the War Baker had been promoted to Captain (SB) and returned to his civilian career. On June 11, 1945 he handed over the UNTD to Commander Herbert Little RCN(R) then serving at Naval HQ in Ottawa, who took over the task of ensuring the programme’s survival in the peacetime navy. He was appointed as the Staff Officer (University Naval Training Division) under the Director of Naval Reserves.

For 1946-47 training consisted of 60 hours of drill and lectures during the academic year with two weeks in the Fleet each summer and one summer of voluntary service. After graduation and successful completion of the UNTD programme, the officer candidate was eligible for a commission in the RCN(R). In 1956 the men who were still dressed as seamen were advanced to the rank of Officer Cadet RCN(R) and dressed as subordinate officers with a white collar and peaked cap. There were 17 divisions based at RCN(R) divisions across Canada. After three years of training the Cadets were promoted to the rank of Acting Sub-Lieutenant . Later, probably for economy of budget, the training was reduced to two years of training before commission.

UNTD Final Message

The programme was terminated in 1968 (see final message above) with the advent of the unification of the armed forces. It had, in the interval, produced most of the officers of the RCN(R), and also a supply of officers willing to serve on Continuous Naval Duty or as part of the Regular Force. It also produced a large body of trained officers in reserve, ready and willing to answer a call, should it be made, to defend their country.


To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2012) A Short History of the University Naval Training Division (UNTD). Nauticapedia.ca 2012. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Navy_UNTD_history.php

New Nauticapedia Book Just Published!

Volume Four in series

The Nauticapedia List of British Columbia's Floating Heritage Volume Four

Book — British Columbia's Floating Heritage
For more information …

Site News: Feb 26th, 2017

Databases have been updated and are now holding 49,563 vessel histories (with 3964 images) and 57,418 mariner biographies (with 3346 images).


© 2002-2017