The RNR was generally confined to officers and men of deep sea merchantmen but in 1911 it was felt that there was a need to employ trawlers in war-time as minesweepers and patrol vessels. The Royal Naval Reserve Trawler Section - RNR(T) was set up to enrol the necessary personnel. Although abolished as a separate section of the RNR in 1921, the RNR(T) always remained quite distinct from the RNR proper, and employed fishermen. In both world wars a large number of trawlers were taken up by the Royal Navy complete with their crews, who were entered on a form T124 by which they engaged to serve in a named vessel for the duration of the war only. Fishermen on a T124 formed the bulk of the RNR(T) during the First World. The RNR(T) wound up in 1921.
Many lessons had been learnt about the real threat of mine and submarine warfare during the First World War and by the time of the out break of the second world war, the Admiralty was better prepared, as a force it was still considerably under strength. By 1939 it had only grown from 300 requisitioned trawlers to 400 with a Patrol Service personnel remaining at 434 skippers and 3,733 ratings. These trawlers were split thus, 200 to be used for minesweeping and the remaining 200 for patrol work.
All that remained now was for the Patrol Service to have a suitable assembly base and 'Sparrows Nest', the municipal pleasure park on the seashore at Lowestoft, was finally chosen. The name 'Sparrows Nest' originated from one of its former owners and before a pleasure park it had been a country estate and one time home of the Marchioness of Salisbury.
To begin with the Royal Naval Patrol Service was mostly manned by the skippers, mates and men of the Royal Naval Reserve. The communication ratings were all from the white-collar world and the crews and their skippers were fishermen. To ensure that at least some Naval discipline was observed, senior ranks of the Royal Navy and RNR were enlisted.
However, it was a well known fact that the fisherman did not take kindly to naval discipline. They were stubborn, independent and tough men and they knew their place at sea better than any man.