Women's Royal Naval Service
Overview
 
The Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS; popularly and officially known as the Wrens) was the women's branch of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

.

Members included cooks
Cooking
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

, clerks, wireless telegraphist
Morse code
Morse code is a method of transmitting textual information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment...

s, radar plotters, weapons analysts, range assessors, electrician
Electrician
An electrician is a tradesman specializing in electrical wiring of buildings, stationary machines and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. Electricians may also...

s and air mechanics. It was formed in 1917 during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and by the end of the war had 5,500 members, 500 of them officers. In addition, about 2000 members of the WRAF
Women's Royal Air Force
The Women's Royal Air Force was a women's branch of the Royal Air Force which existed in two separate incarnations.The first WRAF was an auxiliary organization of the Royal Air Force which was founded in 1918. The original intent of the WRAF was to provide female mechanics in order to free up men...

 had previously served with the WRNS supporting the Royal Naval Air Service and were transferred on the creation of the Royal Air Force.
Encyclopedia
The Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS; popularly and officially known as the Wrens) was the women's branch of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

.

Members included cooks
Cooking
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

, clerks, wireless telegraphist
Morse code
Morse code is a method of transmitting textual information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment...

s, radar plotters, weapons analysts, range assessors, electrician
Electrician
An electrician is a tradesman specializing in electrical wiring of buildings, stationary machines and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. Electricians may also...

s and air mechanics. It was formed in 1917 during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and by the end of the war had 5,500 members, 500 of them officers. In addition, about 2000 members of the WRAF
Women's Royal Air Force
The Women's Royal Air Force was a women's branch of the Royal Air Force which existed in two separate incarnations.The first WRAF was an auxiliary organization of the Royal Air Force which was founded in 1918. The original intent of the WRAF was to provide female mechanics in order to free up men...

 had previously served with the WRNS supporting the Royal Naval Air Service and were transferred on the creation of the Royal Air Force. It was disbanded in 1919.

It was revived in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War, with an expanded list of allowable activities, including flying transport planes. At its peak in 1944 it had 75,000 people. During the war there were 100 deaths. One of the slogan
Slogan
A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a political, commercial, religious and other context as a repetitive expression of an idea or purpose. The word slogan is derived from slogorn which was an Anglicisation of the Scottish Gaelic sluagh-ghairm . Slogans vary from the written and the...

s used in recruiting posters was "Join the Wrens—free a man for the fleet."

It remained in existence after the war and was finally integrated into the regular Royal Navy in 1993. Women sailors are however still known as wren
Wren
The wrens are passerine birds in the mainly New World family Troglodytidae. There are approximately 80 species of true wrens in approximately 20 genera....

s or Jennies (Jenny Wrens) in naval slang.

Before 1993, all women in the Royal Navy were members of the WRNS except nurses, who joined (and still join) Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service
Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service
Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service is the nursing branch of the British Royal Navy. The Service unit works alongside the Royal Navy Medical Branch....

, and medical and dental officers, who were commissioned directly into the Royal Navy, held RN ranks, and wore WRNS uniform with gold RN insignia.

Ranks and uniform

The WRNS had its own ranking system, which it retained until amalgamation into the Royal Navy in 1993.
1917–1919 ranks 1939–1993 ranks
Officers Ratings Commissioned Officers
WRNS rank WRNS rank Equivalent RN rank WRNS rank Equivalent RN rank
Assistant Principal Ordinary Wren Ordinary Seaman
Ordinary Seaman (rank)
In the Royal Navy in the middle of the 18th century, the term ordinary seaman was used to refer to a seaman with between one and two years' experience at sea, who showed enough seamanship to be so rated by their captain...

 
Third Officer Sub-Lieutenant
Sub-Lieutenant
Sub-lieutenant is a military rank. It is normally a junior officer rank.In many navies, a sub-lieutenant is a naval commissioned or subordinate officer, ranking below a lieutenant. In the Royal Navy the rank of sub-lieutenant is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant in the British Army and of...

Deputy Principal Wren Able Seaman
Able Seaman (rank)
In the British Royal Navy in the middle of the 18th century, the term able seaman referred to a seaman with at least two years' experience at sea...

 
Second Officer Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

Principal Leading Wren Leading Seaman
Leading Seaman
Leading seaman is a junior non-commissioned rank or rate in navies, particularly those of the Commonwealth. When it is used by NATO nations, leading seaman has the rank code of OR-4. It is often equivalent to the army and air force rank of corporal and some navies use corporal rather than...

 
First Officer Lieutenant-Commander
Deputy Divisional Director Petty Officer Wren Petty Officer
Petty Officer
A petty officer is a non-commissioned officer in many navies and is given the NATO rank denotion OR-6. They are equal in rank to sergeant, British Army and Royal Air Force. A Petty Officer is superior in rank to Leading Rate and subordinate to Chief Petty Officer, in the case of the British Armed...

 
Chief Officer Commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

Divisional Director Chief Wren Chief Petty Officer
Chief Petty Officer
A chief petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer in many navies and coast guards.-Canada:"Chief Petty Officer" refers to two ranks in the Canadian Navy...

 
Superintendent Captain
Captain (Royal Navy)
Captain is a senior officer rank of the Royal Navy. It ranks above Commander and below Commodore and has a NATO ranking code of OF-5. The rank is equivalent to a Colonel in the British Army or Royal Marines and to a Group Captain in the Royal Air Force. The rank of Group Captain is based on the...

Deputy Assistant Director Commandant/Director Commodore/Rear-Admiral
Assistant Director Chief Commandant/Commandant Rear-Admiral
Deputy Director
Director


Ratings' titles were suffixed with their trade (e.g. Leading Wren Cook, Chief Wren Telegraphist).

Wrens wore the same rank insignia as their male equivalents, but in blue instead of gold. The "curls" atop officers' rank stripes were diamond-shaped instead of circular.

From 1939, Wren uniform consisted of a double-breasted jacket and skirt, with shirt and tie, for all ranks (although similar working dress to the men could also be worn). Junior Ratings wore hats similar to those of their male counterparts (although with a more sloping top). Senior Ratings (Petty Officers and above) and officers wore tricorne hats with a white cover. All insignia, including cap badge
Cap badge
A cap badge, also known as head badge or hat badge, is a badge worn on uniform headgear and distinguishes the wearer's nationality and/or organisation. The wearing of cap badges is a convention commonly found among military and police forces, as well as uniformed civilian groups such as the Boy...

s and non-substantive (trade) badges, were blue.

List of Directors WRNS

  • Dame Katharine Furse
    Katharine Furse
    Dame Katharine Furse, GBE, RRC , founder of the English Voluntary Aid Detachment force, was born Katharine Symonds, daughter of the poet and critic John Addington Symonds and Janet Catherine North...

    , 1917–1919
  • Dame Vera Laughton Mathews
    Vera Laughton Mathews
    Dame Elvira Sibyl Marie Laughton Mathews, DBE , born Elvira Sibyl Marie Laughton, was one of the first officers of the Women's Royal Naval Service and served from just after the inception of the WRNS in 1918 until it was disbanded in late 1919...

    , 1939–1946
  • Dame Jocelyn Woollcombe
    Jocelyn Woollcombe
    Dame Jocelyn May Woollcombe, DBE was Director of the Women's Royal Naval Service from 1946 to 1950.She joined the WRNS, enrolling as Chief Officer in August 1939 and was named Superintendent on 14 May 1940.-Honours:...

    , 1946–1950
  • Commandant Dame Mary Lloyd, 1950–1954
  • Commandant Dame Nancy Robertson, 1954–1958
  • Commandant Dame Elizabeth Hoyer-Millar, 1958–1960
  • Commandant Dame Jean Davies, 1960–1964
  • Commandant Dame Margaret Drummond, 1964–1966
  • Commandant Dame Marion Kettlewell, 1966–1970
  • Commandant Daphne Blundell, 1970–1973
  • Commandant Mary Talbot, 1973–1976
  • Commandant Vonla McBride, 1976–1979
  • Commandant Elizabeth Craig-McFeely, 1979–1982
  • Commandant Patricia Swallow, 1982–1985
  • Commandant Marjorie Fletcher, 1985–1988
  • Commandant Anthea Larken, 1988–1991
  • Commandant Anne Spencer, 1991–1993

Deaths

Nineteen-year-old Josephine Carr was one of three Wrens from Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 who were travelling together on the RMS Leinster
RMS Leinster
RMS Leinster was a vessel operated by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, served as the Kingstown -Holyhead mailboat until she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UB-123 on 10 October 1918, while bound for Holyhead. She went down just outside Dublin Bay at a point four miles east of...

 from Dublin to Holyhead
Holyhead
Holyhead is the largest town in the county of Anglesey in the North Wales. It is also a major port adjacent to the Irish Sea serving Ireland....

 on 10 October 1918. Carr became the first Wren to die on active service when the ship was torpedo
Torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

ed. Her body was never recovered.

See also

  • Operation Outward
    Operation Outward
    Operation Outward was the name given to the British World War II program to attack Germany by means of free-flying balloons. It made use of cheap, simple gas balloons filled with hydrogen...

  • Women's Royal Air Force
    Women's Royal Air Force
    The Women's Royal Air Force was a women's branch of the Royal Air Force which existed in two separate incarnations.The first WRAF was an auxiliary organization of the Royal Air Force which was founded in 1918. The original intent of the WRAF was to provide female mechanics in order to free up men...

  • Women's Royal Army Corps
    Women's Royal Army Corps
    The Women's Royal Army Corps was the corps to which all women in the British Army except medical, dental and veterinary officers and chaplains and nurses belonged from 1949 to 1992.-History:The...

  • Female roles in the World Wars
    Female roles in the World Wars
    There is little doubt that levi richardson is the man. he loves all the women of the world. even liz women's work in the two World Wars of the twentieth century was an important factor in the outcome of both wars...

  • Eswyn Lyster
    Eswyn Lyster
    Coral Eswyn Lyster, was a Canadian author best known for writing extensively on the Canadian war bride experience...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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