Enjoying a visit to Portsmouth in June last year with fellow members of the Cheltenham Branch, I met up with ‘Facebook’ wren friend Maxine Higgins (nee Parish). Lots of chat and the realisation that we had both joined up in 1966 and that this year (2016) would be the 50th Anniversary of our joining, it seemed so natural to say ‘let’s have a party !’, and so the fun of organising the event and finding as many people as we could began. We even set up our own group on Facebook.
As Chairman of the Association of Wrens, one of my intentions was to try and visit some of our branches especially the ones that are a little more out of the way, so that they don't feel forgotten. During a recent visit to Cornwall to stay with some of the family, I decided this was an ideal opportunity to try and meet up with some of the West Cornwall wrens. I managed to achieve this through the Secretary of their branch, namely Frances Townsend who through various contacts including their own Facebook page got together some 20 former wrens.
On 5th July 2016 fourteen Members gathered for what is becoming our annual trip to Portsmouth to coincide with the Communicators Lunch. Driven in a minibus by former M/T Driver Chris Walker, who had a gap in her Standard-bearing duties, we set off for the Royal Maritime Club. On the way we visited the fascinating Hillier Gardens near Romsey.
Having joined up in the 70s and 80’s and never having served together during our time in the Wrens, who would have thought that an ex PO Wren (Education) and a Third Officer (PSO) would start a small business ‘Creative Toppers’ together making and selling bespoke cake topper decorations at a time in our lives when we thought retirement was imminent!
On the 5th November we embarked on the Queen Mary 2 for the transatlantic crossing to New York which was going to take 7 days. It is hard to believe that you can spend 7 days at sea without seeing any land.
Cheltenham Branch were thrilled to receive a visit from the RN Presentation Team in July. Friends and relatives, especially those who knew little about today's Royal Navy, were invited to the Branch monthly meeting. The Team gave insights into the vital role the Royal Navy plays in keeping us safe and into the life of women in the Service today. It was led by Lt Alex Head with L/Wtr Heather Peprell, Mne Connor Kilbride and L/Wtr Rhian Kilpartrick. In her role as Branch Vice Chairman, Harriet gave the vote of thanks.
Former Wrens and RN women attended the "Demise of the Tot " night in HMS Drake. The anniversary is marked every July by Plymouth Branch of the RNA. Those attending are encouraged to dress up, but it is not compulsory. The social evening is a re-kindling of the "Up Spirits" with stories and memories from those old enough to remember drawing their tot - NOT the Wrens!
From Jan Shearing - we have been a Branch for over 50 years gaining the 50 year pennant for our Standard a few years ago. We usually meet in the Preston area but have members as far away as Cheshire and are always looking for new ones; ex Wrens or RN women. They can contact me via the Wrens Facebook if they wish. I am Treasurer of the Branch, our Secretary does not have internet, but can be contacted via HQ (see foot of Home page). This year's Christmas lunch was a mixture of Branch members and Wrens Facebook members.
June 9th 1959, I was on a train making my way to HMS Dauntless at Burghfield and I met another young lady also in the same position. We went through training together (both having joined as Communication Wrens) and this led to a friendship that has lasted well over 55 years. We were at Admiralty for about 18 months then requested to go abroad on the same posting. Unfortunately Carol was drafted to Gibraltar (where she met Mary H nee Burch) and I went to Malta - a ploy we suspected at the time to keep us apart as we were a little rebellious!!!
Two celebrations for Swansea at their Trafalgar Day lunch - the traditional toast led by Penny Taylor, and a welcome to new member Natalie Hudson. Not all of our members were able to be there but in pride of place at the front are our WWII ladies, l to r Pat Hyde and Dot Jones (Secretary). The Branch will be 'on duty' as they have been for many years, by supporting the RBL Poppy Sales table at Sainsbury's Marina store. They will also do their best to recruit new members for AOW as well!.
Holiday snap from Oz where Sheila Houghton 1976-98 CWren (Wtr) was visiting her sister Joyce Crabtree 1978-90 PO Wren Cook. “We also met up with Linda Oliver 1983-1991 LWren (Wtr) who I served with in Hong Kong in1991, and her friend Annette Christie 1972-97 CWren (Std). The world is most definitely shrinking! Great to meet up and reminisce”.
On 22nd November 1973 fifteen of us celebrated our passing out parade and commissioning ceremony at RNC Greenwich. The day was shared by family and friends. We were all excited and thoroughly proud to be joining such an historic and important organisation, feelings we all retain even after forty years.
After having read the articles in the Magazine by three ex Wrens whom I knew, I thought it was about time I put pen to paper.
I joined the Wrens on the 24th March 1964 and if my memory serves me well I was Ajax 175 Division. I actually wanted to be a Radio Operator but my spelling was not my strong point, my next choice was a Motor Transport Driver but I was too short, however I was good at mathematics so I became a Writer Pay.
Would you believe like Kay Farrance, I was also an offender at an early age ie my 19th Birthday, and likewise it was my first and last offence.
I am writing this article on behalf of a group of six former Wrens who last year had the pleasure of revisiting Gibraltar some of whom had not been back since leaving there in 1970. We had all served together from 1969 to 1971 and had been stationed at RAF North Front except for Carol Watkins Chief Wren Quarters who was stationed at the Royal Naval Hospital.
I know the weekend has passed but memories of November’s Dauntless Reunion will last a life time. Meeting and greeting, hugs and kisses, tears and laughter, eating and drinking. To say we all enjoyed ourselves is an understatement. Running out of wine speaks for itself.