A former Wren has been belatedly presented with a service medal for her efforts during the Second World War. Modest 96-year-old Kathleen Blower served as a Petty Officer stores 9V) in the W.R.N.S. in Portsmouth during the war but thought she wasn’t due a medal.
However, her granddaughter Lisa Davidson did some digging and while researching her grandmother’s role in the Wrens, found out that not only was she eligible for a medal, but she had actually been awarded one. So 73-and-a-half years after the war ended, she ensured that Kathleen received her just reward during a ceremony at her home, Harry Sotnick House in Buckland. The presentation was also attended by Kathleen’s daughter and great grandchildren.
Lisa said: ‘I was extremely proud when I found out my grandmother served as a Wren and it has been a privilege and honour to organise this special day. After 73 years she is finally getting the recognition she deserves. ‘I was looking at her records and noticed it mentioned about the award of a medal. When I questioned her about it she suggested ‘it was only for the men who were fighting’. I got in touch with the navy two years ago and they confirmed she had been awarded a medal. Today was about ensuring she gets the recognition she deserves.’
Kathleen arrived in Portsmouth in 1943 to help with the war effort and was based at HMS Vernon, now the site of Gunwharf Quays. She served as a Petty Officer where her roles included managing the naval stores and ensuring all servicemen were served their 11am ration of rum. ‘The men would start lining up outside the door at least an hour in advance and would get very grumpy if they didn’t get their daily rum’, she said.
Kathleen was part of the support network which waved goodbye to the flotilla of ships which departed Portsmouth as part of the D-Day landings. It is a day I will never forget. I saw many men leave but far fewer return,’ added Kathleen.
Presenting the medal was HMS Diamond’s Commanding Officer Cdr Ben Keith RN. He said:’ It is really humbling to be here and it is an honour to present Kathleen with her richly deserved medal. It is also a recognition of the amazing sacrifices made by her generation. The Wrens played a huge supporting role in the infrastructure of the war and without their support the fighting could not have taken place.
The ceremony involved singing form the children of Alverstoke infant and Alverstoke C of E school and readings from Kathleen’s great -grandchildren, Alice and Lucy Davidson. A letter from the Queen was also read out thanking Kathleen for her service.
After receiving her medal, Kathleen said: ’I am very proud and pleased my family were here to see the presentation. I am really looking forward to the tea and cakes.
Shared online from Neil Fatkin The News (Portsmouth) 2nd Feb 2019
Images - LPhot Barry Swainsbury HMS Diamond.