Blue Plaque for Dame Katharine Furse

Unveiling the Blue Plaque

What a wonderful day we had at Clifton Hill House, Lower Clifton Hill in Bristol on Thursday 7th September 2017, as guests of Bristol University. This beautiful building built in the style of a Palladian villa was the birthplace of Dame Katharine Furse GBE RRC, the first Director of the WRNS and the founder of the Association of Wrens.

AOW honoured to Parade at the Tattoo

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 21 to 24 August 2017

This WRNS centenary year is the first time that the Naional Standard of the Association of Wrens has been invited to take part (together with two Branch Standard Bearers) in the renowned Military Tattoo event,set in Edinburgh Castle.

The AOW representives had travelled many miles to be ready for the opening event on Monday 21 August and were there every evening until the final day on Thursday 24 August.

Iconic setting for WRNS100 celebration

Naval Servicewomen gather at Greenwich for WRNS100 celebration 17/07/2017

The Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich has not seen such a large gathering of Naval Servicewomen since the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) Officers’ training was transferred to BRNC Dartmouth from the College just over forty years ago in 1976.

2SL meets WRNS Sporting Veterans

Former WRNS Sporting Achievements recognised in WRNS100 Centenary Year

Recognised for their sporting achievements, former members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service and RN Servicewomen joined the Second Sea Lord’s Reward and Recognition event held in the gardens of Admiralty House on Tuesday 6th July.

Under blue skies on a warm and sunny afternoon, Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock OBE treated numerous serving and former Royal Navy and WRNS veterans to a sumptuous al fresco lunch accompanied by a lively Jazz Quintet from HM Band Royal Marines, Portsmouth.

Buckingham Palace Garden Party

Twenty members of the Association were invited to the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 30th, thanks to the Not Forgotten Association. Everyone had a wonderful time in perfect weather and some were lucky enough to be introduced to Prince Harry - an experience they won't forget. 

Wrens Walking Wales - and having fun!

Four AOW members take to the cliffs, valleys, and hills of Wales, and raise over £3,000 for WRNS100!

This was an inspirational idea from WO1 Barbara McGregor RN, who persuaded WO1 Annette Penfold MBE RNR (Command Maritime Services), former CPO Wren Radar Annie Lagrue and Leading Wren Radio Operator Larraine Cox  to join her in 'doing  something for WRNS100 and for the Welsh community'. Nothing too energetic, like running or cycling, just the challenge of walking 100 miles in 9 consecutive days from Newport, Pembs to HMS CAMBRIA RNR Unit at Sully, Cardiff! .

Veterans & families meet the RN ratings

RN website 09/03/2017

Veteran servicewomen from the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and several families of former WW2 Wrens personnel visited the Type 45 Air Defence destroyer HMS Dauntless in Portsmouth Naval Base prior to the launch of the WRNS100 Centenary Year.

The tour of the warship was an added bonus for the ladies and the families who had travelled to Portsmouth for the official opening by HRH The Princess Royal of the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s latest exhibition called ”Pioneers to Professionals – Women and the Navy.”

Remembering Dame Katharine Furse

On Sunday 12 March 2017, the first Sunday after the official launch of WRNS100, a group from the Project Team joined the congregation of St Peter’s Church, Frimley, Surrey for their morning service to commemorate Dame Katharine Furse’s role as founding Director of the Women’s Royal Naval Service.  We were made most welcome by the congregation; it was explained why we were there and the vicar, Canon Stuart Thomas, wove Dame Katharine’s life and character into the sermon, focusing particularly on the words ‘God gave her hills to climb and strength to climb them’ which are carved on her grave.

Our Royal Patron at the WRNS100 launch

HRH The Princess Royal officially opened the exhibition ‘Pioneers to Professionals: Women and the Royal Navy’ exhibition at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard on the afternoon of 8 March 2017, officially launching the WRNS100 centenary celebrations.

The exhibition opening was attended by current serving Royal Navy personnel, WRNS veterans, including members of the WRNS100 Project Team and museum officials who were introduced to The Princess Royal as she toured the exhibition.

You joined the Navy? Please join AOW!

There will be many formal photos and accounts of the WRNS100 launch at the NMRN on International Women's Day at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

This group shot seems to sum up the spirit of the day when the PRO of the Association of Wrens, Celia Saywell met some of today's women of the Royal Navy, including ratings, Jankey, Sharon, Alice, Karen, Natalie & Heather who were delighted with their 'freebie bugs'!

HMS Caroline ex-Wrens' stories 1940-90's

Sixteen women from Belfast and Northern Ireland are to feature in a new HLF funded documentary which explores their roles in the Royal Navy from the 1940s to the 1990s. The film, produced by the HMS Caroline’s curatorial and community engagement teams, will be one of the first recorded oral histories to be collected for an archive being established by the ship’s owners, the National Museum of the Royal Navy. 

New Remembrance Centre at NMA

I was very privileged to be asked to attend the preview of the new centre at the National Memorial Arboretum on behalf of the Association.  There are interactive displays, computers to find and print out where to find a particular memorial or name, an impressive new information desk, shop and restaurant.  At the back of the reception are photographs, a film about the Arboretum and a wonderful carpet to walk on that changes from grass to leaves to poppies as you walk through it. This was a memorable experience to walk and watch all the changes.

Busy broadcast week for WRNS100 & NMRN!

16th February

WW2 Wren 90yr old Win Price seen here being filmed by the BBC TV film crew on the occasion of the opening of the Pioneers to Professionals - women and the Royal Navy exhibition at the National Museum of the Royal Navy at HM Naval Base Portsmouth.

WWI poster artist Joyce Dennys (VAD)

The VADs formed during a period of increasing tension prior to the First World War.

Volunteers from the Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance Brigade pledged to provide medical assistance in times of war and received basic first aid training.

For more stories of women who rule the waves, visit our exciting new exhibition, opening this Saturday, February 18th in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Penny Wright MBE

With regret we report the sad passing of Penny Wright MBE who died peacefully in the presence of family members, on 15th January 2017. 

Penny joined the Wrens in September 1958 as a Radio Mechanic reaching Petty Officer rank in 1964, before being appointed 3/0 Air Radio WRNS, then promoted to 2/0 including ‘Schoolie’ duties, before leaving the service in June 1969. Ships served included HMS Ariel, Fulmar, Heron, Goldcrest & Daedalus. Penny represented the WRNS at Shooting & Fencing, and was a RN Saddle Club enthusiast.  

'Enigma' Wren wanted to be a Wren Driver

A veteran of the Royal Navy and code-breaking centre Bletchley Park during World War Two has been awarded the Service Medal. Pug (Patience) Whitwell, 91, of South Molton, in North Devon, was presented with the medal by Commodore Jamie Miller, the Royal Naval Regional Commander (Wales and Western England) at a ceremony at her nursing home surrounded by friends, family and staff.

The award has come very late in her life, long after she left the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRN or Wrens), because she was put off applying for it decades earlier by perceived bureaucracy.

Cmdt Anthea Larken CBE talks to the NMRN

National Museum of the Royal Navy

FB post 27.1.17

Anthea Larken joined the WRNS in 1956. During her early career she held a wide range of posts, including as Range Assessor and Photographic Interpreter. During her career she saw the WRNS go through many significant changes and was directly involved in a number of developments.

She was appointed Director WRNS 1988 – 1991. It was during this period that the WRNS went through one of its most significant changes. In October 1990 the first women joined the crew of a Royal Naval warship, HMS Brilliant.

WRNS100 Commemorative Stone - progress

Work on the WRNS100 commemorative stone is now well underway.

The photograph shows the Stonemason Robyn Golden-Hann and her assistant Maya Martin carving the female uniform hats.

WRNS100 FB post 23.1.17

WWII Wren Despatch Rider m'bike & launch

National Museum of the Royal Navy

Joan Burns was a WRNS despatch rider in the Second World War. Despatch riders had the important task of delivering urgent orders and messages between headquarters and units. The women had not only to be able to ride but to be able to maintain their own bikes. They often worked long hours through adverse weather conditions.

Joan made her first uniform by dyeing her jodhpurs navy blue and blacking her riding boots.