Shire's WRNS: The Woman's Royal Naval Service
|Notes:||64 pages, softcover, ISBN 978-1-78442-039-0|
Often overlooked by historians is the role that women have played in the wars of the 20th century. In particular the world wars. Now most of us are aware of women in the medical field. But there is more than that. When WWI and WWII got underway, there was a need to have as many men as possible in the war instead of being used in secondary roles.
To this effect, most warring nations recruited women to train and take the place of men in non-combat roles such as administration, cooking, repairs of equipment, operating radios and even working in cryptology or operating airfield anti-aircraft guns.
One such unit in the UK was the Woman's Royal Naval Service or Wrens. These women were recruited to fulfill many of the auxiliary jobs on shore stations and even overseas to allow male sailors to fill those positions aboard ships. This was particularly important at the start of the conflict when their was a dearth of qualified sailors and again towards the end after many had either lost their lives or become injured due to action.
Not surprisingly, the idea of women in the military in any capacity was fiercely resisted at the beginning of WWI. However, women had been serving is quasi-military roles with the Red Cross and other similar organizations for some time. Thanks to the persuasion of those who knew it was a good idea, the Royal Navy instigated the WRNS. After performing sterling service in WWI, they were disbanded, only to be re-organized just before WWII. After the war, though greatly reduced, the service continued until fully integrated into the Royal Navy in 1993 when falling enlistment finally allowed women aboard ships.
This book is one that tells the full story and many of the individual exploits of Wrens both in WWI, WWII and the post war years. It is a fully engrossing tale of a little known part of the UK's military history and one that I am sure you will find just as fascinating as did I. Superbly illustrated with period photos, it is available at the link below.
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