The story of the Women's Royal Navy Service (Wrens), which was formed in 1917 when the call was for volunteers to "release a man for sea service". At the peak there were over 5,000 women serving in Britain and overseas, but efforts to maintain the Service in peace-time were unsuccessful, and it was to be 1939, when World War II threatened, before the Wrens were re-formed. Theirs was an altogether different and more demanding role, carrying out duties, some of them highly secret, and many more of them served outside Britain. By 1945 there were over 75,000 officers and ratings and when the War ended, and those who wished to were demobilized, a Permanent Service was set up, providing a career for women alongside the men of the Royal Navy. Integration with the Navy came gradually until in 1990 conditions of service were the same for both sexes, women officers were given Naval ranks, and the 1917 motto of "Never at Sea" had to be amended. There are now some 3,000 women in this, the foremost women's Service in the world, which was used as the model for those of many other nations. This is their story, often told in their own words, which mirrors the changing place of women in our society in a century of social progress.
About Ursula Stuart Mason
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Published October 1, 1992
by Leo Cooper.
History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, War.