Enlisting Poster WRENSThe Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) was the first branch in the Armed Forces and Royal Navy made up solely of women and is officially known as the Wrens. The Wrens was first formed during the First World War in 1917 and standard jobs included cook, clerk, weapons analyst and range assessor. By the end of the First World War the Wrens had 5,500 members, of which 500 were officers. 2,000 of its members were transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Wrens were disbanded in 1919 after the end of the First World War. Director Dame Katharine Furse joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) in 1909. During the First World War she was chosen to be the head of the first VAD to be sent to France. In 1917 Katharine became the Director of the then, newly formed, Women’s Royal Naval Service. Katharine was awarded three service medals and became a Dame. The Wrens were then revived during the Second World War in 1939 and their list of allowable activities included flying transport planes. Their recruiting slogans was ‘Join the Wrens – free a man for the fleet.’ At its peak the Women’s Royal Naval Services had 75,000 members, unfortunately 100 of those died during the First World War. By 1993 the Wrens had been integrated into the Royal Navy and were allowed to serve on board a navy vessel as a full member of the crew. In October 1990, HMS Brilliant was the first shop to allow a woman to officially serve on an operational warship. Those that were nurses joined the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS). Many of their jobs were dangerous and included the loading of torpedoes onto submarines and helping to plot the battle progress in operation rooms. They were also drafted into Bletchley Park where they were employed in supporting roles helping the Enigma code breakers. During the Second World War 303 WRENS were killed. The Wrens uniform consisted of a double-breasted jacket and skirt, with a shirt and tie. The Wrens wore the same rank insignia as their male equivalents, but their lettering was blue instead of gold. Their sleeve curls were also a diamond shape instead of the usual circle. Today, women in the Royal Navy serve in many roles. Some as pilots, air crew personnel and commanding officers of ships. Commander Sue Moore was the first woman to command a squadron of minor war vessels. Women are allowed to serve in the Royal Marines but not as RM Commandos.
Women serving in the military has always been a controversial topic. As increasing numbers of countries begin to expand the role of women in their militaries, the debate continues. In order to be on the front line, women have been known to cross dress. The Royal Navy were the first to employ women in 1969 allowing a few to be nurses and laundresses on hospital ships. This was a controversial move and by the 19th century both roles had been eliminated. The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Service began in 1902 and is still in operation today. During World War II Britain established a uniformed service for women. This combined with the small units of nurses which had been in operation for a while meant that about 600,000 women served in the military. Most were working in units close to London where there was no risk of being captured by the enemy. The first woman was killed in the military in April 1942. It wasn’t until 1949 that women were officially recognised as a permanent part of the British armed forces. During that year the Women’s Royal Army Corps was created and the ranks were normalised in line with the ranks of men serving in the British Army. In 1989 women became eligible to pilot Royal Air Force combat aircrafts and the following year were allowed to serve on Royal Navy warships. It is only in recent years that women have been given a more prominent role in the armed forces. Female personnel currently make up 9% of the British armed forces. A ban on women serving in close combat units in the British military has been lifted by Prime Minister David Cameron, allowing them to enter the cavalry, infantry and armoured corps. In order for them to enter into the infantry they would still need to pass the fitness test, as do all males. The Army’s research shows that less than 5% of the 7,000 women serving in the British Army would pass the current tests to join the infantry. The lift of this ban, puts the UK in line with many of its allies, including the US. Are you a woman who has served in the British Military? What do you think about the ban being lifted?
Haworth 1940s weekend is an annual celebration and continues to grow, attracting an increasing number of visitors. This famous local event proudly raises money for SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) and other local charities. The weekend usually follows a theme, with this year’s being ‘airborne’ to commemorate the bravery of the airborne forces. In fact there are many activities throughout the weekend including evening dances, the land army parade, a Spitfire flypast as well as many food, drink and gift stalls in the park. Every year, Wyedean, Skipton Properties and Airedale Springs open up their carparks to accommodate some of the 25,000 visitors per day. This year the car park managed to park 600 cars per day, which was helped by Skipton Properties rolling some of the land to increase the number of available spaces. The car park was split into two sections: £5 to park at the back for the day and £10 for the premium spaces at the front of the mill for more convenient spaces.We’d like to thank those who opted to park in the premium spaces, knowing full-well that the money raised went to charity. Staff and friends of Wyedean volunteered over the weekend to help direct the cars, with 15 volunteers split between directing traffic, collecting money and selling event programmes. The Picture Post magazine is available throughout the weekend and gives details and times of the many fun and interesting events as well as showing their locations on a handy map. We managed to sell 340 programmes this year to people parking in the car park and passing by. In fact this year we set a new record when we managed to raise £7,309 which was well above last year’s total of £6,367. Year upon year the event’s popularity continues to grow with many visitors coming back for a return visit. In fact over the past 4 years we have helped raise approximately £23,000. The car park was full to capacity both days before noon and we then managed to park a further 150 vehicles each day as spaces became available again.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row] Well done to all who helped to make this year’s 1940s Weekend a huge success. Visit our store to buy your military accessories ready for next year.
The Military Medal (MM), created by King George V in March 1916, was a way to acknowledge the acts of bravery in war which were not considered worthy enough to receive a Distinguished Conduct Medal. Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men on the recommendation of a Commander in Chief in the field were awarded this medal. During WWI, 108 members of the Royal Newfound Regiment received the Military Medal. A silver bar was also given out to eight of these recipients which signified subsequent acts of bravery. The Military Medal is shown below feturing a picture of the sovereign. In the First World War this medal depicted a bare-headed King George V in a Field Marshall’s uniform. The reverse of the medal reads “For Bravery in the Field”, circled by a laurel wreath with the Royal Cypher and Imperial Crown on top. The medal is displayed on a dark blue ribbon with red and white stripes. It is this medal ribbon which was made by Wyedean, formally known as Dalton Barton. Notes for this order are shown in the bottom right image. Quotations and sample production took place in 1916. The top middle image with the ribbon design features King George V initials – G.R.I which stands for “George Rex Imperator”. Ribbon delivery to the War Office, now known as the Ministry of Defence (MoD), would commence 10 to 14 days after 2nd March 1916. The Dalton Barton factory was bombed during the WWII Coventry blitz on the 15th November 1940. The factory was destroyed along with all its archives, hence we have no records whatsoever dating prior to the air raid – except these. It is noted in the letters from Buckingham Palace that the medals, produced by The Royal Mint, would take much longer to make. The King instructs that recipients of the award should receive the ribbon ahead of the medal – most likely because he knew that many were badly wounded and were unlikely to survive long enough to receive the medal itself. “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon” – Napoleon Bonaparte, July 1815.