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The Wrens

Women join the Navy

In 1939 the first female students, the WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service)  were admitted to the Royal Naval College. The first WRNS courses included Officer training, Cipher and Administration.

The women, known as ‘Wrens’ were at first stationed in Queen Anne Court, opposite the Chapel, but during WWII they were moved to what is now Devonport House for their safety.

Over 8,000 Wrens trained here during World War II with roles including Radio Operators, Meteorologists and Bomb Markers.

Although few served at sea, their contribution to the war effort was significant. In 1944, at the service’s height, 74,000 women were involved in over 200 different jobs. 303 Wrens were killed in wartime service.

Watch the video to learn more about the experiences of Jane Salt, Commander of the Royal Navy and First Female Lieutenant of the Naval College (1965 – 1999), and Commandant Anthea Larken CBE WRNS (1956 – 1991).

Post-war service

After the war WRNS Officer Training courses continued, but in 1976 they relocated to Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. In 1993 the service was disbanded and integrated fully into the Royal Navy.