Archival photograph showing RH The Duchess of Kent inspecting Cadets of the WRNS Officers' Training Course in 1941

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.

World War II

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.

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.

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