Two members of the Women's Royal Naval Service cleaning depth charges during WW1 (Photo courtesy of National Museum of the Royal Navy)

'Women and the Royal Navy: Pioneers to Professionals' - Exhibition opening February 2017

Posted on on 16 January 2017
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The role of women in the British navy will be the focus for a centenary exhibition opening at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, in February.

100 years ago, the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS)  was founded to free up more men for active service at sea during the First World War.

'Wrens', as they were known, initially served in roles such as cooks, stewards, dispatch riders and telegraphists.

Similar women's services were also created for the British Army, and from 1918, the newly-created Royal Air Force, to which some 'Wrens' transferred.

The Royal Navy Museum's exhibition aims to trace women's stories from the age of sail to the founding of the WRNS in November 1917, and onwards to the Second World War, the Cold War and the present day.

In 1993, the WRNS was disbanded and women were integrated into the Royal Navy.


Exhibition curator Victoria Ingles said: "Historically the work of naval women was rarely recorded and often overlooked, yet thousands have actively contributed to worldwide naval operations over centuries.

"During this time women have undertaken a huge range of jobs and have often confounded expectations about what they could do and this exhibition seeks to bring some of these inspirational stories to attention.  

"We are also keen to highlight the everyday experience of naval women past and present and are encouraging visitors to contribute their own stories helping us to fully reflect the scale and significance of women’s work within the navy."

‘Women and the Royal Navy: Pioneers to Professionals' will open to the public at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, on 18 February 2017 

Information & images: NMRN

Posted by: CN Editorial Team