Former Wren Kathleen remembers service on International Women’s Day

“INTELLIGENT and cheerful, proving to be a willing and accurate bomb range marker. A co-operative and loyal Wren.”

Those were the words used to describe Poole resident Kathleen, who has been remembering her time in the service on International Women’s Day (March 8).

Kathleen, who lives at the Elizabeth House care home, in Dolbery Road, joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (Wrens) at the age of 18 in June 1944.

She was given the role of a bomb range marker, which involved sitting in a ‘drogue hut’ monitoring targets and charting each drogue parachute as it was released from a plane.

“They said I had to be good with numbers for the job, but I said I wasn’t,” said Kathleen, now 98. “The reply was, ‘Oh well. You have common sense, so you’ll be good at it’.”

But she said despite perhaps being unqualified for the rle, she enjoyed her time in the Wrens.

“I loved it. We were all together and we did all of the rotten jobs together, whether that was carrying the coal or stoking the fire ready for the cook who we called ‘Cookie’ to make our breakfast,” she went on.

Elizabeth House resident Kathleen with a photo of herself aged 18 in her Wren uniform

Elizabeth House resident Kathleen with a photo of herself aged 18 in her Wren uniform

Kathleen left the Wrens in July 1946 where she was presented with her Wrens employment certificate.

From there, she met her husband, Peter, who flew in a Blenheim Bomber during the Second World War, and moved in with his grandmother in Upton, Poole.

They later welcomed their son Tim, and Kathleen went on to work in retail.

Elouise Powell, home manager at Elizabeth House, said: “Kathleen has some incredible stories to tell about her time in the Wrens and it is a joy to learn all about her life before she came to the care home.

“At Care South, we get to know every resident as an individual and they have all led such interesting and varied lives. Our aim is to ensure they continue to lead rich and fulfilling lives and continue to pursue their interests.”

Originally formed in 1917 during the First World War, the Wrens were disbanded in 1919, before being reformed in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War. The service was fully disbanded in 1993 when it became integrated into the Royal Navy.

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