In 1939 the first female students from the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), commonly known as ‘Wrens’, were admitted to the Royal Naval College. The first WRNS courses included Officer Training, Cipher and Administration.

WATCH: Duchess Of Kent Visits WRNS at the Royal Naval College

Over 8,000 WRNS were trained here during World War II, with expanded 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 on wartime service.

WRNS in the Painted Hall

After the war WRNS Officer Training courses continued, with additional courses such as the Royal Naval Staff Course becoming available. In 1976 WRNS Officers’ Training moved from the Royal Naval College to Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. In 1993 the service was disbanded and integrated fully into the Royal Navy.

In 2017 the Old Royal Naval College will host a special exhibition celebrating the centenary of the founding of the WRNS. If you would like to know more please join our mailing list.

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