Wren Petty Officer’s Badges

Last year we looked at a wartime Petty Officer’s badge in red thread here. That example was for a male PO in working dress and recently I have been lucky enough to pick up an example of the same badge, but in blue:imageThe blue colour indicates that the badge was for a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, whilst the king’s crown indicates that this is a badge from the Second World War. The badge has clearly been worn on a uniform at some point, but it still retains the paper backing to protect the rear of the stitching:imageIn the same purchase of the petty officer’s badge, this trade badge of an ‘S’ inside a star was included:imageThis is a Wren’s trade badge for the supply branch and many Wrens were drafted into this branch to manage the navy’s stores in warehouses ashore, freeing up men for service aboard ship. It is likely that this pair of badges has been together since the war. Again this patch has been worn, but retains its backing:imageOne Wren Petty Officer describes some of her duties in wartime:

In April 1942 I joined the WRNS and was sent to Alton where we had a 6-month course at a place called Surbiton Towers. We learned morse code and had to read it at 25 words a minute, four-letter code. We had to pass at over 90% before we were allowed to be considered competent and sent to a wireless station.

I was sent to Scarborough with a number of other Wrens. It was a new underground station and we worked shifts 8 — 1, 1 — 11 and 11 — 8. I remember one time when all the lights fell down and as we were underground, we were in the pitch black. However, up there, we didn’t really come into contact with the War as there was no bombing etc…

Then I went to a holding depot in Rochester and was sent to Greenwich Royal Naval College where I was a writer keeping records etc. From there I was sent to Chelsea Embankment and as I was a writer, I got interested in running the WRNS quarters. I became Petty Officer Quarters Assistant. I loved that — it was a very interesting job. I went to Parkstone Gardens, Chelsea. I had to see that they had their meals which was a very busy job. I think we had about a shilling a day for each Wren — of course, a shilling would buy quite a lot then but you still had to make sure that nothing was wasted. I also had to see that the quarters were clean and well run.

When we were in London with the bombing, we really sort of treated it as routine. We had wire netting on the windows. On the siren sounding, we had to go to the basement. Quarters were almost empty during the day as staff were out on duty. When I was in charge of the register at Chelsea, they were allowed to go and sleep elsewhere as long as they were registered and it was considered better to disperse them so as to avoid the problems of direct hits. If they were able to go home or to someone they knew that was all right. I went home of an evening and I think that was reassuring for my Mother

Here we see Wren Constance Hale with the petty officer’s badge clearly visible on her sleeve:PearnConstanceWRNSPettyOfficerHMSPhilante

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