36 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5JN   T: 020 7930 9721    E:club@armynavyclub.co.uk Member Login

Member Login

The Rag

Celebrating the Centenary of the formation of the Women's Royal Naval Service and the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps

12th October 2017

The Patron of the Army & Navy Club arriving for the Reception The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in the Wellington Room

The Patron of the Army & Navy Club, HM The Queen, and HRH The Princess Royal attended a Reception at the Army & Navy Club which celebrated the Centenary of the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service and the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

The Queen was greeted by the Club Chairman, Colonel Ian Paterson OBE TD and Senior Trustee of the Army & Navy Club, Major General Michael Shellard CBE on arrival.

In the Library, the Queen and the Princess Royal were met by Commander Rosie Wilson, Chairman of the WRNS100 Project Group and Colonel Alison K Brown, Vice-President of the WRAC Association. The Queen and Princess Anne were then introduced to several serving officers as well as veterans who joined the ATS in 1941 and worked at Bletchley Park until VE Day during the 45-minute engagement.

In the Wellington Room, the Queen viewed a photographic display which showed the progression of women serving in the Army from 1917 to the current day. The images have been chosen to reflect the changing roles and the widening of opportunities for women over the last 100 years. Her Majesty met three members of the ATS in which Her Majesty also served during World War 2 - Barbara Danter, who worked in the Army Post Office, Joan de Val who served in Anti-Aircraft (Ack Ack) Batterys and finally, Betty Webb MBE who was stationed at Bletchley Park from 1940 to 1945 and then went on to serve at the Pentagon in Washington. A total of 37 Members of the WRAC Association were present. 

The Queen became the first female member of the Royal Family to join the Armed Services as a full-time active member when she became a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1945. The ATS is now incorporated by the WRAC, of which she is patron.

In the Nelson Room, the display of the Women’s Royal Naval Service showed the formation and history of the WRNS and the role of women in the Royal Navy today. It also celebrated the valuable work still done by the WRNS Benevolent Trust and the Association of Wrens. A cross section of veterans from all generations attended. Among them was Joan Berfield, a wartime WREN coder and a sprightly 95 years of age. Serving members of the Royal Navy included Chief Air Engineering Officer Sandra Parkinson.  

Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, is Patron and supporter of the WRNS Benevolent Trust, Patron of the Association of Wrens and is also the Patron of the WRNS100 Project. She is Admiral and Chief Commandant for Women in the Royal Navy.

The Queen and Princess Anne signed the Club’s visitor’s book in the Front Hall before departing. 

The Women’s Royal Naval Service in the Nelson Room

« Back to News