On my recent visit to my father I got to talking to him about his mother, my grandmother, and her service in both of the World Wars.
What I gathered from his recollection of her was that in WWII she had been a Leading Petty Officer Wren (WRNS) stationed at Devonport while he was a teen-aged schoolboy. She was living in a flat off the Hoe until the blast from a bomb in one of the raids on Plymouth forced her to find a safer flat on the fringe of Dartmoor. Moving to an ex-nursing home within fifty yards of the Railway station at Bickleigh, with a line into Plymouth, she saw service with the Women’s Royal Naval Service throughout the conflict.
It also transpires that in the First World War, as well, she had served in the dockyard before her marriage to my grandfather in 1918. This opened up my mind to the possibility of doing some research into her time in Devenport.
With this information about her First World War service I was fascinated to find that The National Archives (TNA) have an on-demand webinar (first put online in 2015) that can help researchers understand what records survive at TNA for women who served in the First World War.
Take a look here:
While not all the records survive from WWI it is worth a look to see if your ancestor’s records are there.
Second World War records, however, are more difficult as they still remain with the Ministry of Defence. More on this subject in another post.