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2WW WRCNS Photo Album

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    2WW WRCNS Photo Album

    Has not been much going on in the RCN section for the past couple months, so I will try to rectify that situation as soon as I have the time, I have been kind of occupied of late what with 5 grandchildren this hectic time of year & my latest Museum visit topics on the go, but however....

    I recently was fortunate enough to acquire a superb 2WW WRCNS Photo Album, & would love to show it here as the photos are spectacular & best of all, all captioned.... she was an early WRCN entrant Jan 1943.....


    WRCNS Photo Album

    Great photos, nice catch!



      Thanks Ed, I am really pleased with the album, its really nice & as I wanted it I really had to fight for it! She has done a really superb job of layout & captioning.

      I will post more photos & some explanation later after Christmas, I have 2 grandchildren here now & 2 more coming!




        First off I think I might introduce the author of this beautiful WRCNS photo album.
        She is/was Lieut(WRCNS) Joan Gilchrist. As I mentioned in my first post she was an early entrant into the WRCNS, entering on Jan 7, 1943 with ON W- 301Numbering in the WRCNS for 2WW commenced at W-1, so Joan was the 301st girl to enter. All girls entered as Probationary Wrens at .90 cents per day.

        A little background on the WRCNS in 2WW -- WRCNS were officially formed on 29 August 1942. They were not an auxiliary or reserve service, they were part of the RCN & subject to KR & AI. The main idea was for WRCNS to be trained in trades that would release shore based RCN & RCNVR ratings for sea service. The girls were to be assigned trades such as Clerks, Stenographers, Pay Writers, Postal Clerks, Cooks, Stewards, Teletype & Telephone Operators, Signals, Radio & Coders, Cooks, Stewards, Motor Transport Operators. This list would expand considerably during 1943.
        Entry requirements were quite strict for the time – a girl had to be between ages 18 & 45, Grade 10 education preferred, physically/mentally fit, & unmarried. Candidates for Commission had to have a Grade 12 education.

        Recruiting began immediately & the first class of WRCNS commenced their basic training at Kingsmill House in Ottawa, graduating 67 WRCNS on 1 October. From this first group 22 of the Wrens were subsequently commissioned.

        The next group of 70 Wrens trained at Galt, Ontario, which was commissioned as the basic training centre for the WRCNS. Initially named HMCS Bytown II, it was later renamed HMCS Conestoga. It was this establishment that Joan Gilchrist rec’d her basic training.
        Basic training at that time consisted of a three week course consisting of physical training, parade ground drill, naval customs etc. No trades training took place at Conestoga, after graduation Wrens were drafted to shore establishments to receive trades & ‘on the job’ training.
        Upon graduation a Probationary Wren became a Wren & her pay was raised to .95 cents per day!

        HMCS Conestoga "Drake" building:

        Joan's training took place during the Canadian winter!

        Some of Joan's classmates in front of Drake building:


          WRCNS Photo album

          Some of the winter 1943 photos taken at Galt:

          Nelson block:

          & during Joan's first leave period after basic training in March '43:

          Last edited by RCN; 10-01-17, 07:23 PM.


            WRCNS photo album

            WRNS Superintendent Carpenter, loaned to the RCN in mid 1942 to head up the formation of the WRCNS:

            Chief Officer Samuels was also loaned by the WRNS to assist in the formation & training of the early classes of WRCNS, in this photo she was Officer In Command of HMCS Conestoga at Galt Ontario:

            2nd Officer Isabel MacNeill - she was in the first class of WRCNS trained at Kingsmill House in Ottawa, subsequently commissioned, she was Training Officer at HMCS Conestoga. Joan Gilchrist here refers to her rank as Lieut Commander, in fact at this time(Mar'43) she would still have been a 2nd Officer. The WRCNS adopted the RCN ranks in June 1943.


              WRCNS Photo Album

              Joan Gilchrist completed her Basic Training on Jan 21, 1943 & was immediately drafted for a WRCN Pay Writer's course at Holwood House [attached to HMCS York]in Toronto:

              First group at Holwood house, Joan is centre back row:

              First Pay Writer Class at Holwood House, Joan is back row right (tallest in that row):


                WRCNS Photo album

                Joan(back row third from left) & some of her classmates were berthed in Bldg 4, Holwood House:

                Poor focus in this photo, Joan is sitting on the bed, her head down reading something:


                  WRCNS Photo album:

                  Instructors for the Pay Writer course at Holwood House. 3rd officer Marion Kerr was in the first class of WCRNS at Kingsmill House in Ottawa. She was subsequently commissioned.


                    WRCNS Photo album:

                    Captain Isherwood inspecting the WRCNS & facilities at HMCS Conestoga, the WRCN training establishment in Galt, Ontario 1942-1945.
                    She is centre of photo wearing the blue summer uniform.

                    Chief Officer Dorothy Isherwood was one of the first WRNS Officers to be attached to the RCN for the formation & training of the newly formed WRCNS in Aug 1942. In March 1943 she was appointed Director of the WRCNS. She was advanced at that time to Superintendent WRNS which equated to the RCN rank of Captain. In this photo Joan has captioned her as Captain as the WRCNS were in the process of changing over to RCN ranks which took place formally in June 1943.


                      Superbe ... !
                      Alco ............................................o|--}


                        2WW WRCNS Photo Album

                        Fantastic photo album and wonderful pictures!

                        Discovered an amazing, but sad, fact the other day. There are apparently only about 60 wartime Wrens left alive - and thats not just from the WRNS in the UK. That's the total for ALL the Commonwealth navies!

                        So sad to think that all those wonderful ladies, regardless of which navy they served in, will soon be gone.



                          One of them is my former Mother-in-Law, her 21st birthday was ..... 6th June 1944! She was bobbing about on a launch in Portsmouth Harbour trying to fix a radio and wondering where all those warships and soldiers were going !!


                            Thanks mates, appreciate your comments!
                            Have more photos to add, finding the time is the difficult part.

                            Nice to see you back alco , & hope you are well!



                              2WW WRCNS Photo Album

                              Another portrait photo from Joan Gilchrist's album of Commander Isherwood, who was appointed Director of WRCNS 1March 1943.