Wren Despatch Riders

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Despatch Riders

The use of motorcycles by the armed forces began to come into use during World War One. Even though the Navy had relatively few land bases, it recognised that motorcyclists were a good means of maintaining contact with these bases.

Therefore one of the more exciting job categories open to members of the Women's Royal Naval Service was working as a despatch rider. These women had to take their share of the more difficult despatch jobs and were not sheltered due to being female. The Wrens often had to make journeys at night, on poor roads and using only acetylene lighting. However, the female riders proved themselves safe and reliable, and equal to their male counterparts.

Wren despatch rider, WWI
Wren despatch rider, WWI (RNM)

There was a necessity for Wren Despatch Riders again at the outbreak of World War Two. The first four Wren motorcyclists entered service in 1939, attached to the Intelligence Department.

The Wrens worked long hours, undertaking eight hour watches and journeys that were often tedious and hazardous.

Wren despatch riders, WWII
Wren despatch riders, WWII (RNM)

Missions could also be dangerous, such as collecting bombs or cases of live ammunition for delivery to London for subsequent evaluation.

Trips through London involved avoiding parked vehicles as well as obstructions from bomb damage. The slippery and uneven surfaces of docksides presented some of the greatest hazards of all, especially in poor weather conditions.

Wren despatch riders, WWII
Wren despatch riders, WWII (RNM)


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