Jane Wilkinson 1 - To go to sea you have a steep learning curve
Jane joined the WRNS in 1975 as a Cinema Operator. When this branch was closed down she became a Training Support Assistant, working with visual aids, graphics and design. She became a Leading Regulator (Service Police) in 1977, when WRNS came under the Naval Discipline Act.
Jane volunteered to go to sea in 1990, when sea service first opened up to women. She joined HMS Invincible in November 1990, where she was responsible for the discipline, mail and customs offices.
In this clip Jane talks about going to sea for the first time.
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Extract Text (Duration01.27)
Obviously there were 80 girls joined within 10 days of each other. So men were wary of all the girls joining anyway. But for … I think probably saying the central figure wouldn't be too wrong of me to say it, the Master of Arms which is a fairly central figure, they didn't know how you would be. So they tended to just ignore you to begin with, I think, because a) they didn't know what to call you, they didn't know if it was Chief Wren Reg or Master at Arms or whatever. And so they tended to just … as if you weren't there. So to begin with it was quite difficult and I just decided that I'd get on and do my job, and obviously I was under pressure as a senior rate. To go to sea you have a steep learning curve. So I was trying to find my way around the ship, trying to learn all this. A lot of it was familiar to me but a lot of it was unfamiliar to me. And I quickly realised the style of regulating at sea is completely different to the style you need ashore, because ashore you go home at night, lock the door and that's it. Whereas on board you're living with them all the time and so I think you become a lot more flexible. You adopt a lot more of a common sense attitude. Whereas ashore things are often fairly black or fairly white, but at sea I think you have to put a lot of things aside, realise that people are under pressure, realise that everyone is away from their families.
To go to sea you have a steep learning curve
01.27 mins - mp3 File
We really were one ship’s company
0.53 mins - mp3 File
Never been to sea with Wrens before
0.46 mins - mp3 File
I still think of myself as a Wren
0.30 mins - mp3 File