The Wrens.

The Wrens.

I joined The Wrens in 1957. This wasn’t all that easy for a working class girl in those days, although this was more an attitude of mind than The Navy itself. The Navy never made me feel working class. Although I did have a vaguely upper class accent, learned during my three years in a very nice children’s home, and not quite forgotten. But once in, my accent rapidly improved again. After all, most of them were genuinely upper class. You live it, you speak it.

But the glory was that I was accepted as an Air Mechanic. The powers that were at Queen Anne’s Mansions at the time, tried to talk me into being a cook or a steward. Well, I hadn’t passed my Scholarship, nor had anything else to recommend me, so I suppose this wasn’t surprising. But I knew what I wanted to be. And I did pass whatever odd intelligence test they set me. I have never really understood Intelligence Tests because they all seem like basic common sense to me, but perhaps that is the trick.

I still remember the hope and desperation, and finally the letter of acceptance. My family weren’t wild about the idea, less than, in fact. An Air Mechanic? What latest insanity is this? So I went on my way without much of a blessing. “Do feel free to come home if you get pregnant” was the parting shot. Pregnant? I didn’t even know how in those days. No one had ever told me. However, I did somehow manage to avoid that. Mainly due to The Chief Wren who definitely knew what that was all about. And no one was impregnating her girls unless over her dead body. She frequently patrolled the main deck at night to see what we were up to. And she knew every hiding place.

But I learned how to mend aeroplanes. Actually it was mostly servicing and changing parts, but that isn’t rocket science either. Although it carries great responsibly. People could die if you don’t pay attention.
But I did have the advantage of being a bit little, all the easier to get into small places. Aircraft designers have obviously never had to work on one. Aeroplanes would be so much bigger if they had.

But oh, what fun it was. This was entirely me, standing on a mainplane with a fuel nozzle in my hand, pumping fuel into a Jet that was soon to take off and leave the earth. Only being a pilot could have been better. But that wasn’t allowed in those days.

I think it might have been something to do with my Italian Grandmother. The Italians are always the best mechanics, and it was everything I ever wanted. The only thing I ever truly wanted to be.

I have done a lot of things since then in the process of earning money. Most of them pretty awful. But I learned that I could do anything in June 1957.

Wren Mitchell. 115051

3 Responses to “The Wrens.”

  1. thelastfurlong Says:

    I’m awed – truly.

  2. elenamitchell Says:

    So am I still, a bit. One never quite grows out of preconceived ideas.

  3. Clicky Says:

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