- Anne Glyn-Jones
The author passed up an Oxford place to do her bit in 1940. Post-war she did go up, read PPE, and added to her wartime achievements, becoming, by turns, an actress, researcher, and published author. While only just released, the genesis of the present account was a text of life as a Wren refused publication by the Admiralty shortly after the war. This was revised from 2009 onwards with additional material relating to what used to be secret matters. Sadly, the author passed away aged 94 shortly after this important book came out.
Joining the WRNS straight from the seclusion of a girls' boarding school, Ann was plunged head first into the bewildering environment of the Navy, becoming a telegraphist specially selected to listen for and record enemy transmissions which were fed back, still enciphered, to Bletchley Park, first in Scarborough and then in Gibraltar where there were two hundred men to every woman. At the bottom of everyone's priority pile, invisible to the Admiralty machine, she and her fellows were ill-served by their officers who of course had also come straight in off the street. None of cockroaches, rats, bedbugs, poor food, low pay, inadequate accommodation and, in Gibraltar, very restricted leave deterred these girls from doing their job. On the Rock Anne lost a pound a week in weight and returned home exhausted to discover doodle-bugs, a chaotic drafting system, and mastered Japanese Morse just before that knowledge was not needed any more.
All of this is recounted, including encounters with other of the human flotsam of war and the farce that always bubbles to the surface of naval life, with rich sardonic humour - often I had to stop reading because I was too busy laughing.