University of Oxford
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Women's Royal Navy Service Member Stationed in Malta

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:37 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

The contributor shared that her mother had joined the Women's Royal Navy Service (WRNS) at the beginning of the Second World War. In 1944, she was sent to Malta in the first group of the WRNS. The contributor's mother worked in stores in Malta and witnessed significant devastation, and she was discharged in 1946 after returning from Malta.

The contributor advised that her mother was brought up in London and could not go to university or become a teacher due to a heart murmur. Prior to signing up with the WRNS, the contributor's mother worked as a housekeeper and cook. While in Malta, the contributor's mother was able to travel and mingle with the locals; she also saw Winston Churchill in Malta. The contributor explained that all WRNS members lived in a hotel while in Malta. While in Malta, the contributor's mother put on concerts and participated in local concerts. She travelled by boat to Sicily during this time, as well.

The contributor's mother returned to England in December 1945. She had become pregnant with her daughter, the contributor, whose father was the captain of the boat between Malta and Sicily. The two married, although they never settled together. The contributor shared that her mother felt positively about her wartime experience, as it was a significant adventure for her, and she spoke of it often. The contributor shared that her mother was interviewed in the war rooms before being sent to Malta and, although soldiers had stopped in Malta to be replenished, she did not know much information about the war while stationed there. The contributor noted that her mother was born 13 June, 1915, and she remembered the end of the First World War. The contributor highlighted that her mother's time in the WRNS was the biggest adventure of her life.


Item list and details

1. Women's Royal Naval Service documents. 2. The Wrens book 1917-77 with quote from Joan Lilley on page 112. 3. Wrens photos. 4. Concert tickets. 5. Return ticket by air. 6. Small cards. 7. Maltese lace. 8. Tourist map of Sicily. 9. Sicilian wood working souvenirs. 10. Malta book end.

Person the story/items relate to

Joan Lilley

Person who shared the story/items


Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Joan Lilley was the contributor's mother.

Type of submission

Shared at West Berkshire Museum, Newbury on 17 January 2024.

Record ID

116024 | NEW008