Monday, 5 May 2014

Drawing WW2 Wrens at work: Gladys E Reed

Gladys E Reed has given the world some of the best images ever of life in the WRNS life. Her newly-acquired sketches, maianly of women personnel) are on display at the National Maritime Museum till 15 July.

The Museum says:
'She joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) in 1943. From February to July 1943 she was in the Woolwich class and trained at the coding school HMS Cabbala, a shore base near Warrington for wireless telegraph operators.

Between 1943 and 1944, Reed worked as a Wireless Telegraph Operator in the Liverpool and Birkenhead area, and was stationed at the shore base HMS Eaglet, Liverpool, the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Approaches.

In her off-watch time, Reed kept a sketch record of the work being done by the WRNS, mostly drawn in 5B pencil on cheap paper.

She apologetically wrote to the National Maritime Museum Director, Frank Carr:
‘I am afraid you will be more than a little shocked at the untidy state they are in.
'They were sketched under all sorts of conditions, have been carried wherever I have been stationed, and passed through many people's hands, so that since 1944 have become very grubby.
'I console myself with the thought that they may still reflect a little of that busy, happy atmosphere that did exist in the WRNS – especially in the “open air” categories'.

And the museum would love to to know something more about her. Can anyone help? Contact curator Melanie Vandenbrouck.

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