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The Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) was formed in April 1941. Fourteen Women's Emergency Signalling Corps (WESC) girls and Florence Violet McKenzie (nee Wallace) who was affectionately known as "Mrs Mac", left Sydney on 25 April 1941 headed for Canberra. The RAN required only 12 telegraphists for the W/T Station so two of the girls volunteered to work as cooks or general service personnel. A second intake of girls occurred on 2 June 1941.

The Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) was granted the title "Royal" by King George VI and was the only women's service to have the word "Royal" in its title.

The initial WRANS Director who was appointed proved unsuitable and resigned after a short period of time. Sheila McClemans was then appointed as Director of the WRANS.

The Royal Australian Navy was a bit slow off the mark to introduce officers into the WRANS. It was not until late 1942 that the RAN decided to establish an Officers Training Course. This was last women's service to introduce officers into its ranks.

WRANS worked as:-

3,122 women eventually enlisted in the WRANS and by the end of WWII the WRANS had an establishment of more than 2,600 women in its ranks which comprised 10% of the total naval establishment.

The first intake of WRANS at HMAS Moreton at Alice Street in Brisbane was in November 1942. There was initially no accommodation for the WRANS at HMAS Moreton. The local girls lived at home and the country recruits lived at various places such as the YWCA Hostel and Kinnaird House near the Story Bridge.

Florence McKenzie was never given any rank in the Royal Australian Navy. She was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1950. She was Patron of the ex-WRANS Association.



Ships Belles - The Story of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service in War and Peace 1941 - 1985
by Shirley Fenton Huie


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This page first produced 18 January 2009

This page last updated 19 February 2016