Veterans

WW2 Wren Given War Medals On 100th Birthday

The former Royal Navy Wren was awarded the medals she never claimed for her efforts throughout the Second World War.

A former Royal Navy Wren has been recognised for her wartime service with a surprise presentation on her 100th birthday.

Despite serving the Navy throughout the Second World War, Jacqueline Dyde, never claimed the medals she was due for her efforts.

It was only until granddaughter Caroline Meaby discovered the omission 75 years later, just a few weeks before her landmark birthday, that the wrong could be put right.

The Wrens, also known as WRNS, were the Women's Royal Naval Service, 

Royal Navy officer Commander Andy Swain brought the medals to surprise Jacqueline on her landmark birthday at her home in Essex.

Caroline explained how the war had shaped her grandmother's outlook on life and explained the hesitation in claiming her accolades.

"Grandmama always talked to me about the war," she said.

"She loved the travelling and it inspired a lifelong interest in visiting different countries and meeting new people.

"She is modest about her war service and never saw herself as a hero, especially as she lost family members in the conflict. But she did earn them, so has every right to claim them."

Caroline arranged for the medals – the Defence and War Medals – to be sent over and got in touch with Naval Regional Command in London to arrange for a serving sailor to present them to her grandmother.

British Wrens, the Women's Royal Naval Service or WRNS, tracking positions of ships CREDIT ALAMY
The Wrens were active during both World Wars and were integrated into the Royal Navy in 1993 (Picture: Alamy).

Speaking after the presentation, Jacqueline said she was "absolutely thrilled" to have received her medals.

Jacqueline had planned to train as a secretary but instead volunteered for the Women's Royal Naval Service at the age of 18 when the war broke out.

Weeks later she was serving aboard HMS Defiance in Plymouth Naval Base as an officers' steward.

There was little training beyond the helpful advice of a veteran Royal Marine: "If it moves, salute it, if it doesn't move, polish it."

She was bombed out of her billet – an old hotel near the dockyard gates – at the height of the Plymouth Blitz which cost her the roof over her head and all of her clothes at the time.

She was subsequently despatched to Egypt after being commissioned and re-trained in coding signals at HMS Cabbala, near Warrington.

"I loved Egypt," Jacqueline recalls. "I managed to visit the sphinx and pyramids and made lots of new friends.

"We spent a pleasant time swimming in the canal, going to dances (where we would be counted off and back on the truck like parcels) and visiting hospitals, which was rather shattering."

She was then shipped off to Ceylon, now modern-day Sri Lanka, to work at code and cipher school HMS Anderson.

After the war with Japan ended, Jacqueline returned to England and left the Wrens in 1946, and worked as a secretary in London.

Cover image: Commander Andy Swain presents Jacqueline with her medals on her 100th birthday (Picture: Royal Navy).