Vera Laughton Mathews

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Dame Elvira Sibyl Marie Mathews, DBE (née Laughton; born 1888, Hammersmith, London — died 1959, Ashley Gardens, London) was one of the first officers of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and served from just after the inception of the WRNS in 1918 until it was disbanded in late 1919.


She held the rank of Principal Officer (equivalent to a Royal Navy Lieutenant-Commander) and was initially the Unit Officer of the WRNS Training Depot at The Crystal Palace in south London; the Depot was wound up immediately after the Armistice was signed in November 1918 as recruitment had ceased and she went on to serve in various posts on the east coast of Britain until demobilisation. She later served as Director of the re-founded Women's Royal Naval Service from 11 April 1939 until November 1946.


She was the elder daughter of Sir John Knox Laughton (1830–1915), Royal Navy, and María Josefa de Alberti of Cadiz, Spain. She had three brothers and one sister.


Vera Laughton was married to Gordon Mathews from 10 June 1924 until his death in 1943; they had two sons and one daughter.


Mathews attended convent schools in the United Kingdom and Belgium. Later, she attended King's College London.


  • Sub-editor, Suffragette & Ladies' Field.
  • Editor, Time and Tide.


  • Girl Guide Commissioner
  • Skipper of Sea Rangers
  • Chairman, St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance
  • Chairman, Domestic Coal Consumers' Council (1947–1950)
  • President, National Smoke Abatement Society (1949–1951)
  • Member of the South-Eastern Gas Board (SEGAS) (1949–1959)
  • Adviser on Women's Affairs to the Gas Council
  • Life President, Association of Wrens
  • President, St. Joan's International Social and Political Alliance
  • Chair of the Status of Women Committee, St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance
  • President, Mermaid Swimming Club
  • Member, Council Girl Guides Association


Blue Tapestry, published by Hollis & Carter in London, 1948

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