Vera Laughton Mathews

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Dame Elvira Sibyl Marie Mathews, DBE (née Laughton; 25 September 1888 — 25 September 1959)[1] 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 and served as Director of the re-founded WRNS from 1939 until 1946. She was born in Hammersmith, London and died in Ashley Gardens, London.


In 1918 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.

Personal life[edit]

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


Mathews was educated at the Convent of St. Andrew in Streatham, and Tournai, in Belgium.[1] Later, she attended King's College London.[citation needed]


  • 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


  1. ^ a b "Dame V. Laughton Mathews". The Times. London, England. 28 September 1959. p. 12. Retrieved 2014-08-05 – via The Times Digital Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 

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