Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS)
Commander Adelaide Sinclair.jpg
Commander Adelaide Sinclair was Director of the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service in 1944
DisbandedAugust 1946
February 1968
Country Canada
Allegiance Canada
BranchCanadian Blue Ensign (1921-1957).svg Royal Canadian Navy
RoleOperational support, Various duties
MarchThe Wren's March

The Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS or "Wrens") was an element of the Royal Canadian Navy that was active during the Second World War and post-war as part of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve until unification in 1968.[1] The WRCNS was in operation from October 1942 to August 1946.


The WRCNS was modelled on the Women's Royal Naval Service, which had been active during the First World War and then revived in 1939. The Royal Canadian Navy was slow to create a women's service, only establishing the WRCNS in July 1942, nearly a year after the Canadian Women's Army Corps and the Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Division.[2] By the end of the war however nearly 7,000 women had served with the WRCNS in 39 trades.[3]

The ByTown II, later renamed HMCS Conestoga ("The Stone Frigate"), was the WRCNS training centre in Galt, Ontario, and became the first female-commanded Canadian commissioned "ship" in June 1943 when Lieutenant Commander Isabel Macneill was appointed commanding officer.[4] That September Commander Adelaide Sinclair became the first Canadian Director of the WRCNS, a position she held until disbandment.[5]

The WRCNS was disbanded in July 1946, but revived as part of the Naval Reserve at the beginning of the Korean War. It was disbanded a second time in 1968 when the Royal Canadian Navy as a whole was folded into the unified Canadian Forces.[1]

A Historic Sites and Monuments' board of Canada plaque in Halifax describes the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service:

Women's service in the military during the Second World War challenge the tradition of all-male armed forces. Between 1942 and 1946 close to 7000 volunteers enlisted in the WRCNS and served in 26 non-combatant occupations in Canadian naval bases at home or abroad. By late 1943, nearly 1000 Wrens worked in the Halifax area and lived in HMCS Stadacona, within sight of this spot. The WRCNS made an outstanding contribution to Allied victory, paved the way for future generations of Canadian service women and raised questions about the equality of women in the civilian world.


NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Canada No equivalent WRNS Director Rank Slide.jpg N/A WRNS Superintendent Rank Slide.jpg WRNS Chief Officer Rank Slide.jpg WRNS First Officer Rank Slide.jpg WRNS Second Officer Rank Slide.jpg WRNS Third Officer Rank Slide.jpg WRNS Third Officer Rank Slide.jpg No equivalent
Acting Sub-Lieutenant
Sous-lieutenant intérimaire
NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Canada Canada N/A N/A N/A N/A No equivalent
N/A N/A N/A N/A No equivalent N/A N/A N/A
Chief Petty Officer 1st class
Premier maître de 1re classe
Chief Petty Officer 2nd class
Premier maître de 2e classe
Petty Officer 1st class
Maître de 1re classe
Petty Officer 2nd class
Maître de 2e classe
Leading Seaman
Matelot de 1re classe
Able Seaman
Matelot de 2e classe
Ordinary Seaman
Matelot de 3e classe


One of the departments was in charge of teaching ASW tactics to the captains of the vessels escorting convoys across the Atlantic. Carol Duffus (née Hendry), explained in an interview how the wargame was facilitated and debriefed by the training commander.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/womens_royal_canadian_naval_service_wrcns.html
  2. ^ "WRCNS". Archived from the original on 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
  3. ^ Government of Canada, Department of National Defence; Government of Canada, National Defence. "Serving Their Country: the Story of the Wrens, 1942-1946". www.journal.forces.gc.ca.
  4. ^ Library and Archives Canada Sheetmusic from Canada's past AMICUS No. 22123872
  5. ^ WRCNS at CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum Retrieved December 10, 2013
  6. ^ "Veteran Stories: Carol Elizabeth Duffus (née Hendry)". The Memory Project. 2018. Retrieved 2018-06-18.

External links[edit]