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Navy Disciplinary Practice in WW2

Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:43 pm

As a young single woman, my mother was conscripted in 1943 and elected to serve in the WRNS. I have obtained her service record from the Navy, which indicates that she served as a Wren (General Duties) at HMS Western Isles from November 1943 to February 1945. By a process of deduction it is plain that, whilst there, she fell pregnant and I arrived in November 1945. I grew up with an acute awareness that the circumstance of my birth was a subject never to be spoken about within the family; that was probably a not uncommon reaction in the moral climate of the time. I never ever felt able to raise the matter with my mother during her lifetime and, after she died, I discovered that even her sister, to whom she was extremely close, could not shed any light on the topic. The service record is rather brief, but in the rating and discharge column, dated 24 February 1945, is the word RUN. Further down the page is a notation “discharged deserted”. I know from a contemporary family photograph that she was on leave in early February 1945, when she would have realised that she was pregnant. I do not believe that she would simply have not returned; I am sure she would have informed her superiors about her condition. There is no indication on the record of any sanction being exacted for desertion, so I am hoping that there is a forum genie who understands the naval protocol of that time and can explain whether this was the Navy’s convenient way of dealing with the situation, that is by recording a form of censure – a desertion of duty with no further action apparently being taken - rather than just granting a dismissal or a free discharge.
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