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15 October 2014
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Joining the Wrens

by BBC Scotland

Contributed by 
BBC Scotland
People in story: 
Muriel Mutch
Location of story: 
Ireland,Aberdeen
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A4004227
Contributed on: 
04 May 2005

"This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Alyssa Popiel on behalf of Muriel Mutch and has been added to the site with his / her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions."

I joined the Wrens for adventure and to also get away from Mum’s apron strings. I wanted to join the Wrens as a driver, as I had experience of driving my Dad’s van. We were sent for two months down to London for training, where we were based at New College, Finchley.

Training involved lots of different aspects including how to scrub a floor properly. At Finchley, we also learned to do what we were told! Most of my training involved learning to drive a 3/5 tonne Commer truck . I remember that our instructor was so impressed with my reversing skills, that he would always get me to demonstrate to the other girls on how to do it properly.

After our training in London we were sent to the Fleet Air Arm base named HMS Gannet at Eglinton in Ireland. I remember our first week at the base, we had to stay in huts which had been condemned by the RAF, we were so scared because they were infested with water rats, we had to sleep with our heads under the blankets. They sent us to better accommodation, after we complained.

At the base it was my job to drive all kinds of vehicles and deliver ammunition to other bases. The only vehicles that girls were not allowed to drive were articulated lorries. I had a whale of a time at the base, I really enjoyed my time working there. I joined when I was twenty years old. A Lieutenant who worked at the base and had been torpedoed near Aberdeen dring World War I would tell everyone that folk from Aberdeen were the most wonderful people, so he never gave me any trouble.

We would get leave now and again from the bases. I remember when I once got leave back to Aberdeen I caused such a stir when I brought back bananas, one boy even asked “what do I do with it?”

After Ireland I was posted to Abbots Inch air base, now Glasgow airport. Working in shifts, the women carried out lots of different jobs including signalling, cooking, driving, and cleaning. If you were working at the base, it was possible to get a late pass, this allowed you to stay out till 11 O’clock. I remember when it was my 21st birthday I got a late pass when my Mum and Dad came down from Aberdeen to take me out for a meal.

After Glasgow I was cross-posted to Aberdeen. As there were no room to stay in the official digs, I volunteered to stay at my own house. My Mum and Dad always had an open house during the war. My Dad would go down onto Union Street to just find soldiers or officers who needed a place to stay for the night. You never knew who you would find sleeping on the sofa in the morning, our back door was never locked.

I remember one Hogmanay we had a full house, full of soldiers and Wrens. There were always lost of different kinds of soldiers in the house, including Canadians, Gordon Highlanders, RAF and RAF Regiment (There was a RAF station at Dyce). We always had enough food during the war, especially fish, which my Dad would barter for in his shop, he ran a furniture store in Torry called “ James Shivas”.

When we heard that the war had ended, we were not over the moon, we were just very glad that the war was over. After the war I went to work with my Father in his furniture business.

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