Navy 10K WRCNS medals presented to Nova Scotia Wrens
By Joanie Veitch,
Ten members of the Nova Scotia Wrens Association were presented with commemorative “finisher” medals, designed for the Navy 10K run, in honour of the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS).
Chief Petty Officer First Class (retired) JoAnn Cunningham, secretary of the NS Wren Association, received the commemorative medals from PSP Halifax to deliver to the Wrens at the group’s regular meeting at the Peregrine Club on October 5.
“You may not have run the 10K, but you deserve a medal,” she said, as she gave them out.
Most members of the association are what is known as “post-war Wrens” — regular force or naval reserve women who donned the naval uniform before the late 1980s when, after the signing of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Armed Forces began recruiting women into combat trades and units. All military occupations opened for women in 1989.
Prior to the meeting, PO1 (ret’d) Cunningham had mailed or delivered medals to three other “wartime Wrens”: Wren Mary (nee Adamson) Owen, Leading Wren Alison (nee Andrews) Yoshioka and Leading Wren Marjorie (nee Burns) Williams.
Mary Owen joined the WRCNS in June 1944, when she was 18 years old, and served until fall of 1945. She trained as a Wireless Telegraphist (Special Operator) at HMCS Ste. Hyacinthe, Quebec before she was posted to East Baccaro, NS, where she was a Loran operator. She lives in Perth, Ontario.
Alison Yoshioka was born in the Annapolis Valley and moved to Pictou, NS when she was 12 years old. She served from January 1944 to May 1946. During that time she was posted to HMCS Shelburne, and then to HMCS Niobe in Scotland. She met her husband in university after the war; together they travelled throughout Canada, and in Trinidad, doing missionary work and raising their family. She is now 101 years old and lives in Pictou.
Marjorie Williams joined the WRCNS in April 1943 and served until June 1946. She was with one of the first groups of Wrens to go overseas, where she worked at the Canadian Naval Mission Overseas (CNMO) in London. She was there during the Blitz and also witnessed VE Day celebrations in London. On September 21, Marjorie Williams died at the hospital, surrounded by her family.
Just a few weeks earlier, PO1 (ret’d) Cunningham visited Marjorie Williams at Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Hospital to bring her a program from the tea held on August 4 at Admiralty Garden at CFB Halifax, in celebration of the the 80th anniversary of the WRCNS, and to give her the WRCNS medal from the Navy 10K Run.“She celebrated her 100th birthday on May 26, and was recalling stories from her life during and after the war,” PO1 (ret’d) Cunningham said.