More on discipline for WRNS


Tracking back on a link to this site, there was a discussion on naval discipline for women serving in the navy during the Second World War. Although there was some scepticism about whether women were subjected to corporal punishment or not, one of the contributors explained that WRNS were subject to a different code and regulations to the men and pointed out, as was previously discussed here, that until the 1950s women received the same treatment as boy cadets in training.

Another contributor also suggested that treatment for WRNS serving abroad was often harsher than for those with domestic postings.

Here is an account from someone called Gina K, who wrote about naval discipline for WRNS hs told to her by her grandmother.

My Grandmother used to tell me tales about when she was in the WRNS during WW2.

Gran joined the Wrens when she was just turned 18 and after a few months training in England was posted to Malta where she worked as a clerk/typist at a large base near Valetta. She said that once overseas the discipline was a lot stricter than in England. And that Wren ratings were subject to corporal punishment in the form of caning if they misbehaved.

The judge and jury for imposing such discipline was the commandant of Wrens on the base. Gran described her as being in her 40s and spoke with a very “posh” accent. She said though she was a fair woman but had a reputation for giving very short shrift to any Wrens who misbehaved. I suppose with over 200 hormonal young women in charge she needed to be firm. So she would frequently order a caning for any ratings who misbehaved if she thought it needed.

My Gran’s first experience of such naval discipline was soon after her arrival in Malta. She and three of her pals were not back to base before the time were supposed to be after being out one night. They were caught trying to sneak back on to the base through the fence.

Appearing before the commandant the following morning she ordered all four of them to be given six strokes of the cane on the seat of the knickers. The punishment was carried out nearly straight away. Gran and her three co-offenders who were all a similar age to her were taken to an adjacent gymnasium and had to change into their PT kit. Each in turn then had to bend over a vaulting horse and were given six strokes of the cane on the seat of their gym-knickers. The canings were administered by a Chief Wren (equivalent to Chief Petty Officer). Gran described her as being a very stout woman, quite masculine looking with a very sour face. She tanned their arses using a slim and whippy crook handled cane of the type normally used on the backsides of juvenile boys in the navy. Gran said it hurt worse than anything other than childbirth.

Gran and her mates had to get back to work soon after their punishments. Gran said she couldn’t sit down afterwards her bum was so sore. She had to stand at her desk for the rest of the day. This brought a few wry comments from the people she worked with and visitors to her office. It soon became common knowledge that she had recently been caned. She couldn’t sit comfortably for days and it was a few weeks before marks faded altogether.

Gran also told me of another caning she witnessed some time later. This was of three young Wrens who had been found guilty of stealing stuff from the stores where they worked and selling it on the black market. The commandant thought in this case an example needed to be made. The three were sentenced to a period of detention. But the commandant also ordered that they would be caned in front of the whole “Ships Company”.

All the Wren ratings on the base were assembled in the same gymnasium where Gran had been caned to witness the punishments of the three miscreants. There were two younger girls who were about 18/19 who were to get 10 strokes of the cane each and an older girl aged about 20 who was considered the ringleader was going to get 12 strokes.

Gran said punishments were carried out by the same Wren Chief Petty Officer who had caned her and her gang. She was also using a similar cane to one that she had felt on her own backside.

The three were marched into the gym under escort dressed in their PT kit. Each girl was then in turn was held bent over a gym horse. But unlike gran and her mates once over the horse these three had their navy gym-knickers pulled down! Their bottoms bared for all to see!

As Gran knew from her own painful experience that the sour-faced female CPO had a strong arm. She said her own behind tingled in sympathy as the whippy cane relentlessly did its job reddening the three bare behinds one after the other! Each girl raised as they got their arses tanned good and proper, naval fashion!

Gran said by the end of their punishments the trio were bawling as though they would never stop. All three were lined up handcuffed with their arms stretched up on gym’s wall-bars with their caned backsides on display for all to see as the rest of the Wrens filed out of the gym.

Gran said witnessing the canings and the sight of the three red-raw striped backsides they produced certainly had the intended deterrent effect on the rest of the young women.

More on this.

8 Responses to “More on discipline for WRNS”

  1. I know during World War 11, Queen Elizabeth, as a princess, served in the ATS. That is England’s {Army Training Service}, maybe she was subjected to such treatment also. Maybe we can ask Helen Mirren, it’s possible she may know. Of course Helen, has quite a bottom, as anyone can readily see.

  2. 2 O.H.M.

    Grandmas story raises some questions (thats not all it raised, by the way). I don’t know much about the military and I’m not English, but I find it rather hard to believe that adult women on a military base in the 1940’s and 50’s would be subject to corporal punishment. Although if nursing students and even young nurses were subject to a good old fashioned spanking even into the 1960’s (not to mention stories I’ve heard of dorm paddlings for college girls by the dorm mom as late as the 1980’s) I suppose its possible.
    And why was Grandma telling these stories in such detail? Could it be that she was consoling her dear grand daughter after a session with the cane of her own?
    Were Grandma and these other young women enlisted in the military or did they just work for the base?
    I’ve never had a session with the cane, although I’ve tried some self caning and apparently failed miserably. I was able to sit right after and the marks were gone within a day or two. I’m sure I didn’t swing as hard as the matron though. From this description and descriptions I’ve seen elsewhere, the cane must be a terrible instrument of torture (not into torture, but 12 strokes certainly is certainly a torture I enjoy viewing).
    Grandma mentioned ‘her first’ such session with the cane. Are we to presume that there were more? I, for one, would love to hear about them.

    • 3 DJ

      Hi O

      Well if you follow the link at the bottom there are some British press reports from the period. I was given to understand that women were not subject to the same naval discipline as men being exempt from Kings Regs and were in fact treated as boys for the purposes of discipline – cadets could still be caned apparently.

      As for what happened next I don’t know its not my story, but glad you liked it.


  3. 4 joe

    yes navel girls were caned and still are though not meant to be they given the choice of be caned or be charged most take the cane


    • Thank you Joe for enlightning us, that WREN’s are still caned. And rightfully so. If they err, the commandent in charge of these naughty military women, has every right to take down their knickers, and apply ‘six or more of the very best’, with a cane upon their naked rear ends.

  4. 6 joe cross

    yes my sister served in the Australia navy and on 3 occasion’s was offered the choice of the cane or a charge she took the cane as did most others

    • 7 DJ

      Thanks Joe,

      when was this? If we can ask?

      The most recent I have heard of is an unconfirmed report from the early 1970s – on the fully clothed bottom.

      Three seperate occasions does sound rather routine – was this a big deal? Or just something she shrugged off?

      Thanks again.


  5. hi dj no i dont think it was a big deal just a easy way out of strife and yes it was given across her skirt

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