HMCS Conestoga 1943-1945
This album of photographs belonged to the Commanding Officer of HMCS Conestoga, Lieutenant-Commander Isabel Macneill.

HMCS Conestoga was a training establishment in Galt (now Cambridge), Ontario for the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (aka 'WRENS') in World War II. It operated from 1943 to the end of 1945.

A mix of official photographs and personal snapshots, the images provide glimpses of Conestoga from a Commanding Officer's perspective. We see several shots of administrative staff, base facilities and "probies" (Probationary Wrens) engaged in various training activities.

New entries at Conestoga took a month-long basic training course, after which they moved on to other facilties for more specialized training. More than twenty trades were open to Wrens, most of them dealing with secretarial-type duties. After much lobbying, some Wrens were able to serve overseas, mostly in England.

When a Wren completed her basic training at Conestoga, she received a raise in pay from .90 to .95 cents per day.

The visits of two distinguished visitors are also recorded: LCdr Macneill's brother-in-law, LCdr Desmond "Debby" Piers, and Princess Alice, wife of then-Governor General the Earl of Athlone and Honourary Commandant of the Canadian Wrens.

Suggestions for further reading:

1) "Serving their Country: The Story of the Wrens, 1942-1946" by Emilie Anne Plows

2) "A Wren Remembers" by Doris Grierson Hope

3) GIRLS OF THE KING'S NAVY by Rosamond Greer (Sono Nis Press, 1983)

May 2010
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