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“We Were Proud of What We Did” – A Wren’s Reflections of Serving in a Port Town, 1939-1945

Analysis of Grace’s narrative reveals a number of striking features about her period of service in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) at Lee-on-Solent. She felt part of a clearly identifiable group, her uniform distinguished her from the other services and civilians and she felt proud of her part in the war effort. Grace therefore […]

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Sailors and the ‘Invented Traditions’: the views of sailors upon the launching of warships and pageantry in the Royal Navy

During the nineteenth century pageantry became an increasingly important, ritualized facet of the Royal Navy and altered its relationship with the public.[1] Fleet Reviews no longer represented a true ‘inspection’ of the ship by the monarch but were a carefully choreographed spectacle designed to be witnessed by the public.[2] Similarly ship launches moved beyond the […]

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News from the Cape: celebrating the exploits of naval brigades amongst the local community

The Boer War marked the first time that Britain utilized citizen-soldiers to support its regular forces in combat.[1] It has been argued that this led to an increased sense of pride both on national and local levels.[2] This article seeks to explore the often overlooked involvement of the Naval Brigades, who played a vital supporting role […]

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Coastal Approaches to Sailors and Sailortowns

Historiographical debates surrounding sailors and sailortowns, has often focussed heavily on Atlantic contexts and seldom have they been considered beyond this, with sailors and sailortowns often viewed as ‘separate’ to land.[1] However, new research has highlighted the extent to which sailors and sailortowns were as much a part of urban settings as they were maritime […]

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