Womens Royal Naval Service motorcycle despatch riders 1941 – but WHO are these women?

Richard Maddox

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THE PICTURE ABOVE is one of a series featuring WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service – often known as Wrens) despatch riders made by Lieutenant H W Tomlin, Royal Navy.

Given that the location appears to be the same and the women are shown in both foul-weather and dry gear it would appear that these images were destined for publicity material.

The captions all state that many of the women were ‘well known competition riders‘.

But who were they?

There are no clues in the captions and the only possible one concerns the hatless rider in the main image.

She appears in all but one of the other images, usually riding bike RN 6914/SHX 129. Her document bag seems to have the name ‘Sheleey‘ on the strap. 

If you have any relevant information on the identities of these women please contact us.

Image details:

Main image
https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205137176
IWM catalogue reference: A 2828. Retrieved 23 January 2020

Far left image
https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205137178
IWM catalogue reference: A 2830. Retrieved 23 January 2020

Mid-left image
https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185225
IWM catalogue reference: A2832. Retrieved 23 January 2020

Mid-right image
https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205137179
IWM catalogue reference: A 2831. Retrieved 23 January 2020

Far right image
https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205137177
IWM catalogue reference: A 2829. Retrieved 23 January 2020