Christian Lamb


Redoubtable Wrens at war…their trials, tribulations and triumph

A wonderfully evocative illustrated memoir that gives the reader a rare account in close-up of what life was truly like for World War II Wrens, as they were catapulted into the drudgery and deprivation, mayhem and maelstrom, and the tribulations and triumphs of war. In 1939, the young Christian Lamb felt she had to ‘do her bit’ for the war effort. Her comfortable life was about to be turned upside down. With a Naval background, the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) was the obvious choice, besides it had by far the most attractive uniform – topped by the splendid tricorne hat. On joining as a lowly Wren rating she found that this crowning glory was not for her but strictly for officers only. It was to be the first of many nasty surprises. In I Only Joined For The Hat, the author wittily describes how class and snobbery had no place in a world of girls from all social backgrounds, suddenly plunged into life together. From scrubbing floors and squad drill to coding and catering, Christian peppers her pages with amusing observations. Here is her own story, starting on the bottom rung, progressing to becoming an officer in charge of the operations room plot that followed the desperate twists and turns of the Battle of the Atlantic – and eventually finding she was tracking her fiance’s destroyer as he battled with the deadly German U-boat wolf packs. Here, too, are many as yet untold stories from fellow Wrens and Naval officers which embellish Christian’s own extraordinary experiences.

Christian Lamb [writes]…with a mixture of humour and sensitivity in this evocative tribute to Britain’s wartime Wrens.
Colin Bradley, Western Morning News

Very jolly book of Wrens’ stories… What shines through this collection of memories and letters is the redoubtable spirit of these women, who braved all sorts of hardships with the greatest of good humour.
Navy News

Lamb is jolly and enthusiastic company; words such as ‘splendidly’ and ‘heavenly’ pepper the text. The stories reveal the extent of women’s involvement in the war…and are as a consequence a valuable reminder of the social complexity of the 1940s.
Jerome de Groot, Financial Times

The indomitable Christian Lamb has done it again… Anyone who had a relation in the Wrens during the war will find this intimate insight fascinating… The author herself comes across as an eminently sensible person with an acute perception of human nature, tempered with a wry wit.
Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Country Life

232 pages

ISBN: 978-1-903071-15-1. Category: .

Christian Lamb is a very spry nonogenarian. This is her second book – The first, From the Ends of the Earth (Bene Factum 2004), about plant collectors and the rare plants in her garden, achieved widespread publicity and acclaim. In addition, she has also written This Infant Adventure and Cruising Along. Christian lives in London and still travels widely. She lectures on plants and plant collectors and is a Fellow of the Linnaean Society.

Additional Information

Weight 500 g
Dimensions 234 x 156 x 25 mm


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