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3rd Officer W.R.N.S.

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Joyce was a brave women dedicated to the war effort and served with the Wrens for the entire duration of the 2nd World War and was officially discharged on 26th November 1945

Place and date of birth


Born and lived in Southend

Connection to Southend 



Joyce Palmer was born in Southend in 1920 and joined the W.R.N.S. on 13th December 1939 aged 19. She was to serve for the entire duration of the second world war and was officially discharged on 26th November 1945. During her time serving, she was a messenger, a typist and a writer (which was general office duties). She was awarded 4 war chevrons on 27th March 1944 and a good conduct badge on 13th December 1942. Her employment record showed her as a conscientious worker, steady and reliable.

Whilst working for H.M.S. Westcliff on the clifftops Joyce had to take messages weekly to the R.A.F. office which was situated at the pier head. Travelling on the pier train on which she was often the only passenger she delivered her messages and took back any orders for supplies or parts the R.A.F. needed.

The family story goes that one day after delivering her messages, she was asked by an R.A.F.Sergeant if she could do some typing for him. Her reply was in the manner of “Certainly not. Get one of your W.A.A.F.s to do it” and walked off to catch the train back. The R.A.F. officer, Sergeant Ernest Rawlinson (known as Paul) ran after her and asked her out on a date.

Unfortunately, their courtship was cut short as Sergeant Rawlinson (who was a member of the 952 squadron R.A.F. Balloon command which was involved in the barrage balloons protecting the pier and shipping in the estuary from bombing raids) was involved in the Dieppe raid in August 1942 and was captured. He became a P.O.W. and held in Stalag 8B prison camp.

After a few anxious months of not knowing whether Paul was alive, Joyce eventually heard from him and they corresponded as much as was possible during the war, sometimes going many weeks without any news. When the war ended and Paul eventually came home, they got married and were to live in Prittlewell for 62 years. One of Joyce’s memories of her time as a W.R.E.N. was running for cover when bombs were dropping in Southend High Street and The London Hotel was hit.

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