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Douglas J Lindsay

Wren Jane Beacon

“Sixty years in the marine world and aged seventy-five seemed like a good time for me to give up my final few working maritime connections. I had been on Spinnaker’s books since its earliest days and in a way felt sad to terminate the link, but it became necessary to admit to the effects of anno dominii.  But that did not mean simply putting on my slippers and sitting by the fire.

Far from it: I had wanted to be a writer for years and had done my share of bits and pieces from poetry to technical reports, but now I had the time to write full-length works and an opportunity to write about a small corner of the massive mosaic that was World War Two. I knew there was a wonderful but little known tale, ripe to be reported on.  This was that the Navy’s small craft were largely crewed by Wrens from 1941 onwards, running the launches and cutters and survey vessels on which the Navy was reliant for its support.  These girls had a tough life, out in all weathers twenty-four hours a day all year round.  Knowing they were providing a critical service imbued a rugged professionalism and they became about the wildest and least regulated part of the whole structure of women’s services but largely were left alone because they were the ultimate self-starters and never let the service down.  The Navy was very surprised to discover that females were highly competent, hard-working sailors and could be relied upon.

When I started to write Wren Jane Beacon goes to War I knew about this history and decided that the novel form was the best way of encompassing a girl’s life experience of being in the Wrens and on the Navy’s boats through the war.  So Wren Jane Beacon joined the Wrens in October 1939 and became the Navy’s first pioneer experiment in girls working in the boats.  Against orders she took a cutter to Dunkirk and lifted over three thousand troops from the beaches. This and other serious breakings of the rules meant that she was frequently in hot water with the Naval authorities because she was a fiercely independent strong-mined young lady.  Her strife with authority is a continuous thread through the books, only her brilliance and bravery preventing them from throwing her out.

The first three books have been published on Amazon Kindle and KDP, the paperback version. In the fourth, being edited just now, Wren Jane is sent for an investigative trip on a freight-carrying narrow boat pair on the Grand Union Canal and has different revelations about humanity.  It should be published in September.  The books are all full of adventures on the water and in the Navy but also take a fairly thoughtful approach to women’s involvement in war.  Full details can be found on the website It is planned to be about a twelve-book series.”

Douglas J Lindsay

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