Fleet Chief Wren (QA) Sheila Jean Snowley
Sheila Snowley was born in Norwich in April 1929 and was brought up in March, Cambridgeshire until she left school at the age of 13. During the war she worked at Lowestoft hospital and on VE Day, at the age of 16, danced with her friends in the streets of Lowestoft. In 1954 at the age of 25, while working at a boys school Sheila noticed an advertisement in the Telegraph saying “Join the WRNS” and to her good fortune, her life changed forever and went on to join up in January 1955.
After completing training as an Officers Steward at HMS Dauntless and a short time at HMS Mercury, Sheila was sent to the Admiral of the Fleet’s residence in Portsmouth where her duties were largely to look after the Admiral‘s wife. One of her amusing stories was seeing the Admiral in his car in the dockyard and instead of standing to attention and saluting, she waved and he waved back! The Admiral was aware that Leading Wren Snowley wanted to become a Quarters Assistant but didn’t have the right qualifications, so as he was retiring asked her what was happening to her. When she replied she was going on her QA course he looked at her and brushing the gold braid on his sleeve he replied, “It’s amazing what a little bit of gold braid can do!” and thanks to him her life took another fortunate direction.
QA training included taking charge of parade training and one moment of fame happened one day when she almost marched her platoon into a brick wall, but forgetting the order “Halt”, managed to save the day by shouting “Whoa!” Despite this small mishap Sheila successfully passed her training and went on to serve in Arbroath, Lossiemouth, Gibraltar and RNAS Yeovilton. Her career came full circle at HMS Dauntless where, as a Fleet Chief Wren QA she was responsible for QA training and following this she retired after 24 very happy years in 1979.
On leaving the WRNS Sheila chose to go to Liverpool Driving School Centre for a month’s training which included driving HGVs secure loading and learning how to drive a double-decker bus. Her finale on the course happened while driving the bus around Liverpool. She took a corner incorrectly and the bus was stuck! This culminated in her instructor shouting, “Don’t panic, don’t panic! and Sheila shouting back ”I am I am!” Needless to say she passed the course and was proud to own her own “Badge” like all bus drivers war.
Sheila had a wonderful life in the WRNS. Her kindness gentle sense of humour and quick wit meant she was extremely well liked and respected by all her friends and peers. She will be sadly missed but will always be thought of with great fondness.
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