have always been interested in engineering and studied mechanical engineering at Bristol University. My maternal grandfather was a Naval Commander, my paternal grandfather one of the few surviving Battle of Britain pilots and my father is also a civilian pilot. I joined principally because of these role models.

Lieutenant Commander Polly Hatchard

Polly said “

I have always been interested in engineering and studied mechanical engineering at Bristol University. My maternal grandfather was a Naval Commander, my paternal grandfather one of the few surviving Battle of Britain pilots and my father is also a civilian pilot. I joined principally because of these role models.”

Polly has achieved a great deal in her 12 year career including the accolade of first female in the Royal Navy to reach the South Pole. Polly’s career has not stopped her from enjoying family life having two children under five years old. As Beth listened to Polly she said

 “something that would have been unheard of back in my day. You had to leave the Navy to get married and have a family in those days”

As part of her day at RNAS Yeovilton, Beth shared coffee with the Commanding Officer, Commodore Jock Alexander. This was followed by a visit with Polly to the Royal Naval Historic Flight, home to the only airworthy Swordfish Aircraft in the world, and the type of aircraft from which Beth rescued the Observer.

As Beth’s visit at RNAS Yeovilton drew to a close Polly said

Beth is an absolute inspiration, 70 years ago she got stuck in and went into lifesaving mode without a consideration for her own personal safety. It has been such a pleasure to meet a lady who has paved the way for Women in the Royal Navy today. Beth and her story are sensational.”

Beth and Polly’s meeting was an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments of Women in the Royal Navy. It was also a day for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women. Beth and Polly both epitomise the ethos and finest traditions of The Senior Service and have blazed a path for the future generations of women in The Royal Navy.

The Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS; popularly and officially known as the Wrens) was the women's branch of the Royal Navy. Before 1993, all women in the Royal Navy were members of the WRNS except nurses.

RNAS Yeovilton – also known as HMS Heron – is one of the Navy’s two principal air bases, and one of the busiest military airfields in the UK. It is home to the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force and the Commando Helicopter Force, with more than 100 aircraft operating on front-line squadrons and training units, plus the legendary vintage aircraft of the RN Historic Flight. It is also home of the Fleet Air Arm Memorial Church, which houses the Fleet Air Arm Memorial Roll of Honour.

The base is located near Yeovil in Somerset and covers around 1,400 acres with the main airfield in Yeovilton itself and the satellite at Ilton (Merryfield). Some 4,300 personnel, Service and civilian, including MOD employees and permanent contractors are employed on the base. In addition to the squadrons, the air station is home to the Navy’s Fighter Controller School, the School of Aircraft Control, and the Helicopter Underwater Escape Trainer. RNAS Yeovilton also hosts the world famous Fleet Air Arm Museum.

Battle of the Atlantic (BOA 70)- In May this year, the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic (BOA 70) will be commemorated with a series of events in Liverpool, London and Londonderry. Liverpool, the focus of the National Event in May, was home to the Western Approaches Command in the Second World War – it was from here that the struggle against the German U-boat was successfully directed.

The Atlantic campaign was the longest continuous struggle of the War, waged from the first day of the war in September 1939 to the surrender of Germany in May 1945. It reached its climax in the spring of 1943 when the Germans were forced to withdraw their U-boats temporarily from the battle, after suffering crippling losses in what became known as 'Black May'.

Although German submarines rejoined battle later that year, and fought to the bitter end, they never again posed such a threat to Britain's maritime life-lines. But the cost of keeping the nation's supply routes open was fearful: over 36,000 merchant seamen lost their lives and 5000 ships were sunk.