|Women's Royal Air Force|
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Last Director WRAF||Air Commodore Ruth Montague|
|Air Chief Commandant||Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester|
The Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) was the women's branch of the Royal Air Force. It existed in two separate incarnations: the Women's Royal Air Force from 1918 to 1920 and the Women's Royal Air Force from 1949 to 1994.
On 1 February 1949, the name of the First World War organisation was revived when the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, which had been founded in 1939, was re-established on a regular footing as the Women's Royal Air Force. The WRAF and the RAF grew closer over the following decades, with increasing numbers of trades opened to women, and the two services formally merged in 1994, marking the full assimilation of women into the British forces and the end of the Women's Royal Air Force.
The Central Band of the WRAF, one of only two all-female bands in the British Armed Forces, was disbanded in 1972. Some of its musicians transferred to the Band of the Women's Royal Army Corps.
The target strength had been a force of around 90,000, figures are unreliable until 1 August 1918, when the strength was 15,433, approximately 5,000 recruits and 10,000 transferred from the predecessor organisations. The first incarnation never exceeded 25,000.
Depots were opened in 1918 at Handsworth College, in Glasgow, at RAF Flowerdown, RAF Spitalgate, near Grantham, and at York. In the 1950s the WRAF Depot and WRAF Officer Cadet Training Unit were opened at RAF Hawkinge in Kent.
The WRAF inherited its rank structure from its predecessor, the WAAF. As with WAAF practice (from 1940), other ranks held standard RAF ranks, but officers used a separate ranking system until 1968, when they too adopted RAF officer ranks.
|NATO code||OF-10||OF-9||OF-8||OF-7||OF-6||OF-5||OF-4||OF-3||OF-2||OF-1||OF(D)||Student officer|
| Women's Royal Air Force
|Air Chief Commandant[note 1]||Air Commandant||Group Officer||Wing Officer||Squadron Officer||Flight Officer||Section Officer||Assistant Section Officer|
| Royal Air Force
|Marshal of the RAF||Air chief marshal||Air marshal||Air vice-marshal||Air commodore||Group captain||Wing commander||Squadron leader||Flight lieutenant||Flying officer||Pilot officer
/acting pilot officer
These ranks were introduced in 1949. The First World War service used different ranks.
List of Commandants WRAF
- Gertrude Crawford, 1918
- Violet Douglas-Pennant, May–September 1918
- Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, September 1918–1920
List of Directors WRAF
- Air Commandant Dame Felicity Hanbury, 1949–1950
- Air Commandant Dame Nancy Salmon, 1950–1956
- Air Commandant Dame Henrietta Barnet, 1956–1959
- Air Commandant Dame Anne Stephens, 1959–1962
- Air Commandant Dame Jean Conan Doyle, 1962–1966
- Air Commodore Dame Felicity Hill, 1966–1969
- Air Commodore Philippa Marshall, 1969–1973
- Air Commodore Molly Allott, 1973–1976
- Air Commodore Joy Tamblin, 1976–1980
- Air Commodore Helen Renton, 1980–1986
- Air Commodore Shirley Jones, 1986–1989
- Air Commodore Ruth Montague, 1989–1994
- Air Transport Auxiliary
- Patricia Howard
- Women Airforce Service Pilots, US equivalent
- Women's Royal Army Corps
- Women's Royal Naval Service
- Women in Air Force Blue. p. 21.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Women's Royal Air Force.|
- BE Escott, Women in Air Force Blue: the story of women in the Royal Air Force from 1918 to the present day - 1989 - Stephens
- KB Beauman, Partners in Blue: The Story of Women's Service with the Royal Air Force - 1971 - Hutchinson Radius