Women's Royal Army Corps

The Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC; sometimes pronounced acronymically as , a term unpopular with its members) was the corps to which all women in the British Army except medical, dental and veterinary officers and chaplains (who belonged to the same corps as the men) and nurses (who belonged to Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps) belonged from 1949 to 1992.

The WRAC was formed on 1 February 1949 by Army Order 6 as the successor to the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) that had been founded in 1938. For much of its existence, its members performed administrative and other support tasks, but later they began to be attached to other corps, including the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers.

On 6 April 1992, the WRAC was disbanded and its members transferred to the appropriate corps of the army, signalling full integration of women into non-combat roles. Ironically perhaps, this was not greeted with enthusiasm by all members of the WRAC, particularly the more senior officers and NCOs, who felt that advancement would be more difficult if they had to compete on an equal basis with men. This was in some ways partly justified, since the post of Director WRAC, which carried the rank of Brigadier, was abolished and it was seven years before a woman, Brigadier Patricia Purves, again reached that rank. Officially, since a majority of its members had been administrative personnel, the WRAC amalgamated into the new Adjutant General's Corps.

Their training depot was at the WRAC Centre, Queen Elizabeth Park, Guildford in Surrey.

Ranks and uniform

The WRAC wore a distinctive green uniform. Their cap badge was a lioness rampant within a laurel wreath surmounted by a crown. Their motto was Suaviter in Modo, Fortiter in Re (Gentle in manner, resolute in deed).

Initially the WRAC retained the separate ATS ranking system. However, in March 1950 it switched entirely to Army rank titles, the first of the women's services to do so (the Women's Royal Air Force switched in 1968; the Women's Royal Naval Service retained separate ranks until its disbandment in 1993). The highest rank available to a serving officer was Brigadier, held by the Director WRAC, although the Controller-Commandant, a member of the Royal Family, held a higher honorary rank. Princess Mary held the post from 1949 to her death in 1965 (beginning as a Major-General and being promoted General on 23 November 1956) and the Duchess of Kent held it from 1967 to 1992 (with the rank of Major-General).

List of Directors WRAC

Band of the WRAC

At the time of the WRAC's disappearance, the Band of the Women's Royal Army Corps, formed in 1949, was the only all-female band in the British Armed Forces, although the Royal Air Force (which had once had its own all-female band) had already started to integrate female musicians into all of its bands. From the mid-1990s, women have served in all British Army bands. The instruments, assets and personnel of the former WRAC Band became the new Band of the Adjutant General's Corps.


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