(Mabel) Ena Mallett [married name, Howes] was born in 1919 and grew up in Kessingland.
Ena left Lowestoft Secondary School at the age of 16, and became a Post Office counter clerk-cum-telephonist at Methwold. Here, she met Frank Howes, whom she married in September 1940.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Ena joined the Wrens. After a year working as a clerical officer on HMS Ganges, she was offered a post as a telephonist. She was promoted to Leading Wren after two and a half year’s service and transferred to HMS Beaver in Grimsby and then, in early 1943, to HMS Raven at Eastleigh, Hants. Promoted to Wren Petty Officer (the highest rank), Ena moved to Fort Southwick, Portsmouth, where she was in overall charge of the telephone exchange at the D-Day headquarters. In August 1944, she was one of the first six Wrens to go to France, acting as Admiral Ramsay‘s telephonist until his death in January 1945. She served in France and Germany until she was demobbed in December 1945. She was awarded the British Empire Medal (Military) in June 1945.
Find out more: In the early 1990s, Roy Larkins recorded and transcribed interviews with Ena and Frank Howes about their wartime memories. You can see the transcripts, and a photograph of Ena receiving the British Empire Medal from King George VI, at the Norfolk Record Office – NRO, MC 2153.