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Joan Natalie Granger

 

Joan Natalie Granger, 1934-2003

Joan Natalie Granger was the first Commanding Officer of the Women’s Army Corps of the Guyana Defence Force, the first women’s corps to be established among the Anglophone Caribbean States.  Along with three officer cadets, she joined the GDF on 30th January 1967.  On 6th February (now regarded as the anniversary of the WAC), 56 other women joined them as recruits and the 60 were inducted into the Force at a  
passing out parade on 12 March, 1967.

Joan Granger continued her military service on a part-time basis, making herself available to deal with disciplinary cases pro bono publico, establishing the practice that offences committed by women soldiers should be heard by women officers. Years ago, these principles were not as readily accepted as they are today.

Joan Granger was embodied in the regular strength of the Force on 1 December 1976 and, by 1 January 1980, was promoted to the rank of Major, a rank she held until her retirement.  During her regular service, she held the appointments of Staff Officer 2 (Logistics); Staff Officer 2 (Personnel Services); and Commanding Officer, Catering Corps.  She attended courses conducted locally and overseas, among which were the Junior Staff Course (1979); Messing Management, UK (1979); and the Army Catering Corps (ACC) Catering Advisers Course, UK (1981).

It was as CO of the Catering Corps that she faced her greatest professional challenge.  During the first half of the 1980s, Guyana’s economy was in depression, funding for the Force was insufficient, imported foodstuff was unavailable but, nevertheless, there had to be widespread deployment of troops and frequent field training exercises.  These conditions tested the resourcefulness of the Force’s logistics system and the ingenuity of the small cadre of cooks.

Joan Granger struggled to have women reservists accepted as regulars and to have their conditions of service equate to those of men.  Later, although she had relinquished the appointment as CO WAC, she continued in the role of what some referred to as “Mother WAC” in the defence and protection of women soldiers.  In the words of Major Neil Pullen, a member of the United Kingdom Army’s Staffing Administration and Training Team (SATT) who served in Guyana as the officer commanding the Training Wing in 1967, “Captain Granger is persistent at administration and does not overlook details – this is a strong and valuable asset.  She has been fair and consistent in dealing with women’s problems.”

Born on 6th November 1934, Joan Granger served the GDF for 18 years, retiring on 17th May 1985.  She died on 8th June 2003.

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