Lieutenant Colonel Audrey Purton, who has died aged 90, was a pioneering member and life-long champion of the Provost Department of the Ladies’s Royal Military Corps (WRAC).
Audrey Purton was Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal (WRAC) from 1975 to 1982. On the time when she took up the appointment, morale amongst her army policewomen was at a low ebb and the retention charge was poor. This led to an acute scarcity of skilled NCOs.
With nice dedication and a transparent thought of what was wanted, she set about revitalising and restructuring the Department. She encountered robust opposition from many within the WRAC and the Royal Army Police (RMP), who held entrenched views, however with an adroit combination of braveness and tact she step by step gained them over and issues have been resolved with out fuss or resentment.
She recognised the necessity for senior NCOs to tackle extra specialisations to match the operational commitments of their male counterparts, and carried out these new measures. Morale rose and the retention charge improved. Working lengthy hours, usually below nice stress, her policewomen demonstrated that, in an emergency, they may keep an efficient provost service within the garrisons.
The quotation for Audrey Purton’s appointment as OBE in 1982 acknowledged that by her dedication, persistence and selfless concern for the Military and her policewomen she had created an elite department of the Provost Service.
Audrey Irene Purton was born at North Cray, Kent, on Could 8 1926. Her father served for 22 years with the Royal Horse Artillery within the First World Struggle and in India. She was educated at Witham Senior College, Essex, and, in 1944, joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). She spent two months at Guildford as an Assistant Coaching NCO earlier than being posted to the Ordnance and Car Reserve Depot, the place she carried out clerical duties and was given the prospect to study to drive.
Audrey Purton was a little bit of a daredevil and took a car for a spin by the camp in opposition to rules. She was caught and her classes have been stopped.
She had at all times needed to be a policewoman and, after being chosen for the ATS Provost, in 1945 she was posted to London District. She was primarily on foot patrol duties and coated all main-line stations and the Piccadilly, Soho, Strand and Charing Cross areas.
Having joined the Absentee and Deserter Part, she needed to work carefully with the civilian police. This concerned visiting intercourse golf equipment and mixing with prostitutes and, typically, the reasonably hazardous job of breaking into homes of unwell reputation.
On one event, she and two different WRAC Provost disguised themselves as prostitutes so as to get right into a nightclub which was frequented by a soldier who had gone absent. They noticed her there, waited for her to depart after which nabbed her.
Her work was typically scary. When making an arrest it was commonplace to get badly bruised and even injured. As soon as, she was struck within the face by a knuckle duster and ended up in sick bay. One other time, she fared higher: assaulted by a 16-stone man, she put him on the ground.
For a couple of months after the warfare, she was stationed on a troopship crusing between Tilbury and Cuxhaven which was transporting service households to Germany to hitch their husbands. One in all her duties was to keep watch over the kids who obtained as much as infinite mischief.
When a boy went lacking, the ship was stopped and it was “all fingers on deck” to seek for him. He was discovered finally in a lifeboat. One other teenager was found half method by a port gap, face down. Luckily, he was caught.
In 1949, the ATS was outdated by the Ladies’s Royal Military Corps and Purton transferred to WRAC Provost. Subsequent postings adopted to Edinburgh, Chester, Egypt and Cyprus. She achieved speedy promotion and was the primary regimental sergeant main for WRAC Provost and the youngest RSM within the WRAC on the time.
Commissioned in 1962 as a Quartermaster Tech for police duties, she was subsequently posted to BAOR in charge of 145 Provost Firm. After a spell on the RMP Coaching Centre, Chichester, she moved to Northern Eire as OC Public Safety.
In 1972, she went to the WRAC Faculty, Camberley, as OC Warrant Officers and NCO Wing. After returning to Northern Eire as OC Provost Firm, her closing posting and the top of her profession was to the MoD as Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal WRAC.
She was strict however scrupulously truthful. Her Provost women have been like a household to her. She caught up for them by thick and skinny and had a well-developed sense of humour when coping with them on or off obligation. In return, they admired and revered her.
Audrey Purton retired in 1984 and settled in Bognor Regis, Sussex. She at all times attended WRAC and Provost reunions and loved holidays with household and pals everywhere in the world.
Audrey Purton by no means married.
Lieutenant Colonel Audrey Purton, born Could 8 1926, died Could 20 2016