Did You Know

(Copyright: Merrick Needham)

o.       Women first enlisted in the Jamaica Defence Force on 11 August 1976. The first batch comprised five potential officers – Grace Barclay, Suzanne Haik, Gennis Copeland, Floreyce Cameron and Yola Cain. Lieutenant Cain became the first woman pilot of the JDF. The next batch of servicewomen enlisted over the period 10-19 February 1977, and this batch included Elaine Williams (later Wray) who became the first woman to attain the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1.

o.        Mrs Johanna Lewin-Belnavis (nee Lewin) was the first woman of the Jamaica Defence Force to attain the rank of Major. She enlisted in the JDF on 18 July 1977 and was granted a commission in the rank of Second Lieutenant with effect from 13 April 1978. She served as a pilot in the JDF Air Wing, as the Officer Commanding the JDF Women’s Unit, as a Staff Officer at the Headquarters Jamaica Defence Force and as the Records Officer for the Regular Force. She was promoted to the temporary rank of Major on 06 September 1987. She retired from the JDF on 26 November 1989.


The JDF does not officially recognise the marriage of an Officer until he is 21 years of age and spent two years in an Officers' Mess. The reason for this is that a young Officer has much to learn before he becomes fully proficient. this includes the bookwork of technical and tactical subjects as well as the practical side of soldiering and man management. Man management is best learnt by being with the men as much as possible, both on parade and off parade, playing games, or organising their sports and recreation. If an Officer marries young he is found to have extra interest outside his Army life and his work and learing will suffer