When the men left to fight at the front, women were called upon to fill in the roles they had vacated. Munitions workers had one of the most important roles during World War I. They supplied the English troops with armaments at the front. A high demand for weapons mean that the munitions factories became the largest employers of women workers. Women working in Munitions Factories came to be called ‘Munitionettes’. To find out more about the day in the life of a munitionette, click here.
Women worked in Shell Factories like the Neptune Shell Shop in Hartlepool. They worked long hours filling, inspecting, varnishing and threading shells. To find out more about the women working at the Hartlepool Munitions Factory, click here.
This job was extremely dangerous. These women suffered form TNT (trinitrotoluene) explosives. The explosive turned their skin yellow and the munitionettes were often called ‘Canaries’. Everything they touched went yellow including chairs and tables. To hear more about a first hand experience of ‘becoming a canary’ from a , click here.
Because of the lack of health and safety legislations, the munitionettes were often found risking their lives at work. These risks ranged from minor injuries to major accidents and in some cases even death. To hear more about a first hand experience of these risks, click here.