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Munitions worker - part 1

60 second histories
Live experience

This video covers:

A description of the extended shift patterns worked by munitionettes.  It also covers the Amatol explosive they came into contact with which was the reason they turned yellow

My job in the munitions factory is straight forward enough I fill shells with explosives. I am very proud to be a munitionette, what with my husband being at the front I want to do my bit but ooh it is hard. When I first started here we were on eight hour shifts but this changed to twelve hours which meant two shifts a day instead of three, Monday to Saturday. Then they changed our weekend shift to eighteen hours so going on duty at six on a Saturday evening meant you didn’t finish till two o’clock on Sunday afternoon when the opposite shift would take over and work till six on the Monday morning. Then it was back to the usual twelve-hour shift for the rest of the week. Our weekly output of filled shells reaches a hundred and thirty thousand which requires nine hundred tons of Amatol which the explosive we use to fill the shells. It’s this that’s turned us yellow, it doesn’t matter how much we wash and scrub our bodies we’re still yellow. Some girls come out in a rash but it doesn’t stop them working.
Eras: 
20th Century
WW1
Topics: 
Weapons
Domestic Life
Character: 
WW1 munitions worker
Key words: 
WW1, first world war, world war one, munitions, munitionette, factory, war work, explosive, shifts, shells, amatol, yellow, KS3, Key stage 3, Year 7, Year 8, Year 9,