Monday 15 January 2018

Of all the roles women took on during the First World War their work in munitions factories was probably the most vital. Without the bullets and shells they produced the British Army couldn't have carried on fighting.

This archive film, A Day In The Life Of A Munitions Worker, was made in 1917 at the Chilwell Arms Factory in Nottinghamshire. The clips show some of the tasks a female munitions worker would have had to do while working in the factories. The film also shows the workers having a basic medical inspection. It was in the factory owner's interest to ensure their workforce remained healthy. However, working in the factories could be unpleasant, uncomfortable and often very dangerous. The female workers, nicknamed 'munitionettes', had limited protection against the toxic chemicals they had to use. Over 200 women lost their lives through accidents, explosions, or poisoning from handling chemical explosives.

'Munitionettes' were only employed during the war. The government negotiated with the trade unions to ensure that when the war ended the women would leave and their jobs would once again be filled by men.

Leaving For Work At 5AM

IWM

Leaving For Work At 5AM

Changing Into Work Clothes and Timing In

IWM

Changing Into Work Clothes and Timing In

On The Factory Floor

IWM

On The Factory Floor

Finishing The Shell

IWM

Finishing The Shell

Protection Against Poisons and Fumes

IWM

Protection Against Poisons and Fumes

Ready For The Front

Ready For The Front

Medical Examination

IWM

Medical Examination

Working For Victory

IWM

Working For Victory

First World War

Five Inspirational Stories Of Women In The First World War

First World War

Five Inspirational Stories Of Women In The First World War

From ambulance drivers to translators, women served Britain in a variety of ways during the First World War. Discover their stories now.
Elsie Knocker (left) and Mairi Chisholm in Pervyse, Belgium in 1917.
IWM Q2663