Manual Bomb Girls - Britains Secret Army: The Munitions Women of World War II

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Every used book bought is one saved from landfill. Additional information Sku GOR Author Jacky Hyams. Condition Used - Very Good. Binding type Paperback. Publisher John Blake Publishing Ltd. Year published Number of pages ISBN 10 Yet their work, a vast enterprise conducted in total secrecy in newly built complexes and factories, sometimes in areas vulnerable to bombing raids by the Luftwaffe, was one of the most dangerous, dirty and exhausting jobs of the Second World War.

For these were the Bomb Girls, the million-plus British women who worked in the munitions factories until victory in They worked round the clock seven days a week in perilous conditions on the production line, frequently in mind-numbing routine jobs, helping to make the bullets, the bombs, the tanks, the spare parts and the weaponry that the country needed so badly. Without their effort, the outcome of the war could have been very different indeed. Unlike others in the Forces or the Home Front they were not distinguished by a uniform, so covert was the nature of wartime munitions work.

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Bomb girls: Britain's secret army: the munitions women of World War II by Hyams, Jacky, author

Yet the danger they faced each day in the factories and even on their way to work during nighttime bombing raids in the blackout was huge. In a vast munitions factory complex safety rules and regulations dominated everything. Every person working on the factory floor risked their health and their life working with highly toxic chemicals. One tiny mistake or slip-up at work could blow everyone to smithereens and wreck Britain's war effort.

Each day carried the risk of sudden, accidental explosions, causing disfigurement, blindness, loss of limbs or worse.


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The women handled chemicals that turned their skin yellow, discoloured their hair or caused rashes, breathing problems or asthma. Some went home with acid burns. An unlucky few went off to work in the morning but didn't come back at all. Yet it is only now more than 70 years later that their secret stories of courage are being told for the first time. She had been a lowly parlour maid until she volunteered with her best friend Mary for munitions work. Mary was sent to the cordite section. We didn't know it but cordite was extra dangerous, working with highly explosive nitroglycerine in underground buildings.

So You Want To Be A WWII Bomb Girl?

You couldn't leave the plant in your wellies and there were lots of things you were forbidden to take into the building. No metal anywhere, no safety pins, hairpins, no matches, no cigarettes. The tiniest spark put everyone at risk from explosion. Just after she'd started Margaret was stopped by one of these men.


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  • I had forgotten to remove it. A few days later we heard about a person who'd been cleaning a big machine with a brush. Somehow a single hair from the brush got into the mechanism. It caused one spark and everything went up.


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    • We didn't know if anyone had been killed. You just had to get on with what you were doing.

      Bomb Girls

      It was boring and repetitive work. Many Bridgend girls like Betty became known as "canaries" because their skin and hair became discoloured from the powder with which they worked. Even if just a little bit of hair crept out from under your turban and cap it went green if you were blonde. Black hair went red and your skin was yellow.

      It went through your clothes and on to your body. If you perspired at night you would find yellow all over the sheets.