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1914-18 War • Munitions Worker

War Effort • War materials production-Munitions
• Munitions means all war materials not exclusively ammunition

As all available young men were taken by the armed forces the government turned to women to fill the labour shortage.
Factory jobs which in peace time did not admit women were now open to both sexes.
While there was no uniform as such, munitions workers were provided with clothing suitable for the job they were doing.The tunic usually has a cloth belt often with two buttons at the front.
Most workers wore a cap, often a mob cap as shown here.
Dark heavy clothing and trousers are an indication of outdoor,dirty or physical work. Conversely a white ankle length dress could indicate indoor work in the food or pharmaceutical industry.
Group photographs taken at the factory are more common than individual portraits. If the work allowed, some workers added personal touches such as lace collars, bows and sweetheart brooches to their outfit.
It is difficult for us to appreciate how daring it was then, for a girl to wear trousers.
On and off duty, workers often wore On War Service badges in particular look out for the distinctive triangular 1916 brooch which gives an exact year for the photograph.
About 1917-18 a popular fashion item was a belted smock dress which was influenced by the munitions style clothing; be careful not to confuse the two.

Photo above inscribed : To Millie from Nellie.  Gretna 1917 …§…  Photo F. Gibbs, Annan, N.B

The biggest single concentration of women workers was at the new national cordite an explosive factory at Gretna which stretched for 9 miles 15 kilometers. There 11,000 women were employed; most of them were housed in specially built hostels.