They were the unsung heroines of World War II; the wives, mums and teenage girls, all doing their bit’ for the war effort, clocking in daily to work in cast munitions factories, helping make the explosives, bullets and war machines that would ensure victory for Britain.
It was dangerous, dirty and exhaustive work. They worked round the clock, often exposed to toxic, lethal chemicals. A factory accident could mean blindness, loss of limbs or worse. Many went home with acid burns, yellow skin or discoloured hair. Others were forced to leave their loved ones and move to live with total strangers in unfamiliar surroundings. Frequently, their male bosses were coarse and unsympathetic.
Yet this hidden army of nearly two million women toiled on regardless through the worst years of the war, cheerfully ignoring the dangers and the exhaustion, as bombing, rationing and the heartbreak of loss or separation took their toll on everyone in the country.
Only now, all these years later, have they chosen to tell their remarkable stories. Here, in their own words, are the vivid wartime memories of the secret army’ of female munitions workers, whose resilience and sheer grit in the face of danger has only now started to emerge.
These are the intimate and personal stories of an unforgettable group of women, whose hard work and quiet courage made a significant contribution to Britain’s war effort. They didn’t fire the bullets, but they filled them up with explosives. And in doing so, they helped Britain win the war.
About the Author
Jacky Hyams is a freelance journalist, editor, columnist and author with over 25 years of experience in writing for mass market magazines and newspapers in the UK and Australia. A Londoner who has spent many years travelling. Jacky's feature writing career was launched in Sydney, Australia, where she wrote extensively for the Sydney Morning Herald, Sun Herald, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, Good Housekeeping, New Idea, Cleo and The Australian Women's Weekly. Returning to London, Jacky spent several years as a women's magazine editor on Bella Magazine, followed by six years as a weekly columnist for the London Evening Standard. Her memoir, Bombsites and Lollipops: My 1950s East End Childhood, was published in 2011 and her follow up book, White Boots & Miniskirts, was published in 2013, both by John Blake Publishing. Jacky is also the author of The Real Life Life Downton Abbey, a brief guide to the Edwardian ear, also published by John Blake Publishing in 2011. The Female Few, a look at the Spitfire heroines of the Air Transport Auxiliary, was published by The History Press in 2012.