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 vast munitions factories, helping make the explosives, bullets and war machines that would ensure victory for Britain. It was dangerous, dirty and exhausting 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 one 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 an 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.
Jacky Hyams is a Brighton based journalist and non fiction author who has written extensively, on a wide range of topics, for many of the leading mass market newspapers and magazines in the UK and Australia for several years.
Her passion for 20th Century history led to the publication of a best selling personal memoir about London in the 1950s, Bombsites and Lollipops, published by John Blake Publishing in 2011. This was followed by an exploration of the world of the Edwardian stately home,The Real Life Downton Abbey (also published by Blake) in 2011. Jacky's third historically related title, The Female Few: Spitfire Pilots of the ATA, was published by The History Press in 2012.
Her followup memoir to Bombsites and Lollipops, White Boots & Miniskirts: A True Story of Life in the Swinging Sixties, was published by John Blake Publishing in February 2013.
Jacky's history of Britain's WW2 female munitions workers, Bomb Girls: Britain's Secret Army,the Munitions Women of WW2, was also published in 2013 by John Blake Publishing.
Her latest book, Frances: The Tragic Bride, the true story of Reggie Kray's first wife, is due to be published in September 2014.