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October 30, 2014

21 Wonderful Color Photographs of Women War Workers in Britain During WWII

The British government mobilised civilians more effectively than any other combatant nation. By 1944 a third of the civilian population were engaged in war work, including over 7,000,000 women.

From early 1941, it became compulsory for women aged between 18 and 60 to register for war work. Conscription of women began in December. Unmarried 'mobile' women between the ages of 20 and 30 were called up and given a choice between joining the services or working in industry.

Pregnant women, those who had a child under the age of 14 or women with heavy domestic responsibilities could not be made to do war work, but they could volunteer. 'Immobile' women, who had a husband at home or were married to a serviceman, were directed into local war work.

As well as men and women carrying out paid war work in Britain’s factories, there were also thousands of part-time volunteer workers contributing to the war effort on top of their every day domestic responsibilities. Other vital war work was carried out on the land and on Britain's transport network.

Head and shoulders portrait of Mrs Chaulkey, a war worker in Britain, 1943.

Miss M Greatorex, a war worker involved in the manufacture of 17-pdr anti-tank guns, 1943.

Mrs C Graham, a war worker involved in the manufacture of 17-pdr anti-tank guns, 1943.

Mrs Lusby, a part-time worker at a small workshop, levelling off and making the firing pin during the first stages of breech block production, 1943.

Woman war worker milling breech blocks, 1943.

A voluntary domestic science course for service women based in the London area, organised by the London District of the Army Education Scheme, with the co-operation of the London County Council, at Avondale Park School, Notting Hill Gate, London. In this picture Corporal Jean Russel using a mangle during the course.

A voluntary domestic science course for service women based in the London area, organised by the London District of the Army Education Scheme, with the co-operation of the London County Council, at Avondale Park School, Notting Hill Gate, London. In this picture the Chief Instructor of the course, Mrs Evans, shows Corporal Margaret Dener how to make a salad.

A draughtswoman at work on a drawing of a 25-pounder gun 1942.

Lunchtime entertainment in a war workers' canteen - a view of the audience.

The saddle of a 25 pounder gun being welded by Miriam Highams. She was recalled into engineering work from the Women's Land Army because of her pre-war factory experience.

Women working in a makeshift war factory, 1943.

Women war workers on their way to the small West Country arms factory of J & F Pool Ltd in Hayle, Cornwall. The factory had produced one million trench mortar bombs and the workers were allowed to visit the range and see their work in action,  1943.

Women war workers from the small West Country arms factory of J & F Pool Ltd in Hayle, Cornwall, which had produced one million trench mortar bombs, being shown how to fire the bombs on a range, 1943.

Miss Norris wearing safety spectacles while welding the side seams of drum containers, 1944.

Two women weighing and packing bicarbonate of soda at a chemical factory run by the Ministry of Supply, 1944.

Women wheeling sacks of bicarbonate of soda to waiting road transport at a chemical factory run by the Ministry of Supply, 1944.

Mrs Mears making closure rings for drum containers. The drums were used to store the products of a chemical factory run by the Ministry of Supply, 1944.

In a factory in Camberwell, London skilled craftsmen make precision instruments. A woman war worker sets a machine for cutting the graticule of a precision measuring instrument, 1945.

Women checking 25 pounder shells at the small arms factory of J & F Pool Ltd in Hayle, Cornwall, 1943.

Women war workers from the small West Country arms factory of J & F Pool Ltd in Hayle, Cornwall, which had produced one million trench mortar bombs, being shown how to fire the bombs on a range, 1943.

In an underground munitions factory at Liverpool, the Pressing Bay Forewoman, Mrs M Porter, gives out shell caps for pressing.

(Images via the Imperial War Museums)




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