OHAA National Conference – Women in Munitions Factories

And she said, “I’m going to work in the munitions factory: and then Mum asked, “But, who’ll get Ted’s lunch?”

11.00 am 21 September 2013

Dr Julie Holbrook Tolley

Resize of Julie Holbrook Tolley1Women’s personal memories of War can contribute significantly to the knowledge of individuals and their experiences.  Dr Tolley interviewed munitions factory employees from World War II.  She learned about the tasks they carried out, the clothing they wore and what they did when the War ended.  They were given very little recognition at the time.  The interview process gave them an opportunity to re-evaluate their work.  Their participation in the project acknowledged the value of the work they did.  In December 1943 there were three large government munitions factories in Adelaide and some also in country towns. 

Dr Tolley interviewed Eunice, Dot and Nancy.  Eunice worked from 1940-1945.  She said it was a dangerous job but she was proud to be helping the War effort.  Dot saw “The Australian Women’s Weekly” advertising for workers and she joined.  It was her “duty”.  The propellant used was cordite and could be dangerous.  Nancy made casings for bullets.  She wanted to help the War effort.  They felt proud of themselves.  It was a positive experience in their lives as they remembered.  The women changed in to their street clothes at the end of the shift.  They could not wear any metal at all.  Their work was very secret.  Less than 1% of the material from that era survives, so this lack makes these oral histories even more valuable.  29,000 women were employed in War industries during the War.  Some then worked in other factories.  This project has contributed to the understanding of these women’s lives.
Suzanne Mulligan