Many engineers were not allowed to sign up to the forces as they were deemed indispensable and instead they supported the war from home. The increased need for munitions and related items meant a new workforce was needed, both to meet demand and because many men had gone to war; women formed the core of this.

Home Forces

Harry Stephenson Ellis served with No. 3 Signals Section of the Durham Royal Engineers Volunteer Home Force. However, he had originally requested foreign service. Ellis wrote to Lieutenant Colonel Walsh to request leave from his position as Borough Electrical Engineer in South Shields to join the Royal Engineers. The request was refused as Ellis’s work as a skilled electrical engineer at home was recognised as being of more use to the war effort than joining the ranks of the Royal Engineers:

“…I have come to the conclusion that you really have absolutely no business or right to leave the important post which you are now holding".

To dissuade him from joining the Royal Engineers in France, Walsh then suggested he enrol in the Volunteer Corps. Ellis did not give up easily and applied in 1916 for a commission in the Royal Flying Corps. Although not yet on active service, Major General Shaw (Home Forces) described in May 1916 how Ellis’s method of painting street lamps was favourably received by the Field Marshall; he sent drawings on how to minimise white light on the ground produced by arc lamps. By April 1917 Ellis had finally offered his services as a National Service Volunteer:

“Your offer has been recorded, but in view of the nature of your occupation it can only be considered after dealing with the offers of men engaged in work of less essential importance.”

Ellis did not give up; such was his patriotism and desire to enlist, even though he now accepted this would be on the home front and November 1917 Ellis had succeeded to join the war effort. He was accepted as a Lieutenant in the Volunteer Force, County of Durham Volunteer Engineers, exactly two years after his initial request. He was the commanding officer for No.3 Signals Section of the Durham Royal Engineers Volunteer Corps. In May 1919, he received orders for the disbandment of the Volunteer Force and the re-opening of the Territorial Force. He was in command of checking all remaining stores and the accommodation at the Drill Hall.

“I am commanded by the Army Council to inform you that in recognition of your services as an officer of the Volunteer Force in the Durham Royal Engineers (V.) you have been granted the Honorary Rank of Lieutenant…I am to take this opportunity of conveying the thanks of the Army council for your services to the Country during the Great War, and for the excellent work you have done.”

Ellis left Durham in 1919 to take up employment as Borough Electrical Engineer in Southampton. His story highlights how engineers who remained on the home front, continuing their work, helped the war effort. Despite pressure to fight many had to remain in post at home as their occupation was so skilled it could not be replicated by another. It was also important that their expertise was used to remain ahead of the enemy and not to give them the advantage in warfare.

NAEST 155 03 114 Photograph of Lt Ellis
Photograph of Ellis in the Royal Engineer Signals. Read his biography in Resources.

NAEST 155 03 06 Volunteer Force certificate
Printed certificate for appointment to Volunteer Force.

Munitions

War brought with it a huge increase in demand for munitions, at the same time the workforce was reduced by men signing up. By 1918, almost a million women were employed in munitions and engineering works, with 80% of shells being made by women by 1917: in the decade before only 212,000 had been employed in these areas. A government policy was introduced to ensure their training, ‘Dilution’.

Olive Monkhouse, Chief Woman Dilution Officer, Ministry of Munitions gave a paper on this at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a debate followed. It was accepted that when properly trained the women were in fact as good as, if not better, than the men. Men are in part credited with the programme’s success "The successful employment …in an almost equal degree to the skilled man, and the employer": the employer in selecting tasks and the man ‘using all their brains and skill’ to train, and socialise the work environment. Concerns for the women’s capabilities were very real, they had to be properly trained as soldiers lives could literally depend on it. Concerns about the reaction of the existing workforce and management were also paramount as some managers refused to believe women were capable of being fitters, tool-turners etc. Monkhouse also notes that the women "face[d] obstacles both necessary and  unnecessary"; some male staff members would tease, or even sexually harass, the women and thus their safety was a real issue; welfare also affected production and a Health of Munition Workers' Committee was formed. Practical problems such as a lack of facilities also had to be overcome, as was the fact that most of the women were not used to factory work, organisation or associated environments.

Concerns were real and practical: this was a new realm for most of the women and the concern for their welfare was uppermost. Discussion followed Monkhouse's paper, on whether these women might remain in engineering after the war and what the effects on the ‘comfort and happiness’ of their homes might be.

Michael Longridge, the President, acknowledged that Monkhouse got top billing and that she was something of a sensation and summed up the situation of women in factories as "a sign of the times".  We are told several women were in the audience and Longridge was keen for them to speak but they would not. Monkhouse was the first women to give a paper.

Members of the Women’s Forestry Corps in Sussex

Members of the Women’s Forestry Corps in Sussex

by User Not Found | 13 Aug, 2014

2103 comments

Leave a comment
  1. seomaster | Mar 25, 2019
    There is so much in this article that I would never have thought of on my own. Your content gives readers things to think about in an interesting way. Invoice Software for Businesses
  2. jackjhonny | Mar 24, 2019
    I ought to declare scarcely that its astonishing! The blog is instructive additionally dependably manufacture astonishing entitys.  prefab wall frames
  3. karrel | Mar 24, 2019
    A debt of gratitude is in order for your post. I've been contemplating composing an extremely tantamount post in the course of the last couple of weeks, I'll most likely keep it straightforward and connection to this rather if thats cool. Much obliged.  Tax Investigation Advisors
  4. karrel | Mar 24, 2019
    Cool stuff you have and you keep overhaul every one of us.  Tax Investigation Advisors
  5. Seo expert | Mar 24, 2019
    Amazing post I should state and grateful for the data. Bearing is obviously a sticky subject. Regardless, is still among the essential subjects of our possibility. I regard your post and predict more.  prefab wall frames
  6. Seo expert | Mar 24, 2019
    it's extremely cool blog. Connecting is exceptionally valuable thing.you have truly made a difference  prefab wall frames
  7. S E O Experts | Mar 24, 2019
    This post is extremely easy to peruse and acknowledge without forgetting any subtle elements. Incredible work!  Office Cleaning Bergen County
  8. Seo expert | Mar 24, 2019
    It is amazingly normal to see the best unnoticeable parts introduced in an essential and seeing way.  plumbing emergencies
  9. seomaster | Mar 24, 2019
    Co-authors David Anderson and Mark Nathan interviewed 8,000+ Millennials and spent two years writing to come out with their book "The Delusion of Passion" aimed at the Millennial workforce Delusion of Passion By Mark Nathan
  10. Adilkhatri | Mar 24, 2019
    Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here. Waster Water Treatment Plants - Australia
  11. sky james | Mar 23, 2019
    This is look interesting topic that inspire me a lot so as a benefit for this i will share your post on other relevant blogs to gain more appreciation. Many thanks.Thanks for sharing amazing information !!!!!! Please keep up sharing.bike shop chicago
  12. dean | Mar 23, 2019
  13. Ashar jamal | Mar 23, 2019
    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this prior to. So nice to uncover somebody with many original thoughts on this subject. realy appreciate beginning this up. this fabulous website are some things that is required on the web, an individual with some originality. valuable work for bringing something new for the net! frosted glass
  14. Anonymus | Mar 23, 2019
    When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and today each time a comment is added I am four emails with the same comment. Will there be however you can get rid of me from that service? Thanks! Gevelrenovatie
  15. Adilkhatri | Mar 23, 2019
    This post is extremely easy to peruse and acknowledge without forgetting any subtle elements. Incredible work!  NEET SYLLABUS
  16. seomaster | Mar 23, 2019
    I came onto your blog while focusing just slightly submits. Nice strategy for next, I will be bookmarking at once seize your complete rises... 2018 movies hollywood
  17. Adilkhatri | Mar 22, 2019
    This is a marvelous article, Given such an unprecedented measure of information in it, These kind of articles keeps the clients energy for the site, and continue sharing more ... positive conditions.  takeout
  18. goopoker | Mar 22, 2019

    you have a great post and i like it.. please join us at http://goopoker.com

    Agen Poker M88Situs Poker ResmiBandar Casino OnlineSeo Online

  19. lagapoker | Mar 22, 2019
    Thanks for sharing this nice post. just follow http://lagapoker.netPoker IdnBandar Poker OnlinePoker IndonesiaAgen Poker DominoJasa Seo Online
  20. Adilkhatri | Mar 22, 2019
    Extremely inspired! Everything is extremely open and clear illumination of issues. It contains really certainties. Your site is extremely important. Much obliged for sharing.  driving school
  21. words doctorate | Mar 22, 2019
  22. Adilkhatri | Mar 22, 2019
    This post is extremely easy to peruse and acknowledge without forgetting any subtle elements. Incredible work!  meilleure volant retour de force ps3
  23. dwean | Mar 21, 2019
    Another great blogCumming fence company
  24. jacky | Mar 21, 2019
    I was perusing your article and thought about whether you had considered making a digital book on this subject. You're composing would offer it quick. You have a great deal of composing ability.  Tax Investigation Accountants
  25. jacky | Mar 21, 2019
    This substance is composed exceptionally well. Your utilization of organizing when mentioning your focuses makes your objective facts clear and straightforward. Much obliged to you.  Tax Investigation Accountants
  26. Tessa Trumpy | Mar 21, 2019

    Nice article. I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing.

    Solar Panel Installation Longmont

  27. s | Mar 21, 2019
    nice bLog! its interesting. thank you for sharing....dianabol powder
  28. Adilkhatri | Mar 21, 2019
    They're delivered by the absolute best degree engineers will's identity recognized for your polo dress making. You'll discover polo Ron Lauren inside select exhibit which incorporate specific classes for men, ladies.  คาสิโนออนไลน์เครดิตฟรี
  29. seomaster | Mar 21, 2019
    Below you will understand what is important, the idea provides one of the links with an exciting site: fortnite vbucks generator
  30. Adilkhatri | Mar 21, 2019
    Dr. Gilbert is a professional dedicated chiropractor. He has over 25 years of experience in the profession, and works in concert with his patients to understand their health issues quickly. north babylon chiropractor
  31. Adilkhatri | Mar 21, 2019
    Float Lab Perth - Floatation therapy is the science of managing multiple sensory triggers, controlling them at the desired level & keeping those levels for the entire float. deprivation tank
  32. Adilkhatri | Mar 21, 2019
    This post is extremely easy to peruse and acknowledge without forgetting any subtle elements. Incredible work!  custom unique bridesmaid gifts
  33. Jeremy | Mar 20, 2019
    We specialize in South Carolina Private Investigations! Call today to get started with us!
  34. dean | Mar 20, 2019
    Another great blogkitchen remodeling
  35. Adilkhatri | Mar 20, 2019
    They're delivered by the absolute best degree engineers will's identity recognized for your polo dress making. You'll discover polo Ron Lauren inside select exhibit which incorporate specific classes for men, ladies.  spugnette
  36. SHARIQ KHATRI | Mar 20, 2019
    Great post but I was wondering if you could write a little more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thanks in advance!Escort service Frankfurt
  37. James | Mar 19, 2019
  38. Robert Phung | Mar 19, 2019

    I love reading this kind of story. Truly an inspiration to all. Thanks for sharing.

    Fort Collins Window Replacement

  39. dean | Mar 19, 2019
  40. Adilkhatri | Mar 19, 2019
    I needed to leave a little remark to help you and wish you a decent continuation. Wishing you the good luck for all your blogging endeavors.  Ytterligare info om webbplatsen
  41. Ranna | Mar 19, 2019
    You did a very thorough job here. Great post packed with a lot of valuable information! Graco convertible car seat
  42. Adilkhatri | Mar 19, 2019
    Extremely inspired! Everything is extremely open and clear illumination of issues. It contains really certainties. Your site is extremely important. Much obliged for sharing.  cfa level 1 mock exam pdf with answers
  43. john | Mar 18, 2019
    Another great blog alpharetta fence company
  44. Trent | Mar 18, 2019

    Thanks for taking the time to create this website and blog. Being a local owner of a towing company I know how much effort and work it takes. The pictures are great as well, I think we will reference the layout of your on our Coquitlam Towing site.

    Thanks!

  45. Adilkhatri | Mar 18, 2019
    U bent op zoek naar een webdesign bureau om een professionele SEO website te laten ontwikkelen? Wij zijn u graag van dienst voor het volledige webdesign of het perfectioneren van uw bestaande website of webshop. SEO
  46. Adilkhatri | Mar 18, 2019
    Professionele website laten maken die uw bedrijf op de digitale landkaart plaatst? Reken dan op deze professionele webdesigner! Professionele website laten maken
  47. Seo expert | Mar 18, 2019
    Professionele website laten maken die uw bedrijf op de digitale landkaart plaatst? Reken dan op deze professionele webdesigner! Betaalbare website laten maken
  48. Seo expert | Mar 18, 2019
    Betaalbare website laten maken? Dan is uw website laten maken door een professionele webdesigner de beste keuze om uw project digitaal te lanceren. Betaalbare website laten maken
  49. Seo expert | Mar 18, 2019
    Een airco of airconditioning installatie is in 2019 uitermate geschikt als koeling en verwarming van de woning. Airco installateur Soloya plaatst airco installaties van de merken Daikin en Panasonic. Airco installatie
  50. Seo expert | Mar 18, 2019
    Professioneel webdesign bureau voor professioneel webdesign of maatwerk op vlak van een professionele website laten maken? Als professionele webdesigner bouwen we bijzondere websites. Webdesign professioneel

    Leave a comment

    The photographs show just how varied the work that women undertook was: and the variety of new skills that therefore had to the taught and obtained. This new workforce, alongside the remaining male workers, not only delivered munitions but also worked on other weapons and in back offices and research roles. Both at home and on the Continent women worked in forestry, medicine and as drivers.

    Click here to read the full paper and discussions. Or here to read about the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield.

    Views from the Home Front

    Oliver Heaviside, seen here, became a telegraph clerk for the Anglo-Danish Telegraph Company, later the Great Northern Telegraph Company, in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1868. After 1874, he began work on a series of problems in telegraphy and signal transmission using experimentation, mathematics and vector analysis. He had long and famous disagreements with Sir William Henry Preece over the introduction of inductance to long distance communication cables to improve the transmission of signals, amongst others and was an active letter writer. Heaviside continued his correspondence with leading engineers and scientists throughout the war. They contain commentary on the war, including personal views.

    Poisonous gases were one area of debate, between Heaviside and the Oxford University lecturer Dr CV Burton. In 1915 Burton went to work in the Royal Aircraft Factory, Department H (Physics) at Farnborough; he was killed in an explosion there in 1917. His views on the use of poisonous gases offer a window into how people at home felt about aggressive methods at the front:

    “If it is merely a question of dirty tricks played on occasion, like white flag treachery, we needn’t follow the methods of the enemy; but when methods are resorted to which give an advantage to the user and may be or paramount military importance, we can’t afford to fight such a one-sided battle, whatever degree of barbarity may be involved. Don’t you agree? One needn’t be vindictive enough to choose a specially painful way when more humane means are available, but I’m afraid any gases which can be used in sufficient quantities to be effective will cause fearful suffering. We can’t help that: the alternative is to let ourselves to be beaten, because we are too considerate to fight the enemy with his own weapons; which would mean that the chlorine-fiends would rule the earth”.

    Ironically it was phosgene (used as a chemical weapon) which killed him. Burton would also share anecdotes of his wartime work and experiences:

    “One of our pilots had a thrilling adventure the other day. He started from Farnborough to take a new type of machine to the front: it is about 1 ½ hours flight. As he was nearing the French coast, in driving rain, the engine suddenly seized, the propeller smashed with the sudden stoppage, & bits of the engine flew about, some of them penetrating the wings. He could see no land, and took off his coat and waistcoat in readiness for a plunge into the foaming sea (it was very rough). Then he caught sight of a blacking object that looked like Boulogne pier & made for it;... say 120 m.p.h. The ambulance people rushed out to his assistance, but he had managed to turn up-wind, and alight in a field without further mishap.”

    Another correspondent was George Frederick Charles Searle, he informed Heaviside how Burton died:

    “Burton was killed about 15 or 16 months ago at the Royal Aircraft ’Establishment’ (late ‘Factory’). He was doing something with Phosgene, a very poisonous gas. This is easily liquefied and he had a ‘syphon’ (like a soda water syphon) of the liquid. The bottle burst (it was not at high pressure). Burton got the stuff all over him. He seemed at first as if he had just recovered but a few hours later died.” Tragically, Searle goes on to say, ‘Mrs Burton a day or two later took poison and died also.”

    Through letters we get a glimpse of how people, indirectly, involved in the war felt and saw the conflict: Burton offers a pragmatic view which may seem shocking in today's context; he also though offers a 'fun' boys own adventure story, which suggests an element of enthusiasm for the excitement of war.


    Heaviside
    Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925). Read his biography in Resources.


    Burton’s last letter to Heaviside (he died 4 weeks later) dated 30 December 1916
    Burton’s last letter to Heaviside (he died 4 weeks later) dated 30 Dec 1916.
    Credits/footnotes:

    Ellis papers and image,
    NAEST 155/3 IET Archives.

    Images:

    Factory workers, IMechE Archive except for the following used with thanks to Tyne and Wear Archive for image A7774/2 Lathe operator at Heaton Works, 1914-1918 (first in gallery) and to Imperial War Museum for images Q 30040 Women workers at the National Shell Filling Factory, Chilwell and Q106565 Members of the Women’s Forestry Corps in Sussex.


    Heaverside portrait and letter excerpt, IET Archive.