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.

Women workers at the National Shell Filling Factory, Chilwell

Women workers at the National Shell Filling Factory, Chilwell

by User Not Found | 13 Aug, 2014

452 comments

Leave a comment
  1. Anthony | Feb 23, 2018
    HGH diet review Thanks for the valuable information. I find your blog very interesting to read. 
  2. pioneerseo | Feb 23, 2018
    I invite you to the page where     see how much we have in common. חברה לקידום אתרים
  3. Mcafee | Feb 22, 2018
    <b><a href="http://mcafeesupports.us/">McAfee Support</a></b>

    <b><a href="http://mcafeesupports.us/">McAfee Customer Service</a></b>

    <b><a href="http://mcafeesupports.us/">McAfee Antivirus Support</a></b>

    <b><a href="http://mcafeesupports.us/">McAfee Technical Support</a></b>

    <b><a href="http://mcafeesupports.us/">McAfee Help</a></b>

    <b><a href="http://mcafeesupports.us/">McAfee phone number</a></b>

    <b><a href="http://mcafeesupports.us/">McAfee Customer Support </a></b>
  4. Webroot Support | Feb 22, 2018

    <b><a href="http://www.webrootsafe.us/">Webroot.com/Safe</a></b>

    Need to Have Advanced Technology internet Security software from Webroot safe Software company with the following Link webroot.com/safe that help to protect all device from virus, malware and other online threats. 

    <b><a href="http://www.webrootsafe.us/">www.Webroot.com/Safe</a></b>

  5. canon printer support | Feb 22, 2018

    Available Canon printer support for all your printer related issues. Get Canon customer support for quick setup & install, latest drivers & software, network connectivity and general troubleshooting. Call Canon printer customer service number for quick assistance by certified technicians.

    canon printer support

  6. ktie | Feb 22, 2018
    One present why galore businesses opt for postcards is because they are overmuch cheaper to be prefab and this can forbear a lot of expenses on the lengthened run.  ironing services london
  7. ktie | Feb 21, 2018
    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info  man and van new york
  8. ktie | Feb 21, 2018
    This is truly a decent and useful, containing all data furthermore greatly affects the new innovation. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing it  Auto Equity Loans Hialeah
  9. Faheem | Feb 20, 2018
    These websites are really needed, you can learn a lot.  modernfurniture4home
  10. Faheem | Feb 20, 2018
    These websites are really needed, you can learn a lot.  Health Spikes
  11. Faheem | Feb 20, 2018
    On my website you'll see similar texts, write what you think.  Gamer Home
  12. link sales | Feb 20, 2018
    You bear through a awesome vacancy. I sanity definitely quarry it moreover personally suggest to my buddys. I am self-possessed they determination be benefited from this scene. Kinda Dusty
  13. pioneerseo | Feb 20, 2018
    Register Company Cyprus (in Nicosia), from the highly qualified individuals at registercypruscompany.eu will assist you from A to Z, for the registration and formation of your company, in Cyprus.
  14. maria | Feb 20, 2018
    For McAfee Retail Card Activate, Download & complete installation online with step by step guide. We are providing free independent online support service , if in case you face the problem to Activate McAfee product.Please visit our site. http://www.mcafeecontact.us
  15. mcafeecom/activate | Feb 20, 2018
    For McAfee Activate, Download & complete installation online. We providing independent online support service , if in case you face the problem to Activate McAfee product.Please visit our link :Mcafee Activation Support
  16. nortonsetup | Feb 20, 2018
    Norton Antivirus Setup ,we are providing online independent support for our customer if any issue related to Norton Setup installation and download . For more details follow the links below :  Norton Setup Installation
  17. muneer ahmed | Feb 20, 2018
    Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post. backlinks
  18. muneer ahmed | Feb 20, 2018
    Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, booklet printing
  19. linker seo | Feb 19, 2018
    Taxi Paphos Luxury taxis and limos are ready for you, from the professionals in safe and friendly transport, of jackstaxicyprus.com. Safely, Reliability and Comfort is our specialization.  Limousines, Wedding Limousines, Wedding Cars, are also available for you to enjoy unforgettable moments.
  20. Faheem | Feb 18, 2018
    These websites are really needed, you can learn a lot.  gratis inserate
  21. JOHN | Feb 17, 2018
    We provide Outlook customer service phone number or on Chat ,Outlook tech support phone number for recover outlook password recovery and other issues.microsoft outlook support
  22. SCDAF | Feb 17, 2018
    Support For Adobe at Contactassistance.com is an online technical support company. We provide trustworthy tech support and services for the third party products.adobe support
  23. SDAVDF | Feb 17, 2018
    Looking for Aol Support? Call now on toll free number to get instant 24/7 email support AOL, AOL Mail Technical Support, Click here for more information.aol Email support
  24. SAFDAVG | Feb 17, 2018
    Enter Key for Office.com/setup, after purchasing Office from visit office.com/setup, sign in to your www.office.com/setup account then enter product key for Office Setup.office.com/setup
  25. JOHN | Feb 17, 2018
    McAfee Security offering world-class securities solution for Windows, Android, iOS & Mac OS. It is one of the leaders in the world of security online. All McAfee antivirus comes up with the high-ended protection which protects your PC, Laptops, and Smartphones from all types of online threats including the following:mcafee.com/activate
  26. SMITH | Feb 17, 2018
    Office Reinstall – Microsoft Office reinstall has required the removal of the previously installed version of your Office product on the device or system. Office 365 and other subscription offers the various features, which you do not get when you do not purchase the Office product. The office can be used free, as Microsoft provides the trial versions of every tool.office.com/setup
  27. SAFDSA | Feb 17, 2018
    norton.com/setup Online Help – Step by Step guide for Norton Setup, Download & complete installation online. We are providing independent support service if in case you face problem to activate or Setup Norton product.norton.com/setup
  28. Nicholas | Feb 16, 2018
    I highly recommend your website for more incomparable learning as what I can see your ideas were great. amazing grass
  29. Faheem | Feb 16, 2018
    On my website you'll see similar texts, write what you think.  crm
  30. link sales | Feb 16, 2018
    I've proper selected to build a blog, which I hold been deficient to do for a during. Acknowledges for this inform, it's really serviceable! Free Download Sofware
  31. ktie | Feb 15, 2018
    Its my great pleasure to visit your blog and to enjoy your great posts here. I like it a lot. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful.  toys for pit bulls
  32. www office com setup | office setup |office.Com/setup | Feb 15, 2018
    office setup,www office com setup, office.com setup, www.office.com setup, www.office.com/setup, office.com/setup, office com setup, office/setupYou'll use your Microsoft Account for everything you do with Office. If you use a Microsoft service like Outlook.com, OneDrive, Xbox Live, or Skype, you already have an account.  http://officecomsetupoffice.com/
  33. linker seo | Feb 15, 2018
    Data Recover SA: Cape Town Data Recovery. Industry leaders in data recovery services cape town for lost or deleted data in South Africa. Be it raid data recovery cape town, laptop data recovery cape town or raid data recovery cape town. Data Recovery Specialists Cape Town
  34. link sales | Feb 15, 2018
    Acknowledges for penmanship such a worthy column, I stumbled beside your blog besides predict a handful advise. I want your tone of manuscript... תביעה קטנה
  35. nissa | Feb 15, 2018
    Interesting to read this article to encourage the women's workforce and it's relevant.A million women were employed in munitions and engineering works.It is accepted that properly trained women were good as men.Thanks for sharing this article.why is my computer so slow
  36. seo master | Feb 15, 2018
    The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface. Domain Authority Checker
  37. link sales | Feb 15, 2018
    Why do only so much written on this subject? Here you see more.  Car Title Loans Orlando
  38. Faheem | Feb 14, 2018
    Make the most of mainly premium substances - you will find him or her for: hcmc video production house
  39. muneer ahmed | Feb 14, 2018
    Adding fruit to juices varies the flavor, but it comes with a price -- extra calories. If you are doing a juice fast and drinking green juices جستجوی وکیل
  40. muneer ahmed | Feb 14, 2018
    I love significantly your own post! I look at all post is great. I discovered your personal content using bing search. Discover my webpage is a great one as you.I work to create several content this post. Once more you can thank you and keep it create! Enjoy! تحصیل در انگلستان بدون مدرک زبان
  41. Norton.com/Setup | Feb 13, 2018
    For initial Setup of Norton retail card please visit Norton.com/Setup or to redeem and activate your Norton Setup product key online or dial toll free number 1-888-827-9060.
  42. muneer ahmed | Feb 12, 2018
    Good website! I truly love how it is easy on my eyes it is. I am wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS which may do the trick? Have a great day! قیمت طراحی سایت
  43. Boston Party Bus Rentals | Feb 12, 2018
    The information you have posted is very useful. The sites you have referred was good. Thanks for sharing..Boston Party Bus Rentals
  44. Faheem | Feb 11, 2018
    For many people this is the best solution here      see how to do it. buy marlins tickets
  45. muneer ahmed | Feb 10, 2018
    A debt of gratitude is in order for offering this quality data to us. I truly delighted in perusing. Will without a doubt going to impart this URL to my companions.  MCA Loans
  46. muneer ahmed | Feb 10, 2018
    I can set up my new idea from this post. It gives in depth information. Thanks for this valuable information for all,.. Florida Equity Loans
  47. link sales | Feb 09, 2018
    Patent filing done by the most expert lawyer in India. Company360.in rocks when it comes to patent - Anu Sharma lawyer is very intelligent and honest lawyer gave right advice and fantastic draft. Patent registration
  48. HP Support | Feb 09, 2018

    To get more details of HP Support just call us at, US: 1-888-827-9060 & UK: 020-3287-0180 (Toll Free)HP support number.

    HP Support

  49. Jonard | Feb 08, 2018
    I just came upon your Male Enhancement Supplements blog and desired to say that I have really admired your blog site content. Any way I'll be subscribing for your feed and I wish you post again soon. Big thanks for the free share!
  50. office.com/setup | Feb 08, 2018
    Microsoft Office is a full-fledged suite comprises of different applications, services and servers. The applications that make up Office get updated with the launch of its latest versions. However, the basic application like PowerPoint, Word, Excel and a few more remained same with improvement in the features.

    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.