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

988 comments

Leave a comment
  1. jack harry | Aug 18, 2018
    We can help you by providing internet marketing solutions and quality link building services at a fraction of the cost of other firms. Summer Styles
  2. jack harry | Aug 18, 2018
    An amazing blog! What writing skills you have, must say I am real impressed by your work and appreciate it. Daily Deals
  3. 메이저놀이터 | Aug 18, 2018
    Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a book from our local library but I think I learned better from this post. I am very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely out there.. 메이저놀이터
  4. norton.com/setup | Aug 18, 2018
    We will purchase Download, present and dynamic Norton.com/setup  from Nrotonsetup.com. We will do Update and Upgrade of Norton setup gathering for you. On the 
    off chance that it's required then we will remotely get to your structure and loosen up the isues.
    http://nrotonsetup.com
  5. norton.com/setup | www.norton.com/setup | Aug 18, 2018
    We will purchase Download, present and dynamic <a href="http://nrotonsetup.com">Norton.com/setup</a>  from Nrotonsetup.com. We will do Update and Upgrade of Norton setup gathering for you. On the 
    off chance that it's required then we will remotely get to your structure and loosen up the isues.
    http://nrotonsetup.com
  6. www.office.com/setup | office.com/setup | Aug 18, 2018
    office.com/setuphas been developed for both Windows and Mac operating systems. This suite of applications is used for both personal and professional use. The  latest version, Office setup 365 is booming among the businesses.
  7. best corporate escape room | Aug 18, 2018
    This is a very good post which I really enjoy reading. It is not everyday that I have the possibility to see something like this.best corporate escape room
  8. Essay Writer | Aug 17, 2018
    I think this is a good article if you are an essay writer looking for an essay writing service or you want someone to write my essay. It can also help if you just need an essay typer. write my essay Or you can try website content. Or, you can find any prom dresses you might want. Maybe you’d like a prom dresses 2019.  Or maybe you want a maid in halifax.
  9. norton.com/setup | Aug 17, 2018
    Norton.com/setup  The Norton Antivirus Software easily install on the Link norton.com/setup. One of the best advantages of Norton Setup is that it automatically blocks unwanted trying to enter the system. It will always examine for user’s permission to permit that particular file or data before entering.

    Norton Setup

  10. office.com/setup | Aug 17, 2018

    It even offers setup storage services and email services. People can buy any of the Office versions from Office 365, Office 2016, Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, and Office 2003, depending on the requirements of their business or home computers. office.com/setup


  11. norton.com/setup | Aug 17, 2018

    The Norton Antivirus Software easily install on the Link norton.com/setup. One of the best advantages of Norton Setup is that it automatically blocks unwanted trying to enter the system. It will always examine for user’s permission to permit that particular file or data before entering.                                 http://nortoncomusa.com

  12. Office.com/setup | Aug 17, 2018
    It even offers setup storage services and email services. People can buy any of the Office versions from Office 365, Office 2016, Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, and Office 2003, depending on the requirements of their business or home computers.                                                                        http://officecomusa.com
  13. jakob | Aug 16, 2018

    <a href="https://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/sekslek/" target="_blank">stromper</a>

    Do you wear tights for the evening party dress or have the left sock disappeared in the wash again? Here you will find a selection of socks for women and both thin and thick tights. Make your skirts and skirts for year-round wear with a woolen jacket for women, or show off your legs when it's warmer in the air in some thinner, tanned tights. Some thicker socks are the perfect gift for Christmas. The outfit with the short dress will be a little less revealing with a colored tights, and with a 3-pack socks you will never have to worry about single socks for a certain amount of time, depending on how effective your socks are in your home.

  14. good | Aug 16, 2018
     We have a gigantic assortment of tights for all occasions. Choose from skin-colored, colorful, patterned and black tights. Test tights with shaping effect, stay-ups or leggings with blonde details. Find your favorite tights to wear under your dress or skirt

    <ahref="https://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/sekslek/">stromper</a>

  15. strompe | Aug 16, 2018
    At you get a wide range of tights and stockings for women for everyday life, work and parties. Choose from knitted stockings, mesh socks, shaping tights, stay-ups and tights in many patterns, colors and qualities. <a href="https://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/sekslek/">strompebukser</a>
  16. office setup | office.com/setup | Aug 16, 2018
    Office Setup If you have already downloaded the setup file or you were running trail for Office and now you need to activate the Product.
  17. norton setup | Aug 16, 2018

    Get the easiest habit of setup and install Norton gone Product Key from norton.com/setup. Norton proves to be one important aspects for all the internet users to court conflict as a shield adjacent-door-door to the increasing number of viruses, worms, spyware, and Trojan horses.

    http://nortoncom.org/

  18. norton setup | Aug 16, 2018
    Get the easiest habit of setup and install Norton gone Product Key from norton.com/setup. Norton proves to be one important aspects for all the internet users to court conflict as a shield adjacent-door-door to the increasing number of viruses, worms, spyware, and Trojan horses.http://nortoncom.org/
  19. Norton.com/setup | Aug 16, 2018
    Norton.com/setup on a web browser is an online activation website for Norton Setup. From this official Norton login link, you can set up, manage, reinstall your Norton product subscription and setup your account.
  20. Yahoo Support | Aug 16, 2018
    Yahoo support is one of the oldest web based email service providers which has always maintained its leading position and never slipped from the top five slot. Yahoo e-mail started in the late 1990’s is still in a comfortable position in spite of cut throat competition in the segment.
  21. Norton.com/setup | Aug 16, 2018
    They can directly go to norton.com/setup and enter the 25 character alphanumeric product key code to activate their Norton software.
  22. Office.com/setup | Aug 16, 2018
    Office Setup To get started with your Microsoft Office Installation you must need valid product key code & visit Office.com/Setup and we can also help you with your entire process to setup office product online.
  23. Office setup | Aug 16, 2018

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I've really loved surfing around your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    https://install-office.com/setup/

  24. Simon John | Aug 14, 2018
    This is really helpful post and very informative there is no doubt about it. I found this one pretty fascinating and it should go into my collection. Very good work!Visit us for further assistance : Norton.com/MyAccount
  25. Office.com/setup | Aug 14, 2018

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I've really loved surfing around your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    https://setupoffize.com/office-com-setup/

  26. Robert Williams | Aug 14, 2018

    This is one of the great informative post and wonderful article i come across . very good and positive approach too. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post with great info.

    norton.com/setup | norton.com/setup | office.com/setup

  27. Staragile | Aug 14, 2018

    To enrol or to know more about <a href="https://staragile.com/csm-certification-training-bangalore/">CSM Certification Bangalore</a>

    <a href="https://staragile.com/">www.staragile.com</a>

  28. eweb | Aug 14, 2018
    [url=http://www.ewebdiscussion.com/search-engine-optimization-seo/50080-how-to-gain-more-visitor-for-education-or-training-services-website.html]EWEB[url/]
  29. eweb | Aug 14, 2018
    <a href="http://www.ewebdiscussion.com/search-engine-optimization-seo/"eweb</a>
  30. Staragile | Aug 14, 2018

    To enrol or to know more about https://staragile.com/csm-certification-training-bangalore/

      you may reach us on +91- 8050205233 or www.staragile.com

  31. jasmine | Aug 14, 2018

    Paragraphs formatting lets you control the appearance of individual paragraphs.

    office.com/setup

  32. simon John | Aug 13, 2018
    This is really helpful post and very informative there is no doubt about it. I found this one pretty fascinating and it should go into my collection. Very good work!Visit us for further assistance : norton.com/nu16
  33. betty | Aug 13, 2018
    Your strategy is truly fantastic and this info is so superb you work here review prime male
  34. juli | Aug 12, 2018

    I have perused your article, it is exceptionally useful and accommodating for me.I appreciate the significant data you offer in your articles. A debt of gratitude is in order for posting it.. 

    about fintech review

  35. norton.com/setup | Aug 11, 2018
  36. www office com setup | Aug 10, 2018
    www.office.com/setup - Get instant help for MS Office products. We are authorized to support provider in the USA. We will resolve your issues technical issues remotely. http://wwwsetupofficecom.com/setup you can find solution for office.com/setup we have heighly qualified technician for Office com setup https://setup-microsoft-office.com- Get instant help for MS Office products. We are authorized to support provider in the USA. We will resolve your issues technical issues remotely. https://setup-microsoft-office.
  37. office.com/setup | Aug 10, 2018
  38. norton setup | Aug 10, 2018
    Norton Antivirus Software allows the user to schedule the time for a scan so that system scan will be automatic on the required time.norton setup
  39. norton setup | Aug 10, 2018
    Norton allows the user to delete or lock the screen of the device when it was so that the important and the most valuable data is safe from being stolen.norton setup
  40. Mateo | Aug 10, 2018

    As always your contents were stunning, it impresses me every time.

    amazing grass superfood review

  41. kelly | Aug 09, 2018

    Can you imagine how a true voyante Paris could be able to tell you the future ? Have you ever meet a fortune-teller for real ? This website of esoterism propose you to discover this fabulous world, where the future can be see as clearly as the windows in front of you. A voyance gratuite par telephone is also available, days and nights, to help and give you answers.

    voyante paris

  42. John Morrison | Aug 09, 2018

    Office.com/setup- Learn how to download, install, activate, and uninstall Microsoft Office Setup on different devices and operating systems such as Mac and Windows. Activate your 25 character alphanumeric product key for Office 365, Office 2016, Office 2013, Office 2010, or Office 2007 at www.Office.com/setup

    office.com/setupnorton.com/setup office.com/setup

  43. Stephen strange | Aug 09, 2018

    Norton.com/Setup - You might have been looking for a proper guide that helps you in downloading, installing and activating the Norton Product key. Visit www.norton.com/setup and proceed for the Norton installation setup. Get Norton help at Norton Customer support toll free number.

    office.com/setupnorton.com/setup office.com/setup

  44. Stephen strange | Aug 09, 2018

    Norton.com/Setup - You might have been looking for a proper guide that helps you in downloading, installing and activating the Norton Product key. Visit www.norton.com/setup and proceed for the Norton installation setup. Get Norton help at Norton Customer support toll free number.

    <a href="http://oficesetup.com/">office.com/setup</a> | 


    <a href="http://mynotronsetup.com/">norton.com/setup</a>


    <a href="http://officeinstall-setup.com/">office.com/setup</a>


  45. Bently | Aug 09, 2018

    Almost every day I visit your page and I am happy to say that you inspire me every time.

    home buyers houston

  46. seo | Aug 09, 2018
  47. ref | Aug 09, 2018
    digital bath, <a href="https://www.digitalbath.fr/agence-referencement-site.html">agence referencement<a/>
  48. ss | Aug 09, 2018
    Hi there! Nice stuff, do keep me posted when you post again something like this! The best face cream with snow algae
  49. link building packages | Aug 09, 2018
    We can help you by providing internet marketing solutions and quality link building services at a fraction of the cost of other firms. link building packages
  50. norton setup | Aug 09, 2018
    Norton (a subsidiary of Symantec Corporations) is one of the providers as well as the designers of the online security solutions and the anti-malware software for its users executing the devices of variant platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. The company has shown their complete dedication to protect the users’ device and data through its products that have been included with various advanced features. Norton.com/setupnorton setup

    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.