For Every Fighter a Woman Worker! Photographs of Women Doing Their Bit in WW1 (1918)

Pictures of women on the Home Front

“The war revolutionised the industrial position of women – it found them serfs and left them free.”
– Millicent Fawcett president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies from 1897 to 1918

Women Workers in WW1

c. 1917 Women and men work amid rows of artillery shells at the National Filling Factory in Chilwell.

c. 1917 Workers at the National Filling Factory in Chilwell

 

Women Workers filled the void left by men called up to fight in World War 1. Working in jobs that had always been held by men, many women moved from domestic drudgery into industrial drudgery. They produced munitions, gas masks, planes, ships and worked the land. The British wartime government photographed the women for use in official projects but the photographs on the whole failed to show how hard and dangerous the work actually was.  As Alexandra Kuskowski notes:

Women in munitions factories had their skin turn yellow from regular exposure to TNT, earning the nickname “canaries.” Hundreds of women died from overexposure to TNT and other deadly chemicals. On top of the dangerous working conditions, women were also paid significantly less than men in comparable positions. In 1918, women workers on London’s buses, trams and subways organized a strike and managed to win equal pay for equal work.

Nonetheless it still wasn’t real equality. Although in 1918 British women, after a long campaign by the Women’s Suffrage movement before the war, at last got the vote. But only if they were over the age of 30 years.

 

1918 Women World War workers

British women cleaning a locomotive in the Midlands

1918 Women World War workers

British women working in a chemical laboratory near Manchester

1918 Women World War workers

British women in a glass factory cutting shop near Birmingham

1918 Women World War workers

British women aeroplane workers near Birmingham welding frame tugs for planes

1918 Women World War workers

Railway workers unloading goods from train

1918 Women World War workers

British women working in a lace factory in Nottingham

1918 Women World War workers

Woman driving O.E.T. crane

1918 Women World War workers

British women millers in Lancashire packing flour

1918 Women World War workers

British women rubber workers in Lancashire making mouth-pieces for gas masks

1918 Women World War workers

British women asbestos workers in factory in Lancashire

1918 Women World War workers

The Royal tour in the North Eastern Countries – The King chatting to some of the munitions girls

1918 Women World War workers

W.R.N.S. instructor at respirator and mask drill for military recruits

1918 Women World War workers

View of canteen at munitions factory

 

WW1, munitions, women

1918 Women World War workers

Women operating radial drills, drilling valve covers and strainer plates for weed boxes for marine engines

British women Glass Workers

1918 Women World War workers

Woman driving 20 ton O.E.T. crane

1918 Women World War workers

With the British Navy in wartime – Working a machine to extract the metal from the rubbish

1918 Women World War workers

British rubber workers in Lancashire spreading machine for coaling canvas for tire making

1918 Women World War workers

WOMEN’S FARM COMPETITIONS AT THE WHITEHALL ESTATE

1918 Women World War workers

Sorting pan coke and ashes in London gas works

1918 Women World War workers

Women workers in a British shell factory

1918 Women World War workers

Discharging Oxide Purifiers at a London gas works

1918 Women World War workers

Removing grit supports in Oxide purifiers at a London gas works

1918 Women World War workers

WOMEN’S FARM COMPETITIONS AT THE WHITEHALL ESTATE, BISHOP’S STORTFORD

1918 Women World War workers

Women and girls doing rough work in the yards

1918 Women World War workers

Women thatchers at work

1918 Women World War workers

Whealing spent oxide on floor at a London gas works

1918 Women World War workers

The bag fillers assisting the bag on to the carrier’s back

1918 Women World War workers

Coke heavers

1918 Women World War workers

1918 Women World War workers

Workers in a dressing shop.

1918 Women World War workers

A London’s gas works

1918 Women World War workers

A London gas works

1918 Women World War workers

Women taping planes

1918 Women World War workers

British women in Nottingham tannery drawing skins from the lime pit

All images of Women in World War 1 : University of British Colombia