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The Factories

Men's work - Women's pay

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Between 1939 and 1943, 1.5 million women were employed in essential industries. Regardless of their social status, women were requested to register their current jobs with the local Employment Exchange, to be given suitable war work.

Many of the lower or working class women had worked in factories before the war, but for women of the middle and upper classes, some of whom had never worked before, this was a new experience. Often the work was heavy and the women worked a 60-hour week, having to learn to use skilled equipment and machinery. Women working alongside men were seen as cheap labour and were paid less. Many were severely injured or killed, risking their lives on a daily basis to make bombs and ammunition for the front line.

It was due to the magnificent effort of these women that Britain's output of war materials reached an unexpected height.

Having worked long hours in the factories they would still be expected to keep house. During air raids, they slept in cramped conditions in Anderson or Morrison shelters.

View wartime advertisements.

News from the Home Front
The Wilkinson Factory Bombing
NEI Parsons

Women helped to produce machinery for naval vessels, welded gun cases, engine frames machine parts for tanks, field guns, rolled strip cartridges and complete searchlights.

Poster: If you can't go to the factory help the neighbour who can.

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