Friday, 3 October 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

This lady worked with munitions at the National Explosives Company, set among the towans at Hayle. She wears a drawstring cap, to keep her hair from her face while handling explosives, and a flame-retardant cotton twill overall.

National had been founded in 1888 to produce dynamite for mining. With demand down for commercial explosives the factory had turned to War Office and Admiralty contracts, becoming a leading supplier to the services.

During the war, Hayle produced huge quantities of ammunition cordite, as well as guncotton charges for torpedoes and mines. While soldiers of the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry guarded the factory’s perimeter, National grew to employ around 1,800 people. All told, at its wartime peak over 3,000 people worked for Cornwall’s explosives makers.

Despite the greatly increased work in such a hazardous place, over the war years just two serious explosions occurred at National and only four people were killed. In the same accident during December 1916, two men and two women died. Cissie Rogers and May Stoneman, aged 20 and 21, were laid to rest nearby in Phillack churchyard, their war service acknowledged; Cissie was buried on Christmas Eve.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon:   

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