Network43

Tweeting through the Blackout

Four people and the story of a generation

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Ellie Blackwood

Ellie is 21 years old and she works at the munitions factory in the Royal Arsenal. She has always been known as a ‘grafter’, she’s determined, positive, a go-getter. After her dad passed away, her mother became a bundle of nerves, with a little brother at home Ellie had to assume the role of the man of the house at a young age. When the factories across England called for women to fill the vacuum left by men, Ellie thought it would be something she could fit into easily. So at the age of 17 Ellie Blackwood wore a pair of trousers for the first time and assembled a gun for the first time.

Women made up more than half the workforce in factories during WWII, working day and night in very harsh conditions. They came from all sections of the society, working class and middle class, young and old. For most it was the first time in their lives they were tending to both the kitchen fire and the furnace fire. However, their wages were lower, in some cases skilled women were paid even less than unskilled men. In 1943 women at the Rolls Royce factory in Glasgow went on strike protesting against their wages. This was one of the early instances of women rising against discrimination.