Gretna Girls : The WW1 Munitions Women Who Made the Devil's Porridge
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This is the story of the remarkable women of HM Factory Gretna, and the vital role they played during the First World War. 'The nitro-glycerine on the one side and the gun-cotton on the other are kneaded into a sort of a devil's porridge...Hats off to the women of Britain' Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Until 1915 Gretna and Eastriggs were tiny rural hamlets. Then in 1915 the Ministry of Munitions arrived to build 'the greatest factory in the world'. By 1917 HM Factory Gretna was producing 1,100 tons of cordite every week - thanks to the Gretna Girls, the 12,000 female workers who played such a vital role in the war. From servant and factory girls (including the author's own grandmother) to suffragettes and female doctors, here for the first time is the extraordinary story of those women who lived and worked in the ground-breaking social experiment that was both dangerous and emancipating. 'It is of such vital importance to the State that it is ringed with barbed-wire entanglements and patrolled by sentries...it is inhabited chiefly by pretty young girls clad in a Red-Riding-Hood fancy dress of khaki and scarlet.' Rebecca West after her visit, 1917