Object of the Month for November
Items commemorating a munitions girl’s work in World War Two
New Object of the Month for November is a certificate which was given to a lady called Elizabeth McLauchrie and a brooch also given to her for her services in munitions factories during World War Two.
Recently a couple visited the Museum to share the account of a lady called Elizabeth who worked in the Powfoot Munitions works during World War Two. Her work was recognised by a campaign led by Russell Brown to get munitions workers recognition for their contribution to the war effort in both World Wars. Russell Brown was an MP in Dumfries and Galloway from 1997 to 2015 and previously worked in an Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) plant as a plant operative and started to campaign for the government to give surviving Scottish factory workers some recognition for the work that they did during the Second World War.
Seven of the eleven surviving munitions workers who lived in Dumfries and Galloway attended the event along with 24 families of deceased munitions workers who worked during the first and second World Wars, they were given a certificate and a brooch with a canary on a shell made by a local jeweller from Balmaclellan. Russell also set up a campaign to raise £100,000 to build a lasting memorial to munitions workers at the National Memorial Arboretum.
The couple have loaned us a photograph of Elizabeth along with a framed certificate awarded to her from the Houses of Parliament and a beautiful brooch in the shape of a shell with a Canary on it (as the girls were often named the Canary Girls). They were called the Canary girls as when mixing the cordite in the factory they had to mix it by hand which meant that the chemicals would mix with the melanin in the skin which would cause a yellow pigmentation and would stain the skin, although unpleasant, this was not dangerous and the discolouration eventually faded over time with no long term health defects.
Our visitors told us that Elizabeth had visited our Museum several times and thought it was a fitting place for her items to be. We agree and have now put them on display in the Object of the Month. Thanks Colin and Jean for making this loan happen and for speaking with members of the Museum staff when you visited.