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world War one

A photo of a creepy child wearing a gas mask with a illustration of a small phone box in the sky collaged on a burgundy background. A photo of The Devil's Porridge Museum is just visible behind the background. Some white text underneath the photo of the child with a gas mask gives that images source as Wikipedia.

The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s Doctor Who Playlist

By News

The 23rd November 2023 marks the 60th anniversary of sci-fi TV show Doctor Who and since our usual Monthly Roundup person is a bit of a fan, she thought it would be fantastic to look at some of the times the show visited the general times or subjects The Devil’s Porridge Museum focuses on.  Read on to discover The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s Doctor Who Playlist!

Of course we are NOT saying that these Doctor Who episodes are in any way historically accurate or the views expressed in this program are those of The Devil’s Porridge Museum (Doctor Who is about an alien traveling in time and space in a phone box after all!). This is just for a bit of fun!

SPOILER WARNING! Although, we’ve done our best not to share too many spoilers be aware that some will be included in this blog post and you’ll find more if you choose to follow the links by the clicking on the episode titles.

World War One

The War Games (1969)

The War Games is a last story featuring the 2nd Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and the first few parts are based during World War One. There’s a WW1 ambulance driver and the trenches feature. Of course, it soon turns out that things are not quite how they seem and much more is going on (don’t worry we’re trying not to share too many spoilers here!). This 10 part story and not all the parts are based during World War One, but we still think it deserves a mention.

The Family of Blood (2007)

The Family Blood is the second part of a two part episode (the first part is Human Nature) based prior based prior to World War One. It is only near the end of the this episode were WW1 features. The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) also have a beautiful moment of remembrance in this story. Both these things earn it a mention here.

Twice Upon a Time (2017)

Twice Upon a Time was a Christmas special, which was the 12th Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi’s) last episode. It features a World War One British army captain (played by Mark Gatiss) and also includes a heart-warming scene in relation to this. Well, it is Christmas after all. Football anyone?


World War Two

The Curse of Fendric (1989)

The Curse of Fendric is a 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) story, which is based during World War Two at a British Naval installation. This is what earns it’s place on this list.

The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances (2005)

The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances are based in London during The Blitz and features The 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston).  A quick word of warning! This episode has probably one of the most terrifying monsters in Doctor Who and there’s a chilling transformative moment in The Empty Child. (Obviously, this is just the opinion of our Monthly Roundup creator person, but nevertheless you have been warned)!

A creepy child wearing a gas mask with a hat on

The Empty Child. Is it just me or does that gas mask seem familiar? Photo source:

Victory of the Daleks (2011)

Victory of the Daleks is based during World War Two, it features Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) and The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith). As you may have gathered from the title it does feature some of The Doctor’s best known foes, or the daleks (we did say these episodes might NOT be historically accurate didn’t we?). Look out for the jammy dodger.

The Window, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2011)

This is another Christmas special, this time featuring The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith). The episode is based in 1941 and there’s a few moments inside a Lancaster Bomber, which is why we’ve included it here. We do have to say that it may feature a Christmas Eve excursion to another planet and some rather wooden people though!

Spyfall Part 2 (2020)

Part 2 of Spyfall features the 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and spends some time in Paris during World War Two. The episode also features WW2 British Resistance agent Nora Inayat Khan (Aurora Marion). This is what earns it’s place as the most recent episode on the list. However it’s important to note that not all this episode is based during World War Two.



Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station

Ok, obviously there’s no Doctor Who episodes based explicitly around Chapelcross Nuclear Power station, but what about one which was filmed at a nuclear power station? Yes the connection may be a wee bit thin, but this is just for a bit of fun so bear with us!

The Hand of Fear (1976)

“Eldrad must live.”(Can you talk about The Hand of Fear without saying that?) The Hand of Fear features The 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen). Some of this story was filmed at Oldbury Nuclear Power Station in Gloucestershire (we’re pretty sure that this probably wasn’t the bits on the alien planet though), which is why we’ve included it here.



So there you are! That’s the end of The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s Doctor Who Playlist. Now if your ever wondering what Doctor Who episodes to watch before or after visiting The Devil’s Porridge Museum you’ll know just which ones! Are there any you think we missed? Or is there is any more Doctor Who episodes you think deserve a mention? Why not let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages?

A poster advertising Living History Weekend 2022 at The Devil's Porridge Museum.

Living History Weekend 2022

By Events

Saturday 30th July – Sunday 31st July 2022

All Activities Free with Admission into the Museum.


Get an insight into what life was like during World War One and World War Two with our living history weekend.



The Scottish Home Front Living History Society will give people an insight into how both civilians and soldiers lived during the Second World War by using the equipment, vehicles, and clothing from that time. They will help to make the past feel more tangible by showing the equipment working and demonstrating how it works and what it felt like to use. You will get to handle many of the objects, which will help to bring the past to life.

They will also have some suffragette reenactors to give an insight into the struggles of women protesting for the right to vote and how this affected their everyday lives.


Five people dressed as Suffergettes outside.


On War Service will be offering the opportunity to learn about First World War with an insight into medical care during that time. They will be inside the museum in uniform to share their enthusiasm and show you some medical equipment and domestic treasures from the time. Over the weekend they will be providing short specialist talks on the Spanish Flu Pandemic, the Role of the VAD and WW1 Hospitals in Dumfriesshire, and the Treatment of Shell Injuries. You can see the full talk programme for the weekend below.



You can learn more about On War Service on their website here: 


A photo form the 2019 Military Vehicle Event.

We hope this Living History Weekend event will build on the success of our Military Vehicle Weekend in 2019. You can read more about this here>


Another photo of a Military Vehicle Weekend event at The Devil’s Porridge Museum in the past.

Officer's Sewing Kit

Officer’s Sewing Kit – Object of the Month.

By Collections blog

This month marks the return of the object of the month to The Devil’s Porridge Museum. This is were an item from The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s collection that is currently not normally on display for the public is celebrated and displayed. The object of the month for May 2022 is an officer’s sewing kit.

Sewing kits were used by officers to maintain and mend any damage to their uniforms or clothing. This officer’s sewing kit is from World War One. The intial’s K.L.D on the front of the sewing kit refer to its previous owner, Kenneth Lees Duckett, who was a second lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry. Read more about him below.


Kenneth Lees Duckett

Photo of Kenneth Lees Ducket

Second Lieutenant Kenneth Lees Duckett (HU 121492) CWGC  Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Kenneth was born on  5th October 1891 in Glasgow to George William and Ann Kirkham Duckett.

In September 1914 Kenneth joined the Highland Light Infantry as a private in the 9th (Glasgow Highlanders) Battalion. He became a Sergeant in May 1915 and gained his commission in the following August.

His brother Second Lieutenant Harold Ager Duckett was also in the 9th Glasgow Highlanders Battalion in the Highland Light Infantry. Sadly Harlold died on 07 June 1917.

Kenneth married Isabelle Sutton Laidlaw in July 1915. They later had one daughter.

Sadly, Kenneth was wounded in action on 22nd August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme and died later that day.

Even more sadly, Kenneth had led an attack which had been canceled, but he had never received this order. His daughter was yet to be born at the time of his death.

Kenneth Lees Duckett is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery.

Isabelle later remarried a man called John Haggart Fraser, who was a chartered accountant. John was born in 1874 and died in 1953. Isabelle lived died in 1964, as can be seen on her death certificate from Scotland’s People below.

Registration of Death Isabelle

Source: Scotland’s People.

The gentleman who donated the officer’s sewing kit to us was given it by his friend in the 1990s, who was in some way related to John Haggart Fraser.

The officer’s sewing kit will be on display at the museum until the end of the month. You can book your visit to The Devil’s Porridge Museum online here>

Sources and further reading



Politics and the Devil’s Porridge: Lloyd George

By Collections blog

Researched and written by Mohammed Binghulaita Alghfeli.


David Lloyd George pictured in 1919. Photo credit:

Lloyd George is one of the most popular British Prime Ministers of the 20th century. Lloyd George is best known for planting the seeds of the modern British welfare state. Although his fondly remembered as an energetic and pragmatic Prime Minister, the government roles he had before being Prime Minister are often ignored. This article sheds more light on Lloyd George’s role in the creation of Factory Gretna. Lloyd George was appointed the first Minister of Munitions and served in that role between 1915-16.


As Minister of Munitions, Lloyd George was instrumental in setting up Factory Gretna, which became the largest cordite factory in Britain during World War 1. The article argues that Lloyd George’s experience obtained from the role as Chancellor of the Exchequer was instrumental in his success as Minister of Munitions. The article also argues that it is the success of Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions that set him up to ascend to the higher office of Prime Minister.


War Time Chancellor (1908-1915)


Lloyd George was appointed the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1908. His first major task was implementing the Liberal party’s 1906 election manifesto. A key promise was that the country would reduce military spending. Lloyd George supported the idea to reduce military spending by arguing that the country was not at war and hence government spending should be directed towards more social services (Pelling, 1989). However, conservatives launched a public campaign against the reduction in military spending. The campaign against a reduction in military spending was a success which forced the Cabinet to reject Lloyd George’s proposals.


Lloyd George’s enthusiasm to reduce military spending aligned with his core beliefs. According to Morgan (2017), Lloyd George was an opponent of warfare and was initially vehemently opposed to Britain joining the war in 1914. He only changed his opposition to the country joining the war when Belgium stated that it would refuse German requests to have her army pass through Belgian territory. As George Floyd’s anti-war stance was known, it is surprising that he was appointed as a Minister of Munitions in 1915.


Since Lloyd George was not a proponent of war, one can only wonder why Asquith appointed him as Minister of Munitions in 1915. Ahlstrom (2014) speculates that perhaps Lloyd George was appointed Minister of Munitions because of the good management and leadership skills he had shown as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. For Britain to win the war, it needed to have a competent person at the helm of its ammunitions department.

Photo credit PA/PA Archive/PA Images

Ministry of Munitions (1915-1916)


The Ministry of Munitions was created in 1915 in response to the Shell Crisis of 1915 (Greenhalgh, 2007). In addition, Miller (2021) notes that the Ministry of Munitions was also created to bring together military and business knowledge to reorganise the industry for war. Prior to Asquith creating the Ministry of Munitions, he, as Prime Minister, was in charge of the Admiralty and also ran the War Office (Quinault, 2014).


The lack of a dedicated munitions ministry had led to a shortage in the supply of weapons at the war front. Quinault (2014) argues that Asquith was not a good wartime Prime Minister. According to Quinault (2014), Asquith was more comfortable giving speeches and ignored the ammunition supply issues bedevilling the army. However, Asquith should be credited for accepting that the war effort could benefit from having a dedicated ammunitions ministry.


Minister of Munitions (1915-16)


David Lloyd George was the first person appointed to lead the Ministry of Munitions by Asquith. Unlike Asquith, David Lloyd George strongly believed World War 1 would be won through mechanisation. As Minister of Munitions, he said the “great war was a war of machinery” (Lloyd-Jones & Lewis, 2008). According to Lloyd-Jones and Lewis (2008), Lloyd George was not satisfied with the way ammunition for the war effort was being produced in Britain. Lloyd George strongly believed that Britain had to produce more ammunition for itself and its allies for itself to win the war. To increase the production of ammunitions, Lloyd George set up four large ammunitions factories around the country. One of the four ammunitions factories set up by Lloyd George was Factory Gretna in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.


Munitions of War Act (1915)


Lloyd George was instrumental in setting up the factory by facilitating the passing of the Munitions of War Act (1915). This legislation allowed the British government to tightly monitor and control private companies who were supplying the armed forces with ammunition. Furthermore, the Munitions of War Act (1915) allowed the government to restrict employee freedoms in factories making war supplies. For instance, Factory Gretna employees were restricted to leave employment. In 1916 the law was amended to make strikes in war industries illegal, and all labour disputes were sent to a tribunal (Stevenson, 2020).


These stringent measures in the Munitions of War Act (1915) would have made workers at Factory Gretna sad because it limited the options to use when demanding better working conditions and pay. One would assume that at Factory Gretna, Lloyd George was not a popular politician because of the legislation he had introduced. A petition sent to Winston Churchill in 1918 by the Women Police at Factory Gretna provides primary evidence that some employees at the factory were not happy with their pay and working conditions.


In 1911 Lloyd George, as Chancellor, was instrumental in setting up the National Insurance Act (1911). The law laid down the basics of the welfare state by making provisions for sickness and invalidism. The National Insurance Act (1911) was pro-worker legislation, while the Munitions of War Act (1915) was restricted worker rights. The two pieces of legislation seem to show a contradictory view of Lloyd George, but a deeper analysis shows a different picture. The National Insurance Act (1911) and Munitions of War Act (1915) show a pragmatic politician who is flexible and willing to change. Lloyd George was successful in his political life because he quickly adapted to situations. For instance, in 1915, Britain needed to increase its ammunitions production, and for that to happen, the government had to restrict worker rights temporarily.


Secretary of State for War (1916)


Lloyd George did not stay long in the Minister of Munitions post as he succeeded Lord Kitchener as the Secretary of State for War in 1916. Lord Kitchener had died when HMS Hampshire was sunk on its way to Russia (Lloyd-Jones & Lewis, 2008). Lloyd George’s success in a relatively short time as Minister of Munitions made him the logical choice to replace Lord Kitchener (Greenhalgh, 2007). As Secretary of State for War, Lloyd George still had considerable influence on the goals at the Ministry of Munitions. Therefore, indirectly one can argue that his thinking as Secretary of State for War impacted the way Factory Gretna was operated.


Prime Minister (1916-1922)


Lloyd George’s tenure as Secretary of State for War did not last long as Asquith was forced to resign mainly due to his mismanagement of the war. Lloyd George became Prime Minister in 1916. He quickly began to reorganise the government so that the war could be won efficiently. The major change made by Lloyd George was the centralisation of power via a smaller war cabinet. Doing so meant that government bureaucracy was greatly reduced, which led to decisions being made quickly.

Lloyd George and Churchill pictured together in 1907. Photo in public domain.

Lloyd George also appointed Churchill as the Minister of Munitions in 1916 against the advice of many in his party. The appointment of Churchill as Minister of Munitions was greeted with hostile comments from newspapers and members of parliament (Greenhalgh, 2007). According to Pelling (1989), Lloyd George later said that his decision to appoint Churchill as the munitions minister nearly collapsed the government. However, the appointment of Churchill proved to be a good decision as production of ammunition increased at war industries such as Factory Gretna (Stevenson, 2020). To a greater extent, the increase in ammunition production is attributed to Churchill’s astute leadership.





In conclusion, the article discussed how Lloyd George played a pivotal role in the setting up of Factory Gretna. The article argued that Lloyd George’s experience obtained from the role as Chancellor of the Exchequer was instrumental in his success as Minister of Munitions. Lloyd George was appointed Minister of Munitions because of the good management and leadership skills he had shown as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His success as Minister of Munitions and as Secretary of State for War opened the door for him to be Prime Minister.



Reference List

Ahlstrom, D., 2014. The Hidden Reason Why the First World War Matters Today: The Development and Spread of Modern Management. Brown Journal of World Affairs, XXI(1), pp. 201-220.

Greenhalgh, E., 2007. Errors and Omissions in Franco–British Co-operation over Munitions Production, 1914–1918. War in History, 14(2), pp. 179-218.

Lloyd-Jones, R. & Lewis, M. J., 2008. “A WAR OF MACHINERY”: the British Machine Tool Industry and Arming the Western Front, 1 91 4-1 91 6. Essays in Economic & Business History, XXVI(1), pp. 117-133.

Miller, C., 2021. The Clydeside Cabal: The influence of Lord Weir, Sir James Lithgow, and Sir Andrew Rae Duncan on naval and defence policy, around 1918–1940. The Mariner’s Mirror, 107(3), pp. 338-357.

Pelling, H., 1989. Munitions. In: Winston Churchill. London: Mcmillan, pp. 229-248.

Quinault, R., 2014. Asquith A Prime Minister at War. History Today, May, pp. 40-48.

Stevenson, D., 2020. Britain’s Biggest Wartime Stoppage: The Origins of the Engineering Strike of May 1917. The Journal of the Historical Association, 1(1), pp. 269-293.





Women Working in Cutting Workshop. Photo from Devil’s Porridge Museum Archive

The Dangers of Working in A Munitions Factory During the First World War

By Collections blog

Researched and written by Laura Marley.


The First World War broke out in 1914 and as the war progressed, the demand for ammunition increased significantly. Due to this, in 1915 David Lloyd George, who was the Minister of Munitions, commissioned the building of HM Factory Gretna in order to increase the production of ammunition being sent to British troops in France. Production started in April 1916 and due to the sheer size of the factory, many workers were employed there, including over 11,000 female workers[1]. HM Factory Gretna was the largest munitions factory in operation during the First World War and due to this there was a large workforce of which many would suffer from injuries caused by the dangerous work they did. There was a works hospital on site at HM Factory Gretna which had space for 16 patients. However, a larger hospital was later built which could accommodate a further 84 patients. Between mid-1916 and late-1918, the Gretna Works Hospital had treated 273 male patients and 516 female patients, all of whom were employed in the factory[2].

Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 1: Gretna Work’s Hospital. Photo from Devil’s Porridge Museum Archive

During the First World War, there was not the same health and safety standards that we have in place today so it was more likely that workers would suffer from injury. In terms of injury, we also need to remember that a vast majority of the people working in munitions factories during the First World War had never worked in a factory before so were often severely undertrained for the jobs that they were doing[3]. However, there were government initiatives in place to try and allow more skilled jobs to be broken down step by step, with one worker on each step, so that they were easier to complete[4]. Despite the government’s attempts to reduce the need for skilled workers and make jobs easier for the untrained workers they so desperately needed, many munitions’ workers still suffered from severe injuries at work. These injuries could include losing limbs when using dangerous machinery or suffering from burns due to the high risk of fires and explosions caused by the chemicals and acids that were used in the factory. Working with chemicals and acids also increased the risk of workers inhaling toxic fumes. Additionally, working in a munitions factory could cause long term health problems such as lung problems and skin discolouration.


Serious injuries: 

There were various types of serious injury that factory workers could sustain. We can see from Workmen’s Compensation Claims, that at HM Factory Gretna in 1917 there were a number of serious injuries sustained at work. These consist of 11 workers losing limbs such as fingers or even their arms. 30 suffering from less serious injuries such as bruising, sprains, breaks, or fractures of the hip, knee, or ribs. 15 workers suffered from burns and poisoning due to the acid they worked with and 5 suffered from eye, face, or head injuries[5]

One young woman, Victoria May McIver, lost the lower part of her left arm whilst working with machinery in the cordite section of HM Factory Gretna. This accident happened when she was only 17 and she was one of the youngest patients to stay in the factory’s hospital in 1917[6]. This accident highlights the dangerous nature of the work that many young women took on during the First World War in order to aid the war effort and do what they saw as the right thing to do.

Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 2: Women Working in Cutting Workshop. Photo from Devil’s Porridge Museum Archive

In total, there were 145 recorded fatalities in the factory area, with 115 being male workers and 30 being female workers[7]. This demonstrates the dangerous nature of work in munitions factories and shows that not just those actively involved in combat during the war were willing to put their lives at risk in order to ensure that Britain won the war.

Fire and acid injuries:

Due to the large amounts of chemicals and acids in use at HM Factory Gretna, there was an increased chance of explosions and fires breaking out. Due to this, HM Factory Gretna had their own fire brigade so that they would be able to get to the fire and put it out quickly[8]. HM Factory Gretna had its fair share of both fires and explosions. On November 15th, 1916, there was an explosion at the factory. Witnesses all reported hearing a gunshot like noise before they saw a fire start. Seven workers were injured in this incident. On December 8th, 1916, one worker was killed instantly due to an explosion, six other workers suffered from bad burns, and some later passed away because of their injuries. Michael Taylor had been working in the acid plant when an explosion happened, he was burned and also fractured his leg. Thankfully he survived but his leg did need to be shortened by 2 inches[9].

Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 3: HM Factory Gretna Fire Brigade. Photo from Devil’s Porridge Museum Archive

Working with chemicals and acid also meant that there was a high risk of workers sustaining injuries from them. These injuries ranged from being sprayed with acid from burst pipes, which could cause burns and even the loss of eyes, to inhaling the toxic fumes given off by the acid which could cause death[10].


Long-term impact on health:

There is evidence that the extended exposure to chemicals through working in a munitions factory had long term impacts on the worker’s health. Many of the women who worked at HM Factory Gretna suffered from long term health impacts due to the work that they carried out in the factory. Alice Morton was left with a yellow tint to her skin and as she got older, the yellowness became more noticeable. It could be seen mostly around and in the whites of her eyes. Ellen Stamper suffered from lung problems and sadly died of emphysema in 1955. Margaret Jane Sutherland sadly passed away due to the inhalation of poisonous fumes during her work at HM Factory Gretna[11]. This shows that the work being carried out in munitions factories during the First World War was not just dangerous at the time, but also left many with long term health impacts which were the cause of death in many cases.

Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 4: Medical Card Given to Workers on Leaving the Factory. Photo from Devil’s Porridge Museum Archive

A medical card (pictured above) was given to HM Factory Gretna workers upon leaving the factory ‘for more than 3 months’[12]. The card tells people to choose a doctor as soon as possible after leaving the factory and not to wait until they fall ill. This is essentially warning them that they may experience long term ill health as a side effect of working in a munitions factory. It instructs the ex-worker to present the card to the doctors they are registering with in order to let them know that they have previously worked in a munitions factory. This is significant as it shows that the factory owners were fully aware that the workers were likely to suffer from long term illnesses which were caused by their work in the factory. However, it is unknown how many munitions workers suffered long term illnesses caused by the work they did during the war but there have been a number of reports of people across Britain suffering similar fates to the Gretna workers above, so one has to believe that this was a common after effect of munitions work.



Overall, this article should help you to understand just some of the dangers people faced working in HM Factory Gretna during the First World War. They were willing to work in dangerous conditions with unsafe machinery and chemicals in order to aid in the war effort and do their bit in ensuring that Britain and the Allies were successful in winning the war. Munitions work was a highly important job and without it the war would have been much more difficult.

[1] E. Ritchie, The Gretna Girls. Devil’s Porridge Museum Google Drive

[2] Medical Provisions at HMF Gretna, Devil’s Porridge Museum Google Drive

[3] G. Braybon, and P. Summerfield, Out of the Cage: Women’s Experiences in Two World Wars. (London: Taylor & Francis Group, 2012.)

[4] Ibid.

[5] Accidents at Work Panel’s, Devil’s Porridge Museum Google Drive

[6] G. L. Routledge, Gretna’s Secret War, (Carlisle: Bookcase, 1999)

[7] Medical Provisions at HMF Gretna, Google Drive

[8] Accidents at Work Panel’s, Devil’s Porridge Museum Google Drive

[9] Accidents at Work Panel’s, Devil’s Porridge Museum Google Drive

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Medical Card given to workers on leaving the factory, Devil’s Porridge Museum Google Drive

A jar of vegemite with some vegemite on toast.

Worker of the Week: Cyril Callister

By Collections blog

Worker of the Week is a weekly blogpost series which will highlight one of the workers at H.M. Gretna our volunteers have researched for The Miracle Workers Project. This is an exciting project that aims to centralise all of the 30,000 people who worked at Gretna during World War One. If you want to find out more, or if you’d like to get involved in the project, please email This week, Research Assistant Laura Noakes writes up volunteer Daniel’s research into Cyril Callister.

Cyril Callister was born in 1893 in Chute, Australia.  In 2016, Chute had a population of 18, so it was likely a very small place for Cyril to grow up in the late 19th century![1] Cyril’s father, William, was a schoolmaster, and he and his wife, Rosetta, had married in 1888.[2] Rosetta’s father had emigrated to Australia from England, and worked as a wood sawyer.[3] Cyril had nine siblings, eight of whom survived to adulthood.


Students of the Ballarat School of Mines, c1900. Courtesy Federation University Historical Collection [Cat. No. 272]. This was probably before Cyril’s time (as he was 7 in 1900), but gives us an idea of the cohorts of students at the time.

Cyril first attended Grenville College in Ballarat, before going to the Ballarat School of Mines. The Ballarat School of Mines was a technical school located in Ballarat, the first of its kind in Australia. Established in 1870, its purpose was to: to impart instruction in the various branches of science relating to mining engineering. it is proposed, as soon as practicable, to extend the operation of the school so as to impact instruction in those branches of technical science which may be considered most likely to exert a beneficial influence on the prosperity of Victoria.’[4]

He then went on to study at the University of Melbourne after he was awarded a generous scholarship. He gained his Bachelor of Science degree in 1914 with double honours in physics and chemistry, a Master of Science degree in 1917 and a PhD in 1931.

Cyril took a job at Lewis and Whitty in early 1915. Lewis and Whitty was a prominent manufacturer of food and other household products—such as soap.[5]

But later that same year he joined the Australian Imperial Force to fight in World War One. However, before he could get to the front, Cyril’s skills and knowledge in chemistry probably brought him to the attention of the Ministry of Munitions. Cyril was diverted into overseas munitions work in England, first in Wales, and then in Scotland, at HM Factory Gretna.[6]

Cyril’s enlisting papers in WW1

We know he was at Gretna because he is recorded as being there when elected as a New Associate of the Institute of Chemistry in 1918.[7] Whilst there, he worked as a shift chemist. He also met a local girl, Katherine Hope Mundell, who he married in 1919 in Annan, Scotland.

The acid mixing stations at HM Factory Gretna. Photo from The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s archive collection

After the war, Cyril and Katherine returned to Australia. In 1923, Cyril was working at Fred Walker and Co. Because of the disruption in trade caused by hostilities, the exportation of Marmite to Australia was severely affected.[8] Cyril was tasked with addressing this issue—he developed a yeast extract named Vegemite, which was first sold to customers in 1924. In 1925, Cyril sent samples of Vegemite to London for testing and discovered that his product had high levels of vitamin B, which solidified Cyril’s belief that Vegemite was rich in nutrients.[9] Vegemite soon became an Australian staple.


But Cyril wasn’t done with his food innovations yet! In 1926, he developed Kraft Walker Cheese – a cheese that was more easily preserved for longer. Cyril was appointed chief chemist and production superintendent. He became a director of the Kraft Walker Cheese Co in 1935.[10]

Portrait of Cyril Callister, inventor of Vegemite and Ballarat School of Mines alumnus. Photo credit: Federation University Australia Historical Collection (Geoffrey Blainey Research Centre

During WW2, Cyril worked with Government to provide food rations to serving soldiers and experimented with the dehydration of food. He was also instrumental in securing the Royal Charter for the Royal Australian Chemistry Institute in 1931.[11] He passed away following a heart attack in 1949, leaving behind his widow, two daughters and a son.[12] Unfortunately one of his children pre-deceased him—Ian Hope Callister died whilst fighting in WW2 at the young age of 21.[13]

The Roll of Honour Circular for Ian, Cyril’s son, following his death in WW2.

Cyril’s legacy is plain to see—Vegemite is globally known and his other food manufacturing developments paved the way for future research But his life was also blighted by two global conflicts—he had to divert into munitions in the Great War, and lost his son in World War Two.

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). “Chute”. 2016 Census QuickStats.

[2] Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1950 for William Callister and Rosetta Dixon, 1888. Retrieved from Ancestry.

[3] 1861 England Census for John Dixon, Parliamentary Borough of Lambeth, retrieved from

[4] Lines of Succession: The Origins of the University of Ballarat from 1870. University of Ballarat, 2012, referenced: Ballarat School of Mines – Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project (

[5] Biography – Cyril Percy Callister – Australian Dictionary of Biography (

[6]  Biography – Cyril Percy Callister – Australian Dictionary of Biography (

[7] INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY 1918 Part 1 The Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland. Proceedings, 1918. Part I – Proceedings of the Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland (RSC Publishing)

[8] Cyril Callister Biography, Achievements, Australian chemist, Food Technologist (

[9] Biography – Cyril Percy Callister – Australian Dictionary of Biography (

[10] Biography – Cyril Percy Callister – Australian Dictionary of Biography (

[11] Cyril Callister (1893-1949) – Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project (

[12] Obituary in The Age, 06 October 1949.

[13] Record Details for Ian Hope Callister (Royal Australian Air Force) (


The royal visit to H.M. Factory Gretna during World War One with lots of happy munition workers.

The Miracle Workers Project Update: Mini-Conference

By Events
A chance to hear about the excellent historical research done so far on The Miracle Workers Project in a free online event.



In March 2021, The Devil’s Porridge Museum launched it’s Miracle Workers Project, which aimed to research the 30,000 people who worked at H. M. Factory Gretna during World War One. Thanks to a generous grant from the D&G Costal Communities Fund, volunteers at the museum have been systematically researching and compiling information on those who worked at Gretna.

This free online event will share what the volunteers have uncovered so far, from women’s football teams at the factory to police to explosives and chemists. We will also be hearing from Dr Chris Brader, who wrote his thesis on the women workers at Gretna, who will be speaking about his research.

10AM – 11AM – short, informal talks by our volunteers, sharing their research.

11AM-11:45AM – talk by Dr Chris Brader, with time for questions.

Booking your free place on eventbrite here:

This event will be held via Zoom and a joining link will be sent on the day.

Maud Bruce OBE.

The Marvelous Miss Maud: From Gretna Girl to Aycliffe Angel

By Collections blog, News

In the World Wars of the twentieth century, there are certain historical themes and people that almost everyone knows: Kaiser Wilhelm, Winston Churchill, young idealistic men hardened by their time at The Front, soldier-poets, VADs, The Blitz—the list goes on and on. These ideas, people and events are discussed and taught in almost every history classroom across the country. Like Henry VIII and his six wives, the World Wars are an integral part of our country’s collective history. Every year, on Remembrance Sunday, we pause and commemorate those who sacrificed so much and the men and women who lost their youths, and sometimes lives, to war. Although the story of both World Wars is well-trod, there are still discoveries to be made, and histories to be told. This article strives to be one of those.

This is the story of a woman who you’ve probably never heard of. I hadn’t either, till I started working at The Devil’s Porridge Museum in Eastriggs, Scotland. Maud Bruce was an ordinary woman who was extraordinarily courageous in the service of her country during both the 1914-1918 and the 1939-1945 wars. She is barely, if at all, mentioned in the numerous history books that cover both periods of history. Until a few months ago, she didn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. If you googled ‘Maud Bruce’ the first couple of entries would be all about a very different Maud Bruce—Robert the Bruce’s daughter, who lived in the 12th century! Our Maud Bruce is absent from history, and I am determined to put her back into it. Maud was a woman from a working-class background, traditionally not someone considered ‘important’ enough to be remembered. But Maud is important—she played a key role in munitions making in both wars, winning awards for her bravery.

Maud Ellen Bruce was born on 20th December 1894 in Coundon, Durham, England to Thomas and Emma Bruce. She was their fifth child and had two brothers and six sisters. Her father Thomas worked as a coalminer.[1] Coundon was traditionally a coalmining village, and Thomas probably worked at either Black Boy Colliery or Auckland Park Colliery, both nearby.

In 1901, Maud was six years old. Although the census doesn’t record whether or not she attended school, by this time education was compulsory by law for children aged five to twelve.[2] By 1911, Maud was sixteen and working as a general domestic servant.[3] Her older sister, Rose, who worked as a dressmaker, filled out the census form. This strongly implies that the Bruce children did have some form of education—they were clearly literate. Despite this, it is also clear that the family did require their older children to work to supplement the family income. Alongside Maud and Rose, William, then aged twenty-five, worked as a collier mechanic labourer and Emma, aged fourteen, was working nearby as a servant for James Black.[4]

Maud dressed in her munitions uniform

Prior to the World War One, the Gretna area was mostly agricultural, but during hostilities ‘the largest cordite factory in the UK was established’ in response to the need for munitions.[5] This new wartime industry meant a dramatic increase in the local population as people migrated to the area to work. One of these workers was Maud Bruce. Maud arrived at HM Gretna in late 1916 to work as a forewoman of the cotton drying house in the Dornock section. Maud was billeted at Grenville Hostel, Eastriggs.[6] She was head of the Women’s Fire Brigade and in charge of thirty girls. It is clear that Maud was an exemplary worker: she is described as having ‘gained rapid promotion’ during her time at Gretna, and as being ‘exceedingly popular’ with her staff and superiors.[7] It is likely that her younger sister, Lily also worked at the factory, as she appears in a photo alongside other munition workers in Maud’s papers.

Maud would have been doing potentially dangerous work in the factory—there were accidents throughout the war, and some munitions workers were horribly injured. Cordite was what was made at Gretna—a type of explosive propellent which went inside the shells used at the Front.

Maud was recognised for two notable events during her time at Gretna. The first occurred around April 1917, when a fire broke out at night in the cotton drying machine. Maud used a hose to subdue the flames, and then the fire brigade put out the fire.[8]

On the second occasion, Maud similarly demonstrated her calm and collected approach to danger. This event was outlined in detail in the local newspaper:

“Three months ago, about eight o’clock in the morning, she was close at hand when fire broke out in the drying machine. In a few seconds, the chamber was filled with smoke. As quick as lightning Miss Bruce climbed up the ladder to the top of the machine, twenty feet height, and with the vigorous use of a sweeping brush cut away the cotton at the top part of the machine, and pushed it down. In this way she prevented the fire spreading to the next machine. The staff of girls under her charge, encouraged by her example of coolness, set to work with the hose, and in a short time the fire, which was arrested in the willower part of the machine, and before it could reach the elevators, was successfully extinguished.”

In June 1917, Maud was awarded a British Empire Medal by The Duke of Buccleuch, K.T., who was Lord Lieutenant of the county of Dumfries.[9] This event was held at the central offices of the factory in front of a number of staff. It was stated that ‘each of the recipients of the medal stepped forward, and was cordially shaken hands with by the Duke, who pinned on the medals, and as he did so there were cordial cheers from the assembly.’[10] The Duke said that ‘it was extremely gratifying to realise that deeds of heroism were also being performed by factory workers at home, and especially by women.’[11]

Maud was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire[12] (MOBE) in August 1917 ‘for admirable behaviour in charge of the women’s fire brigade at a fire at an explosive factory.’[13] In the aftermath of her heroic deeds, Maud had been interviewed by The Standard. She is described as wearing ‘khaki trousers and jacket’ and didn’t realise that she’d been awarded the MOBE at the time of the interview.[14]

Maud did get some media attention from her actions and the honours bestowed upon her. Usually these took the form of celebrating the work of women war workers. In the Sheffield Weekly Telegraph, she was referred to as a ‘plucky munitions lass’ and is cast as a heroine—the news story details the ‘thrilling story’ that led to her being awarded the Munitions Medal which it’s stated ‘has rarely been more pluckily won.’[15]

Maud worked at H. M. Factory Gretna from January 1917 – August 1919 and was only let go due to reduction of labour.

The year after leaving Gretna, Maud married Thomas Edward Nunn in Shildon, Durham, England.[16] Thomas had grown up in Shildon, only around 4 miles from Maud’s hometown of Coundon.[17] He was born on July 8th 1892, and was the son of Charles Nunn, a coalminer and Ellen Nunn. He had a younger sister, Lily and a younger half-brother, Wilfred. Aged 19, in 1911, Thomas had followed in his father’s footsteps and was working as a banking out miner.[18] Like Maud, Thomas had played his part in the war effort. He served in the Royal Irish Regiment and was discharged due to disability on 10th May 1917.[19] Thomas received the Silver War Badge, also known as the Wound Badge, for his service, as well as the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Maud and Thomas welcomed their first child, Raymond, in 1920, and their second child, John in 1922. The inter-war years seem to be pretty quiet for the family—Maud and Thomas appear on the election registers during these years but as of yet I haven’t found them in other records during this time.[20] In the 1939 Register, Maud and Thomas are working at ’unpaid domestic duties’ and a ’general labourer’ respectively.[21] Thomas is also working full-time as a A. R. P. Warden. A. R. P. Warden’s were at integral part of the Home Front War effort—they patrolled neighbourhoods during the blackout and made sure that everyone was abiding by the rules! This register was conducted less than a month after the United Kingdom declared war on Nazi Germany, and Maud and Thomas were facing the second worldwide military conflict during their lifetimes.

In World War Two, as with World War One, there was a HUGE need for munitions. Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Aycliffe was built in Aycliffe, County Durham in 1941. During the war, ROF Aycliffe employed 17,000 people and operated 24 four hours a day.[22] Unlike at Gretna, at Aycliffe cordite wasn’t made, but the workers were filling shells and bullets with powder.[23] This was still very dangerous work—there was accidents and explosions, as Maud would soon find out.

The Women Behind the Women- Munitions work at a Royal Ordnance Factory in the North of England, c 1942 War worker Mrs Wilkinson breaks down fuses at ROF Aycliffe, near Darlington, County Durham.

The women workers of Aycliffe were soon known by the moniker ‘Aycliffe Angels’. This was given to them by the infamous Lord Haw-Haw, an English man who worked for the Nazis throughout the war, and regularly broadcast propaganda radio programmes to the UK. Haw-Haw frequently said during his shows ‘the little angels of Aycliffe won’t get away with it.’[24] Not only did this give the workers a sticking nickname, but it also highlighted the importance of their work—it was essential to the war effort.

Maud’s identity card, which she would have had to have shown upon entry and exit to the factory.

At Aycliffe, ‘all workers had to wear special shoes and overalls which they put on at the beginning of each shift. They were checked to make sure they didn’t have any flammable items in their possession, like matches and cigarettes, or metal objects like hair grips which might fall into machinery.’[25] This would’ve been very similar procedure to Gretna—I wonder if Maud had a sense of déjà vu when she began working at Aycliffe? Also like at Gretna, the materials they were working with at Aycliffe were dangerous, it ’often causes skin and hair to turn yellow (munitions workers were referred to as ‘canaries’), caused asthma and breathing problems, sometimes made teeth fall out and damaged the lining of the stomach.’[26] The many potential health issues involved in working in munitions would also effect Maud. Later in life, those who knew Maud would note that’ My grandmother…read the newspaper to Mrs Nunn each morning as her eyes had been damaged in the munition factory, so she always wore specifically tinted spectacles.’[27] But the danger didn’t just come from the chemicals–the workers at Aycliffe were also at risk from bombing.[28]

In fact, I think Jacky Hyams sums up the work of those at Aycliffe and other munitions factories during World War Two best: ‘To describe their work as hazardous is something of an understatement. The Bomb Girls endured much: exhaustion, fear, sacrifice, separation from loved ones, personal or family tragedy – not to mention the enormous risks to their own lives and physical welfare as they worked. Yet these women, all ages, married or single, from different backgrounds, were a crucial link in the long chain that made up Britain’s wartime endeavour. The men were sent off to fight, fire the bullets, drive the jeeps, fly the planes and drop the bombs. But it was the Bomb Girls who helped make the final victory possible. They too were amongst the country’s true heroes of wartime.’[29]

John D Clare has emerged as the authoritative historian of the Aycliffe factory during World War Two, and has offered valuable critique of the happy and positive image of the Angels that some accounts portray.[30] He argues instead that the reality was far more complex—that ROF factories weren’t great places to work, that the work itself was boring and monotonous, and that they were undervalued and underappreciated—both during the war and for many years afterwards.[31]

Maud (far right) at a reunion of Aycliffe munition workers in the 1980s.

The fight to recognise the work and sacrifice of munitions workers has been long and sadly many Aycliffe workers died before their work was even acknowledged. One of the more recent campaigns has involved the Rotherwas Munitions Group, the National Munitions Association and BBC Hereford & Worcester, who have campaigned for workers to be recognised with a munition workers veterans badge, which you can now apply for if you or a relative worked in munitions in World War Two.[32]

Maud worked at the factory from when it opened in 1941. She later said of her work, ‘I loved the work until the accident. I was in hospital over five months.’[33] The accident Maud spoke of happened in 1943, when ‘some ammunition exploded, and she was very severely burned on her face, arms, hands and chest. She spent six months in Darlington Hospital and then returned to the factory until the end of the war.’[34]

In order to fully recover from this injury, Maud underwent plastic surgery—still a pioneering procedure mostly used on servicemen who suffered awful injuries in the course of their duties. Later in life, she would have a distinctive mark from these injuries; ‘My mam seemed to think that Mrs Nunn had had some plastic surgery on her face – she’d put her hands up to shield her face in the explosion. I think she was one of the first people to have it and her skin was kind of wrinkle free in those areas.’[35]

In addition to her work in munitions, and her recovery from her injury in 1943, it’s important to acknowledge that during the war Maud’s husband was also an ARP warden, and her sons were both away fighting. Raymond served as a lance-corporal [36][37]Later, friends remembered that ’Both of her sons fought in WW2 and were commended for bravery. One of them, I believe, was on the Burma railway.’[38] This must’ve been a stressful and scary period for the whole family—not only was their country at war, but all four of them were intimately involved with that warfare.

World War Two came to an end in 1945, and the factory at Aycliffe closed. I’ve been able to find out a little of Maud’s life after this time. From the copy of her death certificate, it appears that Maud worked as a school dinner lady at some point. In 1954, her husband Thomas, died by suicide at the age of 61.[39] Her oldest son, Raymond, also predeceased Maud, dying in 1984. Even in 2021, over twenty years after her death, Maud is remembered fondly by Shildon locals:


‘Mrs Nunn was as you can see a happy cheerful person, who just lived an ordinary life and got on with looking after a husband and family of boys.’[40]


‘She loved a chat and was always happy to have visitors and this continued when she moved to the nursing home…Overall, I remember her as a kind, strong, practical, determined, smiley old lady.’[41]


But even though Maud had already lived an extraordinary life—bravely taking part in both World Wars alongside raising a family and dealing with both her husband’s and son’s death, she wasn’t done yet. In 1995, Maud turned the big 100! She celebrated with her family and friends at the nursing home in which she lived, and received a letter from the Queen. Her big birthday was reported in the local press and Maud spoke to reporters about her long life. ‘I didn’t want to reach 100, I think it is too long to live, but I am now looking forward to my birthday.’ Maud also recalled the moment she was awarded the OBE, saying: ‘the OBE was the most memorable experience of my life. It was a great honour and I am very proud of the award.’[42] Her son John mentioned in the same article that Maud ’is hard of hearing, but says ’hearing aids are for old people.’’

Maud surrounded by her family at her 100th birthday.

Mrs Maud Nunn (Nee Bruce) OBE passed away on January 8th 1995. Her great-grandson, Andrew, remembers her as ‘a remarkable woman and an inspiration to generations of our family.’ I wholeheartedly agree.

[1] ‘William Bruce’ Census Return for Shop Hill, Coundon, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, Public Record Office, folio 140. Retrieved from

[2] See: The Elementary Education Act 1880 and The Elementary Education (School Attendance) Act 1893. Despite being compulsory by law, the enforcement of such a law was a different matter and many working-class families needed their children to earn a wage as soon as they possibly could.


[3] ‘Maud Bruce’ Census Returns for Tyne Terrace, Coundon, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, p. 918. Retrieved from


[4] ‘Emma Bruce’ Census Returns for Tyne Terrace, Coundon, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, p. 922.

[5] Timothy McCracken, Dumfriesshire in the Great War, (Pen and Sword Books, 2015) p. 13.

[6] ‘Brave Gretna Girls: Munition Workers Honoured’ Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 29 August 1917, p. 2.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] ‘Heroism in Factories: Duke of Buccleuch presents medals at Gretna’ Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 19 June 1918, p. 2.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] ‘Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood’ The Edinburgh Gazette, 27 August 1917, issue: 13133, p. 1788.

[13] ‘Brave Gretna Girls: Munition Workers Honoured’ Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 29 August 1917, p. 2.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Heroism in Factories: Duke of Buccleuch presents medals at Gretna’ Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 19 June 1918, p. 2.

[16] England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005, General Register Office, Maud Bruce to Thomas E Nunn, Jan-Feb-Mar 1920, vol no: 10a, p. 483

[17] ‘Thomas Edward Nunn’ Census return for Albert Street, Shilden, Chapel Row, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, Public Record Office, folio 44, p. 31. Retrieved from

[18] Thomas Edward Nunn’ Census return for Albert Street, Shilden, Chapel Row, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, Public Record Office, Retrieved from This probably means he worked as a banksman, a person who dispatched the coals at the pitbank, unloading and loading the cage.


[19] ‘Thomas Edward Nunn’, UK, World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923, service number: 3/8372, reference number: 2/MN/No772, Retrieved from

[20] England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1920-1932, Durham England

[21] ‘Maud E Nunn’ 1939 England and Wales Register, Borough of Shilden, Public Record Office, Retrieved from

[22] Royal Ordnance Factory Aycliffe in the Second World War 1939-1945 – The Wartime Memories Project –

[23] Aycliffe Royal Ordnance Factory – Aycliffe Angels (

[24] | CommuniGate | Why were they called ‘The Aycliffe Angels’? (

[25] Colin Philpott, Secret Wartime Britain, Hidden Places that Helped Win the Second World War (Pen and Sword, 2018) p. 4.

[26] Colin Philpott, Secret Wartime Britain, Hidden Places that Helped Win the Second World War (Pen and Sword, 2018) p. 5.

[27] Facebook recollection from a lady who knew Maud as a child.

[28] Colin Philpott, Secret Wartime Britain, Hidden Places that Helped Win the Second World War (Pen and Sword, 2018) p. 5.


[29] Jacky Hyams, Bomb Girls – Britain’s Secret Army: The Munitions Women of World War II (Kings Road Publishing, 2013), p. 14.

[30] RealAycliffeAngelsNN.pdf (

[31] Ibid. See also: Days before VE Day an explosion tore through the Aycliffe Angels factory – killing eight | The Northern Echo

[32] Apply for a munitions worker’s veterans badge – GOV.UK (

[33] ’Munitions Blaze Heroine Maud Reaches Century’, Unknown Newspaper Article, shared by the family of Maud

[34] ’Munition Factory Workers Re-Union a Great Sucess’, Unknown Newspaper article, shared by Maud’s family.

[35] Facebook recollections from a lady who knew Maud as a child.


[37] Supplement to the London Gazette, 13 December 1945, p. 6072.

[38] Facebook recollections from a friend who remembered Maud.

[39] Thomas Nunn’s Death Certificate

[40] Facebook recollections from a person who knew Maud.

[41] Facebook recollections from a person who knew Maud.

[42] Munitions Blaze Heroine Maud Reaches Century’, Unknown Newspaper Article, shared by the family of Maud

Fiona's grandmother, Jane, who worked as a typist at HM Factory Gretna.

Worker of the Week: Jane Ann Jackson

By Collections blog

Worker of the Week is a weekly blogpost series which will highlight one of the workers at H.M. Gretna our Research Assistant, Laura Noakes, has come across during her research. Laura is working on a project to create a database of the 30,000 people that worked at Gretna during World War One.

Another week, another fascinating family enquiry. This time our worker was a typist at H.M. Factory Gretna, demonstrating just how many different jobs there were at the factory!

Jane was born in Low Moorhouse outside of Carlisle in 1897. She first worked as an understairs maid in a local “big” house. On her one day off a month she cycled to Carlisle to take typing classes. She worked at H. M. Factory Gretna from 1916 for the buyers, and we know this because of the excellent testimonial she was given upon leaving her position:

Interestingly, at the same time Jane was working at Gretna, her brother Jack was serving in World War One as a signaller with the Cameron Highlanders. He was awarded the Military Medal for keeping the lines of communication open during the battle of Passchedale. At the end of the War, he was a member of the occupying forces that marched into Germany.

John wrote extensively about his time during World War One, and his memoirs have recently been published. They provide a fascinating portrait of war and John’s extraordinary experiences.

John Jackson’s book, available to purchase here:

After the war, John worked on the railway between Carlisle and Glasgow. He married and lived in Carlisle, before passing away in the 1950s.  Jane met and married her husband in 1922, living at first in Gretna. The photo below is of them standing outside their house in Gretna. Later, they moved to Dumfries.

The Jackson family’s multiple connections to the war effort are probably representative of many others across the country; with sons’ off to fight and daughters’ working to help produce materials essential for the front. It’s interesting that Jane’s jobs as a typist involved the constant writing of letters ordering materials needed at H.M. Factory Gretna whilst her brother was awarded the military medal for making sure communications were kept open at Passchedale. Both siblings roles revolved around communications!

A massive thank you to Fiona Jackson for the invaluable information she provided on Jane and John.

Illustration of HMS Temeraire.

HMS Temeraire

By Collections blog

This Postcard of HMS Temeraire is one of the many WW1 postcards we have of battleships. If you would like to know more information about other battleships check our website.


HMS Temeraire was one of three Bellerophon-class dreadnaught battleships built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. She spent almost her whole career assigned to the Home and Grand Fleets. Aside from participating in the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 and the inconclusive Action of 19 August, her service during World War One generally consisted of routine patrols and training in the North Sea.


Temeraire was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in October 1918 and she supported allied forces in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea after the War ended in November. The ship was deemed obsolete and was reduced to reserve when she returned home early in 1919 and was then used as a training ship. Temeraire was sold for scrap in 1921 and broken up the following year.

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