Barrow suffered terrible bombings in WW2, and the women that worked in Barrow’s Shipyard were not immune to the threat. In addition, they were also working long tiring hours with potentially deadly machinery. Injuries and fatalities could, and did, occur.
During the Barrow Blitz, land-mines, incendiaries, and high explosives were dropped by the Luftwaffe. Homes and streets were flattened by the bombs, that were looking to target Barrow’s Shipyard.
Two fire watchers were killed in May 1941 when the hammer head crane they were stationed in at the Shipyard was bombed. They became 2 of Barrow’s 83 Blitz fatalities.
There were also a further 330 injuries that Barrow’s civilians sustained as a direct result of the bombings.
The Blackout began in Britain 2 days before the war began, on the 1st September 1939. It affected every household and business owner. The munitions factories and industrial sites, just like Barrow’s Shipyard, also had to adhere to the Blackout.
During the Barrow Blitz, the Blackout rules helped protect the Shipyard, but it did bring it’s own dangers. There were many road accidents during the Blackout, as even though the ban on torches was soon lifted, most people didn’t have access to batteries. Instead they were advised to carry or wear something white if walking in the darkness, and to always walk facing the traffic. Drivers were also restricted to a 20 mph limit.
Whether the women were working on the machinery to create the casings and shells, or filling these shells with explosives, the ammunitions work was incredibly dangerous and could have a range of consequences. While the toxins in the powders and chemicals regularly caused rashes and breathing issues, a moments lapse in concentration could cost the lives of the entire factory, and seriously set back the war effort.
At the same time, the welders, blade shop workers, and the lathe operators were all at risk from the unfamiliar machinery they were working with.