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Rotherwas Mystery


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#1 SON OF GRIDKNOCKER

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Posted 27 July 2017

The BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester reporter Nicola Goodwin has done some sterling work in her personal campaign to get to the bottom of the true number of fatalities and casualties that occurred following the German bombing of the Rotherwas Munitions Factory, 75 years ago. At a service of commemoration at Rotherwas (attended by three 90-year-old survivors of the raid), the figures given were 16 killed and 27 injured, though there is a suggestion that the true fatalities figure could have been as high as 40. It was Hereford's worst wartime disaster. Ms Goodwin recently discovered that the 16 known fatalities were buried in an unmarked grave at Bullinghope's St Peter's Church. BBC war correspondent Kate Adie will be talking about the brave Rotherwas women at The Courtyard on 8 September. The event will be followed by a book signing.


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#2 Glenda Vaughan-Powell

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Posted 27 July 2017

Son of Gridknocker - Kate Ade is at the Courtyard on the 5th September, not the 8th, I have already bought my ticket. My Mother worked a Rotherwas munitions factory on Blue watch, luckily she had gone off shift and was home when the bomb dropped, but I remember her telling me the blast was so big the house walls shook. Looking forward to meeting Kate Ade.


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#3 SON OF GRIDKNOCKER

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Posted 27 July 2017

@ Glenda: sorry for getting the Courtyard event's date wrong. I shall be going too.

 

In this thread's opening post I deliberately used the phrase 'brave Rotherwas women', recalling an image that is featured in Bill Laws's excellent history of the factory - In the Munitions: Women at War. It shows a picture (clearly composed for publicity purposes by the government's Orwellian propaganda machine The Central Office of Information) of two young women wearing full-length cotton dresses and bob caps, reminiscent of Victorian chambermaids. One woman is tall, the other is short. Both are bent forward, filling an upturned circular steel object on the floor from an enamel jug. Are they filling a coal skuttle? Or making lemonade for the Master's weekend tennis party? They most certainly are not. They are filling steel shell cases (destined for the re-supply of naval battleships at Portsmouth) with highly-volatile explosive material, in the Rotherwas Shell Filling Shed. Without protective clothing, goggles, gloves or hard hats. The skins of many of these women, who were daily exposed to the fumes from this operation, turned a vivid orange, causing them to be taunted, whenever they crossed High Town: 'The Canary Girls'.


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#4 Aylestone Voice

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Posted 27 July 2017

There is no doubt that the majority of the employees at the ROF during both World Wars were women. But it is also true that a large number of men also worked there - probably those who were too old for active service.

Whilst the contribution and sacrifices of women should be applauded and never forgotten we should also be honouring all those who worked in the munitions at Rotherwas.


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