South Shields Local History Group

Under Construction

The Younger Sisters (Munitions)

From spring 1941, every woman in Britain aged 18-60 had to be registered, and their family occupations were recorded. Each was interviewed, and required to choose from a range of jobs, although it was emphasised that women would not be required to bear arms. Many women, however, were eventually to work – and die – under fire.

In December 1941, the National Service Act (no 2) made the conscription of women legal. At first, only single women aged 20-30 were called up, but by mid-1943, almost 90 per cent of single women and 80 per cent of married women were employed in essential work for the war effort. (Source BBC British History)

Margaret and Lily on the swings (Ford family)

Lily and Margaret Younger were aged 20 and 18 they lived at 344 Stanhope Road

When the war started Lily wanted to join the Wrens (WRNS) but unfortunately she was too small. During the war she was conscripted to work in a munitions factory in Birmingham, but was so small that “she had to stand on a box to operate the machines”, she was rather proud of her small stature and often quoted her dad’s expression that “there is good stuff in little bundles!”  She rather enjoyed her new independence and the flattering attention of American soldiers.

Margaret and Lily at works party (Ford family)

Margaret and Lily stayed in Birmingham in a normal working-class house with a “landlady”.  Due to the shortage of nylon stockings Margaret remembered “we used to colour our legs with gravy browning and draw a seam on our legs with an eyeliner pencil”. “Liquid Stockings”. 

Working People Women Younger Stockings

One of the pamphlets issued to women was “Make Do and Mend” with useful tips on how to be both frugal and stylish in times of harsh rationing.

Make Do And Mend

At the end of the War parties were held everywhere to celebrate victory

Margaret at works party 1945 (Ford family)
Works party (Ford family)

Margaret carried on working after the war but Lily like a lot of women went home to look after her father and never worked again after the war.

Lily Younger 1990s (Terry Ford)
Margaret Younger 1980s

Lily Younger

Margaret Younger
Terry Ford

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