This week marks the memorial of Armistice Day, and as part of this, we are remembering some of the women of World War 1, the Barnbow Lassies and Barnbow Canaries who worked at the ‘Barnbow National Filling Factory, No1’. This WW1 shell casing and the strap buckles were recovered from a railway siding for the Barnbow Filling Factory. This factory tragically saw the largest British loss of female life in WW1, when there was an explosion that claimed the lives of 35 women and girls. This happened in the room where fuses were inserted by hand into the shells, that would then be secured and capped by machine.
News of this accident wasn’t reported at the time with the hopes to keep up morale. The men fighting on the front thought that their wives and daughters were safe back at home - when in fact many women were also putting their lives at risk, working filling up the munitions to be sent to the front.
The markings on the base of this shell casing show it was used for housing an 18lb shell, and was made by the American E.W. Bliss Company. It would have been filled with high explosive cordite at Barnbow, and it had been fired at least twice. It is 295mm long and has a base circumference of 103mm. The buckles came from straps that would have secured the munitions to the railway wagons for transportation.