Film ID:
YFA 2287



Visitor Tabs


During the Second World War, women were called upon to aid in the war effort.  This film contains unique footage of women workers in a munitions factory during World War II and highlights the industrial process of making the 84 Pounder Shell.   

Titles: ‘C.F. Wilson & Co, (1932) Limited, 166, Constitution Street, Aberdeen, Present: [Photography by L.S. Gorrie, Dundee]’     ‘Showing Method of Handling and Machining Operations on 84 Pounder Shell’               

Intertitle: ‘Unloading Forgings and Stacking in Raw Material Store’   A couple of women, wearing overalls, steel toe-capped boots and heavy duty gloves, unload empty forging cases from a truck, rolling the cases along the ground with the help of their feet. A small crane is used to lift the forgings up in groups of three.           

Intertitle: ‘Transferring Forgings From Raw Material Store to Factory’    

A woman, wearing a skirt and high-heel boots, works the small crane to pick up three forgings. A woman sits in the crane control box and lowers the hook. 

Intertitle: ‘Cutting Off to Length and Base Thickness From Bottom of Cavity’  

A woman wearing overalls and goggles cuts a forging down to size using a fixed blowtorch. 

Intertitle: ‘Centring Forging In Alignment With Finished Forged Cavity’    

Forgings come off a conveyor belt where a woman seals their ends using a blowtorch. A forging is raised and lowered by a crane onto a spinning device where a hole is drilled in the bottom. 

Intertitle: ‘Rough Turning and Shaping The Body of Forging’   

Forgings/shells get lowered into two kinds of lathe – one labelled GACTCRY and one GARRATT. These rotate them at high speed, shaping them into munitions shells. 

Intertitle: ‘Conveyor Collecting Swarf and Loading’  

There is a close-up of a conveyor belt, and a couple of women unload metal shavings onto the conveyer belt.  The metal shavings end up being shovelled by a man onto a horse-drawn cart. 

Intertitle: ‘Forging Heated and Nose-End Pressed To Form Fuse Hole’   

A woman loads and unloads shells from a furnace using only her bare hands and a rag. The shells, having had one end placed for a short while into a furnace, are then placed, with white-hot ends, onto a conveyer belt and get pressed by machinery.  

Intertitle: ‘Boring Fuse Hole and Blending the Cavity after Heading’    

A near-completed shell gets loaded into a lathe and is both bored and ‘squeezed’.  

Intertitle: ‘Finish Turning Body of Shell’    

A near-completed shell is loaded into a machine and rotated at extreme speed.  Coolant is poured over whilst this happens.  Afterwards, the width is measured. 

Intertitle: ‘Weighing and Stamping Shell at Intermediate Inspection’    

A couple of shells are weighed and stamped.  

Intertitle: ‘Recessing Base of Shell for Base Plates’    

A shell is loaded into a lathe and has its base ‘smoothed’ mechanically.  Coolant is poured over again whilst this happens. 

Intertitle: ‘Groving & Waving for Copper Driving Band’  

A shell is loaded into another lathe and a groove is made at one end ready for a copper-driving band (coolant is used again). 

Intertitle: ‘Riveting Base Plates into Shell’    

A woman knocks a metal cap into one end of a shell, and it is then placed into a machine which rivets it in.  Two shells, one before and one after the process, are then seen together. 

Intertitle: ‘Pressing the Driving Copper Band on the Shell’  

A woman places a copper band on a shell, banging it on firm with a hammer, before placing it into a machine which squeezes the band on solid.  Again, there is a comparison of a before and after shell. 

Intertitle: ‘Facing Base after Riveting and Adjusting Streamline’    

A shell is placed into a lathe where the woman operator turns the end to a rounded finish.  This is first done automatically.  Then it is measured, and the woman makes some fine adjustments by hand and re-measures it.  It is then further turned in another lathe.  Again, a comparison of a before and after shell. 

Intertitle: ‘Cleaning and Varnishing the Cavity and Stove Drying’   

A woman cleans and polishes the inside of a shell using hydraulic tools.  They are inspected before being passed on to the next stage.  The finished shells are shown hanging up.  The lining on the inside of a cut section of a shell is also shown. 

Intertitle: ‘Thread Milling Fuse Hole, Washing out Cavity and Gauging’    

A shell is placed into a machine/lathe, worked by a woman, where liquid is pumped into one end at high pressure.  A woman then seems to polish the lid on one end of the shell on a turning machine.  Again, a comparison of a before and after shell, and cap is screwed on at the same end.

Intertitle: ‘Coning Finish turning Chamfer on Fusing Hole’    

A woman operator turns a shell on a lathe.  Again, a comparison of a before and after shell. 

Intertitle: ‘Turning the Copper Band to Form’    

A woman turns a shell in a lathe cutting off a fine layer to make a smooth finish.  This is then measured before another shell takes its place.  Again, a shell comparison of before and after. 

Intertitle: ‘Weighing, Gauging and General Inspection’   

The shells are turned on a machine (gauging), with a shell ‘wobbling’ as it turns at high speed.  Then some minor adjustments are made before being weighed and placed onto a vertical conveyer belt.  At the next stage, they are placed into a machine to be smoothed off.  They are placed back onto the conveyer belt for the penultimate stage of being hand polished and coated.  Then a young man screws a cap onto the end before the shells are loaded into metal containers.  A large stockpile of finished shells is in a store.  The King, Edward VIII, and Elizabeth the Queen Consort, are briefly seen at the works, and there is a glimpse of a crowd waving and cheering.   

Intertitle: ‘Their Majesties Leaving the Main Office’    

King, Edward VIII, and Elizabeth leave the factory and get into a waiting car.  A group of people are left standing by the exit.  A room with machinery (boilers?) is shown, followed by men and women workers leaving the factory at the end of their shift.