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Australian munitions worker


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#1 gem22

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 09:34 AM

I wonder if anyone on the forum can solve a puzzle for me?
Whilst searching through a Cambridge cemetery looking for the grave of a member of the WRAF who died in the Great War I happened upon a CWGC headstone which was engraved as follows; "J.E.Langworthy" Austalian munitions worker 30th July 1918.
My questions are: Why would an Australian be doing munitions work in Cambridge, and why would he get a CWGC headstone? He is on the CWGC Debt of Honour and so it makes sense that he has an appropriate headstone but I'm just curious to know why he would be entitled to one?
Thanks
Garth sad.gif

#2 Terry Denham

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 09:58 AM

During both WW1 & WW2 a number of Commonwealth civilian organisations were accepted by the military as qualifying for war grave status. The WW2 list was much longer than that for WW1. The largest such group was the Mercantile Marine.

Members of the Recognised Civilian Organisations had to meet two additional criteria not required by military casualties. (1) Their death had to be caused by war actions or the increased threat caused by war and (2) they had to be on duty at the time of their death - being posted overseas counted as 'being on duty'.

If these two criteria were not met, then the grave is a non-world war grave. This explains why two merchant seaman can be buried in the same cemetery, having died on the same day but only one is a war grave - ie one killed through war action and the other drowned in a normal maritime accident.

The Australian government deemed that their War and Munitions Workers (men and women) qualified for war grave treatment as they were recruited as a body and were posted overseas for the war effort. Some of their CWGC entries show a 'service number' indicating that they were an organised body. All but one of these casualties are buried in the UK - the other being in France.

The list of these Recognised Civilian Organisations is very interesting (particularly for WW2) and has been an area of study of mine. If anyone wishes to have a list of these organisations, please email me.

#3 gem22

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 11:11 AM

Terry
Thankyou for an absolutely brilliant response. I knew someone would know the answer. You have put my mind at rest. Once again thanks
Garth

#4 Bob Coulson

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 06:32 PM

Garth,

There are two Australian munition workers buried in Brotton Churchyard, N/E England.
There was a munitions factory attached to the local steelworks during the war.

Bob.

#5 Drummy

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 07:52 PM

There is an Australian Munition Worker buried at Irlam (St. John's) Churchyard, near Eccles, Greater Manchester.

#6 Terry_Reeves

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 08:10 PM

To answer the first part of your query. A number of skilled workers were sent to the UK for work in munitions factories by Australia and Canada. The numbers were quite small, about 3,000 I think. The exact figure can be found in "Arms and the Wizard" by RJQ Adams.


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#7 christine liava'a

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 02:15 AM

Terry, Are lists of these munitions workers from overseas available?

#8 Dolphin

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 08:31 AM

The Australian War Workers are mentioned in "Australia During the War" by Ernest Scott, Volume XI of The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Some 6000 Australian artisans and unskilled labourers worked on war projects in the UK and in France. Their numbers included soldiers who were discharged from the AIF in the UK as being physically unfit, and who elected to remain in Europe and do war work.

67 of the Workers are recorded to have died from influenza during the 1918 pandemic. Others must have died in industrial accidents.

#9 Terry_Reeves

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 04:56 PM

Christine

As far as I'm aware, there are no official lists of muntions workers either UK born or from overseas. Some of the larger munitions manufacturers published works magazines which sometimes mentioned individuals, but it is a bit hit and miss I'm afraid.

Terry Reeves