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Ministry of Supply Factory, Dalbeattie -
 View of Nitration Hills, Unit 2 (Edingham)

Ministry of Supply Factory, Dalbeattie
World War II Cordite Works

~ Index ~ Site History ~ Virtual Tour ~
~ Buildings and Functions ~ Manufacture of Cordite ~
~ The Workforce ~ Graffiti and Poems ~
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~ Roll of Honour
~


Recollections and Memories of the Munitions Workers and their Relatives :-

Key Points :-

  • Only the younger staff are alive today and most are in their 80s.
  • Many came from Central Scotland and Northern England and went home after the War.
  • Very little has been written about them in previous years.
  • A need to gather this information as soon as possible.
  • Relatives encouraged to contribute what they were told.
  • No staff list has been compiled so even some names would be valuable.
  • Contact webmaster@dalbeattie.com with information.
  • Information will be listed here as it becomes available.



Staff Memoirs and Recollections :

Introduction...

The thousands of men and women who worked at Ministry of Supply Factory Dalbeattie have lived and died for the most part without recognition or acknowledgement. As indicated on the site index, this has triggered the writer's decision to make the website and carry out the necessary research. Although only a handful are still alive in 2006, it is worth the effort gathering their recollections and recording those here.

Staff Names and Duties :

These are recounted in the Roll of Honour which covers all known names from all sources.

Memoirs and Accounts :

Memoirs of former staff and what they told their relatives are being recorded on this site as an ongoing project. This is an occasional listing and is expected to grow with the recollections of surviving staff and their families :-

Tom Hamilton, Research Chemist :
According to his daughter, E. Margaret Crawford, Tom was a research chemist at ICI Ardeer, Stevenston. He was sent to the Dalbeattie (Cordite) Factory in 1940, where he continued to work until the war ended. His family started off living 'in digs' with the Coltart family in Albert Street, before moving to 112 Southwick Road, just opposite the school Margaret attended.
Margaret's brother was born in in 1941 and constantly wore out the backside of his short trousers playing on the 'sly', a large rock of polished granite situated on waste ground opposite the house.
Tom Hamilton was a member of the Home Guard during the war and regularly patrolled Station Road. He was also a member of the Bridge Club which met in the Town Hall on (Margaret believes) Monday nights. He bought books for Margaret (when available) from Miss Craig's shop in the High Street. Margaret and her brother loved growing up in Dalbeattie and were shocked to learn that they had to return 'home' to Ayrshire, when Tom Hamilton returned to the Safety Fuse Department at Ardeer, where he continued to work until his retirement. He died in 1977.

Mr. W.R. Moore, Factory Manager :
The Dalbeattie Museum Trust's Tom Henderson produced an article from the ICI Newsletter of September 1943, which is the only description of Mr. Moore. His age in 1943 was probably 55, as he entered Nobel's after graduation and worked mostly at Ardeer for 32 years. There is a cartoon sketch with the article showing him dressed as a golfer with his club in one hand. He seems to have taken his work very seriously and to have been respected by office staff and factory workers. Three of the eight group photographs to hand show him with office, technical and foreman staff and senior workers. The text of the article is as follows :-

Mr. W.R. Moore

Mr. W.R. Moore, Manager at Dalbeattie, has been thirty-two years in the Explosives industry, but is still mild and charming in temperament. Mr. Moore trained at the Royal College of Science and graduated at the University of London, after which he joined Nobel's [factory at Ardeer].
During the last war [First World War, 1914-1919] he acted as Chief Superintendent of the Cordite Section, Pembrey, and then back to Ardeer and the Blasting Department. In 1937 he was transferred to Regent, and to Dalbeattie in 1940.
Here is Mr. Moore's message to his [office and technical] staff and [factory] workers :
"A sentry on duty is given a password, and anyone knowing this word is allowed to proceed. In a factory like Dalbeattie it would be a good idea to introduce three permanent passwords : Efficiency, Co-operation and Absenteeism, and for everyone to understand their significance."
"EFFICIENCY means the minimum usage of labour, raw materials use in manufacture, clothing and miscellaneous articles, and cutting out wastage of any kind."
"CO-OPERATION means all sections and all grades of employees pulling their full weight and thinking not of themselves but of the factory as a whole. In a tug-of-war team one weak link lets the whole side down, and the same thing can happen in a factory."
"ABSENTEEISM. In view of the general shortage of labour throughout the country any time lost needlessly, without reasonable cause, is sabotaging the factory's output and the war effort."
"Much has been done in the past, but I feel sure with everyone's co-operation big improvements can be made, and Dalbeattie will then be in the leading position among factories producing the same products as ourselves."
"With best wishes to everyone for the future and many thanks for your good work in the past."

Operational Points : Elsewhere on the site it has been pointed out that the Factory may not have achieved full capacity, due to the nature of the processes and strategic requirements for cordite. Mr. Moore's remarks reveal several things :-

  • Moore was fighting to keep Dalbeattie at peak efficiency to avoid it falling behind the productivity of other works.
  • Wartime shortages of raw materials affected munitions, so any waste would have been a serious loss. At the same time, the factory staff lodged at an economically ridiculous distance from the Factory, even though a workers' barracks or camp would have increased efficiency.
  • The divisions between sections for security reasons may have meant that individual workers could not see further than their own work, or realise the impact that failure or laziness in their section had on staff elsewhere.
  • A division existed between office and scientific staff and factory workers. This unfortunately was not successfully bridged by Mr. Moore, as it has lasted until this day.
The writer has no idea when Mr. Moore retired, but is wondering whether processes or management factors were the reason for the rapid closure between VE and VJ Days. More information is required.


Site visitors with information are invited to contact webmaster@dalbeattie.com, preferably with contact information such as name and phone.
I look forwards to discussing your family involvement in M/S Factory Dalbeattie and RNAD Dalbeattie.
- Richard Edkins.

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© 2006 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.

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