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  #1  
Old 15-06-21, 12:33 PM
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mike_vee mike_vee is offline
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Default Australian Munition Workers

Overseas AMW History

The Australian Munitions Worker scheme started seeking volunteers in the middle of August 1916.

Men enlisted under a joint Australian Commonwealth – Imperial Government scheme for providing skilled Australian workers to British war industries during the First World war. Under this scheme the volunteers would receive free passage to Great Britain , an allowance for travel time , a special allowance for the duration of service , and eventual repatriation to Australia .

Initially only skilled workers were sought , however at the request of the British Government later groups included large numbers of navvies for general labouring. (see next post)

Badge
Obverse : Australian coat of arms set on a ribbon with the legend 'MUNITIONS WORKER' and curved below , the word 'AUSTRALIA'. (photo 1)

Reverse : ISSUED/ BY/ DEPARTMENT/ OF / DEFENCE / STOKES & SONS MELBORNE and stamped with a badge/worker number. Badge had 2 lugs (N/S). (photo 2)

The design of the badge was the same for all groups but different finishes were used to indicate which group the volunteer belong to.


Gold (gilt) : CHEMISTS – Records show that approximately 300 Australian chemists were employed under the scheme and that (for some) they had to 'apply' for the badge once in the Great Britain.

Quote:
”Lieut. Colonel Barraclough has been asked to arrange the issue of these badges to Australian chemists serving in the UK.”
Quote:
“These may be issued to Chemists and Draughtsmen sent from Australia on similar conditions of issue to munitions workers.”
Note – As yet I have not found any documents relating to Draughtsmen.

Silver (plated) : MANAGERS and qualified factory supervisors.

Bronze : Basic workers.

The badges were issued on 'enrolment' and the badge/worker number was recorded in the volunteer's file. (photo 3 shows an example).

Note – Chemist/Draughtsmen had their worker number recorded at this time and this number was on the badges they were (later) issued. I can find no record when Manager/Supervisor badges were issued.

References :

NAA (National Archives of Australia)

“World War 1 Australian Munitions Worker Badges – List of Recipients” by Lieutenant-Colonel Neil Smith.

“Australians Awarded” by Clive Johnson.

“Australian Munitions Workers” website.

Badge photos courtesy of Rob (Jackhr).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Photo 1.jpg (46.2 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg Photo 2.jpg (37.7 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg Photo 3.jpg (51.4 KB, 12 views)
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  #2  
Old 15-06-21, 12:48 PM
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Default Overseas War Worker/Navvies & Labourers

As WW1 progressed the British Government needed more 'unskilled' workers for the Munitions industry and recruited these under the same scheme as the “Munitions Workers” . These appear to have fallen under two categories :

War Workers – These seem to have been craftsmen without munitions qualifications/skills.

Navvies/Labourers – For basic manual work.

They were given their own badges , different from the “Munitions Worker” one but as they were recruited under the same scheme they were given a badge/worker number which was recorded on their file and appears on the same lists as the “Munitions Worker” badges.

Note – This has caused confusion as the 'basic' lists do not differentiate between “Munitions Workers” and “War Workers” / “Navvies/Labourers” so the same badge number may appear for two different volunteer's . If there are any other documents available (files etc.) it is possible to work out which group the volunteer belonged to.


Badges
Obverse : Circular bronze (brass ?) or silver (white metal ?) badge with 'WAR WORKER' embossed at the top , then the Australian coat of arms , and 'AUSTRALIA' at the bottom. (photo 1)

Reverse 'War Worker' : Stokes & Sons MELB and worker/badge number. Badge has 2 horizontal lugs/loops (E/W) (photo 1)

Reverse 'Navvies & Labourers' : Stokes & Sons MELB and worker/badge number plus 'Navvies &' at the top and 'LABOURERS' at the bottom.(photo 2)

Note – It has been suggested that the silver (white metal ?) badges were for supervisors/foremen but as yet I have found no documents to support this.

It was believed that these badges were awarded “after the Armistice (in 1919)” but documents show that , as with the AMW badges , these were issued and signed for when the “Agreement” form was completed.


Notes

A lot of this research involved cross-checking between the various resources .

Neil Smith's booklet has two columns of numbers , the first being a reference number relating to the file/list used to ascertain the badge number which is the second number shown.

The NAA (National Archives of Australia) site lists all the names and badge numbers and at present also has 'digital' access to 434 out of 6347 files which contain documents relating to the volunteers . These included Enrolment forms showing whether the volunteer was a Munitions or War worker.

There is also a “list of names and addresses of Munitions and War Workers who proceeded to the UK under agreement with Commonwealth” but unfortunately this has not been 'scanned' and would require either visiting the NAA or paying for a copy !

The Australian Munitions Workers website is searchable and has some additional information/photos.

NB : Both the above sites can be temperamental , some badge numbers show “no results” but when a “name search” is done the badge number is shown (and correct).

Hope you find this useful , any questions/corrections please send me a PM.

Thanks to Tim (Chipper) for his help ...and patience !
Attached Images
File Type: jpg War Worker.jpg (64.7 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg 7. Navvies & Labourers.jpg (8.9 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg War Worker George William Carpenter - Badge.jpg (35.0 KB, 7 views)
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  #3  
Old 15-06-21, 01:21 PM
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Fantastic research Mike, a much needed unravelling of the information surrounding these badges.

cheers, Tim
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Old 15-06-21, 08:17 PM
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Hi Mike and Tim

Really great stuff! I did wonder why I had a bronze badge and the other (shorn of its "AUSTRALIA" title for reasons we can only speculate about....) to Wroe was gilded.

It would be interesting to see if Wroe's occupation was recorded somewhere.
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  #5  
Old 16-06-21, 06:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dumdum View Post
It would be interesting to see if Wroe's occupation was recorded somewhere.
It is probably in his NAA file but I think it will be a long time before it is available on-line , so would require a visit or paying for a copy.

.
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Old 16-06-21, 11:18 PM
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Hi Mike

I'm wondering if there isn't another way that it might have been recorded such as on Ancestry. Anyway, it explains the gilding!
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