Location: Britain, France
In 1916 the Australian Munitions Workers Scheme was launched in a joint Australian Commonwealth-Imperial Government scheme to send skilled war workers to British war industries during World War 1. Turners & fitters, brass fitters, aeroplane workers and pattern makers were among the initial skills sought.
In 1917 the Australian War Workers scheme was launched - the aim was to provide labourers and navvies (unskilled labour) to British industries.
The scheme was extended in 1917 to workers from Australia who had entered into private contracts, such as with Vickers. Most were eventually assimilated.
Around 6000 Australians participated. Most worked in Britain, but around 200 worked in France. Around 65 died, mostly through illness, but 1 was killed in the sinking of the "Orsova" when it was torpedoed and 4 died in accidents. Around 600 were repatriated before the Armistice, mostly for medical reasons.
There was some interchange with the Armed Forces - around 30 joined British Services and 19 enlisted in the AIF. There were also 214 soldiers who transferred from the AIF to the scheme, mainly those who were to be invalided home from the AIF and wished to continue to serve.
London staff to manage the scheme, under the direction of LtCol. Henry Barraclough grew from 2 in 1916 to 168 by Feb 1919.
Files for each worker are held by the National Archives of Australia (metadata on RecordSearch), but only a small proportion have been digitised. The paper files are held in Melbourne, Victoria.
National Archives of Australia Under "Explore the collection", Use RecordSearch - use keywords "munitions worker" or "munition worker".
- Fixing the glitch in A-Z in Categories Aug 13, 2021.