1. ITV Report

War heroines remembered for first time

Swynnerton Roses, young girls drafted in to make munitions for Allied forces during the Second World War Photo: ITV Central

At the Cenotaph on Sunday will be representatives from all of the armed forces and those who worked night and day for the war effort such as the Land Army and the Home Guard.

But this year, for the first time, they will be joined by a group of women hitherto almost forgotten.

A warm welcome was given for some special visitors to the Swynnerton Military Training Establishment in Staffordshire.

Many of the women were amongst the so-called Swynnerton Roses, young girls drafted in to make munitions for Allied forces during the Second World War

There were 35,000 women working there at the peak, hundreds of thousands more across the country - all working around the clock for the war effort.

Barbara Botfield, former munitions worker Credit: ITV Central

"There were no windows, and all artificial light and this is the reason i don't know a lot of names because we weren't allowed to speak to anyone."

– Barbara Botfield, former munitions worker

This is one of the buildings here once used to store the finished bullets and bombs. It was dangerous work with what were casually called blow ups a regular occurrence.

One of the buildings here once used to store the finished bullets and bombs Credit: ITV Central

"I had one girl next to me, something went off, it took her fingers off that's all, but you didn't know half of what was going on"

– Dora Gale, former munitions worker

If proof were needed just how dangerous the work was, in St Mary's church just up the road from the base there is the headstone of a worker killed by an explosion while working on shift.

Betty Kenny was one of the girls killed while working at a factory Credit: ITV Central

Secrecy was paramount too. May of the girls were brought in daily by train to Cold Meece station - not open to the public and known locally as the station with no timetable. There were serious questions for any girl who forgot her factory ID card.

Alice Porter, former munitions worker

"They wanted to know who my mother and father were and I told them to ask for Albert the foreman and he came over and said 'Come on Alice!'

– Alice Porter, former munitions worker

The vital work of the Swynnerton Roses has gone unmarked apart from a 1990's musical by Derbyshire writer Bob Eaton called 'I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire'. But thanks to a campaign by relatives and the local MP, this Sunday, for the first time, they will be represented the the Cenotaph in London, at the national Remembrance Day parade.

"They, without any whinging, without any moaning, turned up did their job and did more than was expected of them, because that was the way things were. So, if we can do something to recognise the heroines, the unsung heroines of the war we should do."

– Major (Ret.) Jim Salisbury, Swynnerton Training Camp
Alice will lead the Swynnerton Roses at Sunday's parade with her grandson beside her Credit: ITV Central

Alice will lead the Swynnerton Roses at Sunday's parade with her grandson at her side. It may have taken 70 years to get there but it'll be a journey well worth waiting for.

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