Bomb Girls

Bomb Girls : Trading Aprons for Ammo

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2016 Speaker's Book Award - Shortlisted

2016 Heritage Toronto Book Award - Nominated

An account of the women working in high-security, dangerous conditions making bombs in Toronto during the Second World War.

What was it like to work in a Canadian Second World War munitions factory? What were working conditions like? Did anyone die? Just how closely did female employees embody the image of "Rosie the Riveter" so popularly advertised to promote factory work in war propaganda posters? How closely does the recent TV show, Bomb Girls, resemble the actual historical record of the day-to-day lives of bomb-making employees?

Bomb Girls delivers a dramatic, personal, and detailed review of Canada's largest fuse-filling munitions factory, situated in Scarborough, Ontario. First-hand accounts, technical records, photographic evidence, business documentation, and site maps all come together to offer a rare, complete account into the lives of over twenty-one thousand brave men and women who risked their lives daily while handling high explosives in a dedicated effort to help win the war.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 25mm | 439g
  • Toronto, Canada
  • English
  • Index; 40 Illustrations, black and white; 13 Illustrations, color
  • 1459731166
  • 9781459731165
  • 1,406,082

Table of contents

Table of Contents


1 In the Beginning
2 A Frozen Field of Dreams
3 A Mini City Tucked Behind an Eight-Foot Barbed-Wire Fence
4 Ramping Up
5 If You Can Walk, Talk, Creep, or Crawl - Apply Here!
6 A Day in the Life of a Bomb Girl
7 It All Depends on Me
8 Safety First Because Safety Lasts
9 Whistle While You Work: Industrial Relations and Personnel
10 Service with a Smile: Departments Serving Employees
11 Rolling Up Their Sleeves: Departments Contributing to Munitions Production
12 Nothing Less Will Do - Employee Morale
13 Disasters at the Plant
14 When "Victory" Trumpets Sound the Call
15 If You Build It, Scarborough Will Come

Appendix A: Layout of GECO: An Engineer's Sketch of GECO
Appendix B: GECO Management Chart
Appendix C: Typical Workshop Layout: Fuse 251, Shop 67C




To Those Women of All Ages

Foreword by Philip Hamilton


Chapter One: In the Beginning
Canada Declares War
Wanted: One Mining Company, No War Experience Necessary
The Dynamic Duo
Anticipation Swells
A.W.S.C. Project No. 24: Birth of a War Factory
A Few Good Men
Scarboro, Ontario, Canada: Farms, Fillies, and Fuses
The King's Speech

Chapter Two: A Frozen Field of Dreams
Dead in the Water
Turning of the Sod - with a Little Help from some TNT
Loose Lips Sink Ships
The Gunpowder Plot
Needed: 2,500 Good, Strong Men
Hitler's Fate Sealed

Chapter Three: A Mini-City Tucked Behind an Eight-Foot Barbed-Wire Fence
Taking Sides
Give Me a "U"!
Pick a Number, Any Number
What Lies Beneath
Life Happens: A Change of Plans
Can We Talk?
There is No "I" in "Team"
A Squeaky Wheel Gets an Earful
When All is Said and Done: Feeds and Speeds of a Top Secret Munitions Factory

Chapter Four: Ramping Up
Talk Is Cheap: Bring on the High Explosives
Glitches, Hitches, and Snags
The Girls Behind the Boys Behind the Guns

Chapter Five: If You Can Walk, Talk, Creep, or Crawl - Apply Here!
It's in Their Blood
Working in a Man's World
War, Ammo, and Feminine Pads
GECO's Bomb Girls

Chapter Six: A Day in the Life of a Bomb Girl
All Aboard
I Do Solemnly Declare ...
First Things First: Ground Rules
Please Check your Brassiere
Features of GECO Change Houses
A "Harmless" Pack of Matches
Non-explosive Uniforms
An Ode to Ye Olde Shift House
Working on the "Clean Side"
Where's the Beef?
At Day's End
Paying Tribute to the Girls

Chapter Seven: It All Depends on Me
On the Dirty Side
Mum's the Word: Dorothy Cheesman
Too Young to Fill: Elizabeth Ellis
A Star Is Born: Helen Fraser
A Run-In with the Boss: Barbara Holmes
Chief Dietitian and "Guiding Genius": Florence Ignatieff
On the Clean Side
Don't Drop that Det!: Molly Danniels
"Truckerette": Hilda Keast
Yellow Canary: Carol LeCappelain
For the Love of her Country: Helen Leslie
A Woman of Sorrow: Peggy MacKay
Bench Leader: Norma McGregor
Breath of Fresh Ayr: Mary Plain
"Fireball": Edith Reay-Laidler
"My Mom was My World": Doris Scott
Widow with Five Children: Winifred Stewart
D.I.L. Gal: Rena Sweetman
"I Want to Work with Munitions": Anne Wilmot
The Old Boys' Club
On the Dirty Side
Someone's Got to Pay the Bills: William Howe
Positively Electrifying: Hartley "Tony" French
"Piston Packin' Moma": Donald John MacDonald
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: Roy Robertson
Keep on Truckin': Joe Sullivan
The Sawdust Brigade
A Name Couldn't Sound Sweeter: Alex Licorice Waddell
On the Cleanside
"Hefty Work": Peter Cranston
It's a Bust: Harold Pfeiffer
A Long Road to Peace: Ernest Herbert Pickles
All in the Family
Mother and Daughter In-Laws: Hilda and Dorothy Clements
The Darnbrough Way: Walter, Rene, and Violet Darnbrough
General Delivery: John Everest and Family
Truck 'Em and Fill 'Em: Sidney Ledson and Family
Modern Misses: Margaret and Netti Neufeld
Snowed In: The Simerson Gals
"Shamed Be He Who Thinks Evil of It": Roxaline Wood and Family
Without a Name
Man Lays Down his Life on the Home Front
With our Deepest Gratitude
I Wish to Remain Anonymous
The Dynamic Duo: Philip Dawson Prior and Robert McLean Prior Hamilton's Story
The Bloody Red Baron
The Roaring Twenties
The Thirties: Prelude to War
A Son's Reflection: Philip Hamilton
John McLean Parsons Hamilton

Chapter Eight: Safety First because Safety Lasts
Friend or Foe
In Case of Explosion ...
Life Expectancy
In Spotless Air Conditioned Shops
Jack be Nimble
Galleries and Vestibules and Tunnels, Oh My!
Death and Disfigurement
Guns and Gum
The Tetryl Dilemma

Chapter Nine: Industrial Relations and Personnel
Industrial Relations: Whistle While You Work
There's Got to Be a Better Way
Show Me the Money
GECO and its Books of Many Colours
One Hundred Percent Club
An Urgent Need - the Guns to Feed

Chapter Ten: Departments Serving Employees
Medical: An Ounce of Prevention
Food Services: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Uniforms: The Mechanical Laundry Mangle
Transportation: When the Rubber Hits the Road

Chapter Eleven: The Men behind the Women: Departments Contributing to Munitions Production
Production Department: The Buck Stops Here
Planning and Records: A Juggling Act
Just Where Do You Test Explosives?
An Explosive Conflict
Quality Control: Impressing the Enemy
Shipping: We Got Ourselves a Convoy
Research and Development: Safer, Faster, Deadlier
Purchasing: Axes, Apples, and Ammo
Engineering General Office: Ground Zero
The Sawdust Brigade
Other Departments: Smaller but Just as Deadly

Chapter Twelve: Nothing Less Will Do: Employee Morale
The Situation Room
The GECO Diamond is their Badge
GECO Fusilier: A Powder Magazine
A Young Canadian Died!
Skuce's Goose
A Little R&R
Sing a Song of Softball
Bombs Away, Beautiful!
Victory Gardens
More Mistletoe and Less Missile-Talk
The Kids are Alright
Big Business Unions
Blood is Thicker than Water
I'm Making Bombs and Buying Bonds
The Good Ol' Sally Ann
Pennies from Heaven
Special Guests
The Songs they Sing are Preludes to the Voices of the Gun
Every Fuse you Fill may Save a Life
The Whispering Gallery

Chapter Thirteen: Disasters at the Plant
Snow Stranded
Death at the Plant

Chapter Fourteen: We Won the War - Now What?
Lay Down your Arms
Thanks for Your Faithful Service
Wrapping Up
By the Numbers
Scarboro's Spoils of War
Production: Collateral Damage
Total Production: From July 1941-July 1945
The Final Headcount
It's in You to Give
Bits and Pieces

Chapter Fifteen: If You Build it, Scarborough will Come
Decontamination and Desensitization
Sheltering the Homeless
Scarborough's "Golden Mile" of Industry
Veil of Secrecy Lifted
Long Live Scarboro!

A. Layout of GECO
B. GECO Management Organizational Chart

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About Barbara Dickson

Barbara Dickson is a sought-after motivational public speaker, local historian, and writer of fiction and periodical pieces. She lives in Scarborough, Ontario.
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Rating details

21 ratings
3.61 out of 5 stars
5 24% (5)
4 24% (5)
3 43% (9)
2 10% (2)
1 0% (0)
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