Could you help Peter Couzins with this historical enquiry?
The Broadstairs resident writes: “The photo is of my mother. I am trying to find what the uniform and armbands mean. The date on the back is November 1918, the month the World War One armistice was signed.
“Her name was Sarah Ellen Jarman and she was 29 and unmarried at this time. I presume the photo was for my father who was serving in the Royal Engineers in France or Belgium.
“I would like to find out who the other lady is (standing) could this be Emily Elizabeth Skinner nee Jarman, my mother’s elder sister ?.My father Harry Couzins and Sarah married on November 21, 1921. My mother died 15 months after I was born on May 1, 1932. The Jarmans and the Couzins family’s are old Margatonions.
“My father’s brother (the uncle I never had) was James Couzins. He was killed at Passchendaele on August 1, 1917 and is listed on Margate war memorial.”
If you can help Peter with his query email email@example.com
I showed this photo to a WW1 picture expert who assist programmes like ‘Who do you Think you Are’ and he said the ladies are munitionettes; the triangular badges on their armbands are ‘on war service’ badges, and the armbands are likely to have been red to show that they are forewomen (as opposed to foremen). I wondered if they worked at Richborough or Faversham?
They could have been sorting through salvage at Richborough but local women did work at Faversham. Luckily no women were working there on the fatal Sunday in April 1916 when the gunpowder factory blew up.
My grandmother was employed at Richborough during the First World War. I understand that she was involved in the manufacture of shells – to the extent that we had a brass shell case to house the poker and tongs for the coal fire when I was a child !
I recall reading somewhere that an advertisement was placed in a local newspaper offering jobs for a certain number of women – but not giving details of what the job was or where it was based (clearly to maintain some level of security and secrecy).
The badge is very small and does not enlarge clearly but I think they are probably in overalls doing some sort of farm work for the Womens Land Army. Possibly looking after chickens or other farmyard animals, cleaning out pens and preparing their food and water. Fresh eggs were a very important part of the diet towards the end of the war when some food stuffs were rationed.