Mary Storey-Richmond (20 May 1923 – 3 September 2018) was working at Rowntrees as a Centric Filling Maker in 1939 making chocolates. When war broke out, her department was converted to produce munitions so Mary, along with her colleagues, was now making bombs.
This was highly risky and her niece said, “They had to be very careful. In fact, there were one or two bangs, but she always said nobody was seriously hurt.” Their hair did not escape though – the women wore turbans, but there was always a fringe of hair that wasn’t covered. And, depending on what they were working on, some of them found their exposed hair turning orange. “They were called the canaries,” Mary’s niece said.
Later in the war, Mary transferred to work on the railways, operating a signal box at Church Fenton. Her story is one of many that illustrate the impact of war on individuals and their incalculable contribution to the war effort.
2019; “Meet the Rowntree Girls who helped make bombs during the war…”; York Press; 18 March 2019; accessed 13 August 2020.