One of our autobiographies from the Burnett Archive recently featured in the Independent’s series on A history of the First World War in 100 Moments. When corpses fell from the Nottinghamshire sky is based on the account of Lottie Barker, who worked in a munitions factory in Beeston, Nottinghamshire during the war. She was one of the ‘Canary Girls’, who made shells in the factory and for whom repeated exposure to toxic chemicals turned their skin orange-yellow like a canary.
On the day of the explosion she wasn’t on shift, but was at home washing up, and felt the house move and saw a huge column of smoke. The explosion caused the loss of 134 lives, although the full extent wasn’t made clear at the time as the news was suppressed. Lottie’s account includes details of the aftermath of the explosion.
Look out over the next few months for more accounts of the First World War from Special Collections.