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The Ordnance Department: Planning Munitions for War
Why use this guide? What information do Board of Ordnance records contain? How to search for records at The National Archives? Key records 5. Further reading. The records of the Board of Ordnance are a rich source for army, naval and maritime historians.
The records provide information on: the building and upkeep of fortifications and barracks the supplies of heavy arms early maps for military purposes the fitting and arming of warships defence payments for goods and services, salaries or allowances daily operations of the Ordnance Board commissioning and paying-off of warships large number of issues and remains for the Spanish, Ile de Rhe and Rochelle fleets of personnel of the Ordnance Board 3.
Key records 4. Most of the early Board minutes are not indexed. Browse and narrow down your search by date. All these volumes record: payments for goods and services salaries and allowances inventories of stores or captured munitions Each item is entered in some detail. How to find records Use internal indexes to locate relevant documents listed below. Further reading Use our library catalogue to find a recommended book list. Contact us for advice. Still need help? Live chat For quick pointers Tuesday to Saturday to Email For more detailed research enquiries.
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Medieval and early modern soldiers. All the plants depended heavily on civilian workers for their main work force. The wartime industries brought needed money and jobs for Arkansas citizens and contributed greatly to the economy of Arkansas. After the war, the state never returned to heavy agricultural-based economy that had been present before World War II, developing instead a more industrialized economy. Arkansas business and political leaders lobbied for the plants and pointed out the advantages of locating plants in Arkansas.
Arkansas had unlimited supplies of natural gas and coal.
Arkansas offered strategic locations away from the coastal areas of the United States where the government felt the plants were safer from foreign attack and away from large population centers but with a large available labor force. With the able bodied men needed for military service, the job of manning the defense plants fell to people that had never been in the labor force before or who had been employed in low-paying work. Handicapped people, women many who were housewives and had never worked outside the home , young people, older adults, and African Americans were sought for employment.
Boys and girls as young as fourteen and fifteen were hired for work. These young people changed their papers or lied about their age, and the need for workers was so great that the employment officials did not check up on the ages. African Americans were encouraged to apply, and as segregation was still practiced in Arkansas at this time, separate areas of the employment facilities were set aside for the African Americans who came to apply for work.
The ordnance sites shared many of the same features. First, the land areas for the plants were surveyed and taken over by the United States government by condemnation proceedings. This action displaced the people living in those land areas, and the people had to move out in a short period of time. Housing shortages developed in many areas as workers from all over the state and even out of state came to work on the construction phases of the plants.
Local people were given preference.
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Trailer camps developed, and area residents rented out about anything they had. All but one of the plants built housing for their top military personnel, and in the case of the contractor-operated plants, housing was provided for top operating officials. During the operating phase of the plants, most of the workers came from areas within about a fifty-mile radius of the sites, but workers from further away also came, and these workers especially had problems with housing.
Transportation was a problem, bus and rail services were developed, and individual passenger vehicles were used to transport workers. The plants developed into almost self-contained communities.
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Sewer systems and water systems were developed. Roads and railroads were built within the sites. Spur lines were built to connect to outside rail services. The plants had their own hospitals, fire departments, maintenance departments, and cafeterias, and several of the plants had recreation facilities on the grounds. All the sites were fenced, plant guards patrolled the sites, and security was very tight. Several of the plants produced their own newsletters. The plant was the first national defense industry approved for the state, and at the peak of production on November 22, , 14, workers were employed at the plant.
The plant was named the Arkansas Ordnance Plant and was one of the first plant of its kind in the nation. The facility had several assembly lines that occupied clusters of buildings where fuses, boosters, detonators, and primers were produced. The first assembly line was completed on March 4, , and additional lines were all operational by June of The majority of the production line workers were women called WOWs women ordnance workers.
In August , 12, employees were working at the plant, and about seventy-five percent of these were female. By December 31, , there were 3, African Americans working four lines and comprising twenty-four percent of the work force. There were fifty-five African-American supervisors. The Sunny Side housing project, consisting of a total of houses and additional duplexes, was started on July 5, The project supplied housing for families.
A unit trailer park was built on the opposite side of town from the project, and both developments were rented to the AOP employees as they were completed. The chief architect for the Sunny Side project was Edwin B. Cromwell of Little Rock Pulaski County. The houses were prefabricated in Memphis by E.
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- CMH Pub 10-9 The Ordnance Department: Planning Munitions For War.
Bruce Lumber Company. Young A. Maury of Memphis was in charge of construction of the houses.
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The completed sections were brought to the Jacksonville site, where crews could put up several houses a day. Dormitories were built on the AOP site. Staff housing was built on the site for the management and military personnel. Recreation facilities were built on the site. Housing, especially in the beginning, was never enough, and some workers lived in tents and in their vehicles.
The AOP continued in production from until August and produced 1,,, detonators and relays, ,, primers, ,, percussion elements, ,, fuses, and 5,, boosters. As the war began winding down, the number of employees needed decreased, and by August , the number of employees had dropped to 7, By the end of August 5, of the employees were dropped from the payroll, and the plant was completely closed within six months.
In , the AOP facilities were offered for sale. Some buildings were leased or sold to industries that located on the old plant site.
Other buildings were removed from the site and taken to educational facilities around Arkansas. Some of the land was sold back to former owners, with a clause that, if the government needed the land, it would be retaken. That building was converted in to the Jacksonville Museum of Military History , which includes information and artifacts on military history from the civil war to current military conflicts. One area is dedicated to the history of the AOP.
Maumelle Ordnance Works, located near Marche Pulaski County , was expected to employ to 1, people in the production phase of operations. The construction workers came from all over Arkansas, and housing shortages and transportation problems were evident here also. Buses and private vehicles provided transportation, but because the MOW was a smaller plant with fewer workers, the plant did not have as many housing or transportation problems. No housing was built at the MOW site.
Initial production of picric acid began on March 28, MOW remained in operation from March until August and produced ,, pounds of ammonium picrate. After the war, the plant was kept on standby status with a small military and civilian staff ready to put the plant back into production if needed.