Remembering the Swynnerton Roses

Ellie Laying the Wreath
Ellie Laying the Wreath

Landmarc Support Services and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) have hosted their annual ‘Swynnerton Roses’ and residents lunch, which gathers together the ladies who worked at Swynnerton Training Camp in World War II. The event aims to honour these ladies and remember those who lost their lives to protect our freedom.

Swynnerton Training Camp was built in 1939, originally as a Royal Ordnance Factory manufacturing munitions for World War II, and the location was chosen because it was easily hidden by mist and fog.
Some 33,000 people – the majority of which were women – worked on site to supply troops with ammunition, including Spitfire bullets and black powder used for illuminations at sea. The work was dangerous and there were injuries and fatalities, however there are still a number of ladies around today – known as the ‘Swynnerton Roses’ – all of whom are in their 90s.

Each year, DIO invites the ‘Swynnerton Roses’ back to the camp, along with apprentices that worked there in the 1950s, local residents, ex-employees, and the local police and fire brigade, with the event reaching a record number of 161 visitors in 2015.

DIO, along with Landmarc, ESS employees and soldiers from 90 SU looked after the honoured guests from the moment they arrived. Tea and coffee were served followed by a short service and wreath laying at the cenotaph. The team then waited on the tables for their three course lunch, provided by ESS.

Major (Ret’d) Jim Salisbury, DIO’s training safety officer at the camp, plays a big part in organising the event each year and making sure all the ‘Swynnerton Roses’ and residents get their invites. He said: “DIO’s role is to maximise the potential of the Defence estate to support the Armed Forces.

“We recognise and thank all our residents and neighbours for all the support they provide to us 365 days a year, as members of the Armed Forces continue to use Swynnerton to achieve their necessary training.
“These courageous women worked extremely hard doing a very dangerous job, without a word of complaint. So it is a privilege to be able to recognise them with this small gesture, as unsung heroines of the war.”

Alice Porter in front of the cenotaph
Alice Porter in front of the cenotaph

Swynnerton Rose Alice Porter who recently celebrated her 92nd birthday said:

“The day was absolutely lovely. To be able to go back and remember everyone who worked on munitions means so much to me. I would like to thank Jim, Sarah and the team for all their hard work in making it such an enjoyable day. See you again next year!”

Sarah Butler, Landmarc’s team administrator at Swynnerton, added:

“It is such a special day, not only for our guests but for me personally. It is an honour to serve these heroes and say thank you for all they did for our country and to say thank you to our residents for their ongoing support”