These two young women were working together at the Hayle explosives factory - one of 147 munition production sites that were set up across the UK by David Lloyd George, following a shortage of explosive shells at the front line in 1915. These factories were staffed largely by women, as many young men were away on the front lines and included sites here and several around Camborne. The work, by its nature, was dangerous, and deaths from chemical exposure or explosions were not uncommon, though the majority of incidents were not reported in the press, lest it affect national morale.
Cissie Rogers, aged 20, was killed alongside May Stoneman as a result of an accident at the National Explosive Factory in Hayle, whilst processing cordierite. May Stoneman was aged 21, and was the eldest child in a large family of at least 10 children. At the age of 15, May had been working as a biscuit parker in a local factory, and perhaps moved to work at the munitions factory for a higher wage. She had spent the first six or seven years of her life in Brooklyn, New York, USA, where she and four of her younger siblings were born. Their father, William, was a Saddler and harness maker, and the family returned to Cornwall around 1903, perhaps for William to work at one of the foundries in Hayle which relied on horse-power to move raw materials and finished goods.
The loss of these two young women would have been keenly felt by their families and wider community, although their deaths were not widely announced.
We can deliver flowers or another token of remembrance, to the graves of May and Cissie (which are adjacent to each other) on your behalf: