ICI St Boswells (Charlesfield): a World War II incendiary bomb factory

The former factory at Charlesfield in 1990, goats grazing around one of the
 derelict buildings where once bombs had been assembled in their thousands.

From January 1943 until May 1945 the ICI factory at Charlesfield Farm, St Boswells, Roxburghshire produced 25,754,529 incendiary bombs for Bomber Command and the strategic bombing campaign against Nazi Germany.  The factory buildings and infrastructure survived substantially intact in 1990 when, as Scottish Borders Regional Archaeologist, John Dent began to collect information about the plant and many of the people who had worked there were still available to describe their role in the factory and its workings.  In May 1995, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, John organized an Exhibition about the factory and a reunion visit to the site was covered for Border Television by Jill Douglas.

The story of the factory played a part in recent talks that John has given to local interest groups and formed the subject of his Address as retiring President to the Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club in 2017.  In developing his Address for publication in the annual History of the Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club the significance of the information that he collected has become increasingly clear, particularly as so few of the people he met in 1995 are still alive to talk about their experiences.  Preservation of the reports, photographs, personal accounts and building records relating to this factory, the people who worked there and the part they and it played in the Allied victory is an important objective, both in terms of determining a permanent home for the archive and continuing to publish elements of it for a wider public.

Men and women of a Bomb Assembly shift in 1945, where their
 4lb stick bombs were produced at a rate of 100,000 week.