Re-forming 18-pdr Shell Cases
By early 1917, with planned further industrialisation of the munitions industry, it had become increasingly important to salvage materiel and reduce costs as far as possible. A more organised approach to the collection of salvaged materiel and subsequent transport created an urgent need for the facilities to process the booty.
To this end new factories were commissioned at Dagenham, on the north bank of the Thames estuary and at Newport, South Wales. Both sites chosen for their port facilities enabling scrap from the Western Front to be easily transferred from ship to factory.
The scrap in this instance was spent 18-pounder shell cases. Between them, the two factories were capable of re-forming 750,000 spent cartridge cases each week. Each case weighed 3lbs and could be re-formed six times, representing 18lbs of brass saved against new cases. The two factories therefore saved 1,000 tons of raw material each week. Any saving in raw materials was as important as the cost saving.
The cost of a new case was £0.07.00 [£17.00 in 2021]. Assuming each case was re-formed six times, a saving of £2.00.00 [£97.00] per shell case was achieved. When working to capacity a saving of £240,625 [£11,655,198] per week, or £12,512,500 [£606,070,270] per year.
Both the factories carried out box repairs and when operating at full output repaired 100,000 each week giving a saving of about £6,000,000 [£290,623,106] annually.