National Fireworks WW2 Incendiary Bomb Plant
Mays Landing
While in operation the plant occupied a parcel of land 4.5 to 5 square miles, located
along the railroad line, north of the intersection of Harding Highway and Bear's Head
Road. The works, which contained about twenty buildings, produced bombs for use in
aerial, land, and sea combat.
The plant and operations were designed with emphasis on safety and secrecy. These
aims were accomplished in part through the selection of a remote site location, physical
separation of individual buildings and workers, and thorough inspections. The isolation of
the site in the open space of the Pine Barrens served to limit the potential for incidental
damage in the event of fire or explosion at the plant. Site isolation probably also served
security aims.
Buildings on site were deliberately separated to avoid chain reaction fires and
explosions. The black powder storage houses were typically located half a block away
from the filling and mixing "houses." Within these structures, individuals worked alone in
small compartments. This procedure served two purposes: 1) it protected the personal
safety of the work force; and 2) it impeded access to operational information about the
plant as a whole.
No more than one large glass jar of black powder was allowed at one time in a
compartment. It is unclear exactly how much powder the jars contained, but the burden
could not have been heavier than a woman could transport manually or with a handcart
for a distance of half a block. While the overall safety efforts were effective, a former
plant worker recalled that numerous fires broke out every day. The workers considered
such incidents to be commonplace.
Worker access to the plant was achieved in automobiles, which were parked in lots far
removed from the plant buildings. Upon arriving for their shift, employees walked first to
the "halfway house," a checkpoint located approximately halfway between the parking
area and the plant site. There the workers would be searched for matches, lighters, and
other items that were not allowed in the plant. Employees were also searched upon
leaving the plant.
The bombs were assembled in stages, and (as noted above) efforts were made to insure
that the civilians working at the plant would never be completely informed about the total
bomb manufacturing process. Individual employees were knowledgeable of their
particular jobs only. Most of the tasks performed at the Mays Landing plant involved
bomb assembly, the ingredients arriving at the plant in ready-made condition.  After filling
and before shipping, the individual bombs were packed into large spindle-shaped
containers. Bombs were probably shipped out by rail.
Apparently concerned with maintaining employee morale and productivity, the company
employed a mediator to reconcile disputes between the employee union and the
management. The mediator, Mr. Ralph Sorrentino, gave instruction in a course entitled
"Harmonious Relationships" at the Mays Landing site. It appears that morale was high in
general, and as former plant worker Ella Tuthill explained, the workers felt proud to be
doing their part for "our boys" in Europe