Identification & Security Passes

These typically comprise circular metallic discs (often brass or w zinc-based white metal alloy) and are pierced towards their upper edge (12 o’clock position) for suspension. Their designs normally bear an outer raised die-stamped legend around a central field which contains a unique worker’s identification number comprising incuse stamped numbers that have been applied using individual hand-held number punches.

A Great War period employee’s pass for the National Shell Filling Factory No.6 at Chilwell, Nottinghamshire

These passes would be issued to each worker in the factory or shipyard at the time of their initial employment. They were retained by the employees at all times while at work and had to be shown on request to the work’s security staff or management if challenged. The passes acted as each worker’s unique identification disc and works entry security pass.  Enhanced security was essential in most ordnance and munitions works given the risk of enemy espionage and spying.

At the end of each working day, such passes were typically taken home with each worker who would be responsible for their safe keeping throughout the length of their employment after which they would be returned to the works for possible re-issue to a new employee. Loss of such checks by the workers would typically result in them being fined before being issued with a replacement. A worker attempting to gain access to the works without a valid pass would likewise result in a fine and possible prosecution as illustrated in the example case below which was reported in the”‘Nottingham Evening Post” on 3rd August 1918.


For attempting to enter a munition factory with an unauthorised disc or pass, a labourer named James Dunn, aged 50, was fined 21s. at a Midland police-court today. 

Defendant, who was a discharged soldier, had lost his own pass, but instead of reporting it to the management he tried to get in with another disc. The danger of such a proceeding is that discs which are lost may get into undesirable hands.

Defendant’s further explanation was the substituted disc was given him by his wife, and that it had belonged to a lodger.