by S. A. Barnett

with Frank Sharman and Reg Aston

The Second World War:  1939-1945

The factories of a company like John Thompsons were obviously vital to the war effort.  During the Second World War the Motor Pressings factories were very busy. A wide range of equipment, apart from chassis frames for military vehicles, was produced. One of the main products was the "twenty five pounder" gun trailer produced for the War Office.

Amongst the other items were "two pounder" anti‑tank shields that were supplied to the Royal Ordnance factory, at Nottingham, 3.7in antiaircraft gun elevating gear for Vickers‑Armstrong, and also pontoons for the Ministry of Supply.

For the aircraft industry Motor Pressings manufactured Rotol airscrews for both Spitfires and Hurricanes. There was a variety of different airscrews, three blade, four blade, five blade contra rotating, and three blade twin airscrews.   These were all formed in an hydraulic press in 7/8 " inch thick material.

At Aero Components there was a tremendous amount of activity for the war effort. There were sets of tank ribs for the Blenheim bomber and other aircraft, there were containers for food drops from aircraft, seats for air gunners, gun covers and exhaust pipes. There were also rudder balance arm masts for Wellington bombers, anchor cable containers for Walrus amphibians, Gloster Gladiator gun covers, sea markers and practice bomb simulators.

With all the activity for the various ministries going on there were many resident ministry inspectors based at Thompsons to ensure the high degree of quality required. Apart from working overtime to meet the production targets the men were also engaged in fire watching or in the Home Guard Section.

A note in the foreman's note book read, "Over the Christmas 1944 holiday there was a. severe frost and the hydraulics froze up.  On December 27th at least 30% of the work people away".


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