War on the Wheels

War on the Wheels
The story of the people

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Garages around the country help the war effort

In towns and villages around the country, garages large and small found that many of their mechanics had joined up, initially a blessing as domestic motor use declined and with it the need for repairs. Many businesses found they had capacity and the more entrepreneurial approached the Ministry of Supply. At first they were met with a bureaucratic 'no', then, with the blitz, dispersal had become the other of the day and the result was the awarding of contracts for war work. One London garage repaired the vehicles of the 51st division before it embarked for North Africa. Others manufactured parts for munitions and some whole shells; army vehicles were repaired and serviced, mainly lift armoured cars and Bren carriers; in fact a huge range of different work was undertaken. 

In time work forces expanded and, with so many men in the armed forces, many garages recruited women who soon gained the necessary skills from the careful teaching of those mostly older skilled men left behind. 

There was a shortage of machine tools and many garages made their own, but using the parts they had to hand and suitable for use by relatively unskilled labour. The same was true of spare parts, where those coming from the USA were lost in sunk Atlantic convoys; these too were manufactured on workbenches of garages, large and small, urban and rural.

These are some of the unsung heroes of WW2.


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