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Aluminium pans into Spitfires!

This week’s blog commemorates the beginning of the battle of Britain on 10 July 1940 and one of the many roles that the WVS played in helping to defend our shores from the Luftwaffe.

THE APPEAL FOR ALUMINIUM made by Lord Beaverbrook, Minister for Aircraft Production, to the women of Britain ended with these words; "The need is instant. The call is urgent. Our expectations are high".

The Chairman said in her broadcast on July 11: "Remember too, it is the little things that count - it was the little boats that made the evacuation of Dunkirk possible".

Once again the little things achieved great results; the response to the appeal was immediate, and to the staffs of the W.V.S. offices it appeared overwhelming. Pots and pans and aluminium objects of every conceivable description poured in to the depots which were filled as soon as they opened. Every household, from Buckingham Palace, the smallest cottage, made its contribution, and in some cities the traffic was held up by mountains of aluminium. The gifts of a free people made it unnecessary to set an unwelcome precedent by requisitioning stocks in shops, and the lengthy processes necessary to recover high grade aluminium from mixed and inferior quality scrap metal were avoided. The aluminium which was brought to the WVS offices by men and women and children could be sent straight to the aircraft factories after being smelted and some donors had very definite ideas as to the allocation of their gifts.

One old lady, parting with her only hot water bottle, was clear that she wanted it made into a Spitfire, not a Hurricane, because, after careful study of the papers, she had decided that they were the best planes.

Lord Beaverbrook wrote to the Chairman: "I send you my warmest thanks for the magnificent work which your organisation is doing in the collection of aluminium pots and pans. I have been most impressed by the energetic and efficient way in which the task is being organised, and I hope you will convey to your assistants this expression of my admiration and gratitude".

[published in the WVS Bulletin August 1940]

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 06 July 2015.

Labels: aluminium, Luftwaffe, Battle of Britain, Heritage Bulletin blog , WVS, Spitfire, Salvage, Pans