September 2020

15 the September 2020

“The Few” and “The Many”

On Tuesday of this week we commemorated Battle of Britain Day, and later this month we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the bombing of the Supermarine factories. 

At this time, we think of “The Few” but also, we should remember these words by Geoffrey Wellum who became one of them aged just 18:

“…it is important to remember it wasn’t just me, or the other pilots. It was the people in the factories, it was the tireless ground crews, everyone kept going.”

And we think too of these words from later in Winston Churchill’s famous speech: “The front line runs through the factories. The men and women workers are soldiers with different tools but the same courage.”

Over the next couple of weeks Spitfire Makers are planning, in ways that current restrictions allow, to remember “The Many” who also served by making and repairing the planes and to commemorate the vital part they played in supporting “The Few”.

Details to follow!

(Photos of Spitfire pilot, Geoffrey Wellum, 1921-2018, taken in 2009 (Wikipedia) and in 1940, from the cover of his autobiography, “First Light”.)

17th September 2020


Spitfire Makers put on a show at The Mayflower!

Members of the Spitfire Makers team attended the Heritage Fayre at the Mayflower Theatre last Saturday. The theatre was taking groups on backstage tours which ended up in their Ovation Restaurant where organisations who belong to the Southampton Heritage Federation were gathered.

As well as a display of our past and current research Spitfire Makers attracted many visitors with our Guess the Number of Rivets in the Jar competition.

The prize of a Family Ticket to the Solent Sky Museum (and some very nice chocolate!) was won by Mr and Mrs Bishop of Janson Road in Shirley who guessed within 5 of the actual number.

As well as being delighted with their prizes, they were also fascinated to find out from the team the possible reason why their house has no chimney.

It seems that one of the wartime units in Shirley lost control of their barrage balloon which tangled around the rooftops of houses in Janson Road. Further research into wartime records is hoping to establish whether the Bishops’ house was one of those damaged.

The story behind the rivets is equally fascinating – or could we say riveting! – and is explained in the attached info below…

23rd September 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Thanks to The Supermariners website, all the volunteers from local heritage groups, and family members of the victims of the bombing of the Spitfire factories, who have collaborated to ensure that these events of 80 years ago are not forgotten.

We will remember them.


Image by Dave Key The

The Supermariners

23 September 2020  · Early in the afternoon of Tuesday 24th September 1940 a force of German bombers attacked Southampton and Supermarine’s Itchen Works. By the end of the afternoon 42 men and women lay dead and 174 wounded (65 seriously) across the town. Among them 29 from Supermarine.Over the next few days The Supermariners in association with The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust and volunteers from several local history groups in Southampton and Solent Sky will be remembering those who died in this, and the following raid on Thursday the 26th September 1940.If you would like to know more or get involved go to

24th September 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Two bombing attacks, 80 years ago today and on Saturday left nearly 50 Supermarine men and women dead.

Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust team with The Supermariners and support from other local heritage groups have been helping to identify not only where the victims died but also where, in cemeteries across the city and beyond, they are buried.

25th September 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

On this day 80 years ago……

the Supermarine Works was coming to terms with the loss of nearly 30 of its workforce in the previous day’s bombing raid. Almost all the bombs fell short and most of the deaths occurred in the narrow tunnel under the railway line leading to the shelters on Pear Tree Green and when one of the shelters took a direct hit

Despite this, after clearing the damage, mostly broken windows, they carried on making Spitfires until, late in the afternoon of the next day, a second attack ensured that the plan to disperse production to other facilities across Southampton and then beyond was the only way forward.

Spitfire Makers laid flowers the site of the bombing yesterday and will again tomorrow followed by a visit to one of the cemeteries to pay our respects where the victims are buried. Many of these graves have only been rediscovered and identified in the past few weeks.

If you would like to know more about what happened at Supermarine during these momentous days in the history of Southampton (and the whole country) please follow the link to The Supermariners website below.

There, in a completely new section, you will also find details of how, in a Covid compliant way, you can also pay your respects to the Spitfire Makers who lost their lives and perhaps leave a token of respect alongside the ones being left by The Supermariners, Spitfire Makers, and other local heritage groups and individuals, as well as family members. the Fallen:Supermarine: The Battle of Britain’s forgotten fallen. A memorial to the men & women who lost their lives during the bombing of Supermarine’s Spitfire factories on the 24th & 26…

25th September 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Spitfire Makers on BBC Radio Solent

Chair of the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust, Alan Matlock, will be a guest of Katie Martin on her breakfast show tomorrow morning, Saturday 26th September.

The interview is scheduled for 7.18am. Extracts may be used later in news bulletins.

Hear about our 80th anniversary commemoration of the bombing attacks on the factories in Woolston and the latest developments in our research into the Supermarine people and the places where they became Spitfire Makers across Southampton and beyond.

BBC Radio Solent Interview

25th September 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Edward “Ted” Angel

Ted Angel was the grandfather of Sarah, one of our Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust team and a volunteer at Solent Sky Museum. It was filmed when Sarah went there with Ted for what turned out to be his last visit.

Ted’s enthusiasm and pride in his work for Supermarine and in the Spitfire in particular is evident from the film.

Sarah says, “Grandfather Ted is the reason I volunteer at Solent Sky. Before he died I promised I would keep the Spitfire there shiny!”

26th September 2020 – Michaela Lawler-Levene on Facebook

Vicky Cooper. Image by Michaela Lawler-Levene

Supermariner, Vicky Cooper, interviewed in 2014, shares memories of being caught in the air raid of Woolston, in September 1940. Vicky and hubby Leslie were visiting his parents on St Deny’s Road at the time of the raid.

27th September 2020 – Alan Matlock on Facebook

Grand daughter reunited with Grandfather she never knew.❤️

Amanda Strand wrote on Facebook….

“I would like to say a huge thankyou to The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust and The Supermariners – In particular Alan Matlock and David Key who I have been in contact with for several months now. Thanks to their efforts I have now found out where my grandad is laid to rest. He died on the 26th September and his son (my dad) survived and had to wait at home to find out if his dad had made it or not. It was a very poignant day yesterday as I really wanted to attend when the flowers were laid but my son had organised a proposal to his girlfriend which involved the whole family. It actually seemed a very fitting day to do it – they were so brave and their sacrifice meant that their families did survive.”

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