Category Archives: World War II

Wartime woes captured in fascinating letters from December 1941

A company director pours his heart out about war time struggles in a dramatically touching letter we were lucky enough to receive from a reader of Grace’s Guide.

Sir Alan George Clark was born the son of a businessman in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1898. By the time of his death in 1962, he had helped and watched Plessey grow from a struggling company employing a handful if people, to a multi-million pound global organisation.

He wrote to a Mr C. J. Stewart of the Ministry of Aircraft Production in December 1941 in a dramatic state of despair:

Letter from A G Clarke

Mr Stewart’s reply:



Plessey contributed greatly for the war effort, producing many varieties of components and equipment from shell cases to radio receivers. Despite the bombing of its Ilford site, Plessey built a new factory at Swindon and opened several other shadow factories around the U.K. They even converted a tunnel, built as an extension of the London Underground Central Line, into a munitions factory, and their wartime workforce was doubled from 5,000 in 1939 to over 10,000 in the early 1940s.

These personal letters don’t only give us a rare and incredible insight into the terrible economical impacts companies faced in wartime Britain; they take you back to Christmas 1941 and one man’s desperate struggle for himself and his company’s future.

Visit Grace’s Guide to find more historical treasures from Britain’s industrial past.

‘The Spitfire’ by Bert Martin


The Spitfire was a masterpiece of aerodynamic engineering, that adapted to every challenge the Second War World hurled in it’s way. It’s success shines through history, with numerous propeller designs and sixteen different versions , from reconnaissance planes to Seafires. It was the only fighter in production before, through and after the war, and around 20,300 produced for the RAF in total.

"Reginald Mitchell’s Spitfire fighter, is now a part of Britain’s heritage – history itself. Our history. And when I say 'our', I don’t mean a common market 'our', but a “Britain I’m proud of it our"…” …

"...when we heard the familiar wang of the Merlin engine – an unforgettable noise – followed by the victory roll, I said to myself – "there’s a little bit of me up there" and there must have been many others who felt the very same way..."

Bert Martin wrote down his feelings towards the production of Spitfires as he recalled his life memories in a short but touchingly detailed essay on the famed fighter planes. A talented and self-taught mechanical engineer, Bert worked for Follands, and was responsible for the Spitfire tail portion in the 1930′s.

His son Tony, has contacted Grace’s Guide with this fascinating and intimate account detailing the hey-day of Britain’s famed Spitfire.

Read Bert’s detailed account –‘The Spitfire’ now online on Grace’s Guide.