We are grateful for help from Rootschat members Stockman Fred and ChrisEM for information about the Home Guard .
In 1943 they also started producing Lancaster bomber. This photograph taken in October 1943 shows the staff with the first Lancaster (serial number HK535) they produced. Edward is 4th from left middle row. We are happy to be told that the gentleman on the far right wearing the raincoat was Mr Arthur Dexter. If you recognise any others please let us know.
The Nuffield factory in Castle Bromwich closed in December 1945 having produced 15,634 Spitfires of which 50 were Seafire 45's and 305 Lancasters. 71 Wellington bombers were also repaired at the factory.
The factory site was taken over by Jaguar cars and is marked by a statue called “Sentinel” designed by Tim Tolkien. The statue is 16m high and shows three half scale aluminium Supermarine Spitfires supported on their vapour trails. Tim Tolkien is the great nephew of JRR Tolkien the author of Lord of The Rings.
When the Nuffield aircraft factory opened in 1939 Edward Johnson joined the staff as a tool setter. He had his call up papers in 1940 so brought his marriage forward only to find that he could not to be released from the factory on the grounds that his work was important to the war effort. By 1942 he was a machine shop chargehand.
The factory made an incredible 30 Spitfires a week the first, P7280, being delivered to the RAF on 17th June 1940. Every Spitfire was test flown from the airfield before delivery in all 33,198 test flights took off from Castle Bromwich. The chief test pilot was the famous Alex Henshaw.
In 1943 a film called Millions Like Us starring Patricia Roc, Gordon Jackson and Eric Portman was released, The factory scenes were filmed at Castle Bromwich and Edward had to advise Portman on factory procedure, he was rewarded with a minor role in the film. However he thought it took too much time away from the crucial work that was going on. The staff were given yellow lab coats and the white floor markings were over painted yellow to aid the filming.
The factory had its own Home Guard unit the 52nd Battalion Royal Warwick Regiment. Home Guard membership was strictly an after work activity and unpaid, naturally Edward was a member. He is 4th row 5th from the right.
In 1943 Charles Graves produced a book titled “The Home Guard of Britain” Home Guard units from all over Britain contributed brief histories and interesting incidents that they had been involved in. Strangely the 52nd is not mentioned but this may have been due to security reasons. Edward had been a member of the Territorial Army Royal Engineers before the war (see under Military). It has been suggested that he was in the 52nd TA Battalion and that possibly this Home Guard unit was developed from this.
The photograph is probably taken in late 1940 when the new uniforms were issued. It seems as if some men are probably wearing uniform from previous service days. There is an odd mixture of 37 and 40 pattern battle dress and different types of badges from painted ones to brass, some are wearing shoulder flashes and others have patches, again some have cap badges and others none. The photograph also clearly shows the great age range of volunteers for Home Guard service. Evidence is shown that some members are from an anti aircraft battalion. This is still needing further research.
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After the factory closed Edward worked as a chargehand at BSA until 1948 when he moved to Bridgend, Glamorgan.
At Bridgend he was the machine shop foreman at Tuscan Engineering. Tuscan had been bombed in London so George Payne and his son moved their factory to Bridgend when the arsenal buildings were converted into industrial units. The firm specialised in spark free electric motors for the mining industry and for petrol distribution. The Board of trade allotted newly built houses to each firm which moved to the estate. Edward had one of the four dedicated to Tuscan in Austin Avenue, Laleston. The others were occupied by Mr Parry -
Edward stayed with the firm until his retirement when he moved to Norfolk
Photograph taken outside Tuscan Engineering, Bridgend about 1965