the Second World War, Vauxhall Motors in Luton suspended car production
and dedicated their production line to the Churchill Tank.
trucks line up in the streets of Luton after coming off the
work started in July 1940 but after the retreat from Dunkirk, the
British Army only had 100 tanks left, and Vauxhall was ordered to
build them as quickly as possible.
asked for the new tank to be ready for production the following
March (1941) and 500 were ordered straight away.
first prototypes were completed by December and the first 14 production
tanks delivered at the end of June. They might have missed the target
date but this will still go down as a tremendous engineering effort.
just a year to develop and build the tank, the first ones were inevitably
rather unreliable, so the Churchill was modified throughout the
war, and various improvements were made to its cannons and armour.
But despite this, British tanks were still always hopelessly outclassed
by their German counterparts.
assembled, the tanks were tested in the grounds of Luton Hoo stately
home, and its namesake, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill even
paid a visit to inspect them himself.
Luftwaffe targets the Vauxhall factory
5,000 Churchill tanks were built in total. They saw action in France,
Italy, North Africa, and even in Russia with the Red Army.
factory in Luton also turned out a quarter of a million trucks during
the course of the war, and led Britain's development of the jet
engine. Fake inflatable vehicles were also made there, which were
used to fool German pilots into wasting their ammunition.
this production for the war effort made Luton a target for the Germans.
On 30 August 1940, at about 4.45 in the evening, the Luftwaffe carried
out a daylight raid on the factory. Thirty people were killed, and
200 were injured.
raid caused considerable damage to the factory itself, and a number
of fires were started in the surrounding area.
can find more stories like this and add your own on the People's
Nice, High Wycombe
27-Jun-2004 22:25:05 BST
you want to know about the work Vauxhall did during the Second
World War (which includes 95% of the work on the first batch
of jet aircraft engines), you MUST read W J Seymour's book 'An
account of our stewardship'. I have a copy for loan.
Nice, High Wycombe
27-Jun-2004 22:16:37 BST
was interested to see the pictures of Vauxhall's war work.
My late father was a service engineer who spent the War visiting
military bases, training service personnel on maintaining
vehicles supplied by Vauxhall. It it worth remembering that
Vauxhall Motors Ltd supplied one third of all the vehicles
used in the Second World War by British forces. And the old
Bedford van you refer to was in fact another brilliant Vauxhall
success: the Bedford QL 4x4 lorry which saw service throughout
the theatre. If you want to know about the work Vauxhall did
during the Second World War (which includes 95% of the work
on the first batch of jet aircraft engines), you MUST read
W J Seymour's book 'An account of our stewardship'.