Sunday, 2 September 2018

Salford and the Spitfire Fund

Now as stories go it is a very small one, but then again it is about Salford and does also allow me to return to the Spitfire Fund and the Manchester & Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges.

Cover of the Spitfire Fund book, 1940
In 1940 the Manchester & Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges had been going for 70 years and was dedicated to helping destitute poor children across the twin cities.

And in the August of that year, the Manchester Guardian reported that “the boys and staff at the boys home in Broughton which is controlled by the Manchester & Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges” collected £4 5s 6d towards the Spitfire Fund.*

The Fund was established in the spring of 1940 and encouraged towns, and businesses along with individuals to donate money to the cost of making a Spitfire.

Spitfire lapel badge, 1940
The cost of making one of these fighters was about £8000 – £12,000 but the target set for donations was £5000 which would pay for the airframe, and once that sum had been achieved the donor could have their name or a caption written in letters four inches high in yellow paint on the fuselage.

It was of course a brilliant piece of propaganda allowing individuals and groups to be part of the war effort and particularly to identify with the pilots fighting in the Battle of Britain.

So each of the stamps carried the message THE BRITISH EMPIRE STANDS FOR WORLD PEACE AND SECURITY DEFEND IT, and on the inside page of the book of stamps under Objects was the message, “The public are invited and urged to co-operating broadcasting that for which the British Empire stands by affixing to the back of all correspondence one of the EMPIRE STAMPS.  

The stamps
Every letter passing through the post should carry this message.

Fifty per cent of the selling price is to be allocated to the Spitfire of Fighting Plane Funds. It is essential that Britain should dominate the air to avoid world disaster.  

We have the splendid men, but they must have the best aircraft and plenty of them.  Please help these two vital objects.”

And the Salford boys did their bit.

Location; Salford

Pictures; Spitfire Stamp Book and lapel badge, 1940 from the collection of David Harrop

*Gifts For Fighter Aircraft, the Manchester Fund, the Manchester Guardian, August 22, 1940

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