In the Second World War the Black Country threw its full weight behind the war effort as the factories and foundries of the nation’s industrial heartland were turned over to munitions and armaments.
These pictures were taken at the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company in Smethwick and show some of the Valentine tanks they built.
With many men called up to the armed services, women took their places in the factories and these tanks were built by women.
Our main picture shows three Valentines decorated with banners to encourage more women to join the factory.
The slogan on the left reads, Come and help your husbands, brothers and sweethearts by giving them more of these. On the middle tank the banner says, There is still plenty of room for more women to help build these tanks. And on the third tank the slogan is, Birmingham women helped to build this tank why not come and join them.
The picture above shows two tanks lined up at the Smethwick works, with the one on the right flying the hammer and sickle flag of the Soviet Union, on the day that a Russian official visited the works. In the war 2,394 British-built Valentine tanks were supplied to the Russians.
The Valentine tank was developed by Vickers-Armstrong in the late 1930s and entered production in July 1939, the contract being shared between Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon Company, who built them at their Wednesbury works, and the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company in Smethwick.
The tanks entered service in 1940, shortly after Dunkirk, and were extensively used in the North African Campaign. By 1944 the Valentine had been superseded by the Churchill and Sherman tanks but retained a combat role until the end of the war. Production ended in 1945.
Have you a story or pictures from the Home Front? Please contact the Black Country Bugle, Dudley Archives and Local History Centre, Tipton Road, Dudley, DY1 4SQ, call 01384 889000 or email [email protected]
Source : BirminghamMail