Sewing Machine Research
ISMACS International
International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society

Machines at War

NOT SURE where this document came from. It appears to be part of a larger publication and deals with the part Singer in the UK played in the Second World War.  I'm guessing it dates from the early 1950s.    GF



THE is now regarded as an almost essential part of every household and this fact became more and more apparent in consequence of the scarcity of many articles, and the need to make do and mend.

In this way the domestic played its part in helping to maintain morale by putting in the hands of the housewife the means of providing furnishings and clothing which might otherwise have been impossible to obtain.

The demand for both Industrial and Domestic Machines during the early part of the War was very heavy, but at that time there were no serious restrictions in regard to labour, materials and quotas. As demands for War stores increased and shipping became more difficult, the Board of Trade restricted the production of Domestic Machines to small quantities for home and export.

The industrial is an essential means of manufacture of countless articles of every description and without it much of the equipment used and worn by the Armed Forces, and for the defense of the country, would have been impossible to produce.

It is perhaps not generally realised to what extent the Industrial was responsible for the excellence of the equipment of the Air Raid Precautions Organisation during the War.

The gas mask supplied to every civilian, that supplied to ARP personnel, Civil Defense and anti-gas clothing, and much of the special equipment used by that organisation, all required the assistance of the industrial in their manufacture.

A familiar sight during the War, particularly over large cities and other places vulnerable to attack from the air, was the Balloon Barrage, and in a slightly different form this method of defense was used in the latter states of the War against low-level bombing of convoys at sea.

Millions of people derived a feeling of comfort from the sight of this protective umbrella but how many realised that without the it would have been impossible to produce these balloons in the quantities required?

This also applied to the making of the No.1 life saver, the Parachute or Airchute, which, in addition to saving many thousands of lives, enabled the Allied Forces to drop large bodies of men into enemy-held territory at desired points to harry and destroy prepared defenses and thus pave the way for the attack by ground forces whose loss of life would otherwise have been much greater. Here again without the Airchute, Arms and Food could not have been supplied to those Resistance Groups which operated in most European countries throughout the German occupation.

The collapsible rubber dinghy which was part of the life-saving equipment of the air crews of RAF and US Air Forces, and which saved thousands of airmen who had to bale out over the sea, was also largely made on the industrial , which obviously contributed to a great extent in the preparation of defenses and in the efficiency of life-saving equipment.

The played just as important a part in the making of equipment more particularly designed for offensive action. Almost without exception every garment worn by the soldier, sailor or airman, together with the bulk of his equipment, bedding, etc, required the for its manufacture.

Tents of every kind, gun and vehicle covers, transportable hangars for aircraft, special carriers for machine guns, and countless other forms of equipment, some designed for use in the snows of Russia, others in the swamps of Burma, or in the sun and desert of Africa, were readily made available through the use of industrial in their various forms.

It was sometimes necessary to make modifications in certain machines in order to accomplish the desired results, and in other instances, special appliances or fittings had to be made, but minor problems of this nature were speedily overcome. Deliveries of essential munitions in various formsfood, clothing or equipmenthad to be made with the least-possible delay and in helping to make it possible to have prompt supplies at the right place, at the right time, the industrial played a vitally important part.

The Board of Trade originally sanctioned the issue of Certificates for materials to manufacture 800 Industrial Machines each week. This arrangement was followed by a decision to stop the supply of new Industrial Sewing Machines to the Home Market where second-hand or alternative machines were available. This caused a large turnover of second-hand machines to the exclusion of Singer products, but at the same time created substantial demands for the supply of repair parts for overhauling these old machines.

During the whole of the war period the demand for needles and replacement parts for was unprecedented and special parts for parachute work which had been previously imported for high-speed machines had to be specially manufactured. Had the abnormal demand for need-les and parts not been met promptly many would have become idle and the production of clothing and equipment for the various Services seriously curtailed.

The Company normally made several hundred different kinds of sewing-machine needles, divided into classes, varieties, sizes and styles of point, suitable for use on the finest fabric to the coarsest material and leather.

Many new needles had, however, to be manufactured from special materials for certain sewing operations, such as gas masks with air-tight seams, and powder and cordite bags.  A record weekly production of 3,100,000 needles was attained in June 1940, necessitating the use of 50 miles of wire.

While both sexes within specified ages were being called up for the services, irrespective of the munitions contracts on which they were employed, the needle-making female staff was ultimately exempted. The Ministry of Labour was not empowered to direct females to the Needle Department from other establishments, but female labour becoming redundant from completed contracts within the Factory was exempted from the services if employment was accepted in the needle-making department.

During the year 1943 demand greatly exceeded production and a license was obtained to import 16,000,000 needles from Elizabethport to augment depleted stocks. In the same year the Ministry of Supply requested the training of additional personnel in needle-making in view of the possibility of moving part of the needle-making plant and trained personnel to another part of the country.

Fortunately, this action was unnecessary, but the Governments interest and recommendations in this direction clearly indicated the importance placed by it on sewing-machine needles and, of course, the on which the needles are used.