To give you something to look at whilst not being allowed to go out, the latest installment of the Tiger Moth production histories. Please let me have feedback' otherwise I will believe that I have got it right!
In an earlier post about your Tiger Moth notes, you mentioned that production often seemed to outstep use: newly made aircraft were often put into storage long before issue to units.
I've been reading Andrew Roberts's "Churchill: Walking with Destiny" (Allen Lane 2018), and also referring back to the relevant volumes of the late Martin Gilbert's official biography of Churchill. I think I may have identified a significant cause of this lack of synchronisation. In one word: U-boats.
The huge losses of ships on their way to Britain - which Churchill said frightened him more than anything else in the war - of course not greatly reduced supplies of food and armaments. They also cut future outbound capacity. Some of that capacity would of course have been devoted to aircraft, including Tiger Moths for schools in such places as Canada, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Kenya and India.
I wonder, did the MUs at which Tiger Moths were stored tend to be near major ports, like Liverpool?
BTW, I strongly recommend Andrew Roberts's book. It is a terrific (big) read and thoroughly deserved its glowing reviews. A great way to pass some enforced isolation.
Geoff The point about 'purgatory' is that these were Tiger Moths being built at an alarming speed at Cowley, Oxford and were then being stored in knock-down form locally because (I would surmise) the RAF had no immediate use for them and didn't want to take delivery to clog up their various holding MUs. Some Tiger Moths during this production period, you may have noticed, were shipped direct to South Africa and Rhodesia without ever being delivered to or formally taken on charge by an RAF MU.
Morris Motors were obviously being efficient and wanted payment for what they were building and hence they were notionally taken on charge by 15 MU Wroughton to allow Morris to be paid. But the Tigers were never actually delivered to Wroughton.
It may not have been purely about payment. There was a very prickly relationship between Morris and Lord Beaverbrook.
Quoting from research notes I made in the 1980s:
"As the Germans swept into France and the Low Countries, Chamberlain was succeeded by Winston Churchill, who formed a Coalition Government. On 11 May 1940 Churchill created a new department, the Ministry of Aircraft Production, and appointed Lord Beaverbrook minister. Back in 1929 Beaverbrook had launched an Empire Crusade to promote Imperial unity, his strongest political belief. Early on he recruited Sir William Morris (later Lord Nuffield). Beaverbrook suggested that the two men should run the campaign together, but Morris never took up the offer. Now the two strong-willed, blunt men were dealing with each other again.
Relations between Castle Bromwich [Spitfire factory] and the Air Ministry officials who were inherited by the MAP were strained long before Beaverbrook took over. It was thought that the hierarchy at Castle Bromwich was unhelpful. Matters came to a head on 17 May. The then Vice-Chairman of Morris Motors, Miles Thomas (later Lord Thomas of Remenham) has told the historian Alfred Price, ‘Beaverbrook rang Nuffield and demanded to know why no Spitfires had yet emerged from the Castle Bromwich factory. By chance I happened to be in Nuffield’s office at Cowley when the call came, and he passed me the extension earpiece so that I could hear what was being said. Nuffield opened up with a vociferous defence of the Castle Bromwich operation and said, in effect, that Beaverbrook could have either the Spitfire or the modifications, but not both. Then with a touch of sarcasm, as though he was playing his ace of trumps, Nuffield ended “Perhaps you would like me to give up control of the Spitfire factory?” And Beaverbrook with his Canadian drawl jumped straight in and replied “Nuffield, that’s very generous of you. I accept!” There was a click in the earpiece and the line went dead’.
Price’s narrative continues, ‘Nuffield went white as a sheet. He had been out-manoevred, and he knew it’. Control of Castle Bromwich passed to Vickers on 20 May 1940.
This account conflicts with that given by A J P Taylor in his biography of Beaverbrook. According to Taylor, some time after the Ministry of Aircraft Production was formed, its branch at Harrogate reported that production at Castle Bromwich, under Nuffield, was unsatisfactory. The Ministry in London replied that Castle Bromwich had been taken out of Nuffield’s hands three weeks before and its equipment removed elsewhere. No written order or record had been made. The transfer provoked Nuffield to storm into Stornoway House (Beaverbrook’s offices, used by the MAP in 1940) and threaten to have Beaverbrook sacked. Beaverbrook characteristically replied that there was nothing he would like better. Nuffield appealed to Churchill, mentioning the sums he contributed to Conservative Party funds, to be told by the Prime Minister, ‘I cannot interfere with the manufacture of aircraft’.