NINE Hampshire veterans came face-to-face with the cast of a Second World War-set play based on wartime Southampton.

As part of a special meeting held on stage, the Spitfire veterans met the cast members of critically acclaimed play The Shadow Factory after the show.

The veterans had built Spitfire parts during the war or had witnessed the bombing of the Supermarine Spitfire factory at Woolston in September 1940.

Samuel Hodges, director of The Shadow Factory and Nuffield Southampton Theatres ,said: “It was very special to see these veterans, both men and women, come onto the set to meet the cast.

“One of them, a Lancaster bomber, was quick to tell me that it was the Lancasters and not the Spitfires that he held a flame for.

Another, 94-year-old Ray Penny, worked in the Woolston factory as a boy and remembers Len Gooch – who is portrayed in our play – all too well.

“But the best moment came as we posed, shoulder-to-shoulder, for a group photograph.

“One of the group started to sing White Cliffs of Dover and then all of a sudden, the entire group were singing, full pelt, every word off by heart, the memories clearly flooding back.

“It was one of those rare life moments”

The Shadow Factory, written by playwright Howard Brenton, tells the true story from the Second World War of a Southampton family who, after bombing raids destroyed the Woolston factory, were tasked with building parts for the aircraft in their laundry business.

First-hand accounts can also be heard in an accompanying Shadow Factory Exhibition which features the set of The Shadow Factory designed by 59 Productions.

The exhibition is free to enter and is running at NST City until March 1.

The cast includes Denise Black, who played Denise Osbourne in Coronation Street, Joanie Wright from Emmerdale and Hazel Tyler from Queer as Folk; Bethan Cullinane; Joe Tracini, who played Dennis Savage in Hollyoaks; and Michael Fenton Stevens who has starred in The Crown, Benidorm and New Tricks joining returning cast members David Birrell, Catherine Cusack and Shala Nyx alongside a 25 community company made up of Southampton residents.