IT WAS a devastating attempt to halt production of the Spitfire at the height of the Second World War.

A series of air raids in September 1940 resulted in the destruction of the Supermarine factories in Woolston, Southampton, and extensive damage to surrounding homes.

But production of the iconic fighter aircraft was hastily switched to other locations across the south.

This weekend launch of a project to commemorate the women and men who helped maintain the supply of Spitfires to the RAF.

Spitfire Makers aims to mark the 80th anniversary of the bombing by placing information boards at the site of each location where the aircraft continued to be built.

Daily Echo:

The sites included sheds and garages, plus a bus depot, a laundry and a stately home.

The last two were featured in the Howard Brenton play The Shadow Factory, which opened the new Nuffield (City) Theatre in 2018 and returned this time last year.

Spitfire Makers will be chaired by retired teacher Alan Matlock.

He performed in both runs of the play and set out to find the real stories behind the on-stage action, tracking down the "hidden" locations of Spitfire production around Southampton and further afield.

He was aided by The Supermariners website run by Dave Key, who works at Hursley Park, Winchester - now the home of IBM (UK) Ltd's development laboratory.

Daily Echo:

Ten weeks after the Woolston raids Hursley Park was requisitioned and became the hub of the Spitfire dispersal programme.

To verify the locations Mr Matlock also followed leads from local and national archive sources, local history groups and comments on social media.

He said: “Perhaps the most amazing information has come from the first-hand accounts of the Spitfire Makers who lived through those turbulent times.

“Time and again you hear them say, 'We had a job to do and just got on with it'.

“We have now confirmed the location of nearly 30 facilities, just within the city boundary. We want to ensure all these places and the powerful stories of the people who worked in them, are marked in a timely and respectful way.”

The project is being devised in association with the Solent Sky (Southampton) Aviation Museum.

It will be launched at Shirley Parish Hall with a presentation about the history of the dispersal programme and the aims of the project.