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As it Happened. -

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(generated from captions) All the women who sought to rule
medieval and Tudor England,

from Matilda to Elizabeth I,

found from bitter experience that
power wasn't shaped for female hands.

When they did pursue power,
as a man might,

they were accused of being
unfeminine and unnatural,

of being she-wolves.

Now it seems straightforward,
even natural,

that Great Britain has a queen.

Elizabeth II has been able
to wear her crown

without facing the difficult choices

that confronted her namesake
four centuries ago.

But there's a reason for this.

Unlike her medieval
and Tudor predecessors,

our Queen reigns rather than rules.

When she comes here, to the House
of Lords, to open a parliament,

she speaks her government's words,
not her own.

My government's legislative program
will be based upon the principles

of freedom, fairness
and responsibility.

A woman with real power is still
the exception to the rule.

If we examine our instincts
and our institutions,

power still looks, sounds
and feels overwhelmingly male.

So, in the end, is the culture
of power in the modern world

less different from the medieval
past than we'd care to admit?

Supertext Captions by
Red Bee Media Australia
Captions copyright SBS 2012

Lovely to be here.And a Swedish backpacker's escaped a conviction for climbing the Opera House A magistrate instead handing him a fine - calling him young and stupid. The full bulletin at the slightly later time tonight of 10.40. See you then.

NARRATOR: On an overcast evening

at this aircraft factory
in North Wales,

a few survivors of World War II
will gather

to reflect on their contribution
to that war.

Early in the 1940s,

a group of workers here
set out to break a world record.

They would try to build a bomber
as fast as they could,

faster than the Americans,
who, in their factory in California,

had taken 48 hours
from start to finish.

WOMAN: We started on the Saturday
morning, and you just got cracking.

You were all like busy bees,
all busy, hoping to do the best.

Did you think you could do it
right from the very start?

Well, it seemed impossible.

I remember all the bustle.

Oh, gosh, it was like a beehive,
you know.

Did you know that the Americans
had set a world record

for building a bomber?

Oh, it was fine. We always want to
beat the Americans, don't we?

The plane they chose to build
was a Wellington bomber.

The Wellington was, for many years,
the RAF's main strike bomber.

Apart from the Spitfire
and the Hurricane,

more Wellingtons were built
during World War II

than any other British aircraft.

MAN: Air crew love a plane that
they feel that if they do their bit,

the plane will do its bit.

I mean, a Wellington,
fantastically strong,

very robust, totally reliable.

Crews always knew that even if
you've been shot up on a mission,

if you lost one engine,

if you had all sorts of disasters
of one kind or another,

there was a very good chance
that the plane would get you home.

MAN: It was a lovely aeroplane
to fly.

It was just built so that you could
shoot great hunks of it out

if ever you had the misfortune
to be hit.

But it did more or less
just shrug its shoulders

and press on regardless.

The designer of the Wellington
was Dr Barnes Wallis,

who had also designed
the bouncing bomb

that would breach the Mohne Dam

and make legends of
the 'Dambusters',

the air crews who delivered them.

Max Hastings
has written a definitive work

on Bomber Command.

MAX HASTINGS: Barnes Wallis said
he was almost prouder

of having created the Wellington

than he was with having created
the bouncing bomb.

It was a brilliantly inspired
piece of construction.

You can't design and build
an aircraft in five minutes.

It takes years to do.

But in the mid 1930s, Barnes Wallis
produced this inspired design.

This extraordinary geodesic
construction gave it the strength

that enabled it to withstand
a terrific amount of punishment.

And, of course,
the hydraulic turrets.

The RAF was
enormously proud of those.

These were revolutionary technology
in 1939.

Better than anything the Germans
or the Americans had.

And by the time that war came up,

the Wellington was in
full production.

This sophisticated aircraft

was designed less than 30 years
after the Wright brothers

had made the world's first
powered flight.

Britain got an enormous amount wrong
in the 1930s about its own defences.

And when the war came, it didn't
have anything like enough anything -

fighters, bombers, soldiers,
rifles, machine guns, anything.

But some terrific design decisions
and production decisions were made.

It was undoubtedly one of
the great aeroplanes of the war.

But Britain had also taken a number
of acute political decisions

in the 1930s.

The Chamberlain government,

while negotiating to avoid a war
with Hitler's Germany,

had also drawn up plans to put
Britain's industry on a war footing.

Manufacturing skills were pooled

and the potential to build
weapons of war were assessed.

Shadow factories were built,

where tanks, guns,
planes could be assembled.

Broughton was one of them.

Hilda Dodd was
one of the first women

to work at the Broughton factory.

WOMAN: I went for an interview,
and they asked me what I could do.

I said I could use a machine.
They said, "What sort?"

I said, "A sewing machine.
My mother had a treadle."

"Oh." So they put me down
for machine work.

Can you remember
your first sight of the factory?

Oh, it was a mess.

Muddy, wasn't much there,
and there was like a hangar.

And that's where I went to,
into this hangar.

There was men
working on parts of it,

putting it together like a meccano.

At its peak during World War II,

the Broughton production line

was turning out
28 Wellington bombers a week.

These workers were in the front line

as much as the men who would fly
the aircraft they would build.

MAN: Easy aircraft to build.

They had good long range,
and they were very economical.

But they were produced quickly.

That was the main thing.

Instead of one, you'd get a hundred.

The target these workers
set themselves

that weekend so many years ago

was to build a Wellington bomber
in 30 hours.

Did you think you could
beat that record?

We had an idea we could.

And so, this evening,

Bob Wilson joins old friends
in the audience

for a unique film show.

MAN: (ON FILM) This is
a bomber factory in Britain.

They started to build
Wellington LN514

early one Saturday morning
all those years ago.

And because they wanted to
tell the world

how efficient were
the British production lines,

the British made a propaganda film
about the record-breaking attempt.

We had our cameras in position when
the workers arrived at the factory.

They put a North American voice
on the soundtrack

to show America not only that
Britons could take it,

as they had during
the long years of the Blitz,

but that they could
dish it out as well.

Many of the men and women
who built this Wellington

are seeing this film
for the first time.

The clock strikes 9:00 and
the record-breaking attempt begins.

Two sections of the fuselage
are carried in.

The dark girl,
with the riveter, there,

is Eileen Daphne,
who used to work in a rayon factory.

One of her brothers was killed in
a naval action a little while back.

Women filled the places
on the production lines

left vacant by the men
who had gone to war.

Betty Weaver was
working on the counter

in the local cooperative store

when she was conscripted
to go to Broughton.

Living in a mining area,
the men were either in the army,

or they were working down the pit.

Is that why they needed women
to do the job?

Yes, yes.

What did you feel about that?
Did you mind?

Not at all.

It was something
completely different.

I felt as if I was doing something
useful for a change. (CHUCKLES)

My father was in the army.
My husband was in the army.

And I felt as if I was
supporting them, in a way.

Can you remember your
first impressions of the factory

when you first saw it?

I was horrified. (CHUCKLES)

I was issued with
a big white boilersuit.

It fit where it touched...

The fuselage parts are assembled in
big frames they call jigs.

You can get some idea now
of the size of the bomber.

It's almost 65 feet long.

MAX: Women were, of course,
absolutely vital.

First of all,
to the war effort as a whole.

And secondly,
in aircraft production.

And a lot of them proved
very good at what they did.

Britain mobilised women, arguably,

any other wartime nation,

expect possibly the Russians.

BETTY WEAVER: The main assembly
in Broughton, aircraft,

it was a huge space
without any columns.

Were you good at electrics?

I didn't know one end of
a screwdriver to the other...

(CHUCKLES) ..when I got there.


I am now. (LAUGHS)

What was the training like?

For the first three weeks
I never slept.

And all of a sudden
it all slotted into place.

And did you have to pass a test
at the end of that?

Oh, yes, everything was inspected.

And if it wasn't right,
you had to go back and do it again.

Here is Evelyn Coates,

an inspectress who used to
work in a draper's shop.

She told me, at this point,
that she had found no faults at all.

Boys as young as 14
worked on the production line.

Bill Anderson, who worked at
Broughton until he was 64,

first came here when he was 14.

War seemed nothing to fear,
simply a new experience.

My father was an ARP warden,

and when they started
dropping incendiaries,

we used to go for the bucket of sand
to extinguish the incendiaries.

I think we were charging 6p
for buckets of sand.

They were quite grateful for it,

We used to go potato picking.

We'd get let off from school.

Then, of a weekend,

you'd go collecting rosehips
they used for rosehip syrups.

That was for babies.

All helping war effort.

It was all helping the war.

But it was a game to us.

These volunteer workers are giving
the bonus they're earning today

to the Red Cross
Aid to Russia fund.

And they're out to break
that 30-hour record

they've set themselves.

I started here straight from school.

And there was a lot of women here.

And they mothered you, if you like.

What was the job that
you were first shown how to do?

The main wing spar
was in two pieces.

We had to join them together.

They didn't use bolts.
They had a type of long pins.

In fact, the basic tool those days
was a copper and hide.

That's a copper hammer
with a hide end.

And they were used to
knock these pins in.

And then they were inspected.

Across the factory,
in the wing assembly,

there is more activity under
the eagles eyes of the inspectors.

Though you may not think
they're working fast,

the progress they are making
speaks for itself,

for it's only 10 o'clock,
one hour from the starting time.

Grace Wally and Hilda Dodd
are doing a man's job of work,

assembling the bomber's
cabin heater.

Hilda Dodd's peacetime job
was in the local photographic shop.

HILDA DODD: I was taught how to make
the fuselage and bomb floors.

Was the factory ever bombed?

We had two lights up in the ceiling.

One was amber and one red.

And then, one night,
the red light came up.

And everything went dark.

We were told to all link hands
and go outside,

and there was
some air-raid shelters.

And as we were going down,
I happened to look to the left

and I could see some planes on fire.

They'd dropped some incendiaries.

Well, I was frightened.

I think the majority of us
were scared.

But we were alright
down in the shelters.

There was just like wooden seats

and you could all sit around
and talk and sing.

What sort of stuff did you sing?

Oh, the old stuff - Gracie Fields.

SONG: # Sing as we go
and let the world go by

# Singing a song,
we march along the highway

# Say goodbye to sorrow... #

Back in the main assembly,

the wooden floor is
fitted to the fuselage.

Notice how everything
fits with precision.

There's no bullying the parts

One fits willingly with the other.

The forward bulkhead frame goes in,
and then the pilot's seat,

control column and the cockpit floor
all in one unit.

And how's the time going?

Well, they've been working
1 hour and 17 minutes.

You were working long hours.

Oh, yes, 12 hours. 8:00 till 8:00.

It was dark when we went out
of a morning,

and dark when you got home at night.

WOMAN: When I didn't go on
the works bus,

sometimes I used to have a lift
with a chappie from Greasby.

And we used to call at
a farm on the way back.

And he used to get
a couple of dozen eggs,

because we only had one a week then.

And he used to break three
and swallow them whole.

But they must have been
black market eggs, mustn't they?

There was rationing at that time,
of course.

Did you...
Rationing, but... (CHUCKLES)

..all I can remember of the canteen
were the chips and the rice pudding.

It was alright until we went
in the canteen early one night,

and all the chips were
all ready to be finished, you know.

And there was a cat
sleeping on the top of them,

so we took a dislike to the chips
after that.

Testing the flaps on the wings is

testing fractures in tubes
instead of in bones.

The short, dark girl
assembling the ailerons

is 23-year-old Evelyn Homewood,

whose husband is in
the Royal Air Force.

HILDA: In a way it was a job,
but we were working for the boys.

You were patriotic.

Well, I was, for one, anyway.

Well, they were fighting for
a cause, weren't they?

And that makes a difference.

Everybody had somebody in the war,
didn't they?

They had somebody in the forces.

So it was worth fighting for,
wasn't it, to see them home again?

a lot didn't come home.

Hilda Dodd's husband, Percy, was
in the Royal Navy on minesweepers.

Tell me about how you met him.

Through a friend
that worked in the factory.

We were going to a dance,
and she introduced us.

But she said, "He can't dance."

I said, "I'll ignore him."

So I ignored him all night.

But we made up after.

He got called up to go in the navy.

It was all done in a rush.

And he said, "I haven't time
to go and buy the ring with you."

So I went and picked the ring

And then I never saw him again
for 3.5 years.

BETTY: My dad was in the 4th
Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

When Harry was called up,

that was the 6th Battalion,
Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

Tell me about the wedding
and your honeymoon, then.

Well, he came home on the Saturday.

We went to see the vicar
on the Sunday.

We were married on the Wednesday.

And he went back on the Sunday,

and I didn't see him again
for two years.

Percy Dodd blew up the mines

that threatened the convoys
he was protecting.


HILDA: He was up and down
the Mediterranean to Malta.

I used to say me prayers
every night,

and very often during the day
when I was working,

hoping he was alright.

Yes, I was very lucky he came back.

I mean, a lot didn't.

There's our chief cameraman
Chick Fowl...

It is 80 minutes
since the attempt began.

BETTY: The Airborne Division
went out to North Africa.

The Fighter Pilot Regiment
landed on Sicily.

And they came back to this country
with some of the Parachute Regiment.

But the part my husband was in,

they went into Italy
and then they liberated Greece.

So that's why I didn't see Harry
for two years.

You wore a badge.

Oh, my little naval badge.

He bought me that before he went.

No matter where I went,
I pinned it on.

That was part of him.

He gave me that,
so I always had that with me.

Even at work.

Oh, yes. I never went without that.

At 10:27, the foreman gives the word

and into the framework
of the aircraft

pile the electrical workers,

armed with the tricks and the tools
of their intricate trade.

BETTY: It wasn't hard work.
It was fiddling.

Connecting wires and things up.

You had to be very careful.

Construction went on

and the inspectors beamed with

Bob Wilson was superintendent
of the production line that weekend.

He recalled elaborate preparations
for the record-breaking attempt,

a certain amount of pre-assembly.

BOB WILSON: The electrical wiring
and all that

was done along the panel
before the fuselage was built.

So you just had to drop it in.


How did you organise
the production line?

You didn't have to.
The people knew what to do.

At 1:45 in the afternoon,

the main fuselage is ready to
come out of the jig.

Let's flip over to the stitching
and belting section.

The four great sections which
give the bomber its 80-foot wingspan

are now being covered with fabric.

Flashing fingers
and winking needles -

one wrong move,
the needle would hit metal

and the point would break.

Constance and Ben Motram
were courting during the war,

and married in 1947.

Constance sewed linen
for the rudders of Wellingtons

in what had been
a small car factory nearby.

She worked the night shift.

WOMAN: My aunty always had
breakfast ready

when I got in from work
on the next morning.

And then afterwards,
after I'd had breakfast,

I'd brush my teeth, wash, freshen,

and then I'd spend
the rest of the day in bed

till it was time to go to work.

It must have been a very long night
for them, all the girls, mustn't it?

They were 12-hour nights
sewing all night long.

There were a number of mines
around the Broughton factory

producing coal
to fuel the British war effort.

Coalminers were exempt from
military service.

And Ben Motram worked at
the Llay main colliery.

I started mining coal in 1921.

My father worked there.

And he was there at the sinking
of the pit itself.

It was the deepest in Europe.

In Europe! That's deep.

It was deep as Snowdon is in height.

When you're putting an aeroplane
together, Connie,

how did you identify the different
screws and that sort of thing?

When the plane was put together,

it would be in the flight shed,
across another field.

And where I worked,
it was just components.

They were put on a shelf for us
to part engrave.

And we put the number onto the parts
that was gonna go onto the aircraft.

They produced them pretty fast.

Used to take them from the factory
and the fields round about.

They'd put one at one place,
and another in another place.

They wouldn't put them all together,

because if there was raids,
they would all been bombed.

They also placed decoy lights
on the hills above Ben's home

to divert German bombers
looking for the factory.

They were bombing the mountains
over here,

which was alight
for months and months on end.

And they thought they'd got
the factory, but they hadn't.

The fabric is bonded to
the metal frame

by about 8,000 tiny bolts,

and stitches tidy up the edges.

Eight stitches to the inch,

and that's a whole lot of sewing
you're looking at.

HILDA: You had to be careful

when you were sewing that the
stitches didn't alter the tension.

Eight stitches to the inch.

And on one occasion, I slipped up,

and my stitches had gone bigger.

And the examiner wouldn't pass it.

If the wind should get through that,

well, it could start to tear.

So that was no good.

They had to be perfect.

So what happened?

I had to have it all back
and unpick it.

I'll never forget that.

It took such a long while.

About 6,000 people were working
on the Broughton production line,

half of them women.

BETTY: Immediate boss over the main
assembly was a woman - Miss Littler.

What was she like?
Rather large.

And there's a little pub
just outside the factory

where we used to go for a drink,

and she used to sit there
and drink pints.

I never saw her in a skirt.
She'd always got trousers on.

And, um...but she was very fair.

Back at the fuselage,
out at the tail,

Vera Butler and her sister Joan
work together all the time.

Vera was a lady's companion

before she started building bombers
two years ago.

And here is the process
of weatherproofing

and strengthening the fabric.

MAN: They used to go over it
with this red dope.

I think there was about
seven coats of dope and camouflage

went on the top.

And when it was finished,
it was like a drum.

Just strong enough
to take the wind and whatever

when it was flying, like, you know.

HILDA: There was girls sewing,

and there was men there
spraying them with dope.

What did it smell like?

Well, to me,
pear drops or nail varnish.

If you do smell nail varnish,
you know, it takes you back.


For Hilda Dodd and the rest,

there were often long walks home
at the end of a 12-hour shift,

in the dark, and sometimes
during an air raid.

I was with me dad in the street.

This very bright orange light
came slowly down.

And a policeman across the road

"Frank, get down on the floor."

And me dad said, "Come on."

I said, "I can't. I've got a new
dress on. Me mother will go mad."

"Get down!"
And he lay on the top of me.

And this light kept coming.

And then, all of a sudden,
there was a terrific explosion.


And all that you could hear
was glass tinkling everywhere.

And I can see one dear soul now.

She had a cosy
tucked under her arm,

covered in soot,
and they were crying.

You know, they were frightened.

And we were,
"Come on in. Come on in."

And herding them all in
the air-raid shelter.


It was a dreadful night.

This is Phyllis Evans,

who was in service as a maid
before the war.

She's one of them fitting the fabric
covering over the framework.

What did you feel about Germans
at that time?

Well, you wanted to beat them,
didn't you? Well, I did. It's a habit in this factory

to rather brazenly
autograph one's work.

So we know that Blondie has had
something to do with this bomber.

How they ever flew, I'll never know,

because they were only aluminium
and linen.

If you stepped off the catwalk,
up the middle of the plane,

your foot went straight through.

I never knew how they
got off the ground.

Dear me.

A tiny brunette, Eva Powell,

who runs a crane way up there
under the roof girders,

brings an engine
the length of the shop

and gently lowers it to what
they call the power egg or nacelle.

It looks like an egg at that.

Norman Martin, over there,

was once third officer
on the pleasure liner 'Rawalpindi',

before she was converted to
a merchant cruiser.

Norman has been working on this type
of arrow engine for quite a time,

and thinks
it's the finest in the world.

Norman Martin died in 1975.

His son Richard had no idea

that his father had worked on this
record-breaking Wellington LN514.

MAN: I remember him telling me
that the roof cranes in the factory

were all driven by women,

which was quite unusual
for that time,

but I suppose that was
borne out of necessity.

I remember him telling me
that he had a Ford 8.

And driving there in the blackout
one night, he crashed into a cow.


Well, the cow was alright, but it
didn't do the Ford 8 any good.

Did he get to work?
Well, one assumes so.

He was British. (CHUCKLES)

So, yes, he got to work.

What was security like?

HILDA: It was pretty strict.

Even when we got our wages,

the Home Guard used to stand there
with their rifles

while you got paid your money.

Sometimes workers had to be escorted
onto the airfield to the aircraft

to correct last-minute faults.

EILEEN LINDFIELD: They used to take
us out with an Alsatian dog,

you know, the special police.

We called them the Gestapo.

And we used to do our jobs,
then they used to escort us back,

because they're all so secret,
aren't they?

The time has come to bring
the component parts together.

This means that
the various departments

are delivering their finished
sections to the main assembly.

And here they come.

Now we'll see it take
shape as a bomber.

The fuselage is trundled down
the factory at 6:15 in the evening -

9 hours and 15 minutes
after the start.

The cranes come lumbering overhead
with the power eggs,

which are gently and firmly
lowered into place and connected up.

Next, the tail surfaces.

The elevators and tail fin,
like a big black sky night,

are lowered and connected.

Each part is installed by
a swiftly moving expert team.

MAN: We had people
bussed from Liverpool,

from Wallington, from Wrexham.

And as far as you're concerned,
you were doing something

just to throw the bombs
back at them,

what they've been throwing at you.

So it was that comradeship there.

Were there occasions when people
simply didn't turn up for work?

Yes, but it was a government
department within the factory,

and you had to fill an excuse form
in and say what it was.

But if people persistently
were absent...

The Ministry of Aircraft
could fine them.

Fine them?
Yeah, prosecute them.

Some workers in some factories were
very brave and very hardworking,

but quite a lot weren't.

And an absolutely amazing number
of strikes.

It was a hangover from the 1930s,
the 1920s.

Industrial relations in Britain
had been disastrous.

Management had been pretty poor too.

And a lot of workers who had
suffered through the depression,

when the war came, and their
services were desperately needed,

they couldn't see why
the fact we were fighting a war

should stop them from using their
opportunity to get higher wages,

to impose their demands.

And Churchill was
absolutely appalled by

a lot of what went on
in the factory.

Newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook,

as Britain's Minister
of Aircraft Production,

warned Prime Minister
Winston Churchill

in the winter of 1940,

as these War Cabinet papers reveal,

that the "cumulative effect
of enemy bombing

"is making itself felt
on our production lines."

They were becoming "very thin."

BOB: I remember Lord Beaverbrook

just walked round the factory
and out.

Usual thing, wasn't it?

And Churchill was on the phone
to the factory all the while.

Beaverbrook also warned about

the length of time
production line workers

spent in air-raid shelters,

and the morale of the workforce.

MAN: We had some people
were directed down from Scotland

under the Labour Act at the time.

One or two didn't like it.

I don't know how they got on,
but they weren't there for long.

They were shifted out.

Everything was done to
keep the men and women at work

on the production line.

To help you stay in the factory,
we had our own dentist there.

We even had our own barber there.

So you could never get a pass
out to go and have a haircut.

We had a good surgery, the doctor.

And that was to keep you
on the production line.

To keep you on the production line.

This is a bomb beam,
like a compact miniature bridge.

Look at the speed with which they
set the bulletproof petrol tanks

into the main plane.

They had these special tanks
that used to go in.

They were bulletproof.

Self-sealing, actually.

When this is done,

the overhead crane picks up the
wings and sweeps them into position,

where skilful hands
guide them into place.

Now the bomber is complete,
with its 80-foot wingspan.

It won't be long now

before this bomber is loaded with
an outward bomb cargo for Germany

at the rate they're going.

Tiny Cooling flew 67 missions
in Bomber Command,

most of them on Wellingtons.

MAN: In the air,
that was where it belonged,

and where you belonged in it.

And between you, you revelled in it.

He flew a Wellington over Dunkirk

to protect the retreating
British troops in 1940.

I remember peering down and looking
at the battleground underneath

to make damn sure
to keep well clear

of anywhere where
our own troops were.


He flew his Wellington
over the occupied channel ports

as the Germans then prepared
to invade Britain.

They were basically river ports,

assembly places like Rotterdam,

where the barges would assemble.

And really what you were
looking down at

was an expanse of water
in the quasi-moonlight.

And if there was any movement,
you went for that.

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It is 11 hours and 23 minutes since
the record-breaking attempt began.

The night workers arrive,
along with the air crew.

At the same time, another crew
is fitting the starboard propeller.

The workers are beginning to
make bets,

for after all, there are still
17 hours and 20 minutes to go

in that 30-hour mark
they've set themselves.

Eileen Lindfield
worked the night shift.

She had unofficial uses
for any discarded felt

left over from
the fuselage covering.

EILEEN: The Irish linen
they covered the planes with,

if it didn't reach from one end
of the plane to the other

they just threw it down
on the floor, you know.

And it was very sought after
for curtains and everything.

We used to make slippers out of it.

I mean, nobody could buy anything.
It was all on coupons.

And slippers were a luxury.

But, you know, when people say
they're hard up now, and go without,

they don't know
what the meaning of the word is -

the hardships people went through
in the war.

There was no water bottles.
There was no cameras.

Everything was on coupons.

It doesn't matter how much money
you had, you couldn't buy anything,

'cause it was all for the war,
you know.

Ivy Bennett caught my eye.

I noticed her
because she was wearing

a very sheer pink chiffon blouse.

I remarked on it, but Ivy grinned

and said she'd come away from
a party in a hurry

so that she could
get on this night shift

and help to make
this record-breaking bomber.

Do you remember going to dances
and that sort of thing?

EILEEN: Yeah, we did in the war,

If the men were on leave
and all that,

they were all in their uniform.

Were there any liaisons that
husbands might have frowned upon?

Well, I suppose so, but I don't
think I got into any mischief.

We didn't have a lot of time,

We had the Miners Welfare Institute
in Llay.

We had dances at the weekends.

But I couldn't misbehave

'cause me mother was always
in the kitchen making tea. (LAUGHS)

She was always there,
and I had to come home with her,

so I couldn't misbehave
if I wanted to.

I'm sure you didn't want to.
No, I didn't.

No, I didn't.
No, I was a good girl.

The rear turret
arrives on a portable crane.

Robert Davis
skilfully guides it into place.

HILDA: There was no idleness.
You got on with your jobs.

Even lavatory breaks
were strictly rationed.

There was a lady in charge,
and you were allowed six minutes.

And if you were longer than that,

she'd come and bang on the door,

"Come on. Your time's up."

One time I wanted to go to a dance,

which was not very often,

and you didn't get your hair set
or anything then.

So I thought, "What can I do?"

So I took a comb and a little mirror
in me overall pocket.

And I flushed the toilet twice
to make sure the water was clean.

And I dipped me comb in
and I was setting me hair.

So I had to pretend, you know, I'd
been to the toilet, but I hadn't.

Did she bang on the door?

Oh, yes. "Come on.
Your time's up. Out you come."


But she didn't know
what I'd been doing.

Before our unbelieving eyes,

the bomber really looks like
an aircraft.

Ernest Toothill,
who used to be a coach painter,

applies the RAF roundel
on the fuselage and wings.

I don't know where he gets that
steady hand at three in the morning,

for you'll notice that
he does it freehand.

Ernest Toothill worked on
Wellingtons throughout the war.

He nearly lost his life in one
of them, as his son Peter remembers.

MAN: He'd been working
inside the bomb hatch.

The bomb hatch was closed up
and he was working inside it.

And this particular plane
was off down the runway

with him in the bomb hatch.

Went for a few circles round
the aerodrome in the bomb hatch.


Did he tell you what he said?

Well, I couldn't remember
the exact words,

but, um...there were a lot of stars
and asterisks involved.

I don't know whether he thought
he was gonna die,

but he was quite explicit with
some of the things that he said.

Ernest's grandson James
now works in the same hangar

in which his grandfather built
Wellingtons all those years ago.

James helps to build the wings
of the giant hi-tech Airbus.

MAN: I'm a manufacturing
shop support engineer.

It's just providing support to the
operators manufacturing the wings.

If they've got any problems,

they come and see us about
any issues that they might have,

if they've drilled holes
in wrong positions, oversize holes.

When you're on your placements
around the factory,

you get to see the billet of
aluminium that the wing starts from,

from start to end.

It's quite strange at Broughton,
because you just see the wing,

you don't see the complete aircraft.

It'd be nice to see something
from start to finish.

The Broughton factory
is the British partner

in the long-established
European Airbus project.

It also involves factories in Spain
and Germany and France.

Once the wings are built
here at Broughton,

they're transported by air and road

to be assembled into the complete
aircraft at Toulouse in France.

Does it ever cross your mind that
your grandfather used to build

Wellington bombers in this place?

It's funny, 'cause a few weeks back

it was mentioned about
the 24-hour bomber that was made.

You can imagine now
how different the factory is,

compared to what it was then.

At 10:30 at night,
the landing wheels are installed -

wheels 4.5-feet high
that weight 300lb.

further inspections are taking place

and ticked off on the progress
charts as each detail is OK'd.

Wilf Williams was 16 when he first
enrolled at the Broughton factory.

That weekend he'd worked all day
Saturday on Wellington LN514.

I came on on the second stage

after the fabric had been
put over the fuselage.

I went home at three o'clock
in the afternoon.

On the Sunday morning,
I was bloody surprised to find

it had left the production line
and gone into the running shed.

As the clock at the end of
the assembly line

points to 3:20,

a tractor tows the bomber
to the running shed.

This is a huge area
at the end of the production line

where final inspections
and the first engine tests are made.

Curiously, in an affair that mainly
concerned Britain's Fighter Command,

the Wellington heavy bomber

unintentionally was to play a vital
role in the Battle of Britain.

In the summer of 1940, when Britain
and the Commonwealth stood alone

and at bay against the apparently
irresistible might of Nazi Germany,

the Luftwaffe were weakening
the RAF's Fighter Command

by bombing its airfields
and radar stations,

and sometimes catching the fighters
as they climbed to meet them.

MAX: The Luftwaffe
brought the Fighter Command

in the south-east of England

very, very close
to the edge of defeat

by its attacks on airfields
and radar stations.

By late August things were
very, very serious indeed.

Then, by accident, some German bombs
fell on the outskirts of London.

Churchill was furious.

And Churchill insisted that the RAF
must retaliate against Berlin.

And on the night of 24/25 August,

the Wellingtons and some Hampdens
and Whitleys set out for Berlin.

Very few of them dropped bombs

even anywhere near
anything that mattered.

But they enraged Hitler.

And, Hitler, from that moment,

insisted that the Luftwaffe
shift its aiming point

to major British cities,

and it was one of the turning points
of the Battle of Britain.

London suffered terribly.

The cost to Londoners was enormous.

But London could take it.

Churchill described it as like
a great enormous wounded animal -

that it could go on
receiving punishment.

Whereas if the Luftwaffe had gone on

attacking Fighter Command airfields
and radar stations,

strategically this would have been
far, far more serious.

So that RAF raid against Berlin,
and others that followed,

did have a significant effect
on the Battle of Britain.

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It is 18 hours and 20 minutes since

There's a feeling of
high expectancy in the air,

for there, in front of us,

is what we think is the fastest job
of bomber construction in the world.

Now, will it run?

There are only two complete
Wellington bombers

in existence today.

This one, at the Aeronautical Museum
at Brooklands,

was rescued from Loch Ness,

where she'd crash-landed
on December 31, 1940.

She ditched so gently

that the crew were able to
walk out onto the wings,

into their rescue dinghies,
and onto the Scottish shore.

This aircraft was one of
Bomber Command's

main strike force of Wellingtons
in the early years of the war.

MAX: Bomber Command continued to
hit at Berlin and other cities.

There was a wonderful moment
later in the year

when the Germans were
trying to convince

the Russian Foreign minister Molotov

that the British were beaten,
that it was all over.

And in the middle of a dinner
at the Russian Embassy,

suddenly the air-raid siren goes
in the middle of Berlin

and they all have to
go down to the cellar.

And Molotov enraged the Germans
by saying to them,

"If the British are really beaten,

"then why do we have
this air-raid alarm,

"and who is dropping these bombs?"

And it was probably a Wellington
that did it.

Like seagulls following a liner,

the workers tag after it
to continue their jobs.

From Ivy Bennett
and her chiffon blouse,

to George Williams,
who is almost blind,

every one of these British men
and women has given of his best.

Tiny Cooling piloted a Wellington
bomber into action 67 times.

TINY COOLING: My policy was
when I came up to the target,

to have a good look around
and to see what was going on,

and see which was the hottest place,

that was the quietest.


And if it was hot at 10,000 feet,

I'd drop down to 8,000
or something like that.

And I used that throughout the war.


If you were briefed
for a particularly hot place,

you had this trepidation,
this sort of...

..well, I suppose, you might say

a windy feeling
in the pit of the stomach.

It was much like
when you were a schoolboy

and you're waiting
to go and see the dentist.

But as soon as you got in
the aeroplane it had gone.

Do you think
that applied to everybody?

I have no idea.

It's not a thing one talked about.

You never discussed fear?

Did others show fear?

Not show it, no.
Nobody ever showed it.

Then, at precisely 6:15
on this Sunday morning,

exactly 21 hours and 15 minutes
from the start of construction,

the bomber is
a complete fighting unit,

and sees the light of the first dawn
of its lifetime.

MAX: Air crew called the Wellington
the 'Wimpy'

because there was a legendary
cartoon character of that period

called J. Wellington Wimpy.

And the Wimpy was
a term for affection.

They loved this aeroplane. They
thought it was simply marvellous.

So, like a gallery at a sporting
event, the workers stand and watch.

Then comes the big moment.

The engineer climbs into the cabin

and the engines are started up
for the first time.


TINY: I can't think of any occasion
when the aircraft let me down.

There might have been
one or two occasions

when one got into trouble
through one's own fault.

But, believe you me,

you just sort of
let the aircraft take over

and it would pull you out.

Tiny Cooling flew
his 67 missions in Wellingtons,

more than two complete
tours of duty,

between 1939 and 1945,

in Europe, Italy
and the Middle East.

In that time, more than 10,000
members of Bomber Command

were killed in action.

Didn't stop to think about that.

Why not?
Because it wouldn't happen to you.

It might happen to the next chap
on the next table,

but it wouldn't happen to you.

We all know that time is racing,

but still, a generator
and an air screw

need some last-minute adjustments,

and there's a final
bit of stitching to do.

This holds us up almost two hours.

MAX: It was one of the toughest
and most dangerous jobs of the war.

To complete a tour of operations,
you had to do 30 trips.

And for a lot of the war, Bomber
Command was losing about 1 in 20.

That meant you had a better chance
of dying

than you did of surviving
your 30 trips.

Everything has received
its final test and OK,

and the bomber is ready for
the take-off.

It's full daylight
and 8:50 in the morning.

10 minutes short of
an exact 24-hour day

that the finished bomber
is rolled out onto the tarmac

adjoining the factory.

The record is going to be
really shattered, and no mistake.

In a way, of course,
in a Wellington bomber,

each member of the crew
fought a slightly different war.

TINY: They did, yeah.

Because if you think of the
rear gunner, he's miles away...

Oh, yes, yes.

You gave him a shout
once in a while to say,

"Hi, Tex. You still awake?"

The wireless operator
is wrapped up in wires

and earphones and God knows what.

Never says anything to anybody.

The navigator's sort of in and out
all over every few minutes

with a little chitty, saying "Change
course to this" or "ETA there"

and that sort of business.

And, Bill, my bomb aimer,

was the man who stood beside me
in the well whilst I flew,

and who, if I got stiff or needed
to pee or something like that,

I'd say to Bill, "Take over
for five minutes, would you?"

And I'd get out of the seat
and he'd climb in,

and he'd fly it for a while.

And there was this total reliance,
one upon the other,

that you never even questioned their
ability to do what you asked them,

or whether they would give you
to the utmost, if required.

Is that a definition of love?

In a sense, yes.

In the Shakespearean sense...yes.

MAX: I never ceased to be
deeply moved

by what those very young men did,

and the letters they left behind.

In the last year of the war,
Tiny Cooling wrote a poem.

I dare not look for my own

It should be there...

Was he 20 when he came into my room

And cried like a child
the night Bob Hewitt died,

leaving a pregnant wife?

Naylor was a young navigator.

And I remember lying in bed
one morning.

I think we'd just come back from
a place like Cologne or something.

And there was a tap on the door,

and young Naylor walked in
and stood at the foot of my bed.

And he just fell to his knees,

buried his face in the blanket
of my bed, and cried.

And I said, "What's up?"

He said, "Bob Hewitt's missing."

Everybody liked young Naylor,

but nobody took
the blindest bit of notice of him

because he didn't look as if
he'd been out of his pram

for more than a few days.

Was there anything you could
say to comfort him?

No, no, no, not really.

It was just the luck of the game.

It required a very special kind
of courage to fly Bomber Command.

In the most literal sense,
they died with their shoes clean,

because they had a very cosy,
comfortable, cosseted life

at their bases in England.

That they were nicely fed

and they had bacon and eggs
before they took off.

Some of them were able to
live in quarters with their wives.

And then they would, every night,
get in these planes

and fly out from these calm, still
Norfolk and Lincolnshire fields

into the darkness over Germany.

Into the whitest teeth of war.


TINY: These brightly coloured lights
went shooting past,

and there seemed to be lots of them
straight ahead.

And as got up to them, they
seemed to part to let us through.

Then, all of a sudden,
there was a thwack.

MAX: Flak guns, night fighters
and search lights.

They were seeing their mates
being shot down every night.

And I remember calling out
to Dougie, "We've been hit."

And he said where. And I told him.

And he said, "Keep an eye on it."

And they would go through
this fantastically intense

and terrifying experience
for six, eight hours.

A few minutes later he said,
"Anything to see?"

And I said, "No, it's dead quiet."

And he said, "Alright, fine,
we'll be home in an hour.

"Wait until we get down
and we'll have a look."

And then they would come back

to this calm, quiet Lincolnshire
or Norfolk airfield.

And I could smell petrol.

It was dripping from
the self-sealing tank

on the starboard side.

And Dougie saying to me,

"Oh, we're back in time
before the bar's closed.

"Come on, I'll buy you a beer
to mark your first trip."

They'd go to the mess,
they'd have the bacon and eggs,

then, two nights later, they'd be
asked to do the same thing again.

But usually with
two or three less of the crews

than had gone out
the previous night.

Here comes the test pilot
Gerald Whinney -

a really amazed man.

He was planning to fly the bomber
this afternoon.

But so fast has this aircraft
been completed,

that they got him out of bed
to put the bomber through its paces.

WILFRED WILLIAMS: I was told that
they'd gone to fetch the pilot,

'cause obviously he didn't expect it
so quick.

And I think his words were,

"I hope to God
they haven't missed anything."

HILDA: Everything
went like clockwork.

EILEEN: I was really overwhelmed,
but I was fascinated as well

to think that you could
start a plane

and then it could go down the line
and actually fly.

WILFRED: We all went out
onto the tarmac

to watch the take-off.

MAN: Everybody was pleased
that they'd done it.

I mean, there was no parties,
I can remember,

or anything like that, like.

BOB: The whole factory
saw it take-off.

They were all outside to watch it.

That must have been quite a moment.

Oh, it was really.

Here it comes,
and the bomber is airborne.

The record?

Yes, they broke it, those workers.

What was that moment like
when it took off?

WILF: Oh, great. He got a good
round of applause and shouting.

He did a few circuits and bumps.

So we were very pleased with that.

It was a job well done.


Airbus marked this unique occasion
with an official photograph.

So, on the count of three, ladies
and gentlemen, let's go for it.

One, two, three! Everybody wave.

Now, here's the hard one -
wave and smile, OK?

Wave and smile.

Let's go. Wave and smile.

For these people,

this was simply a 24-hour snapshot
of their lives during World War II.

But the war was to last six years.

Their men came home eventually.

And for the women who had built
Wellington LN514,

life changed yet again.

And did you continue to work
at Broughton?


I had the sack. (CHUCKLES)

I was made redundant.

A few weeks later they turned over
to prefabricated houses.

The girls that were single,
they were kept on,

but I was married
and I had to finish.

How did you feel about that?

A bit annoyed, actually.

I signed on the dole,
and I had dole for three weeks,

and that's the only thing
I've ever had off the government.

And because I wouldn't go to Bolton
to work in the cotton factory,

they stopped me dole.

So what did you do?

Lived on me army allowance
until Harry came home.

What was that day like
when he did come home from the war?

There was no telephones
in those days.

I was outside the local church
watching a wedding.

And my mother was there,
and she went home for something.

And she said,
"I think you better get going.

"Harry's at home waiting for you."

And I'd got a little cottage ready
for when he come home.

The people he worked for before
the war, they got a little estate,

and there was
two little cottages on it,

and I had one, and it was
furnished ready when he came home.

My dad came home Christmas morning.

Did either of them ever talk about
what they did in the war?


Did it affect Harry?

Never the same again.

Hilda Dodd's Percy
came home in 1944.

HILDA: Oh, well,
I was over the moon.

I couldn't believe it.

You know, it was wonderful.

It's a very funny feeling
after 3.5 years.

And then I thought,
"I wonder if he's gone off me?

"Whether he still likes me."

He hadn't altered much to me.

He had fair hair, but he was fairer.

And he was, you know,
a well-built lad.

And he came in, and he was hungry,
and he cooked himself egg and bacon.

And, of course, when his mum got up,

"Oh," she said, "I see
you've had some breakfast."

He'd only eaten the whole rations
for the week.

(LAUGHS) He didn't know.

Throughout the war, Percy carried
with him this photograph of Hilda.

He brought it back with him
at the end of the war?

Yes. I have the photograph.

And when he showed it me,
I said, "Ooh, it's coloured."

Because I sent it just ordinary.

He said, "Yes.

"Don't ever lose this," he said.
"I treasure this."

I said why?

And he said, "Well, one of my mates
had his hands blown off."

He held a brush in his mouth
and tinted it up.

I was fairly upset about it
at the time,

but I've never parted with it.

Doesn't seem to lose
any of its colour.

Eileen Lindfield found it hard

to adjust to the reappearance
in her life of her husband Stan.

We were so independent,
and the women did a man's job,

and they behaved like men.

And I think it took us
a little while to sort of get going.

I'm glad I experienced the war.

But I wouldn't like to think it
happening again.

Nobody wins a war,
so...better be nought.

Over a single weekend,
from first bolt to last,

these workers built
this Wellington bomber

in 10 minutes less than 24 hours.

They smashed the existing
world record by a whole day.

Wellington LN514 took off

24 hours and 48 minutes
into the workers' weekend.

Tiny Cooling threw his Wellington
into action

over Germany and France,
Belgium and Egypt,

Sicily and Italy, 67 times.

TINY: It was always nice when the
word came up from under your feet

saying "Bombs gone!"

And the navigator would be up

almost before the words were
out of Bill Hubbs's mouth.

And saying, "Course to steer."

And you'd set it on the compass
and you'd weave your way home.

And you'd see the flare pass
flickering ahead.

And you come in
on the final approach,

and that lovely softness as you
close your engines down on finals,

and felt for the ground.

And the good old Wimpy just let
you down like a babe on a cushion.

And that was another one over.

In all, during World War II,

British factories turned out
11,461 Wellington bombers.

Supertext Captions by
Red Bee Media Australia
Captions copyright SBS 2012

This program is captioned live. A boost for Barack Obama as the race for the White House enters its final weekend of campaigning. Rescue workers in the US hampered by fuel shortages and power cuts as fights break out at filling stations. Almost like Armageddon. And Antarctic protection plans frozen as two weeks of talks end in stalemate. Australia's very disappointed than an outcome couldn't be reached.

Good evening, and welcome to the program. I'm Kathy Novak. The US presidential race is back in full swing as both candidates prepare for the last weekend of campaigning. Barack Obama has received widespread praise for his handling of the Sandy crisis and he's received an endorsement from the Republican turned independent Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg. SBS senior correspondent Brian Thomson is in Washington DC for us tonight. It is hard to avoid the impression that things are slipping away from Governor Romney. The impression he made the aftermath of the first debate as well and truly altered. Events at the last few days appear to work for the President. Present Obama's handling of the aftermath of the super storm has been widely praised Teevan has been widely praised Teevan among Republican voters. Clad in the bomber jacket favoured by his predecessor. Bouncing off air force one with a spring in his step. If he's worried about losing his job in just five days time he certainly isn't showing it. President Obama mocking Governor Romney's insistence that only he can bring about change. Giving more power back to the biggest banks isn't change. Leaving millions without health insurance isn't change. Another $5 trillion tax cut that favours the wealthy isn't change. Turning Medicare into a voucher is change, but we don't want that change. The President and his challenger now on a round-the-clock five day sprint to the finish line. Governor Romney spent the day on his battle bus criss-crossing Virginia, one of the states he must win if he's to make it to the White House. Country and western singer Ricky Skaggs providing the warm up, though the Governor had a Joe Biden moment when he began by acknowledging him. I want to thank Ricky Skrags, Skrugs rather, Skaggs, boy, I can't get it right, Ricky Skaggs for entertaining. A new poll out here today has President Obama leading Governor Romney by 2% here in Virginia. That's down 3% on a month ago. The race here in Virginia, as in most battleground states, still too close to call. The Governor in confident mood, even when a climate change protestor interrupted his opening comments about Hurricane Sandy. The crowd turning on the protestor who was swiftly bundled out of the invitation only event.