Every Warrington man, woman and child was affected in some way by the Second World War and the fight against Adolf Hitler and his allies. For many Warrington families even when the war was officially over life would never be quite the same again.
- Many were killed or injured fighting for their country whilst others suffered in captivity as Prisoners of War.
- Those men and women who had not been called up into the armed forces joined the Civil Defence Forces at home to protect Warrington people and property from enemy attacks.
- Warringtonians lived through the terror of German air raids with the Thames Board bombing a particular local tragedy.
- Everyone supported the war effort, by raising money to buy warships and aeroplanes and salvaging and recycling and Warrington Museum featured campaigns for Make Do and Mend and Digging for Victory.
- All Warringtonians had to cope with rationing and shortages especially of food and clothes which continued even after the war in to the early 1950s.
During the Second World War Warrington was the site of several key military bases which today are mostly the site of new Warrington districts
Risley Ordnance Factory which filled, assembled and shipped out explosive shells. The complex opened in January 1940, and within two years was employing over 4000 people. Every day special trains carried the armies of munitions workers, the majority of them women, to the works. Risley became one of Britain’s largest wartime factories, shrouded in secrecy and absolutely vital to the massive war effort. (Risley & Birchwood)
Padgate Camp was a national training centre for RAF recruits. No. 3 RAF Depot Padgate opened in April 1939 (before Britain was officially at war.) Its role was to provide basic training to raw recruits to the Royal Air Force. By 1943 the camp’s weekly intake was 1,500 as the RAF steeped up its bombing campaign on Germany. Padgate Camp closed in 1957 and the site was later redeveloped by Warrington New Town, who named the nearby Insall Road after a former camp commander.
HMS Blackcap was a Royal naval air base at Stretton.
Burtonwood USAAF Airbase had the most impact on most local people’s lives. From 1942 the American GIs became a familiar sight about the town. USAAF Burtonwood’s role in World War II was to keep the allied planes flying, especially in the bombing raids leading up to the D Day landings. In the summer of 1944 this was the largest factory in Europe, assembling bombers from pre-packaged kits from America with over 18,000 people based there. The noise of engines from the test beds were heard day and night over the town. Many local women became GI brides and Warrington forged close links with their American wartime allies and the town’s VJ Day celebrations had a special resonance.
This massive site included the future Callands, Westbrook, Chapelford, Gemini and Omega districts whilst the runway is now part of the M62 motorway.