World War II
The Royal Ordnance Factories
The Ministry of Supply was responsible for building and running the
Royal Ordnance Factories which produced explosives and propellants; filled ammunition; and constructed guns and rifles. However, the
Ministry of Works and/or private building contractors acted as agents during their construction. The Ministry was also responsible for the supply of
tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles; however, these were mostly designed and built by private arms companies, such as
William Beardmore and Company and
Vickers, as well as other engineering companies.
The Ministry of Supply also arranged for the construction of a large number of Agency Factories which were run on its behalf by private companies, such as
Nobel Industries. These were similar to the Royal Ordnance Factories, but were not part of the Royal Ordnance Factory organisation.
Ministry of Supply factories
The Ministry of Supply was also responsible for the labour force of these factories, although the
Ministry of Labour did the recruitment. From the middle of the war onwards the Ministry of Supply was in direct competition with the
Ministry of Aircraft Production for labour and the two organisations had to reach agreement. Towards the end of the war the Ministry of Supply released labour so that they could transfer to the
Ministry of Aircraft Production.
From the beginning of World War II the army research establishments were put under the control of the Ministry of Supply. It was through the MoS that the essential connections were made between military requirements and the scientists and engineers of the civil service, industry, and academia (many academics were recruited into the civil service on a temporary basis). Examples include :
- The Experimental Bridging Establishment, Christchurch (later to become part of MEXE)
- The Experimental Demolition Establishment, Christchurch from 1942 (later to become part of MEXE)
- The Experimental Tunelling Establishment, Christchurch from 1942
- The Fighting Vehicles Proving Establishment (FVPE), Chertsey
- The Projectile Development Establishment at Fort Halstead (moved to Aberporth in 1940 where it remained until 1945)
Telecommunications Research Establishment in Malvern, critical in the development of radar
- The Wheeled Vehicle Experimental Establishment (WVEE), Farnborough 1942, then Chertsey from 1943