When the Supermarine factory in Southampton was targeted by Nazi bombers in the early part of WWII, it was realised that the production of the iconic Spitfire fighter was too vulnerable to attack in one location.

A series of ‘satellite factories’ were set up across southern England, including Reading and Newbury, employing six million women, to produce fighter planes for the RAF. The Berkshire Mercury (later to be called the Reading Chronicle) published a picture which had the following caption: “A Spitfire being put through its final ground tests by an AID inspector before being tested in the air by a pilot.”

In the middle of the war it was becoming difficult for Berkshire’s farmers to bring in the hay crop, so when it was clear there were no helping hands at Field Barn Farm, Beenham, 15-year-old Francis Benson, decided to do it himself. Although he had no experience of making a hay rick, Francis turned out an immaculately crafted structure, which drew praise from the inspecting officers of the local Agricultural Executive Committee.

Many large houses were requisitioned during the conflict and converted into convalescent homes for injured service personnel to aid their recovery.

The Princess Royal conducted a whistle-stop tour of many of Berkshire’s homes and hospitals, including Ufton Court, part of the Englefield Estate, near Theale.

From the 1920’s, Princess Mary had become the commandant-in-chief of the British Red Cross and had honorary president of the British Girl Guide Association.

A group of Thatcham based A R P (Air Raid Precautions) and ambulance service personnel were arranged in a tight group in front of two ambulances in the summer of 1943.

The ARP’s were an organisation formed in 1937 as a precaution in case of war and in recognition of the threat posed by bombing from German aircrew serving in the Spanish Civil War.

Members would carry on with their normal civilian duties when not required for training or carrying out duties such as blackout checks.

A platoon of Home Guard cadets at Aldermaston were inspected by Lieutenant Colonel A D Gordon whilst parading outside the railway station. Originally named the Local Defence Volunteers and later nicknamed the “Dad’s Army”, the cadets pictured in the Mercury were obviously teenagers, but had all been issued with the standard issue army rifle, the .303 Lee Enfield.

Reading hosted the Southern Area Sea Cadet’s sports day 76 years ago, and two (unnamed) athletes were pictured just as they jumped together, in the 120 yards hurdles race.