A memorial is unveiled to honour the workers who built 'Secret Spitfires' during the war

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee

A full size replica of a Spitfire has been erected in memory of the hundreds of young women, boys, engineers and elderly men who helped to build thousands of Spitfires in secret factories during WW2.

The Spitfire was vital in the fight to defeat the Nazis, but in Britain's darkest hour the factory in Southampton where they were being built was bombed and destroyed.

Fortunately the machine tools were saved, and moved to dozens of secret small factories in places like Newbury, Reading, Winchester and in Salisbury, where this new memorial has been placed.  

Secret Spitfire factory locations Credit: ITV News Meridian

The replica of a war-time Spitfire that was partly built on the Salisbury site. The field and car park used to be one of the secret factories, a project that few people knew about until a few years ago.

Norman Parker, a Spitfire engineer and historian, says: "It could not be more appropriate with factory number one there, which is now a car park". 

"Factory number two is still there.  But when it arrived yesterday on the back of a crane, it was parked on what was a factory floor in 1943". 

  • Norman Parker, a Spitfire engineer and historian

The Spitfire was vital in the fight to defeat the Nazis. 

One of the last people alive who helped build the secret Spitfires in Salisbury is ninety-four year old Stan Gordon, who was taught to weld at 16.

  • Stan Gordon

Stan says: "I had these funny shaped pieces of aluminium I had to weld. I had no idea where they went and I still don't"

"Of all the times I've been crawling around a Spitfire, I've never been able to find them."

For two years Stan worked in a garage in Devizes Road, the building is still there. Stan says: "All us teenagers at the time were in cadets or involved in some way and so we grew up knowing how important the war was".

The Spitfire Memorial is installed Credit: ITV News Meridian

Many Spitfires were assembled on this site at White Post north of Salisbury, before being delivered to their squadrons. 

Final preparations were made to the Spitfire Memorial at the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection at Old Sarum Airfield, before it was put in place yesterday.

For many people, the secret Spitfires project was kept secret for far too long, and this memorial celebrates the many who worked so hard so the few could fly to victory.