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John Thompson works at Ettingshall

John Thompson works at Ettingshall

John Thompson Ltd were another local firm who became heavily involved in the war effort.

Along with a large proportion of their male staff, two of the Thompson brothers, William and John, were away on active service during the First World War. William Thompson was a Captain in the Territorials, commanding ‘G’ Company of the 7th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. John Thompson was a Major in the Royal Artillery, commanding a battery of Field Artillery on the Western Front. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. This meant that the operations of the company were left to the older Thompson brothers, James and Albert.

Among the products manufactured by the company, a Mr J. T. Davis developed the first all-steel cowl for radial aircraft. This was produced in vast quanitites for the War Office and used in Sopwith Aircraft. The company also had a large contract for “Sponsorways”, which were fitted into tanks to enable riflemen to fire. In addition, the company produced petrol tanks and steel cordite boxes for the Admiralty.

But John Thompson Ltd also demonstrated a pastoral side. For example, in 1914, they sponsored their first children’s Christmas treat, primarily for those whose fathers were away on active service or who were working long hours in the factory. This mean that 350 children received gifts of toys and sweets at a tea party. This demonstrates that rationing had not yet affected many local companies at this point in time.