Excerpt #1 – War Time Memories

War Time Memories – “A Brief Record of the activities of Addressograph-Multigraph Ltd., in the years 1939-1945”
By Addressograph-Multigraph
Part One – Chapter IV
Pages 36-38
Author: William Freeman

Addressograph-Multigraph Machines on War Work

Early in the war the board of Trade set up a special department, known as the Directorate of Office Machinery, to control the distrubution of such machines.  The department instituted a system of licensing under which they could not be sold without authorization, the result being that the entire output of Addressograph-Multigraph Limited was earmarked for Government departments, or alternatively, for commercial organizations engaged on war production.

As the war progressed, and the demands of the Forces expanded and the shortage of man-power at home became intensified, the value of the “Addressograph” in its own unique sphere became more and more evident.  The ability of the machine to print repetitive information at high speed and with complete and invariable accuracy enabled it to be used in innumerable directions.  One direction in particular may be mentioned – that of the Food Rationing Scheme.  Every food area in Britian employed one or more machines to print food permits, points, account-slips, etc., – a task so gigantic that by any other means it would have been an impossibility.

Reference has been made to the speed and accuracy of the machines.  Neither quality would have possessed any permanent value without a third merit – that of being strongly built.  As a testimony to this soundness of construction, the experience of a well known firm of electrical equipment manufacturers may be quoted.  The firm had in their London depot two “Addressograph” machines and sixty thousand address-plates.  During the 1940 blitz a land-mine struck the building, practically demolishing it.  The intense heat of the resultant fire, to say nothing of the thousands of gallons of water used to extinguish the flames, would have destroyed any equipment of less sturdy construction; the “Addressograph” plates were damaged so little that after salving and cleaning they could again be used.  Though the index cards were, of course, burnt away, the information embossed on the plates was still entirely legible.  When every plate and frame had been cleaned and examined, it was found that only fifteen per cent of the whole 60,000 address-plates were unfit to be used again.

The drafting of so many civilians into the Forces involved the preparation of an enormous number of printed instructions in the form of letters, booklets, spare-part handbooks, maps, charts, etc.  In this field the “Multigraph” Duplicating machines were conspicuously successful.

The Ministry of Information became the largest users of Addressograph-Multigraph Duplicating machines; other Government departments who were extensive users included the R.A.F. Fighter, Bomber and Costal Commands; the Air Ministry; the Ministry of Aircraft Production; the Ministry of Supply; H.M. Stationary Office; the Ministry of Food; the G.O.P.; the Home Office; Royal Ordanance Factories; and the National Fire Service.  The list of private firms largely if not wholly employed on Government work who found Addressograph-Multigraph machines essential is too long to quote in full, but amongst such firms may be mentioned:

Rolls Royce, Ltd. – “Multilith: Duplicators for the production in complete secrecy of part lists and diagrams, Air Ministry Schedules, etc.

The Automatic Telephone and Electric Co. Ltd. – who developed and manufactured the Distant-Reading Gyro-Magnetic Compass, and extremely accurate aircraft compass which contributed largely to the success of Allied air-raids.  “Multilith” Machines, Class 1250, used in the preparation of instruction books, parts lists, and general stationery requirments.

The Hawker Aircraft Co. – world famous manufacturers of the Hurricane, Typhoon, and Tempest machines.

Vickers-Armstrong Ltd., makers of the Spitfire fighter.

A. V. Roe Ltd., – makers of the Lancaster Bomber.

De Havilland Aircraft Co., makers of the Mesquito aircraft.

Birmingham Small Arms Co.

Metropolitan Vickers Ltd.

Vauxhall Motors Ltd.

Callendars Cable Co.

Harland & Wolff Ltd.

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