The IMechE during World War Two

Much like today, the IMechE of the 1930s and 1940s represented and accredited mechanical engineers, shared research and developments both within and beyond its members, and advocated for the profession and its related disciplines.

At the start of the Second World War the IMechE was an international organisation representing 13,145 members from student engineers to those considered greats within the profession.

Membership of the Institution thrived during the Second World War.

Date Number of Members Change
1939 13,145  
1940 13,671 + 526
1941 14,163 + 492
1942 14,863 + 700
1943 15,979 + 1,116
1944 17,549 + 1,570
1945 19,872 + 2,323

IMechE membership figures taken from the Council Minutes, 1939-1945.

Pastoral support

In addition to publishing appeals for Members to ensure they were contributing towards the war effort through more traditional means such as National Service and the Central Register, the Institution was also concerned with the ways by which Members could be supported pastorally.

As a result of unprompted financial contributions donated by Members who specified that their donations be used for the relief of distress caused by war, the IMechE Council created a special war relief account, recognising that difficulties were particularly being experienced by retired members and widows of Members.

Old tracing linen

The IMechE journal also shared with its Members communication received from the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) who requested that old linen drawings and tracings could be repurposed as “all kinds of articles such as surgical war stores”. Members were directed to send their old tracings to the WVS to contribute to this rather innovative re-use of materials familiar to all engineers.