Wars often generate “inspirational” tales of underdogs overcoming insurmountable odds.

But the heroes in question are normally soldiers, risking their lives behind enemy lines.

They don’t usually sit in a board room, or design musical instruments and furniture,

or run a company which produces kitchen tiles.

But that is exactly what some of the unlikely heroes of the second world war did

–before they turned their firms upside down and inside out

to create wooden fighter-bombers, harbours, airfields and ocean pipelines for the Allied forces.