Ensor had put his name forward before the outbreak of war, but by the time he was followed up, he was living in Canada. In 1941 he wished to return to the UK but he was not granted any assistance with this.
By 1942 he was in the army and facilities were obtained for him to have time off to painting. In August that year, four pictures were purchased, for 15 guineas (IWM:ART LD 2325, 2327; LD 2326, 2328) (19). In the same month, he was commissioned to make a series of drawings at Vickers Armstrong Aircraft Assembly Works, for 20 guineas (24). Two pictures (not on this subject) were submitted in October and declined.
The Committee received a letter in November 1942 from the Director of a neighbouring factory in Chester, John Summers & Sons Ltd, who had seen his work at Armstrong Vickers and wished him to do a similar series at their works (steel sheet production). In the light of difficulties obtaining leave for Ensor, it was decided to offer Ensor a special commission to make one or two pictures (61), (65) for 20 guineas.
The Vickers pictures were submitted in November 1942 and the Committee were reported to think "very highly" of them (LD 2600-2609). By 9 December, Ensor was working at Summers's factory, on 21 days' release. Some of the resulting pictures were left with Summers and some sent to the MoI for selection (IWM:ART LD 2799-2802).