Established in 1939, The Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) was created to entertain the British troops during World War Two. It brought together professional and amateur performers to perform in munitions factories, garrison theatres and in bomb-damaged buildings across Europe.
It featured performances from many of most loved entertainers of the day, including Vera Lynn, Tommy Cooper, Arthur Askey and George Formby. Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir Laurence Olivier were both made honorary lieutenants of the Army in 1945 when they they performed Shakespeare's plays for the troops in a six-week tour of Europe.
Performers in ENSA were paid a weekly wage of £10, while those in the chorus got £4 - a generous wage for the time.
Despite the fact that many talented entertainers worked for ENSA, the organisation had to spread itself thin, resulting in a few substandard acts. As a result, it gained the title:
"Every Night Something Awful".
The last ENSA concert took place on 18 August 1946 in India.
See also: Vera Lynn
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