The fund was started in October 1939 by the trader JT "Baseane" Thorn of Roma with a personal donation of £500. (Thorn was awarded an OBE in 1940 for ''the valuable part he played in the public life of Basutoland".)
The original goal was to collect £50,000, but in the end The Basutoland War Fund collected more than £120,000. Even the ''Witwatersrand African" community donated £5,880.
More than half of the money was donated directly to the British government and the rest was distributed to 10 funds including the Governor-general's War Fund, the Basuto Gifts and Comforts Fund, and the Red Cross.
Thorn's grandson Ashley still owns the Roma Trading Post in Lesotho. ''I never knew that the war fund sponsored Spitfires," says Thorn. ''It's only when news of this gift came that I picked up on it."
The realisation encouraged him to look at his grandfather's scrapbook on the War Fund, which contains detailed records of the donations.