Over time ship associations became unsustainable as members "crossed the bar" and the V & W Destroyer Association was established by Stormy Fairweather (HMS Westcott) in 1993 to enable veterans who served on any of the V & W Class destroyers in World War II to keep in touch with former "shipmates". His Grace, the Duke of Buccleuch, who served on the lower deck of HMS Viceroy became President of the Association.
HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of
Edinburgh, accepted an invitation to became the Patron of the V&W Destroyer Association. Prince
Philip served on the V and W class destroyer and flotilla leader, HMS Wallace,
from the 28 January 1942 until December 1943. He joined as a sub
lieutenant, gained his second stripe on the 16 July and in October
became first lieutenant, at 21 years of age one of the youngest in the
Royal Navy. Many of the veterans met Prince Philip at garden parties in
the grounds of Buckingham Palace and we were all very sad that he
should die on the 9 April 2021 two months before his hundredth
birthday, but "he will not be forgotten" by the men who served in
V & W Class destroyers.
inaugural meeting of the Association was held at
the Union Jack Club in Waterloo, London, in 1993. About 60 veterans
attended and sat with shipmates at tables assigned by ship names which
made it easy to produce the first member's list arranged by the names
of V & Ws. Ken Foster, a telegraphist in HMS Viceroy,
was the first Welfare Officer of the Association and is one of the few
veterans alive today who attended that inaugural meeting. "Stormy"
edited the Association's magazine Hard Lying
which came out yearly and
a Newsletter was issued by the Secretary between the annual reunions
which were held at hotels in venues selected by the veterans. A smart
tie bearing the Association's logo of an anchor and a personalised
blazer badge with the name of the wearer's V & W was produced (the
tie can still be bought
from Claire Rainer). The logo on the tie is at the top of every page in this website. Family members
of men who had served in V & Ws could join as Associate Members and
in time took on the posts of Secretary and Treasurer but did not have a
Ken Foster described
the first reunion at Yarmouth in 1995 and the holding of a memorial
service in nearby Lowestoft for the men who died when HMS Votigern
was torpedoed, the biggest loss of life on the East Coast Convoys. The
naval museum was presented with Vortigern's ship's wheel. In 1997 the
annual reunion was held at Worcester
which had adopted HMS Worcester
after a successful Warships Week in 1942. A painting of HMS Worcester by shipmate George Garwood (HMS Valorous)
was presented to the Mayor at a Reception in the Lower Hall of the
Guildhall where this photograph was taken on 8 June 1997. On Sunday the
veterans followed the Mayor in procession through the City to the Cathedral and filled half the
choir stalls at the service.
The reunion at Worcester was the start of a close relationship with the "Not Forgotten Association" which extended invitations to the garden parties at Buckingham Palace (where Ron Rendle met Vera Lynne, click on image on left) and Christmas Parties at St James Palace. Ten veteran members of the V & W Association were invited to these annual events. Click on the link to see Prince Philip and the Queen meeting veterans at garden parties at Buckingham Paslace. The photographs below were taken at a Christmas Party at St James Palace and were sent to me by John Ellson who accompanied his father, a stoker in HMS Vimy, and took the photographs.
V & W Veterans at a Christmas Party of the Not Forgotten Association at St James Palace
click image to view full size in a separate window
The Princess Royal talking to John E. Ellson (right), a Leading Stoker in HMS Vimy
Photographed by John Ellson Jnr, his son
Vera Lynne with John Ellson
Photographed by his son
In 1998 the reunion was held at the Westhill Hotel in Jersey which was owned by Bob Smale (HMS Westcott). The following year at Devonport, Plymouth, and in addition the Committee began to hold twice yearly committee meeting in London aboard HMS Belfast on the Thames. The Association returned to Jersey for its annual reunion in 2000 and in 2001 to Yarmouth where it met in 1996. Although the veterans decided where they wanted to meet the detailed plans were made by the Honorary Secretary, latterly Vic Green. The reunions took on a regular pattern with dinner on the Friday evening, the holding of the AGM at which officers were re-elected on the Saturday followed by dinner that evening. The holding of a raffle for prizes donated by members (Pussers rum was a popular choice) with the proceeds donated to an appropriate cause. There was a mystery coach excursion to a place of interest on the Sunday organised by David Brown, the Treasurer, and the members dispersed on the Monday but the highlight was always meeting old friends and comrades and reminiscing about past times.
"Stormy" Fairweather edited and published Hard Lying, the Association's magazine, named after the hard lying allowance paid to the men on the lower deck of the V & Ws for the hard conditions they endured, and a Newsletter was sent to members once or twice a year by the Secretary. In the early years it welcomed many new members as ship association were dissolved due to falling membership. One ship association which did survive was that of the HMS Vesper Association which always met in Skipton, Yorkshire, the town which adopted Vesper after a successful National Warships Week in 1942 but today Barry Wright is believed to be "the last man standing" who served in HMS Vesper. At its peak the V & W Destroyer Association had over 200 members but as time went by and members crossed the bar the Newsletters announced more deaths of former members than names of new members.
the 60th anniversary of the Channel Dash in 2002 the Association
returned to Worcester for its reunion. In 2003 it was the turn of
Coventry and then back down south to Eastbourne in 2004 and 2005 where
Ted Dawson (HMS Witherington) lived. Eastbourne was the venue for the launch of Hard Lying,
a collection of articles written for the magazine by the veterans and
republished as a book by "Stormy" Fairweather in 2005. From 2006-7 the
reunions were held at Llandudno in North Wales, in 2008 at Coventry and
in 2009 at Gillingham near Chatham, one of the Navy's three manning
ports of "Guzz" (Devonport), "Pompey" (Portsmouth) and "Chats"(Chatham).
The first reunion of the V & W Destroyer Association I attended was at Derby in 2010. I am a retired academic publisher with my own small imprint and had joined the Association after postponing work on a book about my father's "Forty Years at Sea" to publish a new edition of Bob Moore's book about HMS Venomous, my father's wartime destroyer. Bob was the CO of TS Venomous, the Sea Cadet unit at Loughborough, and had self-published A Hard Fought Ship: the story of HMS Venomous, in 1990. Bob Moore accepted my offer to publish a new edition but died soon after his retirement in 2007 and Capt John Rodgaard USN took over as lead author. I held the first of three book launches for the new edition at the meeting of the V & W Destroyer Association at Derby in April with further "launches" held in Loughborough's Town Hall and the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth. I was impressed by the size of the turnout at Derby and enjoyed talking to men like Ron Rendle who had been torpedoed twice and served with "U-Boat killer" Capt Donald G.F.W. Macintyre RN, a former CO of Venomous.
I missed the next two meetings of the Association at Weston-Super-Mare (2011) and Sherringham (2012) but from then on was a regular attendee and started this website in 2014. The Association annual reunion in 2013 was at Warwick where the ensign flown by Rear Admiral Sir Roger Keyes from HMS Warwick, his flag ship for the raid on Zeebrugge in April 1918, hangs in St Mary's Church as a memorial to the 66 men who died when HMS Warwick was torpedoed in 1944.
The reunion at Eastbourne in April 2014
was held in a hotel on the promenade on a beautiful sunny weekend.
There were nine veterans, two in their nineties, and 25 associate
members whose fathers or grandfathers had served on a V
& W destroyer. Many
of the veterans
had a new medal, the Arctic Medal, announced last year 70 years after the war was won. The
Association was only 21 years old but its members were much older and
without the veterans would cease to exist. I proposed the
establishment of a website to see that the V & Ws and the memories
of the men who served in them would not be forgotten when the members
had all "crossed the bar". The Committee backed this proposal and decided the money raised at the
raffle that evening would fund registering the domain name and renting web space. The stories told by members in Hard Lying,
and published in his book of the same name, would be at the heart of the
web site but men and women in the
furthest corners of the world could contribute their own
stories and photographs of the ships in which members of their families
served. The newsletter and the annual reunions would continue as before. In September Peter Scott and Frank Witton boarded the Wanda at Hampton Court for the annual cruise along the thames to Weybridge of The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships.
Thirty five members and Associate Members met in April 2016 at St Ives, an attractive market town on the River Ouse twelve miles from Cambridge. The "mystery" coach tour on the Sunday went to Ely cathedral and Kings Lynne at the mouth of the Great Ouse but some members traveled to Cambridge on the longest guided "Busway" in the world along a former rail line. Peter Scott, Clifford Fairweather and Albert Foulser have been appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur in recognition of their involvement in the liberation of France during the second world war. You can listen to "Stormy" describe his time on HMS Westcott during the D-Day landings in Normandy and Peter Scott describe his time as a Navy telegraphist on Gold Beach during the D-Day landings in interviews recorded at previous reunions of the V & W Destroyer Association. In Stormy's absence 96 year old Ron Rendle presided at the AGM.
Bill Forster, Holywell House Publishing
THE TRADITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE VETERANS ATTENDING THEIR ANNUAL REUNIONS
The reunion at Yarmouth in 1996
Ken Foster (HMS Viceroy) insisted that the ladies ought to have a photograph as the veterans owed so much to them
Ken's wife Alma is on the right
From left: Dick Fernside (guest), Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart), Bill Perks (HMS Walker ), Peter Scott (HMS Wolfhound), Mick Baron (HMS Westminster), Frank Witton (HMS Woolston), "Stormy" Fairweather (HMS Westcott), John Waters (HMS Wakeful), Albert Foulser (HMS Walker)
From left: Peter Scott (HMS Wolfhound), Mick Barron (HMS Westminster), Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart),
John Waters (HMS Wakeful) and Frank Witton (HMS Woolston)
St Ives 2016
Double click on a photograph to enlarge and view full size
Chairman: Clifford "Stormy" Fairweather
No successor was appointed when "Stormy" Fairweather (HMS Westcott) died on 19 March 2017 and the Association was dissolved at its meeting in Derby in April
The final meeting of the V & W Destroyer Association
Derby, Friday April 7th to Monday April 10th 2017
Clifford "Stormy" Fairweather,
founder and Chairman of the V & W Destroyer Association, died on
Sunday 19 March 2017. He had been unable to attend the annual meetings
of the Association since the reunion at Eastbourne in 2014. Stormy
served as a "bunting tosser" on HMS Westcott and you can read his wartime story on the HMS Westcott website.
three veterans were able to attend the reunion of the V & W
Destroyer Association at Derby on 7 - 10 April 2017 and the decision
taken to dissolve the Association and dispose of its funds. The website
of the V & W Destroyer Association will see that the V
& Ws and the thousands of men who served in them will not be
forgotten. The funds of the Association were donated to the Sea Cadet
Units with a Training Ship named after a V & W Class destroyer and
to the Not Forgotten Association. Provision was also made for the hire
of web space for the website of the V & W Destroyer Association for
the next ten years. Frank Witton and Peter Scott attended the launch of a 3rd Edition of A Hard Fought Ship hosted by Rear Admiral John Kingwell CBE at the Royal College of Defence Studies on 9 May 2017.
While supplies last veterans and their families can still obtain the Association's
tie with its distinctive emblem which appears at the top of each page
on this website. They can be bought for £3-50 post free from Claire Rainer, the grand daughter of Tommy Vann, a founder member of the Association who served in HMS Windsor (click on her name to e-mail a request for details or to place an order).
The web site of the V & W Destroyer Association
In April 2014 at its reunion in Eastbourne the
V & W Destroyer Association decided to develop a web site to see that the
service of the men who served on the V & Ws will "not
be forgotten". The web site is being built around
their own stories published over the last twenty years in the
Association's magazine, Hard Lying,
and in the book of the same name
edited and published by Clifford Fairweather in 2005 which is now out
of print. The ships on which members, past and present, once served will
sail though time and space on the waves of the world wide web long
after we have all crossed the bar.
The web site is arranged by the names of the ships and men and women in the furthest corners of the world will be able to read about the ships on which a member of their family once served and contribute their own memories, stories and photographs. The first step was to create an alphabetical list of the 67 V & W Class destroyers which will link to pages about each destroyer; the web site about HMS Woolston illustrates the approach.
All the veterans who have attended the annual reunion's of the Association since 2013 have been interviewed by Bill Forster and given copies on a CD for their families. These recordings can also be listened to online from this web site. Copies have also been donated to the Imperial War Museum for adding to their Sound Collection. Click here to view a list of recorded interviews with veterans who served on V & W destroyers and to hear them online.
Bill is looking for volunteers to help him add new material about the V & W on which a family member served - get in touch if you would like to know more.
Tell your family's stories of your V & W on this website
that the V & W Destroyer Association has been dissolved it is no
longer possible for the families of men who served in a V & W to
join as Associate Members and find out first hand
what it was like to live and fight in the cramped quarters of one of
the most famous and successful classes of destroyers ever built by
talking to veterans at the annual reunion of the Association. But you
can look up the names of the V & W in which your father or
grandfather served in the ship index
and read the stories told by the men who served in her.
And if you have a family story - or photographs - to pass on you can get in touch to enquire about publishing them on the website.