Crest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationCrest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationHMS CAMPBELL
led the attack on the  Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen
by HMS Campbell, Vivacious, Worcester, Mackay, Walpole and Whitshed
during the "Channel Dash" of the German Battle Fleet through the Straits of Dover on 12 February 1942

Warship Weeks

Caithness adopts the Flotilla Leader HMS Campbell

Warships Week 16-23 May 1942

Between October 1941 and the end of March 1942, Warships Weeks were organised in cities, towns and villages throughout Great Britain.  The intention was to raise a sum by investment or deposit in all types of war savings representing the cost of building one of His Majesty’s ships ranging from the smallest to the largest vessels.  Once the target had been raised the community adopted the vessel along with its crew and the bond was strengthened by presentations in recognition of the money raised. Adoption plaques were presented by the Admiralty to the community and a plaque presented by the community to the adopted vessel. Links were maintained by the writing of letters and the provision of comforts and whenever possible visits were arranged to the adopting area.

Most of the V&W Class destroyers in commission with the Royal Navy were adopted during the Warship Week scheme and in a number of cases local sea cadet units later took the name of the ship. To find more about Warship Weeks see Peter Schofield’s article on ‘National Savings and Warship Weeks’.


Bill Forster at John O'Groats
The Pentland Wave at John O' Groats in 2010
Waiting for the boat from John O' Groats to Orkney in 2010
Photographed by Reinhild Balcke

Caithness and HMS Campbell

Caithness is the most northern county in Scotland with John o' Groats at its north east corner. HMS Campbell was adopted by Caithness in honour of Major Jock Campbell VC MC (1894-1942) of Thurso in Caithness who won his MC in World War 1 and the Victoria Cross in World War 2 but was killed when his jeep  overturned in Egypt on 26 February 1942. HMS Campbell was larger than a standard V & W Class destroyer with the extras facilities required by a Flotilla Leader. She was one of eight Admiralty Class Flotiila Leaders with Scottish names, often referred to as the "Scott Class", built by Cammel Laird at Birkenhead.

Wilkipdia provides a good overview of the history of HMS Campbell which we hope to supplement by providing the families of the men who served in her an opportunity to add their own personal stories of family mermbers illustrated by photographs from their albums. Other untold stories in the archives of the RNM at Portsmouth and the Imperial War Museum in Lodon will also be added.

Capt Mark Pizey in HMS Campbell (D60) was Captain (D) for the temporary Flotilla of V & W Class destroyers in the 16DF and 21DF assembled at Harwich for Operation Fuller, the attack on the German  ships on their Channel Dash from Brest to the Ellbe through the Straits of Dover on 12 February 1942. His report on Attempts to intercept German Battle Cruisers Gneisenau, Scharnhorst and Prinz Eugen (ADM 199/620) includes the reports of the COs of the other five V & Ws which took part in this heroic attempt to stop the Channel Dash by the German battle cruisers. The crude plans in Pizey's report showing the track of the ships were redrawn and included in the Bucknill Report into the failure to intercept and destroy the German warships  (ADM 2324/328) and published by the Admiralty as Number 11 in the Battle Summaries series of Naval Staff History – Second World War (1943). It was controversial and was not released until 1947.

In May 1942 when Caithness held its Warshp Week and adopted HMS Campbell she was escorting East Coast Convoys from Rosyth to the Thames Estuary. I am hoping that a naval enthusiast or local historian in Caithness will take up the challenge of researching her history from being commissioned in 1918 to going to the breakers yard at Rosyth in 1947. For further  details see the advice given here and contact Bill Forster for more information.

View a hillarious short Pathe News clip of the crew of HMS Campbell celebrating their return to their home port in 1941

Ship's crest of HMS Campbell presented to the County of Caithness in May 1942Crest of Caithness presented to HMS Casmpbell
The Shield and ships crest ol HMS Campbell presented by the Admiralty to Caithness and the plaque presented to the ship
They hang in Caithness Town Hall in Wick but the images are from the website of Ambaile

Warships Week in Caithness
  16 - 23 May 1942

Daily Record
Monday 18 May 1942

Caithness Warship Week began at Wick on Saturday with a display in Market Square and an address by Captain Burt, RN.  There will be a military procession on Wednesday evening, followed by a concert, at which Lord Alness will speak.

John O’Groat Journal

Last week Caithness celebrated Warship Week, a series of events across the county to raise funds for a new destroyer to be named after the late Major Jock Campbell of Thurso. Now the John O’Groat Journal reported, “Caithness has every reason to be proud of its successful Warship Week effort. The target was 210,000 for a destroyer, to be named HMS Campbell, and the final figure on the indicator was 233,202.” The headline read, “Destroyer Campbell is Commissioned.”

The main fundraising events across the county were military processions, pipe band and variety concerts, as well as dancing and gymnastic displays. In Thurso, however, the John O’Groat Journal noted that “A most interesting event, and one which had a wide appeal, even beyond the regular football fan, was an “international” football match on Monday evening between teams composed of Scottish and English players. The spectators numbered 2,000.” Alas for the home side, “While Scotland put up a fine show in the first half and led by two goals to one, England were on top in the second period and scored five times to win 6-3.”

The Scotsman
Saturday 23 May 1942

The Thurso Committee for Caithness Warship Week has been running a wastepaper collecting competition open to schoolchildren.  The salvaged paper was handed in weekly at the receiving depot and weighed.  The contest has proved by far the most successful salvage drive made in Thurso the total weight of paper collected by the children being 13.25 tons.

Sadly, the Covid pandemic led to the closure of the Wick Sea Cadet Unit TS Campbell, named after HMS Campbell

If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Campbell you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link:

If you have stories or photographs of HMS Campbell you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster

Return to the Home Page for HMS Campbell

Return to the Home Page of the V & W Destroyer Association
Return to the Index Page for the 69 V & W Class Destroyers
Return to the Home Page for Warship Weeks