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 Dr Peter Schofield’s article on‘National Savings and Warship Weeks’.
The Echo sculpture by Hilary
Cartmel in Caldecot Park replaced a Victorian sculpture of a scantily
clad girl which disppeared in the middle of the 20th century. Pictures of England - photographed by Jenny Fairbrother
Rugby and HMS Keppel
Rugby in Warwickshire is famous for the
game of Rugby and for Rugby School where the game originated but is
less well known as a town. HMS Kepel was adopted by Rugby in March 1942. HMS Keppel
was larger than a standard V & W Class destroyer with the extras
facilities required by a Flotilla Leader. She was one of five
Shakespeare Class Leaders built by Thorneycroft at Woolston, a subhurb
of Southampton. In March 1942 HMS Keppelwas
based at Londonderry in Northern Ireland escorting Atlantic convoys. I
am hoping that a naval enthusiast or local historian in Rugby will take
up the challenge of researching her history from being commissioned in
1925 to going to the breakers yard at Barrow in 1945. For further
details see the advice given here and contact Bill Forster for more
Warships Week in Rugby
28 February - 7 March 1942
Rugby Urban District (UD) and and Rural District (RD) raised £471,215 to adopt the Shakespeare Class Flotilla Leader HMS Keppel The Admiralty presented Rugby with the ship's crest mounted on
a wooden shield - please get in touch if you know where it is now
The following account of Warships Week in Rugby by Patricia Webb was published in Volume 8 of Aspects of the Past by the Rugby Local History Research Group
For several weeks beforehand The Rugby Advertiser carried the slogan:
"Clearing the Decks for HMS Keppel, Spare all you can and yet spare nothing! The call is Urgent, the need Vital."
Originally the sum of £210,000 was
the target, but the fund began with donations from local businesses to
the total of £120,000 in the first few days, BTH gave £20,000, Rugby
Building Society the same and in stiff competition with Leamington Spa
ther target sum was upped to £350,000. A large thermometer was errected
on The Clock Tower so people could see the amount increasing dailly.
The Mayor Alderman J.H. Mellor and
Mr G.R. Walker the Chairman of the Rural District Council organised a
huge street procession on Saturday 28th to start the week off and raise
the profile. Led by the Bilton Brass, BTH Military and Rugby Steam Shed
Band the parade left the Fairground (now the cattle market site) at
2,30 pm prompt and proceeded through the town. All military Groups were
represented, plus Civil Defence, Youth Clubs, Church Groups, almost all
Community Groups took part in some way or another, and the event was
hailed as a resounding suiccess.
Spread around town were exhibits
of weapons. photos in the library, Film Shows and at the Church House a
Revue aptly names "All Clear". In the Temple Speech Room a wonderful
concert and gymnastic display was performed by the Czechoslovakian Army
Choir and gymnasts, all were trained soldiers but they did this in
gratitude to Rugby for their kind hopitality. Paddy Richardson Warden
of the TOC H Hostel in Hilmorton Road gave a Grand Ball on the last day
and raised £80.
"Save Till it Hurts
Make your war effort help our peace aims"
Hospital of St Cross
"Put your shirt on Britain Let us see you in vests"
Squires Men's Outfitters
"Smash the Huns you Rugby Sons Lend lots and show your mettle A Hull's no good without the guns Let's BUY the good ship KEPPEL"
Harrison's Music Shop
By the end of the week the massive
sum of £471,215 had been raised, this equated to about £8 per head of
Rugby's population, this was said to be three-quarters of the total
cost of the ship "stem to stern". The First Lord of the Admiralty and
the Chancellor of the Exchequer thanked Rugby; a plaque to commemorate
the week is held in Rugby Museum and the Town Hall. Despite this
massive effort the only disappointment was that Leamington managed to
beat Rugby by raising £649,371.
Rugby challenged Leamington Spa to see which town would raise the most money during their Warships Weeks Leamington accepted the challenge but on the basis of money raised per head as Rugby's population exceeded that of Leamington Spa
Warships Week in Leamington Spa
7 - 14 March 1942
Leamington Spa raised £665,006 to adopt the Town Class Destroyer HMS Leamington which was built in the USA and "fought under four flags"
In November 1942 she was transferred to the Canadian Navy and in 1944 to the USSR and renamed Renamed Zguchij (Burning)
She served with the Northern Fleet until 1951 when she returned to
Britain and was chartered from the ship breakers by the producers of the film "Gift Horse" based on the St Nazaire Raid which can be seen on YouTube The Admiralty presented Leamington
Spa with the ship's crest mounted on a wooden shield which hangs in
ithe council chamber of the Town Hall.
Trevor Howard on the bridge of Leamington Spa's adopted ship
HMS Leamington (G19) prior to her transfer to Russia
Trevor Howard on the bridge of HMS Ballantrae in the film "Gift Horse" (1952) after her return
The Rugby Advertiser and the Leamington Spa Courier
reported on the competition between their towns
Rugby Advertiser Friday 19 December 1941
In just over two months-time Rugby will begin its challenge match
against Leamington. The match is to raise the largest amount
during the respective Warship Weeks. Rugby’s week will be 28
February to 6 March, a week before their opponents. Rugby’s
target is £210,000, the hull of a destroyer. When Leamington
accepted Rugby’s challenge they did so on the basis of the amount per
head of the estimated population, and not on the total raised. As
Rugby’s population is bigger, it means they must raise about forty per
cent more than Leamington to win.
Leamington Spa Courier Friday 6 February 1942
Rugby Follows Our Lead – Writing to the Chairman of the Rugby Warship
Week Committee: You will probably interested to know that, following
your lead, we have decided to raise our ‘target’ to £350,000, and that
our challenge still stands. I hope the friendly rivalry benefits
both our Warship Week efforts.
Rugby Advertiser Tuesday 3 March 1942
We had to close the ranks, and one way of doing that was by making
certain that Rugby Warship Week was a great success, and that the
target was not only reached but passed. Rugby had thrown down a
challenge to Leamington, and must make the race so hot that they would
doubt their chance of success. If his audience redoubled their
best efforts, they would make it three-quarters of a million, and would
be able to buy two Keppel’s. Or if that was beyond them, they
would buy one Keppel and one corvette.
Leamington Spa Courier Friday 13 March 1942
By Wednesday, Leamington’s Warship Week target of £350,000 had been
exceeded, and a new objective was being aimed at. Up to 1100 this
morning £477,000 had been subscribed; thus, Leamington has beaten
Rugby, whose figure was £464,574 (£471,215 final). Leamington
final figure £665,006.
Rugby Advertiser Friday 20 March 1942
Messages of congratulation on Rugby and District’s (UD and RD) Warship
Week total of £471,215 have been received from the Regional
Commissioner for Saving.
Rugby Advertiser Friday 27 March 1942
Rugby Warship Week result revealed the highest proportion of small
savings in the region. Rugby’s figure was nearly 50 per cent, and
Bedworth the next highest was forty percent. This result is due
to excellent work by schools, village groups, and industrial and street
Rugby Advertiser Friday 10 April 1942
The Mayor of Rugby has received a letter from Lord Kindersley, President of the National Savings Committee:
"I am writing to ask you to accept
personally, and to convey to all others who contributed to the success
of Rugby Warship Week, my warmest thanks and appreciation. ‘This
fine effort, resulting in the adoption of HMS Keppel, will not only
forge a closer link between the people of Rugby and the Royal Navy, but
will also provide a lasting record of their patriotism."
The outcome of the contest was a convincing win for Leamington Spa which raised £15 15s 10d per head, twice as much as Rugby.
Rugby raised £7 14s 9d per head but had "the highest proportion of small savings in the region".
The people of Leamington Spa were wealthy and invested their money wisely in the booming war economy.
large savers were the ones who could invest in National Savings Bonds
at higher rates of interest and this included Councils. The small
saver was Joe Public who bought National Savings Certificates and
Stamps. Warship Week Targets would never have been met without the
investment of the large concerns. The idea was to stop people
squandering money as the government needed all they could get their
hands on for the war. The 'Squander Bug' was constantly seen in
papers and on posters. Schoolchildren bought Savings Stamps and
were an influence on their parents to save, it was all driven by
propaganda;" Dr Peter Schofield.
Rugby's Small Savers were not "Squander Bugs"
The crest of HMS Keppel on a wooden shield presented to Rugby Rural District Council The shield and the bell of a later HMS Keppel are on display in the Town Hall
propaganda image of the "Squanderbug" created by Philip Boydell
to boost the National Savings programme was created in 1943 but the
sentiment reflects the spirit behind Warship Weeks and similar
IWM PST 3406
The bell of the Frigate HMS Keppel (F85) 1956 Her bell was given to Rugby when she was scrapped
The villages also played their part and their parish councils were awarded certificates
This week a certificate presented by the Lords of the Admiralty was
received by the civil parish of Marton to commemorate the adoption of
HMS Keppel during Warship
Week, March 1942. When framed this certificate, measuring
13ins, by 8 ½ ins, will make a valuable addition to the certificates
already hanging in the village hall.
The village of Wibtoft is on the
A5 ten miles north of Rugby; the county line between Warwickshire and
Leicestershire runs through the parish.
The incribed scroll presented to Wibtoft hangs on the wall at the west end of the Chapel of St Mary where it was photographed by LeicesterPhoto.
Many of the certificates were scripted by John Buchanan, an artist born without hands Marton and Wibtoft are unlikely to be the only 'civic parishes'
presented with scrolls for their contributions to Rugby's Warship Week
was the third ship in the Royal Navy to be named after Admiral Augustus
Keppel (1725 - 86) who was ten years old when he joined the Navy and
nineteen when he became a Captain The ships crest of a golden cockle shell on a red field is based on the coat of arms of Admiral Keppel and the motto No Cede malls - Yield not to Evil - is taken from Virgil and is the Keppel family motto
HMS Keppel Copoyright reserved
Commander "Jack" Broome was the CO of HMS Keppel in March 1942 when his ahip was adopted by Rugby. He was the best known of the COs of Keppel,
not only as an anti-submarine specialist and Leader of the First Escort
Group for Atlantic Convoys, but also as a cartoonist whose cartoons it
up the dull pages of the Western Approaches Convoy Instructions (WACI)
and made "those clots at sea look at the bloody book" (Sir Percy Noble,
In July 1942 Jack Broome, Cdr John E Broome RN, was unfairly blamed for ordering Arctic Convoy PQ17 to
scatter which led to the loss of 34 of the 37 ships in the convoy. In
1970 when David Irving wrote his book about the biggest convoy disaster
of the Second World War he was sued for slander by Jack Broome. He won
his case but never collected the £30,000 damages awarded. Two years later Jack
Broome gave his own account of Convoy PQ.17 in Convoy is to Scatter(Kimber, 1972).
to escorting Arctic Convoys in 1943 as Leader of the 8th Escort Group
and in June 1944 escorted convoys to the D-Day Landings in Normandy. In August 1944 HMS Keppel led the close escort for Arctic Convoy JW59 which included the former Battleship HMS Royal Sovereign renamed
(but known as the 'Royal Rouble') and nine former Town Class destroyers
manned by Russian sailors which had been transferred to the USSR and
were joining the Northern Fleet at Murmansk. One of these was HMS Leamington which had been adopted by Leamington Spa a week after Rugby adopted HMS Keppel in March 1942 and was now named Zhgouchy - Burning.
Cdr R.N.R. Ismay J. Tyson, RN, the CO of HMS Keppel, with Lt M.R. Simpson RN and six ratings including Able Seamen Pritchard who had been to the town before visited Rugby for a weekend in March 1945 and were entertained by the Mayor, Cllr W.R. Davis.
Thery were shown around Rugby School by the Headmaster. They brought with them a somewhat tattered "white ensign flag" that had
been flown during many of their Murmansk convoys which was presented
to the Mayor. A lengthy report on the visit appeared in the Advertiser on the 25th March. The Coventry Telegraph also mentioned the presentation of the ensign flown by Keppel on Arctic Covoys but got the dates wrong:
Coventry Evening Telegraph, Thursday
29 January 1970 – The current High Court hearing of a libel action
arising from David Irving’s book about the biggest convoy disaster of
the Second World War, must have rung a bell in the minds of many older
Rugby people. Captain Jack Broome, who is suing the author and
publishers of ‘The Destruction of Convoy PQ 17,’ was known in the town
and his destroyer, HMS Keppel, was Rugby’s adopted warship at the
time. After a successful National Savings drive, Rugby adopted Keppel
shortly before the ill-fated convoy sailed from Hvalfjord, Iceland, on
27 June 1942. Only a fortnight before a large number of merchant
seamen and their ships met their end in the icy waters of the Artic,
Captain Broome sent two of his men to Rugby with gifts – a White Ensign
and a replica of Keppel’s crest. Some dignitaries visited the
destroyer in harbour.
glass case in the Town Hall contains the crest of
the ship mounted on a wooden shield presented by the Admiralty to Rugby
with a short history of the ship adopted by Rugby in March 1942 but the
white ensign presented to the Mayor has not been traced. If you know
where it is today do get in touch with Bill Forster by e-mail.