HMS MACKAY took part in 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
Wigtownshire adopts HMS Mackay
Warships Week 18 - 24 April 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’.
Wigtownshire is in the South West
of Scotland, a short ferry crossing from Northern Ireland, and is now
part of Dumfries and Galloway. HMS Mackay 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 Flotilla Leaders with Scottish names, often referred to
as the "Scott Class", built by Cammel Laird at Birkenhead.
Controversially, she was first
offered by the Admiralty to Morayshire on the south side of the Moray
Firth in the North East of Scotland as an alternative to HMS Moray, their preferred choice, as reported in the Sunday Post.
Such conflicts between local wishes and ships available for adoption
were often a cause of controversy and may have hindered local
commitment to Warship Weeks in some areas.
Sunday, 8 March 1942
Moray people object to the name
‘Elgin’ given to the county’s minesweeper, cost of which has been
subscribed during the past week. Feeling is that the warship
should have been HMS Moray. The Admiralty offered the local committee the choice of HMS Mackay, if HMS Elgin
was not suitable, but the former was not considered of territorial
interest to Moravians. It is pointed out that the County of Moray is
still noted as the county of Elgin on Admiralty charts. The
Admiralty say they will place no barrier in the way of Moray people if
they care to present a second ship bearing the name of HMS Moray.
Wikipdia provides a good overview of the history of HMS Mackaywhich 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 members 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.
HMS Mackay (Capt. John Piachaud Wright, DSO, RN) led the 2nd Division in the attack on the German Battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen during their Channel Dash from Brest to the Elbe on 12 February 1942. From April to August 1942 HMS Mackay
was being converted to a Short Range Escort (SRE) and in September
escorted Arctic Convoy JW18 and return convoy QP 14 from the Kola Inlet
inlet in Northern Russia.
I am hoping
that a naval enthusiast or local historian in Wigtownshire will take up
the challenge of researching the history of HMS Mackay from being commissioned in
1918 to going to the breakers yard thirty year later at Charlestown, Fife, in 1948. For further
details see the guidance given here and contact Bill Forster for more
Warships Week in Wigtownshire
18 - 24 April 1942
Sunday Post Sunday 19 April 1942
Wigtownshire Warship Week was
opened at Newton Stewart yesterday by Lord Inverclyde, D.M. The
target is £300,000, for the destroyer HMS Mackay. The Scotsman Monday 20 April 1942
Sir Dudley Pound, First Sea Lord,
was present on Saturday at the opening of Wigtownshire Warship Week in
Stranraer. There was a parade of contingents of the fighting
forces, auxiliary and civil defence services, at which the Earl of
Stair. Lord-Lieutenant, took the salute, and Sir Dudley Pound
accompanied Lord Stair to the saluting base. The Scotsman Monday 11 May 1942
The total realised by Wigtownshire Warship Week was £274,905.