Crest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationCrest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationHMS VANITY






Warship Weeks

Scunthorpe adopts HMS Vanity

Warship Week 6 - 13 December 1941


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’.

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News reports from local papers

The attractive village of Winteringham one mile south of the Humber and eight miles north of Scunthorpe has a scroll hanging on the wall of its vilage hall recording its adoption of HMS Vanity in December 1941. The village had a population of about seven hundred and most men worked on local farms and in iron ore mines but since then the population has increased to just over a thousand and villagers commute to jobs in Scunthorpe or Hull and at least one works four days a week in Canary Wharf, London. Despite this the village retains its pride in having adopted a wartime V & W Class destroyer escorting east coast convoys from the Firth of Forth to the Thames estuary and some refuse to accept that Winteringham was just one of many villages which contributed a three figure sum to the 400,000 pounds raised by Scunthorpe and the surrounding area.

But even Scunthorpe was only part of a much larger picture. Lincolnshire as a whole set out to raise 7, 437,566 enough to build a fleet of three cruisers, four destroyers, two submarines and nineteen other craft:

Lincolnsire

Lincolnshire Echo, Wednesday, 3 December 1941

News of Warship Weeks, and preparations for them throughout Lincolnshire, given in News Bulletin No. 6, issued by Mr. H. Green for the County Publicity Committee, indicate that the tide is flowing strongly.  Scunthorpe gets off the mark with its Warship Week opening this Saturday, 6 December. The aim is 210,000, the price of a destroyer. This enterprising district should do it easily. In addition, the weekly aim is 15,000 (ordinary savings).  As a matter of fact Scunthorpe was assured of half its aim beforehand by the investments promised from large contributors. Amounts forthcoming from banks and companies before last weekend totalled 123,000.  At the end of the winter’s campaign Scunthorpe hopes to have Invested 700.000, the cost of HMS Vanity, a naval destroyer which is to adopt the Scunthorpe coat of arms. Captain A. M. Hudson, Civil Lord of the Admiralty, is to open the week.

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The successful Warships Week held in Scunthorpe and surrounding villages in December 1941 raised the cost of building the hull of a destroyer and led to the adoption of HMS Vanity which escorted convoys along the east coast from Rosyth on the Firth of Forth to the Thames Estuary.  Scunthorpe raised 402,319 in National Savings which worked out at 6 16s 9d per head.

The Admiralty presented a replica of the crest of HMS Vanity mounted on  wooden shield to the municipal borough of Scuthorpe with an engraved plate recording the adoption of HMS Vanity which can be seen in the North Lincolnshire Museum at Scunthorpe. The surrounding villages which contributed to this huge sum received inscribed paper scrolls but the only one I know of is the one hanging on the wall of the village hall in Winteringham. Did your village raise money to adopt HMS Vanity in Warships Week 1941? And if so do you know where its scroll is now?

Most of these scrolls were produced for the Admiralty by John Buchanan, who was born without hands in 1908 and was put into care at the age of 9. His creative ability was nurtured at the Oxford Art School and he excelled at lettering. The Board of Admiralty had undertaken to present to each parish which reached its target of National Savings a certificate with the name of the parish, the ship adopted, and the week in which the effort was made, duly engrossed upon it. John Buchanan was eventually given the bulk of the work, and completed over 3,500 certificates in considerably under twelve months.

The Warships Week Plaque presented to Scunthorpe in North Lincs Museum
The framed scroll and other documents hanging in the village hall in Winteringham The scroll awa`rded to Winteringham for contributing to the adoption of HMS Vanity

The display board in Winteringham Village Hall was cleaned and rehung by Martin Bell who organised a talk by Havard Phillips, a 92 year old veteran of HMS Vanity, at Winteringham in 2017
 
Click the image of the plaque in North Lincs Museum (left) and the scroll presented to Winteringham (right) to view full size in separate windows
The photograph of the plaque presented by the Admiralty to Scunthorpe is provided courtesy of North Lincolnshire Museum

On 10 June 1995 Ken Ashton, a local historian in Winteringham, wrote to his Member of Parliament, Elliott Morley, enquiring about the adoption of HMS Vanity by Winteringham. Morley passed his enquiry to the Hon Nicholas Soames MP, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces in the government of John Major from 1994 to 1997. Click on the link to read the letter written by Nicholas Soames in reply. He included a list of convoys escorted by HMS Vanity and the National Archives  ADM reference for the Reports of Proceedings written by the CO of HMS Vanity when Vanity was  the Leader of the Escort Force and he was the Senior Officer. These documents are linked to from this page as PDFs as an aid to future research in the National Archives at Kew. Ken Ashton  arranged for the scroll awarded on the adoption of HMS Vanity by Winteringham and the letter from Nicolas Soames and other related documents to be framed and hung in the Village Hall where they can still be seen today.

The unofficial adoption of HMS Vanity by Gipton School in Leeds

Unofficial adoptions unconnected with the fund raising efforts of the Warship Weeks programme occasionally took place and the bonds made were on occasions closer and more personal as in the case of Gipton Bord School in Leeds.

Yorkshire Post and Intelligencer
, Wednesday, 10 December 1941
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Leeds School Children Adopt Destroyer

Regular investments in National Savings, and the adoption of a destroyer form part of the war effort made by the children of Gipton Council School, Leeds. Nearly 5OO has already been raised for various charities, including 100 for Dr. Barnardo's Homes. The number of savings certificates bought by the 600 pupils is steadily increasing and an indicator in the main hall shows that the total now stands at 2,422.

On the suggestion of their teacher Miss E. Overend, a class of 40 ten-year old girls adopted the crew of a destroyer HMS Vanity. They send parcels of comforts, knitted by themselves, and for Christmas the men will receive welcome additions to their usual rations. In return, the girls have been given a picture of the ship and, what Is yet unknown to them, a cheque so that they can have a Christmas party. Members of the crew and the children correspond regularly.

The Ship's pet cat, HMS VanityGipton Board School, LeedsYorkshire Evening Post, 11 December 1941

"Nineteen Christmas cakes are among the good things sent by the ten year old girls in a class at Gipton Council School, Leeds, to the crew of HMS Vanity, a destroyer which brought down a German bomber during the summer. The class adpted the destroyer over a year ago. The girls tell members of the crew about Leeds, Roundhay Park and Temple Newsam, and the sailors describe their pet (the ship's cat, right), their homes and their own children, and give occasional glimpses of their own life at sea."
To continue reading the article click on this link.


Gipton Board School on Harehills Road, Leeds, was designed by architect Walter Samual Braithwaite and built by Leeds School Board in 1897. It was later known as Harehills Middle School and provided education for boys and girls between the ages of four and 14. It closed in 1986 and was refurbished and opened as Shine Business Centre in 2007, a state-of-the-arts centre for the community. Former pupils held a reunion there in 2017.  If you know more about Miss Overend and the links she established between the former school and HMS Vanity please
Get in touch


If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Vanity you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link: http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/servicerecords.html


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



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