Warship Weeks

Nuneaton adopts HMS Vanquisher

Warships Week 22 - 29 November 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’.


Panorama of Nuneaton
Looking over Nuneaton
Photographed by Nick Stein - Courtesy of Pictures of England

Nuneaton is the large town in Warwickshire with a population of 90,000, located  twelve miles north of Warwick. For two centuries its prosperity was based on the cottage industry of silk ribbon weaving but this collapsed due to industrialisation and cheap imports. The railways led to a huge expansion in coal mining (the last coal mine closed in 1968) and from the 1880s onwards there was a rapid development of a wide range of industries. Nuneaton was heavily bombed during the war; the heaviest raid took place on 17 May 1941, when 130 people were killed, 380 houses were destroyed, and over 10,000 damaged.

The author George Eliot was born on a farm just outside Nuneaton in 1819 and lived in the town for much of her early life. Her novel Scenes of Clerical Life (1858) depicts Nuneaton. The George Eliot Hospital is named after her and there is also a statue of her in the town centre.

Nuneaton raised 400,756 during its Warships Week, the equivalent of 6 15s 10d per head. At present nothing is known about the events held which raised this huge sum. The choice of HMS Vanquisher for adoption by Nuneaton may have been down to chance but its adoption led to the establishment of a Sea Cadet Unit in Nuneaton whose Training Ship was named TS Vanquisher. The present location of the plaque bearing the ships crest presented by the Admiralty to Nuneaton and the plaque bearing the towns crest presented to the ship are not known.

Where are the Plaques exchanged by Ship and Town?

Peter Schofield found several articles in the "Newspaper Archive" about the adoption of HMS Vanquisher by Nuneaton and the exchange of plaques by ship and town after a successful Warships Week  but it has not been possible to trace any details of the events held or the present location of the plaques. There were articles in the Midland Counties Tribune on 10 April 1942 and Friday 25 September 1942 about the presentation of plaques and on 28 November 1947 reporting that HMS Vanquisher was no longer in commission. Not all local newspapers are included in the Newspaper Archive but the missing titles will probably be available in the Local Studies Collection of Warwickshire County Library Service. I am hoping local historians in Nuneaton will help trace these and other sources for publication on this page.

The Nuneaton Sea Cadet Unit was established when HMS Vanquisher was adopted by Nuneaton and its Training Ship was named TS Vanquisher. In 1968 the Nuneaton and Bedworth Council presented the Sea Cadet Unit with the ships crest mounted on a wooden shield presented to the town when Nuneaton adopted HMS Vanquisher. This was reported in the Evening Tribune on 22 August 1968 (see below) but the building occupied bu the Sea Cadet Unit was demolished in 1974 and the present location of the crest on its wooden shield in not known but we are hoping it will be found and put on  public display.

The V & W Destroyer Association was disolved in 2017 when its few remaining members became too infirm to attend the annual reunions and its funds were given to the Sea Cadet Units named after former V & W Destroyers in the hope that their officers and cadets would be interested in the history of these ships and the link to their towns. TS Vanquisher and eight other units each received 450.

Presentation of Plaque

The presentation of a plaque recording the adoption made to Vice-Admiral Charles Tibbitts RN
was reported in the Coventry Evening Telegraph on Monday 26 October 1942 nearly a year after the successful Warships Week.

Reciprocal visits between ship and town
"at the time of the adoption of the ship there was a Nuneaton boy on it"

Visit of the Mayor to HMS Vanquisher in April 1942
A visit to Nuneaton by two POs from HMS Vanquisher bringing Christmas gifts for children
Two Petty Officers from HMS Vanquisher visited Nuneaton in December 1943 bringing American chocolates as Christmas gifts for chidren
Midlands Counties Tribune, 24 December 1943

Left: A visit to HMS Vanquisher by the Mayor, Town Clerk and  Secretary  of the War Savings Committee took place in April 1942
Midlands Counties Tribune, Friday 30 April 1942

Please get in touch
if you are able to provide further details or photographs regarding the adoption of HMS
Vanquisher by Nuneaton. 

Presentation of Plaque to TS Vanquisher
 The former headquarters of the Sea Cadet Unit in Coventry Road was demolished in 1974
Where is the plaque presented to  Nuneation on her adoption of HMS Vanquisher in November 1941 now?
This cutting  from the Evening Tribune is reproduced courtesy of the Nuneaton and Bedworth Local History Group

Sea Cadet Corp, Nuneaton
The Nuneaton and Bedworth Sea Cadet Unit is still flourishing but its premises are not so grand as formerly
But nobody seems to know the present whereabouts of the plaques exchanged by HMS Vanquisher and Nuneaton in 1942
Coventry Evening Telegraph, 5 September 1970

If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Vanquisher 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 Vanquisher you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster

Return to the Home Page for HMS Vanquisher

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