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’.
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.
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.
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"
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.