HMS VANSITTART




Warship Weeks

Kidderminster adopts HMS Vansittart

Warships Week 6 - 13 December 1941


tin lapel badgeBetween 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.  The cost of organising a Warship Week was raised by holding whist drives, raffles, dances and through the sale of Warship Week badges (left) and programs etc. 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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At least three of the towns and districts on the east bank of the River Severn as it flows south through Worcestershire held successful Warships Weeks. Kidderminster, midway between Birmingham and Worcester, held one of the first in the country, from 6 - 13 December 1941, and raised 407,002 (9 6s 1d per head) to adopt HMS Vansittart. Regular reports on the amounts raised appeared in the Birmingham newspapers:

Evening Despatch
Tuesday, 9 December 1941 - The target of 210,000 to pay for the cost of a destroyer by Kidderminster Warship Week has now been raised to 250,000.  The total invested up until today is 157,000.

Birmingham Daily Gazette
Tuesday, 9 December 1941 – Kidderminster Warship Week, in which it is hoped to raise 210,000 to pay for the hull of a destroyer, has already resulted in 110,000 being invested.  One woman yesterday brought in 30 in threepenny bits, the result of seven years saving.

Birmingham Daily Post
 Friday, 12 December 1941 – The amount raised for Kidderminster Warship Week up to yesterday was 225,000.  The town is aiming to bring the figure up to 300,000 by tomorrow.  The original target was 210,000.

Birmingham Daily Gazette
 Monday 15 December 1941 – Kidderminster Warship Week which closed on Saturday night raised 401,000, and there is more to be raised.

Bewdley, "next door" to Kidderminster, but on the bank of the Severn and prone to flooding with a population of less than 10,000 raised 63,000 to adopt the naval trawler, HMS Horatio, during its Warships Week from 21 - 28 March 1942. HMS Horatio was sunk with heavy loss of life off the coast of Algeria by a German MTB on 7 January 1943. Stourport-on-Severn raised 98,928 to adopt the Sir Galahad, a Knight Class Trawler, during its Warship week from 7-14 Mar 1942. The County town of Worcester 15 miles south of Bewdley with a magnificent cathedral and Guildhall, held its Warships Week from 7 - 14 March 1942, and adopted HMS Worcester. Brierley Hill in Staffordshire but only nine miles north of Kidderminster, raised 227,950 during its Warship Week from 22 - 29 November 1941 to adopt HMS Watchman, a sister ship of Vansittart.

Wyre Forest District Council

Local government reorganisation led to the three towns of Kidderminster, Bewdley and Stourport forming the Wyre Forest District Council in 1976. Kidderminster, the largest of the three town with a population of over 55,000, is located 17 miles south-west of Birmingham city centre and 15 miles north of Worcester. Stourport-on-Severn is located on the confluence of the rivers Severn and Stour and has a population of around 20,000.

The wooden shield presented by the Admiralty to Kidderminster
commemorating the adoption of HMS Vansittart
Both shields are in the foyer of Kidderminster Town Hall near the Registry Office

Plate for both HMS Vansittart and HMS Horatio monted on one of the standard Admiralty shields
The plate on the shield with the Admiralty anchor (right) recording the adoption by Kidderminster Rural District Council of HMS Vansittart in December 1941 and the naval trawler HMS Horatio in March 1942. HMS Horatio was sunk on 7 Jan 1943.
Shield The Admiralty shield with the crest of HMS Vansittart
Inscription
The commemorative plate attached to the Admiralty Shield (on left) bearing the crest of HMS Vansittart presented to Kidderminster Rural District. A second shield bearing the crest of HMS Vansittart was presented to Kidderminster Urban District.


The Plaque presented by the Mayor of Kidderminster to  Lt Cdr Thomas Johnston, DSC, of HMS Vansittart
on the adoption of HMS Vansittart by the town

The crew cheer the Mayor of Kidderminster And cheered by the Ship's company

The Mayor present the plaque of Kidderminster to HMS Vansittart
Western Morning News

The Western Morning News reported on the presentation of a plaque to HMS Vansittart commemorating the adoption of the ship on Saturday 13 June 1942
The crest of the ship mounted on a wooden shield was presented by the Admiralty to commemorate the adoption of HMS Vansittart -  but where is it now?


HMS Vansittart went to the ship breakers after the war and the plaque was returned to the town and presented to
TS
Vansittart,
the Sea Cadet Unit at Kidderminster, Unit No 430
Sea Cadet Unit 430 was the last Sea Cadet Unit to be formed during the war
Find out more about the Sea Cadets and their history

On Wednesday the 14 July 1948 the Birmingham Daily Gazette, reported that the Kidderminster Unit of the Sea Cadet Corps is to receive from the Mayor (John E Talbot) the plaque given by the town to HMS Vansittart
TS Vansittart, the Sea Cadet Unit in Kidderminster, was dissolved but this photograph of the plaque was sent to me by the grand daughters of her former CO, Lt Harry William Byron Maund RNVR (1903-79)


Presenting the coast of arms of KIdderminster to thew CO of HMS Vansittart
The Mayor of Kidderminster, Alderman Osman W. Davies presents the plaque to
 Lt Cdr Thomas Johnston, DSC, the CO of HMS Vansittart on 13 June 1942
Courtesy of his Grandson, Andrew Johnston
The plaque presented by Kidderminster to HMS Vansittart when she was dopteds by the trown in 1942
The plaque was presented by Kidderminster to
the Sea Cadet Unit in July 1948
Courtesy of Liz Hampton, Grand daughter of Lt H.W.B. Maund RNVR

The bell of TS Vansittart presented to Lt H.W.B. Maund RNVR in 1945Lt Cdr Harry Maund RNVR, CO of TS Vansittart, KidderminsterLiz Hampton explained how it came into the possession of her family 

"My paternal grandfather was Harry Maund who had something to do with the sea cadets.  We found this plaque in the garage at the weekend. When he died in 1979 my father inherited a large amount of items from him. They had  been stored at my parents' house at Bulkington near Coventry but not really looked at. My father passed away five years ago but my mother was adamant we were not to touch or go through the house and clear things. Sadly, earlier this year, 2020, my mother passed away, and we are now clearing a house that has about four generations of family history in it and uncovering many interesting articles, books and items including five vinyl recordings of speeches, eight record players and several thousand photographs and colour slides."

She found a large ship's flag plus a bell incribed TS Vansittart engraved with the name Lt H.W.B. Maund dated 13 August 1945 which may have been presented to TS Vansittart when the Sea Cadet Unit was founded two days before VJ Day. She is unable to tell me if her Grandfather served in the Navy but things will become clearer as she and her sister sort through the contents of their parents house at Bulkington, nar Coventry.

The flag can be seen on the table in the photograph (above) taken on HMS Vansittart when the Mayor presented the plaque to her CO, Lt Cdr Thomas Johnston RN at a "West Country port" on 13 June 1942. The photograph was sent to me by his grandson, Andrew Jackson in Canada. Liz Hampton, the grand daughter of Lt H.W.B. Maund RNVR, the Commanding Officer of Training Ship (TS) VANSITTART, sent me the photograph of the plaque found in her father's garage.  It was returned by the ship to the town before Vansittart went to the breaker's yard.


Lt Cdr Harry William Byron Maund RNVR

Harry Maund was born
on 9 February 1903 at Rochford, two miles east of Tenbury Wells, a market town in the Malvern Hills eighteen miles north west of Worcester and eighteen miles from Kidderminster. He was married and living in Kidderminster when his son Brian was born there in 1936. Liz thinks her grandfather was an engineer but there is no record of him having served in the war. He is may have been in a reserved occupation. The town’s carpet factories made munitions and aircraft parts during the war and the Royal Ordnance had a factory at Summerfield. The medal on the left in the photograph of Henry Maund saluting could be the 1945 Defence Medal: "A campaign medal instituted by the UK in May 1945 to be awarded to citizens of the British Commonwealth for both non operational military and certain types of civilian war service during WW2". He could have been employed as a civilian in defence related work for which he was awarded the 1945 Defence Medal.

The Kidderminster Sea Cadet Unit was formed in 1945 and he was appointed its first CO when he was 42. He seemed rather elderly and stout to the cadets who referred to him as "Ticker" Maund, "he had a brace on his leg and when he walked he sounded like an old clock". He lived in Hurcott Road with a tall flag pole in front of his house but “my dad always said that the closest he ever got to the sea was Stourport” (to quote the son of a sea cadet) but he was very proud of his work with the Kidderminster Sea Cadets as demonstrated by the photographs below sent to me by his grand daughter.

The Grandaughter of Lt Maund has the plaque and the grandson of Lt Cdr Johnston has the photograph of the presentation of the plaque to his ship.


The photograph album of Lt Cdr H.W.B. Maund RNVR
Our main source of information about
TS Vansittart, Sea Cadet Unit 430, Kidderminster
Can you identify any of the cadets and men in these photographs?
The photographs are courtesy of Liz Hampton, the grand daughter of Lt Harry Maund

The Mayor of Kidderminster ad senior officers The Mayor and senior officers
The presentation of the plaque to TS Vansittart by the Mayor of Kiddderminster, John E Talbot, in July 1948
The Mayoress was his mother Mrs John Talbot who is wearing the white hat and patterned dress in the two photographs
The officer speaking at the microphone is Lt Cdr H.W.B. Maund RNVR, known to the cadets as "Ticker" Maund


The Sea Cadets of TS Vansittart at Kidderminster

Sea Cadet Unit No 430 (Kidderminster)
Founded on 13 August 1945 - two days before VJ Day
Lt Cdr Harry Maund and officers
Lt Cdr Harry Maund RNVR and his fellow Officers of Sea Cadet Unit 430 in 1948
Harry Maund is seated left in this photograph taken outside the Larches where they met
Unit 430 win Sea Cadet Boxing Championship at Newcastlre Kidderminster Sea Cadet wins National Championship 1956
From the Kidderminster Shuttle - click image to enlarge

Sea & Army Cadets on parade 1957
The Sea Cadets lined up with the Army Cadet Corp seeing off the Queen as she left Kidderminster for Worcester during her tour of Worcestershire with Prince Philip in  1957
The Army Cadets looks very smart but the Sea Cadets rather less so!

The Kidderminster Shuttle occasionally published news about the Sea Cadet Unit. On 25 July 1955 the Shuttle published a story about two cadets of Kidderminster No 430 Unit being amongst the 360 cadets of the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) which attended the National Swimming and Diving Championship on Jersey on 20 July. The cadets embarked at Portsmouth on the Battle Class destroyer HMS Vigo which had the same name as a former V & W Class destroyer, and HMS Murray, a frigate. They were taken on a coach tour of the island and spent a night in London at TS Neptune before redturning home. The significance of the article about the "Sea Cadets' Champion" from Kidderminster is that the lifebuoy identifies the Sea Cadet Unit as Number 340, the last sea cadet unit to be founded during the war.


Training Ship
Vansittart

Guard of Honour - but for who?
  TS Vansittart  had moved from The Larches to an industrial estate where the Sealine motor yachts were built

Presentation of Cup to a Sea Cadet Presentation of cups to Sea Cadets
Lt Cd Harry Maund RNVR  (left) standing by as a Rear Admiral wth a long row of medals presents two of his cadets with miniature cups
Get in touch if you can identify the Rear Admiral or the date

Laying a wreath on the Cenotaph in Kidderminster
The laying of the wreath at the foot of the Weeping Angel, the Cenotaph a
t the top of Church Street, by Lt Cdr Harry Maund RNVR with  Sea Cadets on the left
The photograph was taken outside St Mary’s Church  before  the completion of the ring road  in 1967 cut off direct access to the church from the town.


What happened to the Kidderminster Sea Cadet Unit?

Life changed dramatically for Lt Cdr Harry Maund when his wife died towards the end of the 1960ies. He left Kidderminster and moved to Wolverhampton, seventeen miles north. Harry remarried and bought a yacht. He spent most of his time at the Lupins Hotel on the promenade at Weymouth where he sailed. The hotel was his correspondence address for mail. His grand daughter remembered the mast of his yacht was higher than his house in Wolverhampton and had built in cabins for cruising so by then he had far more experience of the sea than the sea cadets of Kidderminster thought! He died at Weymouth on 15 May 1979 and was buried there.

The Kidderminster Sea Cadet Unit no longer exists; it may have been Harry Maund's move to Wolverhampton after the death of his wife which led to its closure on 14 December 1966. I am hoping that the Sea Cadets in the photographs from his albums will provide further details. A Stourport and Kidderminster Sea Cadet Unit existed for many years but is thought to have closed through lack of funds more than ten years ago.


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


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



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