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







Warship Weeks

Godalming adopts HMS Vega

Warships Week 30 November - 5 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 successful Warships Week held in Godalming raised the cost of building the hull of a destroyer during a successful Warships Week in December 1941 which and led to the adoption of HMS Vega which escorts convoys slong the east coast from Rosyth on the Firth of Forth to the Thames Estuary.

West Sussex Gazette, Thursday 4 December 1941

Pageantry provided by the Services marked the opening of Godalming district Warship Week on Saturday. The target is the raising of 120.000 to purchase a destroyer. For the inaugural ceremony by Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes. M.P., at the Regal Cinema, the crowded streets were lined by troops. Home Guard, R.A.S.C., and Charterhouse O.T.C. There was a guard of honour provided by ratings from HMS Dolphin, the ship in which Sir Roger flew pennant when commodore of submarines.  Grouped near were a naval band, cadets from King Edward's School, Witley, in naval uniform, with their band, a detachment, and the local A.T.C. The Mayor and Corporation headed a long procession along High-street to the cinema where Sir Roger Keyes Inspected the guard of honour. A Canadian band played "The maple loaf for ever" during the proceedings. The Admiral presented the Mayor with a White Ensign, given to Surrey by the First Lord of the Admiralty, to be used in the county in towns and villages during Warship Week.

The Mayor announced that he had sent a telegram to the King telling him Godalming was making a supreme effort for the Navy. The reply from His Majesty read: "The King thanks the people of Godalming for their loyal greetings on the occasion of their Warship Week, and sends his best wishes for the success of their efforts to provide another ship for the Royal Navy.' In a telegram the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. A. V. Alexander, stated: "The money you raise means ships, and we cannot have too many of them "The Chancellor of the Exchequer also telegraphed his best wishes. In his address Sir Roger Keyes announced that the Admiralty had asked Godalming to adopt" HMS Vega, and he expressed the hope that the borough and district would prove a very good god-parent. British sea power he said, restored by improvisation and great efforts after being neglected deplorably during the years of disarmament, when we had faith In the League of Nations to give us security, had now become a great service. It had made it possible to transport a great Army and Air Force to the Middle East, where It was fighting in co-operation with the Army and RAF. The vital importance of ships, and yet more ships, could not be exaggerated. If we were to carry this war overseas to a successful issue. Sea power, combined with the Army and Air Force was going to bring us victory.

Another speaker, Col.  Hamilton Gault, commanding Canadian holding units, ex-M.P. for Taunton, said this war had so far been the battle of the senior and junior Services, and, with all fighting men, the Canadian Army—still held in leash—would pay its tribute to the magnificent courage, work and inconspicuous effort—but most conspicuous success—of the silent Service which spoke, not by words but by actions. Col. Gault expressed the Canadian Army's pride in taking part in Godalmings Warship Week, and wished it triumphant success. Speeches were also made by Lieut.-Comdr. T, Woodrooffe, RN, Sir John Jarvis. M.P. and Mr. R. Birley. In the afternoon Field-Marshal Lord Milne inspected, at Farncoombe Recreation Ground, a parade, over 1.000 strong, of the Home Guard and civil defence units. Addressing the parade. he said that what impressed him greatly was that the civil defence in Godalming was done almost entirely by voluntary effort, and he thought that was almost a record in the country. They were preparing themselves to meet invasion. It was due to the Navy that this country had not been invaded, but the Navy wanted more and more ships. He hoped Godalming would show an example to the country by raising not the amount it said it would, but two or three times more. He thought things were looking better now than they had done for the last two years.

Lord Milne took the salute as the parade marched past before a procession through the town. A Canadian band and King Edwards School band playing en-route. A naval exhibition which opened at the Wharf included a 30ft. long model of HMS Kent.  A concert by a Canadian party was arranged for yesterday. Today, Town Councillors parade the streets as sandwich men in support of Warship Week.
 
Surrey Advertiser, Saturday 28 February 1942.

To commemorate the adoption by the borough of Godalming of HMS Vega as a result of Warship Week, the Admiralty are presenting the borough with a replica of the ship’s badge.  In return the Corporation will present a commemorative plaque of the boroughs arms to be affixed to the Vega’s quarterdeck.  The plaque will be of sheet bronze, with the borough arms in enamel.  Its cost will be 19 17s 6d.  A ceremony is to be arranged for the formal exchange of the plaques.
 
West Sussex Gazette, 5 November 1942.

Representatives of HMS Vega, the destroyer adopted" by Godalming visited the borough on Saturday for the exchange of plaques between the ship and the town, a sequel to Warship Week. The Mayor presented to the commanding officer (Lieut. Parker) a bronze plaque with the borough arms in enamel, commemorating the Vega's adoption by the citizens. In return. Lieut. Parker handed to the Mayor a plaque bearing the destroyer's crest, presented by the Admiralty. The ceremony in the Council chamber was attended by the Town Council, Magistrates, Clergy. and representatives of National Savings groups. Members of the W.R.N.S. were present. Sir John Jarvis MP, the first speaker said the presentation was a token of Godalming's goodwill and admiration for the Navy. While they appreciated the work of the Air Force, it must never be forgotten that it was their ships and the sailors who manned them to whom they must look for this country's continued protection and ultimate victory. Nor must they forget the men who built the ships. Of the war in general Sir John said. Although the struggle continues unabated, there are signs and portents that the tide of battle is turning to our advantage." In making the presentation, the Mayor said the plaque was a symbol of the admiration, respect, and love which not only Godalming but all the people of the British Empire had for the officers and men of the Navy. Lieut. Parker said he hoped the friendship created between the Vega and Godalming would continue into the days of peace" Mr. Churchill not long ago said, ' Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.' I consider you have given us the tools, and it is now up to me and my men to help to finish the job. We shall do our best." Mr. R. Birley, Headmaster of Charterhouse, paid a tribute to the National Savings workers. In a final few words, Lieut. Parker said it was comforting to think that wherever the Vega went her crew would know they had the prayers and interest of the people of Godalming.
 

West Sussex Gazette, Thursday 17 December 1942.

From the comforts fund initiated by the Mayor for the crew of HMS Vega. Godalming's adopted warship, a complete sports outfit has been provided.  When the Vega men play football they will wear the shirts provided by Godalming in the town club's colours. It can now be stated that the Mayor and Mayoress have spent a day on board the Vega. His Worship addressed the ship's company, His promise to arrange for local women to knit sea-boot stockings and jerseys is bring quickly fulfilled. Knitters are now knitting.

West Sussex Gazette, Thursday 2 December 1943. 

Godalming supports a Comforts Fund for the crew of its adopted destroyer HMS Vega.  The latest request from the ship was for a bicycle! The machine was for use when Vega is in port so that Jack can ride when on an errand.  The cycle has been sent with a piano-accordion, which cost 45.


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



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