Crest of the V&W Destroyer Association
Crest of the V&W Destroyer Association


Crest of HMS Vesper

Crest of HMS Vesper
Warship Weeks

Skipton adopts HMS Vesper

Warships Week February 1942

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’.


Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Monday 16 February 1942

Tomorrow The Yorkshire Post exhibition of naval photographs will be opened in Skipton Town Hall by Colonel Longden Smith.  Mr. E. H. Tillet of The Yorkshire Post will set the indicator

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer

Wednesday 18 February 1942

Skipton Warship Week total is now 270,000, which is 60,000 more than the original aim. The town has been congratulated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on having exceeded its aim on the second day. The indicator outside Skipton Town Hall was reset yesterday by County Alderman J.J. Brigg.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Friday 20 February 1942

Skipton Warship Week total today rose to 360,000, which is 150,000 more than the original aim. Today was Children's Day, and the indicator was reset by a schoolgirl, Barbara Gelling , Skipton's gala queen. Jack Hargreaves a Burnsall schoolboy, presided at the ceremony. Excellent work has been done by savings groups. One street group set out in Skipton for 200 and raised over 1,000, a figure exceed also by an elementary school. Thousands of people have visited the Yorkshire Post exhibition of naval photographs, which is proving an invaluable asset to the main Selling Centre in Skipton Town Hall. Business at the centre has been brisk, and it is expected that the record figure of 30,000, raised b the centre in "War Weapons Week" will be exceeded.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Monday 23 February 1942

Skipton's Warship Week closed last night with a total of 463,000, a sum more than double the target sum of 210,000, the objective being the hull of the destroyer Vesper. The final figure for the week will be declared on Wednesday. Selling centres ( the chief of which was at the Yorkshire Post exhibition of naval photograph's, a popular attraction during the week at the Skipton Town Hall), raised 42,926. Moving the indicator yesterday, Mr. W.O Rickards, MP for the division, said that magnificent though the week's effort was, he urged the people of Skipton and district to carry on with the good work by continuing to pour in a steady flow of money in to the Exchequer.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Thursday 26 February 1942

The final figure for Skipton Warship Week, which concluded on Saturday was announced yesterday as 492,887 10s 11d.

Barnoldswick and Earby Times

Friday 27 February 1942

Cowling took part in Skipton Warship Week which concluded on Saturday. The Acre Shed Savings Group bought certificates to the value of 119 5s, as a contribution to the week's efforts.

The HMS Vesper Association

The HMS Vesper Association was formed in 1985 and met annually at Skipton, Yorkshire, between 1986 and 2013. Skipton raised 492,887 to adopt her during a Warships Week fund raising campaign in February 1942. Plaques to commemorate Vesper’s link with the town were placed in Skipton’s canal basin in 2007 and a letter wishing the association well was received from its patron, HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who served on HMS Wallace. Another patron was Sandy Stephen, the grandson of Alexander Stephen, the founder of the shipbuilder which built HMS Vesper at Govan on the Clyde in 1917. He and he and his wife, Sue, have attended many reunion weekends over the years.

Canal basin at Skipton
The Canal at Skipton - Courtesy of Pictures of England
Copyright Tom Curtis

The Ship's crest mounted on a wooden shield presented by the Admiralty to Skipton on the adoption of HMS Witch in 1942 is on display in the Craven Museum - Object Ref. 672/2016.33

The battle ensign flown by HMS
Vesper when she escorted the American troops landing on Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944 hangs in Holy Trinity Church Skipton
The ensign is not the standard sized ensign normally flown by destroyers but the much larger ensign of a cruiser.
Before being hung in the church it was repaired by Sue Stephen, the wife of "Sandy" Stephen whose father built the Vesper in 1917

Plaque in canal basin
This plaque mounted beneath the crest of HMS Vesper on a wall in the canal basin

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

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