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’.
News reports from local papers
The successful Warships Week held
in the village and Rural District of Meriden in Warwickshire on the 14
- 21 March 1942 raised £473,007 and Heart of England adopted HMS VIceroy. In February 1943 Lt Thomas Frederick Hallifax RN, the CO of HMS Viceroy,
went to Meriden Rural District, the traditional centre of England
midway between Coventry and Birmingham, to present a commemorative
plaque and in
return received a plaque from Captain Gee as reported in the Coventry Standard.
Lt T.F. Hallifax was CO of Viceroy from 3 July 1942 to December 1943 when he was appointed CO of HMS Pathfinder, a G Class destroyer. He left the Navy in December 1961 witth the rank of Cdr. He was succeeded as CO by Lt Cdr John Manners DSC RN who still lives in his own home and is driving at the age of 103.
Coventry Standard, Saturday, 23 January 1943 - Shortly
before Christmas the savings committee decided it would be a grand
thing to help the crew of its adopted ship by providing it with
comforts. An appeal was made to all parishes to raise funds for
this purpose. £153 2s 6d was raised of this £150 was sent to the
ship’s commander. The reply from Lt. Hallifax read ‘It is quite
stupid to try and thank you all for your magnificent gift. No
words could possibly express our gratitude. As the ship’s company is
fairly well equipped with woollen gear, I have taken the liberty of
putting your gift in the Canteen Fund, at least for the moment.
This is a fund which is run by the men themselves, principally on
rebate from the canteen on board, and from which are provided all
games, gear, records, Christmas extras, etc., besides forming an
emergency fund for helping out deserving cases. It is kept mainly
at the bank and would, should the worst befall be applied to the urgent
and immediate assistance of survivors and dependents of the men serving
on board. I have now completed the official plaque of the
ship’s crest, and hope that sometime in early February I shall be able
to get to the Heart of England and exchange it for yours. On
behalf of the ship’s company and officers, thank you and thank you
again, for your breath taking kindness.
Coventry Standard, Saturday, 20 February 1943 - The
final ceremonies in last year’s Warship effort organised by the Heart
of England Savings Committee, which realised £473,000, took place at
Coleshill Town Hall on Saturday, when plaques commemorating the event
were presented. Lt. T. F. Hallifax, RN, commanding HMS Viceroy,
presented to the chairman of the committee, Mr. G. Hazel, a plaque
bearing the inscription: ‘Presented by the Lords Commissioners of the
Admiralty to the Meriden Rural District to Commemorate the Adoption of
HMS Viceroy during Warship
Week March 14-21, 1942.’ Captain D. Gee presented Hallifax with a
plaque in oak, the work of Mr. R. Lewis. The design incorporates
Meriden Cross, with an inscription in gold lettering, commemorating the
Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser, Friday, 19 February 1943 –
Amongst those present at a ceremony of exchanging plaques at Coleshill
Town Hall was Engineer Officer H. Harris, son of the late Mr. A. H.
Harris and of Mrs. Harris, formerly of the Globe Hotel, Warwick. The
Heart of England Savings Committee recently adopted HMS Viceroy on
which Engineer Officer Harris is now serving. Harris went straight
from Warwick School into the Navy about 28 years ago. He has had many
thrilling experiences during the present war.
The Archivist for Warwick School e-mailed me that:
"Harry Harris, date of birth 10th
Aug 1900, son of A. H. Harris of 10 Theatre Street, Warwick, attended
Warwick School from 1912 to 1915." His father A.H Harris was the
Landlord of the Globe Hotel, "Commercial and Posting", on the Corner of
Theatre Street and Ironbridge from 1910 - 16. From 1917 until 1920
the Landlady was Mrs Harris and from 1921-7 a T.
Harris so the Globe, which is still trading today, was run by the
Harris family for more than a quarter of a century. Can anybody provide
more information about Harry Harris and his wartime service in HMS Viceroy?
Coventry Standard, Saturday, 1 January 1944 - The
following greetings was received by the Secretary of the Heart of
England Savings Committee: ‘With best wishes for Christmas and the New
Year from Officers and Ship’s Company of Viceroy
with grateful thanks to our Owners – The Heart of England. As a
result of the generosity of the people of the Heart of England, a
cheque for £400 has been sent to the Viceroy for the crew’s Comfort Fund.
Coventry Standard, Saturday, 27 January 1945 - Some news has been received of the doings of the Heart of England’s adopted warship, HMS Viceroy. This is contained in a letter from the Commanding Officer. Lt. J. E. Manners, R.N.
to the Secretary of the Heart of England Savings Committee. The
ship apparently is full of fight and has spent a great deal of time at
sea. There has been a great change of personnel during the year,
nearly all the officers have changed, and about half the ships’ company
also. None the less, during the short periods the ship has been in
harbour, they have managed to win the Cricket and Water Polo Leagues,
and are now top of the Football League. The Central Committee has
sent a cheque for £75 from the Viceroy Fund to Lt. Manners for the
benefit of the ship’s company.
Manners who is now 103 remembers making a brief visit to Meriden during the war but
does not remember writing the letter.
Does anybody know where
the letter is now?
Coventry Evening Telegraph, Wednesday, 26 November 1947 - Meriden’s wartime adopted ship HMS Viceroy
is no longer in commission, and the Admiralty has therefore informed
Meriden Rural District Council that its association with the ship will
have to be closed.
Pleaseget in touchif you are able to provide further details or photographs regarding the
adoption of HMS Viceroy by Heart of England
you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your
family who served on HMS Viceroy
you should first obtain a copy of their service record