Warship Weeks

Heart of England adopts HMS Viceroy

Warships Week 14 - 21 March 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’.


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.

Although the village and Rural District of Meridien, the traditional "heart of England",  received the plaque all the villages in the rural district contributed to the 473,000 raised and in recognition of this received enscribed paper scrolls drawn by an artist born without hands for framing and hanging in a public place such as the village hall.

Marston Green
Nether Whitacre
West Orton

The miners at Arley Colliery earned good wages and the mine owners were well off which explains why Arley raised twice as much as the village of Meridien. Most of the scrolls presented to the villages were produced for the Admiralty by John Buchanan, who was born without hands in 1908 and was put into care at the age of 9. His creative ability was nurtured at the Oxford Art School and he excelled at lettering. The Board of Admiralty had undertaken to present to each parish which reached its target of National Savings a certificate with the name of the parish, the ship adopted, and the week in which the effort was made, duly engrossed upon it. John Buchanan was eventually given the bulk of the work, and completed over 3,500 certificates in considerably under twelve months.

Where is the the crest of HMS Viceroy mounted on wooden shield presented to the Rural District of Meridien?
And where are the enscribed scrolls presented to the villages which raised so much money to adopt Viceroy?

Tin badge to raise money for "Heart of England" to adopt HMS Viceroy during Warships Week
One of the tin badges sold to raise money to adopt Viceroy

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 died on 7 March 2020 aged  105
See his Obituary in The Telegraph

News reports from local papers

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.

The Exchange of Commemorative Plaques
Where are they now?

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 occasion.

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:

"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?

Cmd Engineer Harry Harris served in HMS Viceroy from 13 December 1940 to June 1943 and we are hoping a family member will get in touch and provide further details of his wartime service in the Navy.

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.

John Manners 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.

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

If 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
To find out how follow this link:

If you have stories or photographs of HMS Viceroy you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster

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