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'.
Todmorden is a market town in the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire,
at the meeting point of three steep valleys. Its prosperity was based
on cotton, spinning and weaving and at one time it had the largest
weaving shed in the world. It was a frontier town, where the border
between Yorkshire and Lancashire once ran through the town hall, but
has been entirely within the White Rose County since the 1880s.
It is 17 miles north east of Manchester and had a population of 15,481
in 2011. Residents pride themselves as being quirky, nonconformist and
eccentric and an article in the Yorkshire Post
illustrates this by describing violent demonstrations against the
building of a workhouse in the 1840s and enthusiastic local support for
the Incredible Edible movement which has just celebrated its 10th
anniversary. In that time thousands of vegetables and herbs have been
planted on spare plots throughout the town for people to pick – and it
has sparked a minor urban revolution.
Todmorden raised £226,301 (£11 11s 6d. per head) during the Warships
Week, enough to pay for the cost of the hull and the adoption went
ahead. The rectangular metal plaque
presented by Todmorden Town Council to HMS Vidette
on her adoption and the Admiralty plaque presented to the
Town Council hang in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall.
I am hoping
the local paper will publish an article appealing to older
to provide memories and photographs of the links
established between the town and the officers and
men who served in HMS Vidette.
The Crest of HMS Vidette presented to Todmorden Town Council and the Coat of Arms of the town presented to HMS Vidette
The Halifax Evening Courier reported on the Warship Week in Todmorden but the local paper must also have covered this important event in the life of town. Lt Cdr Eric Norman Walmsley, was the CO of HMS Vidette when she was adopted (on right), but Viddette was
based at Gibraltar for the frst three years of the war and there would
have been no opportunity for visiting the town or for civic dignitaries
to visit the ship until her return to Britain in December 1942 for
conversion to a Long Range Escort (LRE). Lt Raymond Hart took over as CO when she was recommissioned in December 1942.
Saturday 14 March 1942
Todmorden’s Warship Week was opened today by Rear-Admiral Beamish
CB. The aim is to raise £250,000, the price of the destroyer HMS
< Halifax Evening Courier, Monday 16 March 1942 - see on left
Friday 17 July 1942
attractions yesterday afternoon included the presentation by the Mayor
Councillor F. Spendlove, JP, on behalf of the town, of a bronze plaque
(bearing the borough coat of arms), which will be placed on the
quarter-deck of HMS Vidette, the destroyer adopted by the town. It
was received on behalf of the Admiralty by Captain E Elgood. OBE VD.,
RNR, who presented to the town a Vidette crest mounted on a wooden shield (sse above).
Wednesday 8 March 1944
The Mayor of
Todmorden has received a letter from Lt Cdr. Raymond Hart of HMS
Vidette, the town’s adopted destroyer, thanking local people on behalf
of the ship’s company for the gift of £66 from the War Fund. With
this money several gramophone records and indoor games for the mess
decks have been bought, and it is hoped shortly to replenish the stock
of sport gear.