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

Warship Week

Sandbach in Cheshire adopts HMS Vimiera

Warships Week 29 November - 6 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’ and  the county guide to Warship Weeks throughout Britain.
Saxon Crosses at Sandbach, Cheshire
The market Square at Sandbach, Cheshire
Copyright www fotodiscs4u co uk

Sandbach is an attractive market town which dates back to before the time of the Domesday Book with Saxon crosses in the market Square. The Urban District Council and the parishes and villages including Holmes Chapel and Goostrey in the Rural District Council combined forces to raise the cost of building a new corvette in national savings, a safe investment if the war was won which paid a good return on the investment made.

Local government re-organisation in Cheshire broke the link between the town of Sandbach and the V & W Class destroyer it adopted after its successful Warships Week in December 1941. When Sandbach Urban District Council (UDC) was dissolved  and became part of Congleton Borough Council the ship's crest mounted on a wooden shield presented to Sandbach by the Admiralty was moved to Congleton which in turn became part of East Cheshire, a unitary authority with the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. Ironically, Sandbach was choosen as the headquaters for East Cheshire Council and three years ago the shield was returned to Sandbach, but without the inscribed brass plate mounted beneath the ship's crest. Sandbach has a splendid 130 year old Town Hall and its own Town Council  though its powers are very limited and it seems very fitting that the shield and ship's crest has returned to its former home.

In 2022, eighty years after HMS Vimiera was sunk with the loss of most of her crew, 67 years old Steve Hyland was appointed Caretaker by Sandbach Town Council, and was encouaraged to get to know the buildings he would be responsible fo, including the Town Hall, and found the plaque stored away in a dusty cupboard. He uncovered the story of her adoption and the presentation of the plaque to the town by the Admiralty on this website and persuaded the officers  and councillors that it ought to be retored and rehung on public view in the Town Hall  alongside a list of the men who died whe she was sunk five weeks after her adoption. The plaque (see below, before and after restoring) will be unveiled on the 9 January 2023, the 81st Anniversary of her loss. The families of the men who served in her are invited to attend. The Sandbach Chronicle published a lengthy article on the rediscovery off the plaque on Friday 9 December, a month before the public unveiling. Click on the link to read the article,


Crew ChronicleCrewe ChronicleThe  unofficial boat bdge of HMS Vimiera with the profile image of the Duke of Wllington on it
This bronze "boat badge" for HMS Vimiera bears the profile of the "Iron Duke"
HMS Vimiera was named after the Battle of Vimiera iin 1808
Where Arthur Welleslley, the future Duke of Wellington, defeated the French
Courtesy of Chris Walsh

Press Cuttin Staffordshire Sentiel about Watships Week in Sandbach, Staffs

Foden's famous Motor Works Band got Warships Week off to a good start with a concert on the 30th November 1941

Fodens band was the band for the Fodens truck factory that was famously the main employer in Sandbach from the mid 1800s through to the late 1900s. The band still exists today and is world renowned. Find out about the history and heritage of Foden's Band and listen online to a recording from 1941 of "Hands Across the Sea" played by Fodens Band.

A lengthy two column article in the Crewe Chronicle on Saturday 6 December described events being held in Sandbach and the smaller towns and villages throughout the Rural Council area. Warship Week  oppened with a ceremonial parade in Sandbach on Saturday 29 November at which Sir Francis Joseph KBE took the salute.

The parade included "a large contingent from HMS  Wellesley," a shore base at Liverpool for training Gunners for Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS). The presence of HMS Wellesley was especcially appropriate as HMS Vimiera was named after the Battle of Vimiera where Arthur Wellesley defeated the French in 1808 and drove them out of  Portugal and Spain before defeating Napoleon at Waterloo. Foden's Motor Works "had an ingenious model of HMS Vimiera complete with guns, depth charges and a search light in action. Into its hull people threw coppers."

Telegrams from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Kingsley Wood, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr A. V. Alexander, were read aloud to the assembly and Sir Francis Joseph gave his adsress. The journalist assumed there no need to explain who he was and I have been unable to identify him. If you want to hear what he said you can read a PDF of the page which gives the names of the "great and the good" present at the parade and describes the exhibition at the Literary Institution which included models, photographs and "well drawn posters with slogans which reflected great credit on the scholars and teachers at the ellementary schools who made them".  These youngsters will be grandparents today and I would like to hear from them. Two days later on 8 December the Crewe Chronicle covered events held at Holmes Chapel and Goostrey - on the right,

The successful outcome of Warship Week was reported in the Staffordshire Sentinel below.

Staffordshire Sentinel
Wednesday, 10 December 1941

Sandbach Warship Week proved an unqualified success.  The 120,000 target figure was exceeded, 160,000 being the final result.  Goostrey raised 24,000, against their target of 10,000; while Holmes Chapel, aiming at 20,000, netted 21,631.  Thus, Sandbach and District have purchased HMS Vimiera, a corvette.  The average per head of the population is 11.

Staffordshire Sentinel
Wednesday, 8 July 1942
A plaque, a replica of the badge of HMS Vimiera, which has been sunk in action, has been sent to Sandbach Urban District Council.  The ship was adopted by the town after the successful Warship Week and the plaque would be presented by an officer. NB The plaque can be seen below - minus the engraved brass plate beneath the ship's crest (the screw marks where it was mounted can be clearly seen).

The actual figure raised was 163,880, the equivalent of 10 18s 6d per head, but a month later on the 9th January 1942
HMS Vimiera was sunk with heavy loss of life when she detonated a mine in the Thames estuary

Crest of HMS Vi,miera presented to Sandbach by the AdmiraltyRge plaqye for HMS Vimiera presented to Sandbach after her adoption in 1941
Inscribed plate mlounted beneath therestored crest of HMS Vimiera
The lion's head and crown are from the coat of arms of the Duke of Wellington
The ship's crest has been repainted and a replica of the enscribed plate has been mounted beneath it

 It was the custom on these occasions for the Admiralty to present a replica of the crest of the ship mounted on a wooden shield to the town and encourage links between the ship's Company and the town. When HMS HMS Vimiera was lost, with most of the ship's company a month after her adoption, this was not only a disaster for the families of the men but presented the Admiralty - and Sandbach - with a major problem. The loss was initialy barely mentioned in the local press but the decision was taken to go ahead with the presentation and  a lengthy report was published by the Chronicle on Saturday 19 September 1942. Click on the link to display the article in a separate window and click the image to view full size.

Councillor J. Waddilove, Chairman of Sandbach Urban District Council, was quoted as saying:

 "the occasion was  marred because the ship  and some of her crew were beneath the waves. The town had hoped that the ship would have had their special care. Their sincere sympathy was felt with the relatives and with the survivors who lost their shipmates. He hoped Captain Elgood [presenting the plaque on behalf of the Admiralty] would convey to the survivors the town's appreciation of their services. The plaque would be the treasured possession of the residents of that district."

Despite these fine words, the crest of HMS Vimiera mounted on its wooden shield did not remain on display in the Council Chamber at Sandbach for long. Congleton and Sandbach were both urban district councils just seven miles apart and both adopted V & W Class destroyers after holding successful Warship Weeks. Congleton adopted HMS Woolston but no longer has the ships  crest mounted on its wooden sheld presented to  the town by the Admiralty to commemorate the adoption. Congleton came into possession of the shield and crest of HMS Vimierapresented to Sandbach Urban and Rural Councils when Sandbach UDC was disolved and became part of Congleton Borough Council. When East Cheshire Council was created the shield and ships crest were returned to Sandbach,  the headquarters for the new unitary authority, but is not on public display.

It is rather sad that the crest and shield of HMS Woolston presented to Congleton should have been lost
and puzzling that despite the shield and crest of Vimiera being returned to Sandbach three years ago it not on public display in the old Town Hall or the headquarters of Cheshire East Council.

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

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