Solihull adopts HMS Vivacious
Warships Week 7 - 14 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.
HMS Vivacious and HMS Venetia escorted HMS Codrington when she transported the Dutch Royal Family from the Hook of Holland to Britain (Operation J) and from 26 May - 1 June took part in Operation Dynamo to evacuate the troops from Dunkirk bringing home some 1,500 men on four trips and had fifteen casualties when fired on by German howizers at Bray-Dunes. On 3 June she escorted the ships sunk to block the harbour entrances at Dunkirk (Operation K) and brought back their crews.
After transfer to Sheerness on anti-invasion patrols with the 21st Destroyer Flotilla she detonated a mine and was under repair until mid 1941. On 12 February 1942 HMS Vivacious was the first of the six V & W Class destroyers to attack the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen on their "Channel Dash" from Brest to Germany. Click on the link to read a PDF of Cdr Alexander's Report of Proceedings and to find out more about Operation Fuller and the Channel Dash. Solihul adopted a destroyer which had already distinguished herself and would face exciting times in future.
Wikipdia provides a good overview of the history of HMS Vivacious which we hope to supplement by providing the families of the men who served in her an opportunity to add their own personal stories of family members illustrated by photographs from their albums. Other untold stories in the archives of the RNM at Portsmouth and the Imperial War Museum in Lodon will also be added. You can also find out more about the wartime service of HMS Vivacious on the website of HMS Wildfire, the shore base for the destroyers at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey on the Thames estuary. Please e-mail BIll Forster if you have a story to tell about a family member who served in Vivacious.
Solihull's Warship Week, 27 - 14 March 1942, raised
the astonishing amount of £526,265 which worked out at £8 19s 8d per person.
As was common elsewhere tin badgess were sold to school children to advertise Warship Week and encourage their parents to contribute but apart from brief reports in the Birmingham Post and Mail we know very little about events held during the week - or contacts afterward with the ship and her crew. The plaque presented by the Admiralty to Solihull and the plaque presented by Solihull to he hip have yet to be traced. Please get in touch if you have photographs or stories to contribute to this page.
Solihull’s Warship Week will be opened this afternoon by Lord Winster
Birmingham Post, Saturday 7 March 1942
Warship Week will be opened this afternoon by Lord Winster. The
aim is £210,000, but it is anticipated that this sum will be exceeded
by a large amount. Army and Navy units, Home Guard, ATC, Police
and Civil Defence Services will take part in the procession through the
district. National Savings selling centres have been opened, and
appeals are to be made at the four picture houses in the
district. Five bands have been engaged and ‘tableu vehicles’’
will tour the area. Lord Winster will take the salute as the
procession passes the Council House.
Warship Ceremony at Solihull
Birmingham Mail, Friday, 27 November 1942
Warship Week last March, Solihull more than doubled its target figure
and invested half a million pounds in National Savings. This
entitled the district to adopt the destroyer Vivacious.
Last night naval officers and ratings were present at the Council House
when a ceremony of exchanging tokens between the ship and Urban
District was observed.
Accepting a plaque inscribed to
commemorate the event, an officer representing the commander of the
destroyer said the ships company, which previously had not heard of
Solihull now knew that there was a community of people they could
regard as their ‘foster parents’ and links such as this between the
people at home and those at sea were a great value.
Councillor Shaw said Solihull’s association with HMS Vivacious did not end with this ceremony but would continue in efforts of various kinds to foster the welfare of all serving aboard her. The ships’ gift was in the form of a carved oak plaque incorporating the ship’s badge - a squirrel - and slung to a ships lifebelt.
WAR CHARITIES ACT, 1940 – NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN ...
Birmingham Daily Post, Friday 29 January 1943
WAR CHARITIES ACT, 1940 – NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that it is proposed to apply to the Solihull Urban District Council for the registration under the above-mentioned Act of HMS Vivacious Comforts Fund, the object of which is to provide comforts for the crew of Solihull’s adopted destroyer HMS Vivacious and the administrative centre of which is situate at the Council House, Solihull. Any objections to the proposed registration should be sent in writing to the above-named Council within fourteen days from the date of this notice. Dated 27 January 1943.
On 12 May 1944 the Hampshire Telegraph
described a visit by one hundred crew members led by Lt N.R. Turner
RNVR, the exchange of gifts and a game of football between the ship and
NALGO members employrd by Solihull
One hundred members of the crew visited Solihull in 1944
Crew members of HMS Vivacious played a football match with NALGO members during a visit to the town in 1944
The man in the top hat is Councillor James Harold Malley (1891-1955), Chairman of Solihull Urban District Council 1943-45.
Courtesy of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
At the invitation of Solihull Urban District Council more than one hundred members of the ship’s company paid a weekend visit to Solihull in 1944. Various events were laid on to entertain the guests, including a reception, a Ratings’ Dance at the Public Hall, and a football match.
Urban District officially adopted the destroyer after raising more than
half a million pounds during Solihull’s Warship Week National Savings
campaign in March 1942.