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






Lost and Gone for Ever?

Where is the crest of HMS Vivien mounted on a wooden shield presented by the Admiralty to Bromyard?
the snake on the crest of HMS Vivien (below) symbolises the legendary harlot Vivien in "Merlin and Vivien," the sixth poem in Tennyson's Idylls of the King

The plaque would have hung in the Council office of the Bromyard Urban District Council and in the District Council which replaced the Urban and Rural Councils
but now that Herefordshire is a unitary authority, its former buildings reallocated and the Council's records dispersed - "scattered to the four winds"  - one does not know where to look.

I appeal to the people of Bromyard to locate the shield and see that it is put on public display in the town to which it was presented by the Admiralty eighty years ago.
and send me stories of the links established between HMS
Vivien and the men and women of Bromyard.
Do please get in touch if you can help.

Boat Badge  from HMS Vivien

The crest of HMS Vivien on a boat badge
One of Vivien's boats is being restored by its discoverer
But where is the shield presented to Bromyard by the Admiralty?


Bromyard adopted HMS Vivien 80 years ago

Herefordshire's 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.  Seven towns and villages in Herefordshire held their Warship Week at the same time, from 29 November to 6 December 1941. Herefordshire is now a unitary authority and the District Councils which replaced the Urban and Rural Council have transferred their authority to the County Council.

The towns and villages in Herefordshire set out 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.  Links were maintained by the writing of letters and the provision of comforts and whenever possible visits were arranged to the adopting area.
Wooden shields mounted with the ship's crest and with an enscribed plate recording the adoption were presented by the Admiralty to the Council and a plaque presented by the community to the adopted vessel but where is the crest of HMS Vivien now that Herefordshire is a unitary authority?

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’.

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Bromyard-2
Bromyard is an ancient market town in the valley of the Frome in Herefordshire midway between Leominster and Worcester with a population of five thousand.


Bromyard Urban District and Rural District raised 60,454 (6 0s 4d. per head) during
Herefordshire's Warships Week from 29 November to 6 December 1941

This was much lower than the amount normally required to adopt a destroyer. The County town of Hereford raised twice this amount to adopt HMS Volunteer, a sister  ship of Vivien. Worcester seventeen miles to the East on the River Severn raised 770,000 to adopt HMS Worcester, but it had a population close to 600,000 and Bromyard was a small town with a population of five thousand. Leominster twenty-five miles to the West had a population twice that of Bromyard but had to be satisfied with adopting the Albury Class Minesweeper HMS Fitzroy despite raising 128,146.

HMS
Vivien had of course been built, equipped and commissioned 25 years earlier on 28 May 1918. Warship Weeks were a means of raising money for the building of new warships which led to morale boosting links between the ships companies of existing ships and the towns which adopted them. The same issue of the Kington Times which reported on the money raised to equip HMS Vivien also reported that she had received a cheque for 25 - 1 for each year her life - from the citizens of Bromyard.

Kington is on the Welsh side of Offa's Dyke but in Herefordshire. It had a smaller population than Bromyard but its local paper the Kington Times published a lengthy article in November 1941 on the competition between the two small towns to see which could raise the most money. It appears that the reporter was not aware that Bromyard was raising money to adopt a destroyer and Kington was raising money to adopt a Corvette, HMS Gentian. The Admiraty sometimes failed to make the position clear, a situation known to have arisen in other towns holding Warship Weeks. Bromyard  adopted an elderly destroyer, HMS Vivien, but the money raised was used to build a new warship, often a corvette.

The Admiralty may have thought Bromyard had acquired HMS Vivien on the cheap and in 1943 Bromyard raised a further 125,000 to equip her as reported (below right) in the Kington Times.

Advertisement for Warship Week in Bromyard
Programme for Warship eek

Left:
Advert for Warship Week in Bromyard

Above: Programme for Warship Week

Right: Kington Times, 17 July 1943
click on image to view full size
Kington Times, 17 July 1943

Kington Times,
Saturday 22 November 1941

Kington v Bromyard - A spirit of rivalry is apparent between Kington and Bromyard in the Warship Week appeal. 

At the public meeting at Kington the Vicar, formerly the Vicar of Bromyard, in seconding a resolution to increase the target to 55,000 said he could not see Bromyard beating Kington.  Bromyard in reply asks whether Kington really wishes to challenge Bromyard to a race as to which town and district will be first to raise the 55,000 (Bromyard as well as Kington is raising 55,000 for providing a Corvette).

Writing in the Bromyard paper, a correspondent says: ‘Bromyard is waiting to hear the challenge and she will have the greatest pleasure in showing the erstwhile vicar just how wrong he is.’ 

At a recent meeting of the Publicity Committee of the Kington Warship Week effort, attention was drawn to this matter, and the Vicar intimated to the committee that he had sent a letter to the Bromyard paper explaining the purport of his remarks.  As the late Vicar of Bromyard and present Vicar of Kington he did not wish to see his present parish fall short of his former one in its target for Warship Week.  He said that he would be delighted if his references to both parishes served to stimulate the people of Bromyard and Kington to friendly rivalry in this great national effort.

The Rev William Potter was Vicar of the Church of St Mary in Kington, Herefordshire, from 1940-6 and prior to that from 1934 -1940 the Vicar of St Peter's Church at Bromyard. Kington with a population of 3,700 raised 59,393 to adopt HMS Gentian, a Flower Class corvette, but the Rev William Potter's former parish of Bromyard with a population of 4,700 today raised 60,454 to adopt HMS Vivien. There seems little doubt that the "
friendly rivalry in this great national effort" between the two parishes helped boost the money raised by both but the Rev William Potter's former parish of Bromyard came out ahead.

The Bromyard News and Record,
3 September, 1942

I am told by the Local History Society that this issue contains a lengthy report on the presentation of a shared plaque by the Admiralty to the Urban and Rural Districts of Bromyard. If you have access to back issues in the library please send me a scan of this article or notes on its content and I shall add it to this web page.

Kington Times,
17 July 1943

The Kington Times published a lengthy article in July 1943 on Bromyard raising a further 125,000 to equip HMS Vivien on top of the money already raised for her adoption. The article can be read in full on the right above.

Bromyard UD and RD raised a further 125,000 to equip HMS Vivien, the ship they adopted in December 1941. They had raised 400,000 in National Savings (this figure probably included money raised for planes in “War Weapons Week”). Cdr R.G. Glossop RN was presented with the crest of the town for the ship.

Full page advert for Warship Week in Leominster and Kngton
Leominster, second in size to Hereford and nearly three times the size  of Bromyard, was half way to Kington near the border with Wales
Leominster adopted a minesweeper HMS Fitzroy which was sunk in June 1943




Bromyard Urban Council Minutes
with acknowledgement to the work of the
"Vivien Volunteers"

Minutes of Bromyard Rural Council
The plaque was presented to the Council by the Admiralty on Saturday 29th August 1942
The plaque presented by Bromyard  to HMS Vivien was returned after the war and placed over the fire-place in Dumbleton Hall, Church Street
Is it still there now?

HMS Vivien – Photographs of this ship and its Crew, which had been sent by the Commanding Officer, were received by the Council, and it was resolved that a letter of appreciation be sent to the Commanding Officer, also that the photographs be framed and circulated to the Parishes and schools in the District.



Press Cuttomg of officers on the bridge of HMS Vivien, 1944
Western Morning News, 24 March 1944
The spine of the Minute Book of Bromyard Rural Council
Records the adoption of HMS Vivien

What do you remember about Warship Week in Bromyard?

Andrew Taylor's father, AB Arthur Edward Taylor, HMS Vivien
Boat badge of HMS VivienAndrew Taylor's father, Arthur Edward Taylor, was an Able Bodied Seaman, an AB,  on HMS Vivienfrom 1943-5. He came from Ledbury east of Hereford and told Andrew that the crew made wooden toys as gifts for the children of Bromyard and when Arthur came home to Ledbury on leave at Christmas he went by bus to Bromyard to deliver the toys. If  you were one of the children given a toy and still have it send me a photograph by e-mail for adding to this page.

Andrew Taylor is the Honorary Curator of The Herefordshire Light Infantry Museum in Hereford and in June 2021 he sent me some wonderful photographs taken aboard HMS Vivien in May 1945 which I have added to a new page on this website. Jan Brodie-Murphy of the Royal British Legion in Bromyard posted an enquiry about Warship Week and the adoption of Vivien on the Bromyard History Facebook page and on Monday 2 August was interviewed on  BBC Herford and Worcester about the search for the ships crest presented to Bromyard when HMS Vivien was adopted. It would have looked rather similar to the crest on the left but there was an engraved brass plate beneath the crest recording the adoption by Bromyard during Herefordshire's Warship Week. Can you help us find it before this year's 80th anniversary?

Ellie Brown posted on the Facebook page that the School Log for Pencombe School includes this entry: "Pencombe school raised 5.10d for the Vivien  in Warship Week 1941, through the sale of badges and a penny rivet collection". The aim of Warship Week was to raise the cost of building the hull of a destroyer and its steel plates were riveted together instead of being welded. The children saved their pennies to pay for the hundreds of  thousands of rivets holding its hull together and received National Savings Certificates in return.

Do you have stories to tell about Warship Week in Bromyard?





Where is the crest of HMS Vivien mounted on a wooden shield presented by the Admiralty to Bromyard?
the snake on the crest of HMS Vivien (left) symbolises the legendary harlot Vivien in "Merlin and Vivien," the sixth poem in Tennyson's Idylls of the King

The plaque would have hung in the Council office of the Bromyard Urban District Council and in the District Council which replaced the Urban and Rural Councils
but now that Herefordshire is a unitary authority, its former buildings reallocated and the Council's records dispersed - "scattered to the four winds"  - one does not know where to look.

I appeal to the people of Bromyard to locate the shield and see that it is put on public display in the town to which it was presented by the Admiralty eighty years ago.
and send me stories of the links established between HMS
Vivien and the men and women of Bromyard.
Do please get in touch if you can help.




If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Vivien you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link: http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/servicerecords.html


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



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