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







Warship Weeks

West Lothian adopts HMS Wallace

Warships Week 23 - 30 May 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’.

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Linlithglow Palace

West Lothian is a county on the south side of the Firth of Forth extending from Queensferry where the road and rail bridges cross the Firth opposite the naval port of Rosyth (where the East Coast Escort Force was based) to ???? in the south west. In 1942 it was a "comparatively small industrial and agricultural county with 80,000 inhabitants" and "set out in Warships Week to collect £210,000, the cost of the hull of a destroyer. "Rear-Admiral Brodie innaugurated the week in Linlithgow, the County town, while Lord Elgin performed a similar duty at Bathgate, the largest town in the county". West Lothian "nearly trebled the target amount, raising almot £500,000 invested in Government securities". West Lothian Courier - see below right (click to expand)

Today, the new town of Livingston created in 1962 is the largest town in West Lothian and the seventh  largest in Scotland, with a population of 56,000 (2011 Census) and replaced Linlithglow as the County Town.

West Lothian Courier, 30 January 1942

West Lothian Warship Week takes place on May 23-30, and the target is £210,000, sufficient to pay for the hull of a destroyer.  If the authorities approve the destroyer will be named Wallace.

Edinburgh Evening News, Saturday, 23 May 1942

When West Lothian Warship Week was formally opened at Linlithgow this afternoon the target figure of £210.000 had already been reached, and it now the county’s aim to double that amount. Admiral G. C. Brodie was the principal speaker the opening ceremony. Scottish Oils Ltd. have subscribed £25.000. Bo’ness Co-operative Society follow with £20,000, and woman has given £20,000. At Bo’ness and Winchburgh last there were parades of Service and other units. 
 
Edinburgh Evening News, Saturday 6 June 1942

The final total for West Lothian Warship Week was £547,540, the target being £210,000.  The investment per head of the population of the county amounted to £7 4s, and school pupils contributed £1 2s per head, the total from schools being £14,863.
 
West Lothian Courier, Friday 12 June 1942

At the end of last week Ex-Provost James Wright, Bathgate, chairman of West Lothian Saving Committee, received a telegram of congratulation from Lord Alness, president and chairman of the Scottish Savings Committee. The telegram was in the following terms: 

'I congratulate you and all those associated with you the success of West Lothian Warship Week. To have more than doubled your target figure, and surpassed handsomely your War Weapons' Week result of last year, is a splendid achievement, which the Burghs and County districts alike share in full measure. I also desire to express my thanks to all those by their service and liberality, made this success possible.’ 

Linlithgow Gazette
, Friday, 24 July 1942

The Chairman, in drawing attention to the sketch of a plaque commemorating West Lothian’s adoption of HMS Wallace, expressed the hope that the ladies would keep the ships company supplied with comforts as they wish.  All have to go through the county depot, but he thought it allowed them the earmark a certain portion for HMS Wallace.

West Lothian Courier, 4 December 1942Prince PhilipWest Lothian Courier - on right (click on image to expand and read).
Friday 4 December 1942

His Royal Highness, Prince Philip (on left, click to expand), had been promoted to First Lieutenant of HMS Wallace in October and helped show the visitors around the ship.

"At a Scottish port recently, by invitation of the Commander of HMS
Wallace, the destroyer which was allocated by the Admiralty for adoption by the County of West Lothian in connection with Warship Week, representatives of West Lothian County Savings Committee visited the ship and lunched with the officers.

The visitors were met by the Commander, Lt Cdr Heywood-Lonsdale, DSC, RN, and after visiting the Captain's cabin were conducted over the ship by by the Commander and some of the officers. They were then introduced to the other officers in the ward room. Another guest was Mr Noel Coward, the well-known dramatist and actor, a personal friend of the Commander.

"Noel Coward had spent most of 1942 working on In Which We Serve, a war film directed by NoŽl Coward and David Lean, made with the assistance of the Ministry of Information. The screenplay by Coward was inspired by the exploits of Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was in command of the destroyer HMS Kelly when she was sunk during the Battle of Crete. Coward composed the film's music as well as starring in the film as the ship's captain. It was released in the UK in September 1942." Wikipedia

The visitors were much interested in ther ship's guns and equipment and these were explained by officers of the ship. The "control" prt of the ship received most attention nd created much interest. Finally, the ship's engines were inspected, most of the visitors descending into the bowels of the ship for the purpose.

Some Contributions to the Sick Bay

An anonymous donor gave £28, a Company of Girl Guides in a village subscribed £3-10s for a life-belt for "Wallace", a little girl made a gift of 2s, an old age pensioner gave his whole weeks pension of 15s accompanied by certain wishes for Hitler, a Lithuanian miner subscribed £1 and so on, lots more similar. It meant that old and young, school children and middle aged, those in School Savings Groups, Street Savings Groups, and industrial Savings Groups in West Lothian were now interested just a bit more in this ship than in any other of the navy. There was general satisfaction in the County when it was learned that the name of the ship allocated was "Wallace", the name of the great Scottish patriot.

Exchange of Plaques

After lunch, the whole ship's company were assembled aft, besides the rear gun turret. The Commander, Mr Wright and Mr Crichton ascended the turret for the interesting ceremony of exchanging the Plaque presented by the County to the ship to commemorate its adoption by West Lothian and receiving a replica of the ship's badge presented by the Lords of the Admiralty to the County, also in commemoration of the County's Warship effort."

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West Lothian Courier, Friday 1 January 1943

As Chairman of West Lothian Savings Committee, Mr James Wright, Bathgate, notified Commander Heywood Lansdale, H.M.S. Wallace, of the gratifying response which West Lothian had made to the appeal for games and contributions in money for the benefit of the ship's company. Mr Wright informed the Commander that quite a number of games had been handed in and that the money was coming in so satisfactorily that he could count on getting a gift running into three figures.  In a letter to Mr Wright Commander Lonsdale states: "lt is extraordinarily kind of you all in West Lothian to do so much for us, and I do not know how can adequately thank you for all your generosity to us. The games will be very welcome and the letter pals are a kind thought which will appeal tremendously to the sailors. The money should, I think, be kept as a West Lothian fund, separate from the Canteen fund and used as the Commanding Officer, whoever he may be, judges best.  We shall be able to do a great deal of good with it. Thanking you again personally for your efforts on our behalf, and the people of West Lothian for their very kind hearts. Wishing you a happy Christmas and New Year." A Christmas Card, hearing the ship's badge, was also enclosed, with the following greeting written by Commander Lonsdale: "Christmas greetings and all good wishes fur the corning year to West Lothian from all in "Wallace."
 
West Lothian Courier, Friday 29 January 1943

The Chairman, referring to the county's gift of £4OO, and a large number of games to the ship's company of H.M.S. Wallace, which the county had adopted following Warship Week, read from Lieut.-Commander Heywood Lonsdale, R.N., Commander of H.M.S. Wallace, a letter which appeared in last week's issue of the "Courier." In acknowledging a cheque for £125, which represents part of the balance of £400, the Commander had written again stating that the games were splendid, while the writing pads had delighted the sailors, and were a very happy thought.
 
West Lothian Courier, Friday 25 February 1944

The WVS, Bathgate, who are about to collect books, magazines and suitable games for the benefit of the ship’s company of HMS Wallace would be grateful if those who wish to donate any of these articles would kindly hand them into the YMCA Hall.
























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



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