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’.
The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield raised £592,515 during its Warships Week in December 1941 and adopted HMS Wanderer. The Birmingham Daily Post
reported that replicas of the borough arms
and of the ship’s arms were exchanged at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall on
Wednesday 24 June 1942. The Mayor received the ship's arms from Admiral
Sir William Goodenough representing the Admiralty who received the
borough arms. In October 1943 the Mayor of Sutton Coldfield, Councillor
W. Moss, received from the commander of HMS Wanderer the ensign flown when the destroyer last went into action.
The giant red poppies in the remarkable Remembrance Garden at the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield And the crest of HMS Wanderer on its wooden shield presented by the Admiralty to Sutton Coldfield on June 25th 1942
The crest is now in private ownership
Evening Despatch, Friday 17 October 1941 Figure to be aimed at when a
Warship Week is held in Sutton Coldfield from 29 November to 6 December
inclusive is £250,000, equal to £6 5s per head of the population.
Evening Despatch, Saturday, 6 December 1941 Aiming at £250,000, Sutton Coldfield Warship Week which concludes today, has so far realised £400,000.
Evening Despatch, Tuesday, 23 December 1941 At a meeting of the Sutton
Coldfield Warship Week Committee it was announced that £587 12s 7d had
been raised by various activities and collections.
Birmingham Daily Post, Thursday 25 June 1942 During Warship Week last November,
Sutton Coldfield adopted HMS Wanderer.
At Sutton Coldfield Town
Hall last night replicas of the borough arms and of the ship’s arms
The Mayor received the ships arms and Admiral Sir
William Goodenough the borough arms.
Who authorised the sale of the ships crest (left) presented to the 'Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield' by the Admiralty?
Birmingham Daily Gazette, Monday, 4 October 1943 The Mayor of Sutton Coldfield (Councillor W. Moss) has received from the commander of HMS Wanderer
the ensign flown when the destroyer last went into action.
ship was adopted by the Royal town as a result of Warship Week, held in
December 1941, when the total amount invested in war savings was
£592,515, the equivalent of £14 3s 9d per head.
The adoption of HMS Wanderer by the
A. C. Sphinx Staff Knitting Party
A. C. Sphinx Sparking Plug Company Ltd had moved from Birmingham to
Dunstable in 1934 and on the face of it would appear to have no
connection with either HMS Wanderer
or Sutton Coldfield but the donation of the splendid object on the
right to the "staff knitting party" proves that to be quite wrong and
suggests an obvious explanation for the relationship between a private
company and a wartime destroyer. It is self evident that the "staff
knitting party" were a group of female employees of the A. C. Sphinx
Company who combined their passion for knitting with a wish to support
the war effort by providing the crew of HMS Wanderer
with warm winter clothing for wearing in the Arctic cold they
experienced while escorting convoys and it is equally
obvious that the ship's company of Wanderer really appreciated their gifts of "comforts" and wanted to show this by donating a gift in return.
What is less obvious is why the knitting party selected HMS Wanderer but one can speculate that either a member of their group had a husband or a son serving in HMS Wanderer
and sent him a warm knitted jumper which was much admired by his
shipmates and led to further gifts being made by her and her friends.
Alternatively, a crew member may have come from Dunstable or been a
former employee of the A C Sphix Company before being conscripted for
wartime service in the Navy. I am hoping that somebody living in
Dunstable today will come up with the true explanation so that it can
be given here.
The disk with the "busy bee" emblem for HMS Wanderer
is thought to be a tampion, a cover for the barrel of one one of her
main guns. Unlike the replica crest on the shield above it is an
original item which would have been in use on the ship and when mounted
on its hardwood stand made a very attractive and imaginative gift from
the "Ship's Company". It would have ceased to have had any deep
significance when the owner died and it is understandable how it might
have come up for auction after a house clearance and been acquired by a
collector. What is remarkable is that the
present owner was able to track down the young Engine Room Artificer
(ERA) who was given the task of taking the gift to Dunstable and
presenting it to the "Staff Knitting Party" of the A. C. Sphinx
Sparking Plug Company in 1941.