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

Warship Weeks

Sutton Coldfield adopts HMS Wanderer

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’.


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.

Sutton Coldfield
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 (on the left) presented by the Admiralty to Sutton Coldfield on June 25th 1942
The crest is now in private ownership - who authorised its sale?

Plaque Presented to Sutton Coldfield on adoption of HMS Wolfhound in 1941Bakelite badge of the cest of HMS Wanderer by LS Harry H WalkerEvening 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 were exchanged. 
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?
The badge on the right was made out of bakelite by LS Harry Walker (SSX20065) who joined the Navy in 1937 and served in HMS Wanderer and HMS Corinthian

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. 
The 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

Presentation to the "STaff Knittying Party" at A. A. Sphinx Sparking Plug Co Lt, DunstableThe 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:

Bill Riseborough was nineteen when he joined HMS Wanderer in July 1941 and as the youngest man aboard he was given the job of taking the gift ashore and presenting it to the "Staff Knitting Party" of the A. C. Sphinx Sparking Plug Company in November. Bill Riseborough was a member of the V & W Destroyer Association and wrote a very amusing "inside story" of what it was like to be an ERA in the Engine Room of HMS Wanderer.

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

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