Warship Weeks

Warwick adopts HMS Warwick

Warships Week 20 - 28 February 1942

Adoption of ship by Bebbington School, LiverpoolNewspaper cutting about doption of HMS Warwick bt Stanton Schools, BebbingtonBetween 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.

It must have seemed inevitable that the city of Warwick would adopt the V & W which bore its name but in April 1940 when the ship was operating out of Liverpool she was adopted by the staff and pupils of Stanton Schools, Bebington, as reported by the Liverpool Daily Post on the 16 December. There were two schools, a primary and a middle school, in Stanton Road, Bebington. The School was built in 1936 and is still there. This connection may have ended after the start of the Warships Week National Savings programme but it would be nice to know if the silver cup is still at the School.

Warwick raised 280,436 to adopt HMS Warwick in February 1942 as reported in the Warwick Advertiser below. The brass badge of one of the ship's boats bearing the Arms of Warwick was presented to the town by Lt Dickinson in the Market Place in April 1942 to commemorate her adoption. The town had a wooden plaque inscribed as a reciprocal gift to the ship but she was lost before it could be presented.

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’.


News reports from local papers

The links between the town of Warwick and the V & W Class destroyer which bore her name goes back long before the war. She was the sixth ship to be named after the town and was launched by the Dowager Countess of Warwick on 28 December 1917. HMS Warwick was the flag ship of Rear Admiral Sir Roger Keyes when he led the raid on Zeebrugge on St Georges Day 1918 and he presented the ensign which he flew at Zeebrugge to the town and it now hangs in St Mary's Church where it honours the memory of the 66 men whose lives were lost when she was torpedoed and sunk off the north coast of Cornwall on the 20 February 1944.

On the 5 April 1930 the Warwick Advertiser reported on the presentation by Alderman Tandy, Deputy Mayor of Warwick, of a silver replica of the famous Warwick Vase to Captain Henry Hardwick RN, the CO of HMS Warwick. The presentation took place at Plymouth and the visitors were given a tour of the ship and presented with a framed photograph of the ship which now hangs in the church of St Marys in Warwick.

HMS Warwick in St Marys Church at Warwick
The framed photograph presented to Warwick in May 1930 in return for a silver replica of the Warwick Vase
The photograph hangs in the church of St Mary's and the windows of the church are reflected from the glass frame
See the report in the Warwick Advertiser dated 12 January 1940

The informal adoption of the ship by a School in Sutton Road Bebington, a village on the Wirral five miles from Liverpool, began in February 1940 with the presentation of monthly gifts by the children and their parents and led to the presentation of a silver cup by HMS Warwick to the School to be put up "for competition in sport" (as reported in the Liverpool Daily Post above). Was this cup the replica of the Warwick Vase presented to the ship by the town of Warwick in April 1930? 

That story was retold in the Warwick Advertiser on 12 January 1940 in an article on "The Hero of the Graf Spee Battle" (see below). I am hoping the School or a former pupil will provide the answer and let me know if the vase is still at the School. If you can help get in contact now.

Warwick Advertiser and
Leamington Gazette

Friday 12 January 1940

Hero of the Graf Spee Battle

Admiral Sir Henry Harwood RN (1888-1950) was CO of HMS Exeter at the Battle of the River Plate on 13 December 1939 and was knighted for his part in the sinking of the Graf Spee. From August 1929 to April 1930 he was Commanding Officer, HMS Warwick and SO 9th Destroyer Division (Atlantic Fleet).

The Warwick Vase is a second century marble vase discovered at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli about 1771 by Gavin Hamilton and sold to Sir William Hamilton, British envoy at the court of Naples, who gave it to his nephew George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick. It caused a sensation when displayed in a specially constructed green house on the lawn in front of Warwick Castle. Many replicas in silver, bronze, cast iron and porcelain were made. The original is now in the Burrell Collection near Glasgow, Scotland (closed until 2020).
Warwick Advertiser and
Leamington Gazette

Friday 3 April 1942

Presentation of Plaque

Sunderland Echo and
Shipping Gazette

Wednesday 17 March 1943

25th Birthday of HMS Warwick in 1943

Warwick Vase
A silver replica of the Warwick Vase presented to HMS Warwick in 1930

The brass badge of one of the ship's boats bearing the Arms of Warwick
presented to the town by Lt Dickinson in the Market Place in April 1942 to commemorate the adoption of the ship during Warships Week 28 February.

Ship's Badge for HMS Warwick
Coventry Evening Telegraph
Friday 3 March 1944

Loss of HMS Warwick

The inscribed wooden plaque made for presentation to HMS Warwick
after her adoption in Warship's Week.
The ship was lost before the plaque could be presented and is now on display in the Council Offices in Warwick.

Wooden Plaque

Two years after her adoption HMS Warwick was torpedoed and sunk by Gustav Poel in U-413 with heavy loss of life on 20 February 1944

Gustav Poel, the CO of U-413, had previously sunk the 20,000 ton former Union Castle liner, MV
Warwick Castle (3), on the 14 November 1942
The Warwick Castle had been requisitioned by the Admiralty as a troop carrier and landed the troops for the North African landings at Algiers on 10 November

The Ship's bell of HMS Warwick
Ensign flown at Zeebrugge byy HNMS Warwick 1918 Vice Admiral Sir Roger Keyes Flag flown at Zeebrugge
The ship's bell on the left of the fireplace in the Council Chamber at the Town Hall
The inscribed b
oard in St Mary's Church, Warwick, beneath the white ensign flown by Vice Admiral Sir Roger Keyes from HMS Warwick, during the raid on Zeebrugge
The brass plate beneath is inscribed:
"The above ensign flown by HMS Warwick at Zeebrugge on 23 April 1918 was laid up by Warwick Town Council on Sunday 20 February 1994 the 50th anniversary of the loss of HMS Warwick off Trevose Head, Cornwall, with a loss of 66 officers and men." 
Photographs courtesy of  Rick Thompson of "Unlocking Warwick"  and Zinat Bennett
Click on the Flag to view full size

Plantingg a tree to honour the memory of the men who died when HMS Warwick sank
The dedication of a tree in the National Arboretum presented by Warwick Council and Warwick RNA in May 2008
John Puddicome of the Warwick Family Association is on the left standing next to the son of Cdr Denys Rayner RNVR, her CO, with Lt Cdr John Herries RN on the far right
In 2013 the V & W Destroyer Association held its annual reunion in Warwick

Warwick staged an exhibition about HMS Warwick and the raid on Zeebrugge on this year's centenary from 19 - 23 April 2018
in the Visitor Information Centre in the Jury Street Court House

Please get in touch if you are able to provide further details or photographs regarding the adoption of HMS Warwick

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

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