Surbiton in Surrey adopts HMS Wild Swan
Warships Week 22 - 29 November 1941
Surrey Advertiser 27 June 1942
Saturday 31 January 1942
"The Mayor of Surbiton presided at a meeting of Surbiton Warship Week Committee on Friday last week when the adoption by Surbiton of HMS Wild Swan, a destroyer, was discussed. It was reported that the Admiralty intended to present to Surbiton Council a plaque, a replica of the ship’s badge, and that in return, Surbiton would present a plaque to the ship. Various means of raising money to buy the plaque were mentioned, and the chairman of the committee said that anything raised in excess of the value of the plaque should be spent on comforts for the ships company."
Sadly, the exchange of plaques took place after the loss of the Wild Swan:
On 16 June 1942 Wild Swan was escorting Convoy HG.84 in the Western Approaches and was detached for refueling and passed through a group of Spanish trawlers when a squadron of Ju 88 bombers mistook them for the convoy and attacked Wild Swan and the trawlers. Wild Swan shot down six German aircraft (the record for any single ship) but was seriously damaged and collided with one of the Spanish trawlers, which sank. She rescued 11 survivors but Wild Swan also sank. HMS Vansittart "Picked up 10 officers and 123 ratings from Wild Swan and 11 men from Spanish trawler" but 31 British seamen died from exposure after 15 hours in open boats.
A week after the loss of his ship, Lt Cdr C.E.L. Sclater RN, visited Surbiton with Lt K.G. Holland, Petty Officer Hardy and PO Telegraphist Clements, and described their adventures on the platform of Surbiton County School as reported on in the Surrey Advertiser on Saturday 27 June 1942:
"As you know we were atacked by 12 bombers. We were ready for them. The gunners put up a very good fight, and when we had finished our anti-aircraft amnumition we carried on with armour piercing shells. She was a fine old ship. During the past year she had steamed over 90,000 miles in convoy protection. After she had been bombed she kept afloat for an hour, which gave us time to man the rafts and boats, and every man got off the ship in safety."
Censorship prevented Lt Cdr Sclater from mentioning that although HMS Vansittart "picked up 10 officers and 123 ratings from Wild Swan and 11 men from Spanish trawler" 31 British seamen died from exposure after 15 hours in open boats. For a fuller and more accurate description of what happened and the names of the men who died click on the link.
< The lengthy report in the Surrey Advertiser on Saturday 27 June 1942 is in the left hand column
Saturday 4 July 1942
Determined efforts are being made in Surbiton to raise sufficient war savings to meet the cost of another destroyer to replace the borough’s adopted ship, Wild Swan recently sunk. This week ward committees and civil defence workers agreed to make a house-to-house canvass, each undertaking to raise twice the amount obtained in last year’s warship week.
Saturday 18 July 1942
Over £80,000 has been invested so far towards the £250,000 which Surbiton Saving Committee are trying to raise for a replacement vessel to succeed HMS Wild Swan.
Saturday 4 December 1943
Notice is given that it is proposed to apply to the Surbiton Borough Council for the registration of the Charity called HMS Cassandra Comforts Fund etc. etc.
Surrey adopted HMS Cassandra and there is a report of her crew members visiting Surbiton in April 1945 and in December, her former CO, Commander Powlett, presented her ensign flown on the North Russian convoy routes, to the Mayor for safe keeping.
The lengthy report in the Surrey Advertiser on the adoption of HMS Cassandra is in the right hand column >
Surrey Advertiser 3 October 1942