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

Warship Weeks

Durham adopts HMS Witherington

Warships Week 7 February 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’.

Durham Cathedral from Pelaw Wood
Durham City from Pelaw Wood
This picture was taken four years ago, since then a landslide has destroyed the forground trees that form the frame
Copyright Melvyn Harland

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette

Thursday, 29 January 1942

Telegrams from the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, wishing success to Durham City’s Warship Week, which begins on Saturday have been received by the Mayor.  The city will have the support of the Durham rural district and the Brandon urban district in their bid to raise 210,000 in order to adopt the destroyer, HMS Witherington. Sending his best wishes Mr. A.V Alexander telegraphs ‘The enemy threatens our command of the seas from a coastline stretching from Narvik to the Pyrenees, at the same time as part of our fleet has to remain in the Mediterranean.  The officer and men of the Royal Navy deserve and must have as much of the finest equipment we can give them.  ‘That is why I want every ship and every weapon I can get.  This means we need money to buy them.  We ask you to lend your money and lend to the limit of your resources.  Whatever you have first though of, I want you to double or treble the figure.

Monday, 2 February 1942
210,000 Target Opening of Durham Warship Week

Units of all the fighting services and Civil Defence, contingents of Home Guard, A.T.C., and other youth organizations, took part in a gigantic parade on Saturday at the opening of Durham City and district Warship Week. Lord Londonderry (Lord Lieutenant of the County) took the salute in the Market Square. The Mayor of Durham (Coun. H. L. Gradon) announced that already 8O,OOO had been raised towards the target figure of 210,000. War Savings in Durham City since the outbreak of war had exceeded one million pounds. Lord Londonderry said: This is not a time for us to sit back. Put your hands in your pockets and lend to the Government money with which to provide for a destroyer, which is the aim of this Warship Week. That the British Empire exists,” said Lord Londonderry, is due entirely to the British Navy, which has stood between us and defeat and disaster in the past, and which now stands between us and all those dreadful things threatened by Hitler and the Nazis.” There were a good many people making more money now than ever before. He hoped they would go on doing so, but he wanted them not to feel that because they had money in their pockets they must spend it. “Let us not get into a complacent state of mind and think that the successes of which we hear are going to win the war for us. That we shall win I have no shadow of doubt, but remember we can lose this war if we are not prepared to play our part and do our level best.” Mr E. J. B. Gatenby. Regional Commissioner for National Savings, hoped the sturdy community of Durham and district would set glorious example to the rest of the country by action rather than words. Mr J. Ritson. M.P., strengthened this appeal by declaring, Without money there is no victory, and without victory there is no money.”

Friday 13 February 1942
Warship Efforts for Warship Week

Sherbum raised 3,620, including 78O raised by Sherbum Women’s Institute Savings Group. Pittington Parish contributed 3,002 10s, and this included a 53 12s 8d free gift effort.

Newcastle Journal
Friday 13 February 1942
The voluntary staff of the ARP at West Rainton have raised 40 for the Durham and District Warship Week.

Mayor's Chamber, Durham Town Hall The bell of HMS Witherington
The bell of HMS Witherington was presented to the City of Durham by Lt Cdr M.H.H. Crichton RN, her Commanding Officer, and hangs in the Mayor's Chamber at the Town Hall
It can be seen on request between 10 am and 3 pm on Saturdays
Photographs courtesy of Durham County Council

I would like to acknowledge Melvyn Harland and Pictures of England for the photograph of Durham Cathdral and the city from Pelaw Wood

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

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