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







Warship Weeks

Bridgwater adopts HMS Wolfhound

Warships Week 8 - 15 November 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’.

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Albert Cutting on Bridgewater Canal
The Albert Street Cutting on the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal
Each beam is carved with a line from the Navigator's Poem
Photographed by Pat Trout - Courtesy of Pictures of England


HMS Wolfhound was half a ship when adopted by Bridgwater

Wolfhound came close to being sunk by a Stuka dive bomber on her first trip to  Dunkirk with Captain Tennant to direct the evacuation of the BEF and her luck ran out on the 3 September 1941 when she was bombed while escorting East Coast Convoy FS84 off the Norfolk coast. Wolfhound broke in two, her bow sinking 15 miles off shore. She was towed into Immingham on the Humber and was under repair until March 1943. Bridgewater and its surrounding villages held their Warships Week two months after Wolfhound was bombed while she was in dockyard hands. It seems unlikely that this news would have been released at the time.

Bridgwater Urban and Rural Councils raised  raised 300,000 during their Warship's Week and the Admiralty presented them with a replica of the crest of HMS Wolfhound mounted on a wooden shield. The surrounding villages made a significant contribution as reported below in the
Somerset County Herald on Saturday, November 22nd 1941 and each village received an inscribed scroll for framing and hanging in a public place.

Somerset County Herald, 22 Novembeer 1941
Somerset County Herald 22 November 1941

Top of the list was Wembdon which raised 11,000, twenty times its target! Others: Ashcott, Bawdripp, Cannington, Catcott,  Chedzoy, Chilton Polden, Durleigh, West Huntspill, Middlezoy, Moorlinch, Cont.
Somerset County Herald 22 November 1941

Villages continued: North Petherton, Shapwick, Spaxton, Thurloxton, Westonzoyland and Woolavington.

Schools: County School for Girls, Westover Senior Girls, St Margaret's, St Leonard's, St John's.
Plaque presented by Bridgewater to HMS Wolfhound
This plaque bearing the Coat of Arms of Bridgwater
was returned before Wolfhound was scrapped and  is in the Blake Museum


The villages which contributed to the 300,000 raised by Bridgwater received inscribed paper scrolls. Most of these were created for the Admiralty by John Buchanan, who was born without hands in 1908 and was put into care at the age of 9. His creative ability was nurtured at the Oxford Art School and he excelled at lettering. The Board of Admiralty had undertaken to present to each parish which reached its target of National Savings a certificate with the name of the parish, the ship adopted, and the week in which the effort was made, duly engrossed upon it. John Buchanan was eventually given the bulk of the work, and completed over 3,500 certificates in considerably under twelve months.

Is your village on the list of those which raised money to adopt HMS Wolfhound in Bridgwaters Warship Week 1in November 1941?
And if it did do you know where its scroll is now?


Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser

Saturday 1 November 1941
In connection with the Bridgwater and District Warship Week, 8-15 November, North Petherton aims to raise 5,000 towards the purchase of a destroyer.  North Petherton should have no difficulty in raising the amount, and an appeal is made to residents throughout the parish to invest to their utmost through the local savings group, post-office or bank during the week.  The largest village in the Bridgwater rural area, North Petherton should easily exceed their task.

Saturday 3 December 1941
The final meeting of Bridgwater Warship Week Executive Committee was held on Friday under the Chairmanship of Alderman Deacon CBE.  It was reported that the proceeds of the sale of programmes was 12 3s 3d., and of badges 76 11s 4d., and after deducting the cost there remained a net profit of 44 6s 1d.  The Committee decided to pay 2 10s out of this balance for expenses incurred in entertaining the visiting bands, and to utilise the portion of the remainder in payment of the plaque which is being prepared, and which will be affixed to the quarter-deck of HMS Wolfhound.  Thus, all who purchased a badge or a programme during Warship Week will have an interest in the plaque.  It is intended to display the plaque for a week or so before it is despatched to the Admiralty.

Saturday 3 January 1942
A letter was received from the Campaign Secretary of the recent Warship Week stating that the Admiralty had intimated that HMS Wolfhound might be adopted by the town and district as a result of the Week’s effort, when 301,947 was raised.  The Savings Committee were supplying a bronze plaque, which would be affixed on the quarter-deck of HMS Wolfhound and it was understood the Admiralty would present to the Town Council a replica of the ship’s badge, together with a history of the ship’s name for permanent exhibition in some suitable building belonging to the Council.  On the recommendation of the Finance Committee, it was agreed to suggest that the replica of the ship’s badge be exhibited in the Council Chamber.

Saturday 25 July 1942
A ceremony which will commemorate the Bridgwater and District Warship Week and inaugurate the summer savings campaign for 130,000 to provide three Churchill tanks will take place this Saturday afternoon.  Admiral Casement will receive a plaque to be fixed to the quarter-deck of HMS Wolfhound, to commemorate the adoption of the destroyer by Bridgwater and District as a result of raising over 301,000 in war saving during Warship Week last November.  The Mayor of Bridgwater, Alderman Ashton and the Chairman of Bridgwater Rural Council, the Rev. Pryce-Mitchell, will be presented with replicas of the ship’s badge to be hung in the respective Council Chambers.

Saturday 27 February 1943
A joint appeal has been launched by the Mayor of Bridgwater, Alderman R. Ashton and the Chairman of the Rural District Council. Rev. P. T. Pryce-Michell. for funds to provide a library in HMS Wolfhound, the ship adopted by the town and district as result of Warship Week last February.  A feeling has been expressed in many quarters.” states the appeal, that in addition to the plaque, which was presented to the ship, some gift should be made to the crew as an expression of gratitude for their services. Correspondence has been taking place with the Amenities Fund of the Royal Navy, and it has become clear that the only worthy form which a suitable gift could take is that of a library. An appeal, therefore is made to the people of the town and district for subscriptions to a fund to provide a library. It is anticipated that approximately 100 will be sufficient, and it is hoped there will be a prompt response, so that this comparatively small amount can be sent to Messrs. W. H. Smith & Son. who have undertaken to select the books and dispatch them to the ship. Contributions may be sent either to His Worship the Mayor, Town Hall, Bridgwater: or the Rev. P. T. Pryce-Michell, Chairman to the Rural District Council, The Priory, Bridgwater: or to the Treasurer of the Fund. Mr. M. Barnett. Midland Bank, Bridgwater.”
 
Saturday 3 July 1943
The Mayor of Bridgwater has received the following letter from the Commanding Officer of HMS Wolfhound: ‘I have recently been appointed to command HMS Wolfhound and I am taking this opportunity of introducing myself and my ship to you and the people of Bridgwater who have adopted us. Although we are veterans of 1917, we have in the war a record of achievement at Dunkirk and Calais of which we have some reason to be proud, and we hope that by the end of this war we shall have added to it.  ‘We especially wish to thank those who have subscribed towards the presentation of a library to the ship.  I hope it will be soon possible for myself and some of the crew to pay a call on your and your town so that we can thank you in person for your generosity and the interest you have taken in us.


"The perilous experiences of their adopted warship HMS Wolfhound"
The Taunton Courier, Saturday 3 July 1943

The people of Bridgwater and district were thrilled during the weekend to hear and read of the perilous experiences of their adopted warship HMS Wolfhound.  The official story describes a twenty-four-hour struggle to get half the destroyer back to harbour and how she continued with her back broken and bows sunk to fight off enemy aircraft.  The Wolfhound a 25-year-old veteran of the V & W Class is now back at sea with a new bow.  The ship played a gallant part in the evacuation from France.

The Tauton Courier only reported the bombing of HMS Wolfhound after she was recommissioned
Did the ships officers and crew visit Bridgwater while she was under repair?
And is the ship's crest on public display in the town today?






If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Wolfhound you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link: http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/servicerecords.html


If you have stories or photographs of HMS Wolfhound you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster



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