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







Warship Weeks

Worcester adopts HMS Worcester

Warships Week 7 - 14 March 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’.

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Worcester Cathedral and the River Severn, Worcester
Worcester Cathedral and the River Severn, Worcester
Source Pictures of England
Copyright Luc Hermans


HMS Worcester made six trips to Dunkirk between 28 May and 6 June 1940 and brought back 4,350 men including members of the Worcestershire Regiment, and at least one of them, Lance Corporal Pethord, came from Worcester. Despite this the most notable event in the life of HMS Worcester was the part she and her sister ships, all V & W Class destroyers, played in the attempt to intercept and torpedo the German Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the Cruiser Prinze Eugen on their Channel Dash from Brest to the mouth of the River Elbe during which HMS Worcester was nearly lost.

The Channel Dash is mainly remembered today for the heroic attack by six "stringbags", biplane Swordfish torpedo bombers, on the German ships but more lives were lost aboard HMS Worcester. The Channel Dash took place on the 12 February 1942 and  HMS Worcester was still in the naval dockyard under repair when Worcester held its Warships Week a month later from 7 - 14 March.


Order of Service for Warships Week

The Order of Service


On Sunday 8 March, the day after the commencement of "Warships Week" in Worcester, a service was held in the Gaumont Cinema, conducted by the Chaplain of the Fleet.

Why was the service held in a cinema instead of the city's cathedral? The most obvious explanation which comes to mind is that it was  wartime and  fuel needed to be conserved for warships rather than heating large drafty buildings.

But a good turnout was needed to get Warships Week off to a good start and a service did not seem likely to attract a large crowd of potential lenders. One does wonder whether the service was followed by the showing of a patriotic film about the wartime Navy?

Questions without answers! The answers my be found in the pages of the Worcester Evening News which can be viewed on microfilm in the Hive, the Local Studies Library in Worcester.

I would like to appeal to local historians in Worcester to answer this conundrum and come up with further contributions to this page about Warships Week in Worcester and the links between the City and HMS Worcester.

Please e-mail Bill Forster if you can help.

Ordeer of Service for Warships Week - the Sailors' Prayer

Tin badge for Warships Week

Worcestershire Archives hold the key documents related to "Warships Week" in their collection at The Hive: "two printed programmes and timetables of events for the week, one official and one lightly annotated draft outlining instructions for the organisers and a sheet showing amounts raised" (Reference 496.5 BA9360/Cab 22/Box 44/2). I would like to make them more easily accessible by providing PDFs of scans or photographs on this website which is mainly accessed by the families of the men who served in HMS Worcester.
 I am hoping a local historian in Worcester will be willing to copy them for me.


The city of Worcester raised 769,173 during its Warship's Week from 7 - 14 Match 1942 to adopt HMS Worcester. The Admiralty presented Worcester with the crest of the ship mounted on a wooden shield to commemorate the adoption of HMS Worcester by he City and the City presented a plaque bearing the crest of the City and its motto "In Bello in Pace Fidelis". HMS Worcester adopted this motto "in war and peace a faithful city" as her own. The ship's crest and the plaque hang alongside the bell of HMS Worcester in the Randall Room at the Guildhall.

The story of the part played by HMS Worcester in the Channel Dash was the reason the V & W Destroyer Association, formed in 1993, held its annual reunion at Worcester in 1997. A reception  was held for the veterans and their wives in the lower Hall of the Guildhall, built in 1772 to replace the medieval merchants house of 1225, and "Stormy" Fairweather, the Chairman of the Association, presented the oil painting of HMS Worcester which hangs alongside the ship's bell and the crest and plaque exchanged after her adoption in 1942.

Please e-mail Bill Forster if you are interested in helping research HMS Worcester and her links to the city which adopted her in 1942

The reunion of the V & W Destroyer Association in the Guildhall at Worcester in 1997
The V & W Destroyer Association was formed in 1993 and the veterans and their families held their annual reunion in the Guildhall in Worcester in 1997
BIll Wedge (HMS Worcester), Ken Foster (HMS Viceroy), Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart) and "Stormy" Fairweather (HMS Westcott) have been identified in the photograph and their stories are told on this website along with many others
            Copyright Newsquest Midlands Ltd Negative 97/2708 /-9a

Painting of HMS Worcestter presented by the V & W Destroyer Asasociation hanging in the Randall Room allongside the ship's bell
The painting of HMS Worcester (I96) presented by the V & W Destroyer Association to the Mayor of Worcester on 7 June 1997
It hangs alongside the ship's bell of HMS Worcester in the Randall Room at the Guildhall, Worcester
Painted by G. Garwood who served in HMS Valorous



Plaque of Worcester presneted to HMS Worcester
The plaque presnted to HMS Worcester after her adoption by the City in March 1942

The crest of HMS Worcester presented to the City by the Admiralty
The crest of HMS Worcester mounted on a wooden shield was presented by the Admiralty to "the citizens of Worcester"

The bell of HMS Worcester in the Guildhall, Worcester
The plaque and shield hang alongside the bell of HMS Worcester in the Guildhall


Read about the part played by HMS Worcester in the Channel Dash on 12 February 1942
Sub Lt John F.N. "Bill" Wedge RNVR  served in HMS Worcester during her attack on the three German warships on their dash through the English Channel
He was 98 when he died on the 7 January 2020 and you can read about Bill Wedge's  life and wartime service on this website


At least one of the 27 men who died when HMS Worcester pressed home her attack on the German battle cruisers came from Worcestershire
See the complete list of the men in HMS Worcester who were killed and wounded

PO Cook Thomas Herbert McGee

PO Cook, Thomas Herbert McGee (P/MX 51049), the son of George and Alice McGee of Yew Tree cottage Harvington,  joined the Royal Navy in 1934 and married Grace Turner of Feckenham early in 1940. He was 26 when he died and is buried in Shotley Royal Naval Cemetery.
The tablet in St James Church, Harvington, errected by his fanmily in memory of Thomas Herbert McGee

This memorial to his memory was errected in St James Church, Harvington, fifteen miles north of Worcester, two years after the war in November 1947. See also: Harvington's War Dead

The Dean of Worcester Cathedral was present and the service was presided over by the Vicar but the tablet was unveiled by Lieut James McGee with these words:


"We present this memorial to St James Church in memory of of Thomas Herbert McGee and ask the Rector and the Church Wardens to accept it from his family to  the Glory of God."

The Evesham Standard & West Midland Observer published a lengthy report on the unveiling of the tablet in their issue of 29 November 1947.

At present nothing more is known of Thomas Herbert McGee. If his family still lives in Harvington I would like to hear from them in the 80th Anniversary year of the Channel Dash in which he and 26 of his shipmates in HMS Worcester died.
Press cutting about errection of tablet to the memort of Thomas Herberet McGee, PO Cook, killed on 12 February 1942

Dunkirk

Two officers and four men in HMS Worcester were killed during the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk in 1940. Lance Corporal Pethord of
the 8th Batallion of the Worcestershire Regiment was picked up from the beaches at Dunkirk by a boat from HMS Worcester and brought to Dover by Worcester and - since he came from Worcester -  "felt quite at home". The Worcestershire Regiment Museum provided first hand accounts of the rescue of the Batallion which can be read as a PDF by clicking on this link.


I would like to acknowledge Aimee Allen of Worcester City Council for taking the photographs of the ship's bell, the crests and the painting in the Randall Room at the Guildhall in Worcester
  And Luc Hermans and Pictures of England for the photograph of Worcester Cathedral
And Carl Jukes for researching the story of Thomas Herbert McGee

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



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