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’.


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

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 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

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 Worcestrer
And Luc Hermans and Pictures of England for the photograph of Worcester Cathedral

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:

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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