WARSHIP WEEKS




The Adoption of V & W Class Destroyers

by cities, towns and villages of Great Britain during 1941-2


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.

Warship Weeks, Navy Historical Branch 1983
Local History News
Summer 2020
click image to enlarge, then cick again
Article in Summer issue of Local History News about Wartsdhhip Weeks and adoption of warships by towns ansd cities



Once the target had been raised the community adopted the vessel along with her crew and the bond was strengthened by presentations  in recognition of the money raised
by the Admiralty. Adoption plaques were presented to the Councils which took part in raising the national savings towards the cost of the hull of a destroyer during the Warships Week and plaques were presented to the ship. Where the Rural and Urban District Council raised funds as well as the City or borough two crests would be presented mounted on wooden shields. Villages which raised funds towards the adoption would be presented with illuminated scrolls for hanging in a glass fronted frame.  Links were maintained by the writing of letters and the provision of comforts and whenever possible visits were arranged to the adopting area. Sadly, many of these crests have been lost or mislaid and I would welcome your help in locating them and seeing that they are put on display in a public place to make sure these wartime bonds are remembered even though the ships have all gone to the breakers yard and most of the men who served in them have "passed the bar".

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.


Click on the name of the town, village or district
to find the sum raised and the links established between the town  or district and the adopted ship
Please note that some ships were adopted by more than one town and others were not adopted at all

PUBLICITY
Advertisement for Warships Weeks
Advertisements

Posters
Posyer for Warships Week in Port Talbot
Port Talbot adopted HMS Wishart and a
souvenir programmes of events was  published


ENGLAND

Berkshire

Windsor

Cambridgeshire
Ely MB and RD

Cheshire
Congleton
Hoylake and District
Hyde
Northwich UD
Sale
Sandbach and District
Wilmslow

Dorset
Dorchester

Durham

Durham City and RD
Spennymoor
West Hartlepool

Gloucestershire
Cheltenham

Herefordshire

Bromyard UD and RD
Hereford MB and RD

Hertfordshire
St Albans

Kent
Chislehurst and Sidcup
Orpington

Lancashire
Morecambe and Heysham

Leicestershire
Loughborough

Lincolnshire
East Elloe CC
Gainsborough and RD
Scunthorpe

Nottinghamshire
Hucknall UD and District

SHIPS



Windsor


Walpole


Woolston
Verdun
Wrestler
Witch
Walker
Vimera
Winchelsea


Valentine


Witherington

Wolsey
Wivern


Whitehall


Vivien

Volunteer


Verulam (1943)


Viscount

Whirlwind (1943)


Westcott


Venomous


Wolverine
Vanoc
Vanity


Vimy

Somerset
Bridgwater UD and RD

Staffordshire           
Brierley Hill
Tipton

Surrey
Godalming
Surbiton MB

Sussex
Worthing UD

Warwickshire
Heart of England
Nuneaton
Rugby
Solihull
Stratford RD
Sutton Coldfield
Warwick

Worcestershire
Kidderminster
Worcester

Yorkshire
Whitby
Dewsbury
Skipton
Todmorden

LONDON
City of Westminster

SCOTLAND
Caithness
Dumfrieshire
Dunfermline
West Lothian
Wigtownshire


WALES

South Wales
Barry
Port Talbot
Rhondda UD

North Wales
Wrexham


Wolfhound        



Watchman
Versatile


Vega
Wild Swan


Wessex


Viceroy
Vanquisher
Keppel
Vivacious
Verity
Wanderer
Warwick


Vansittart
Worcester



Whitshed
Valorous
Vesper
Vidette


Westminster


Campbell
Douglas
Malcolm
Wallace
Mackay





Vanessa
Wishart
Velox


Veteran

PLAQUES
Crest of HMS Walpole
Ely received this ship's crest from the Admiralty
for raising 259,000 to adopt HMS Walpole

Scroll awarded to Winteringham, Lincs. on adoption of HMS Vanity
Winteringham in North Lincolnshire  raised money
for the adoption of HMS
Vanity by Scunthorpe

Congleton's Plaque presented to HMS Woolston
The plaque presented by Congleton to HMS Woolston
and returned to the town when she was scrapped

Click on the link for an index of
"Warship Weeks" arranged by ship names
 
Dr Peter Schofield, a former submariner,  the main authority on the adoption of warships during Warships Weeks, is the author of  
‘National Savings and Warships Week’. The following extracts will be of special interest to local historians who would like to locate the replica of the adopted vessel's crest presented to their councils:

"Warship  Week  schemes  provided  for  the presentation  to  the  Civic  Authority in  the adopting  area of a replica  of  the  adopted vessels  crest or an Admiralty badge as a memento. The adoption plaques as they were known were presented by the Admiralty on behalf of the people to the Civil Authority for permanent safe keeping in  the Town  Hall or Council  Offices whilst parishes received illuminated certificates if they reached their targets. John Buchanan, an artist without hands  produced  the majority of these certificates  completing over  3,500  in less  than  twelve  months.   

In the  majority  of  cases only one  adoption  plaque was  presented, however, where  districts  (e.g. Urban  and  Rural)  combined  to  achieve  the  same  target  two identical  adoption  plaques  were  presented  with  appropriate  inscriptions  on  their dedication plates.  In County efforts where a number of towns combined to adopt one ship, numbers of replica plaques were presented.  One of two patterns of plaques could be presented; the first a  replica  ship's  crest  mounted  on  a  wooden  shield  for  vessels  with  official  crests  and  the second  a  standard  Admiralty badge for  vessels  without  official  crests. Initially,  the  Admiralty stated that in the case of ships not entitled to a crest, a photograph of the ship signed by the Commanding Officer would  be presented  to   the adopting area  (after submission to censorship). Generally,  vessels  down  to  the  size  of  sloops  were  allocated  ships  crests, consequently all areas adopting destroyers received a replica ship's crest.

The adopting areas meanwhile provided suitable presentation plaques with coats of arms (where they had one)  for  display  onboard  the  adopted  vessels, many  of  these  were  returned  to  the  adopting areas and Admiralty stores before the vessels were disposed of at the end of their careers."

The crests mounted on the wooden shields presented to the councils were replicas of the massive bronze castings attached to the screen, the front of the ship's bridge structure, at head height. These screen plaques weighed 33 lbs and measured 15 3/8 inches from the top of the crown to the bottom of the rope. Some councils were unhappy about the cost of making presentation crests from bronze but to keep the cost down they were made from cast iron with "Nelson's Crown" made from brass.

Local newspapers can be invaluable in researching the Warship Week held by your town or city.
This major resource is available in most counties on microfilm in local study libraries and nationaly  as bound copies at the British Library in London. The full text British Newspaper Archive (BNA) can be searched online from home by key words on payment of a subscription or for free at the British Library.

In far too many cases the towns or cities which adopted a warship during a Warship Week in 1942 - 2 have forgotten all about the association and in some cases known to me these crests mounted on their wooden shields were thrown into skips for disposal or sold at auction to collectors in this country or abroad. I know of one case where an interested person went to their museum and asked to see the shield and crest presented to the town and they denied all knowledge of it until it was found by the janitor in a cupboard with the mops, brooms and buckets used for cleaning the floor. I would like to appeal to local historians to trace the crests awarded to their cities and towns, make sure they are on public display in an appropriate place and send me photographs for this website.

Unofficial adoptions - merchant ships and warships

The British Ship Adoption Society was established in 1936 to establish links between schools and merchant ships. The lead was usually taken by Geography teachers who saw the pairing of a school with a ship and the exchange of correspondence which followed would inspire pupils to take more interest in the countries the ships visited. The programme continued long after the war and the Saint Gregory (formerly Empire Heywood) was adopted in 1955 by the boarding school I was (reluctantly) sent to by my parents. The school was established for children who had lost their father, usually in wartime, but I was sent there because my father was at sea in the Merchant Navy and I had a working Mother.

Empire Heywood (1942) renamed Saint Gregory (1947) and scrapped in 1967 Eight Bells and Top Masts: Diaries from a tramp steamer, by Christopher Lee
The Empire Heywood was built on the Tyne by the Wallsend Shipyard and Engineering Commpany for the MOWT in 1942
She was renamed the Saint Gregory in 1947 and broken up for scrap at Hong Kong in 1967
After being expelled from School Christopher Lee joined the Saint Gregory at Amsterdam in January 1958 and 40 years later published the Diaries he kept

For an insight into the effect of ship adoptions on pupils read the novel  "All the nice girls" (2009) by  Joan Bakewell, broadcaster, author and Labour Peer who was born near me in Heaton Moor, Stockport. The British Ship Adoption Society was merged with the Marine Society in 1976. In 2004 the Marine Society (founded in 1756) merged with the Sea Cadet Association (dating from 1854) to form the Marine Society and Sea Cadets (MSSC).

Once the war began there were many private initiatives for schools to adopt warships, including V & W Class destroyers, and these are some of those mentioned on this website:

HMS Vanity was adopted by Gipton Council School, Leeds, in 1941
http://vandwdestroyerassociation.org.uk/HMS_Vanity/Scunthorpe.html#Leeds

HMS Vortigern was adopted by schools in Well, Somerset
http://vandwdestroyerassociation.org.uk/HMS_Vortigern/index.html#Wells

HMS Warwick was adopted by Stanton Road School, Bebbigton, on the Wirral
http://vandwdestroyerassociation.org.uk/HMS_Warwick/Warships_Week.html

When the Admiralty sanctioned the holding of Warships Weeks in towns and cities to raise national savings for the construction of new ships schools contributed to the money raised and there are frequent references to this on the Warship Week pages in the regional guide above.

But the adoption of warships was not limited to schools:

HMS Vimy was adopted by the "Woolgatherers of Haswall", an amateut theatre company on the Wirral, as well as by the coalmining town of Hucknall in Nottinghamshire
http://vandwdestroyerassociation.org.uk/HMS_Vimy/Hucknall.html#Woolgatherers

HMS Vanoc was adopted by a "knitting circle" at the ARP Wardens’ Post at Nether Edge Liberal Reform Club, Sheffield
http://vandwdestroyerassociation.org.uk/HMS_Vanoc/index.html#adoption

HMS Whirlwind (D30) was adopted by St. Leonard’s Mother’s Union in Bridgnorth, Shropshire,  six months before she was torpedoed and sunk on 5 July 1940 with 57 men, eactly half the crew, killed:

Evening Despatch, Wednesday 10 July 1940 – Mothers Union Loses Adopted Destroyer: News of the sinking of the destroyer Whirlwind has been received with deep regret at Bridgnorth, where St. Leonard’s Mother’s Union six months ago adopted Whirlwind.  At that time is understood that St. Leonard’s Mother’s Union was the first organisation of its kind to adopt a destroyer. During the intervening period monthly consignments of comforts have been despatched, and as recently as last Saturday two parcels were sent.

When a second HMS Whirlwind (R87) was built its adoption was offered to the Thanet towns in Kent in 1942 but was rejected indignantly as they expected to be offered a new HMS Thanet for adoption.


If you have stories or photographs a V & W adopted by your town please contact Bill Forster
We would particularly like to know the present location of plaques and ships' crests presented by the ship to the town or by the town to the ship



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