BRITISH NAVAL WARSHIPS AND THEIR 'ADOPTERS' - A DEVICE INTRODUCED TOWARDS THE MIDDLE OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
1941 was a terrible year for the Royal Navy with the loss of several capital ships and numerous smaller warships resulting in the loss of lives which stunned not only the navy and naval ports, but the nation as a whole. The story of the losses to which I refer are legend, and include those of HMS HOOD, HMS BARHAM, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH to mention just some of them.
Sailors, as individuals, had to be replaced by recruiting and volunteers, but ships could only be replaced with money, and lots of it too. At the end of 1941 and stretching into the middle of 1942, a major drive to encourage 'National Savings' was organised by the Government. Each area in the United Kingdom plus the Isle of Man, was given a savings target to achieve based upon their populations, and each target had a type of warship assigned to it; the events became known as "WARSHIP WEEKS". A large saving target in a large area would would 'win' [for the target area] a large warship. The Commanding Officer of each ship taking part was informed when the target had been achieved, whereupon, the ship and the area would exchange plaques, photographs, artefact etc, and an adoption association would begin. Some of those associations are still extant, and perhaps the best known is that of the City of Leeds with the carrier HMS Ark Royal. However, apart from areas of the UK, several of the large UK organisations adopted ships and it should come as no surprise that some of our largest ships were adopted by some of our largest companies/organisations. The battleships King George V, Anson, Duke of York, Howe, Queen Elizabeth, Warspite, Revenge, Nelson and Rodney were adopted by Birmingham, City of London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Baltic Exchange London [itself bombed by the IRA in the 90's], London Stock Exchange, Southampton, Manchester and Glyn Mills Bank in London respectively. Other than the Carriers mentioned below, the Illustrious [the most famous of all our carriers in WW2], Victorious, Formidable, Indomitable, Indefatigable were adopted by London Insurance Companies, War Saving Committee of India, City of Westminster, Belfast and the Borough of Holborn respectively.
The number of warships adopted throughout the UK was over 1200, and this number covered the mighty battleships right down to the smallest trawlers which had been co-opted by the navy, and some were used as minesweepers protecting our coast line from the evil Hun.
BUT why was there a need for us to encourage the public to contribute to the coffers of the Admiralty: surely they should have been funded from the earliest of times after WW1? To answer that question I have chosen the words of one of my favourite admirals and a very famous one too.to search
who, on the 21st March 1942, wrote to the Times to tell us why, pulling no punches and shocking the nation that we had been badly let down by our politicians and in part, by our so called illustrious admiralty!
Today, in the 21st century, we need more admirals to put pen to paper, but they prefer to accept the decisions of their political master and so keep their heads well down beneath the parapet, sadly, for we have to accept a weak navy, getting weaker as the years pass!
Here is the text of that letter:-
Now please read on
The list of who adopted what is clearly much too large for this page, so I will only mention the ships adopted by my home county of Yorkshire. The word 'RIDING' means THREE, and in those days [as well as in my school days] Yorkshire had an EAST a WEST and a NORTH RIDING, unlike today, when it has a North, a South and a West. I will mention those areas which were in WEST YORKSHIRE at that time, because the overall Yorkshire input is large indeed - a total of 120 adopted ships.
Here is that list, and if you are now [by virtue of border changes] in the WEST but you were either EAST or NORTH in 1941/42, please do not blame me for not being listed. If you really want to know which ship your 1941/42 city/town/area adopted send me an email. The two areas shown highlighted in BLUE are the only two whose town name tied-up with the ships name, and the one in RED, Otley, is my home town. One or two do have familiar Yorkshire names like Aire, Bradford, Ribble, Airedale, Wensleydale, Bramham and Plantagenet [?? Richard III, last of the Plantagenet Kings, House of York and all that ??].
|Town/City/Area||Ships Name||Type of Ship|
|Conisborough||HMMTB 215||Motor Torpedo Boat|
|Colne Valley||Kellett||Survey Ship|
|Cudworth||HMMTB 49||Motor Torpedo Boat|
Motor Torpedo Boat
|Darton||HMMGB 222||Motor Torpedo Boat|
|Dearne||Rennet||Boom Defence Vessel|
|Dodworth||HMML 120||Motor Launch|
Aire - this ship at one stage being "the naval base at Hong Kong after Britain regained the Colony from the Japanese. She left after the shore station known to hundreds of thousands of royal sailors as HMS Tamar was commissioned. HMS Aire ran aground on her way home and was lost.
Motor Torpedo Boat
|Hebden, Royd & Hepton||Bradford||Destroyer|
HMT Kingston Clivine
|Horbury||HMMTB 95||Motor Torpedo Boat|
|Hoyland||HMMTB 42||Motor Torpedo Boat|
|Kiveton Park||HMT Staffness||Trawler|
|Knottingley||Kennet||Boom Defence Vessel|
|Leeds||Ark Royal: see this file ARK ROYAL'S BELL CITY OF LEEDS.pdf||Aircraft Carrier|
|Normanton||HMRGB Cockchafer||River Gunboat|
|Mexborough||HMRGB Tarantula||River Gunboat|
|OTLEY and WHARFEDALE||Speedwell
Speedwell took part in several actions. On one occasion on the 29th June 1941 whilst operating south of Iceland she helped in the destruction of the German U-Boat, U-651.
|Rothwell||HMMTB 235||Motor Torpedo Boat|
|Sedburgh||HMMTB 93||Motor Torpedo Boat|
|Silsden||HMMTB 75||Motor Torpedo Boat|
|Motor Torpedo Boat
|Swinton & Pendlebury||Wensleydale||Destroyer|
|Swinton||HMT Kingston Jacynth||Trawler|
|Upper Nidderdale||HMMTB 63
|Motor Torpedo Boat
|Wath upon Dearne||HMT Clive||Trawler|
|Wombwell||HMMTB 44||Motor Torpedo Boat|
So, the money these people saved, and in effect loaned to the Government for the duration of the war as War Bonds, along with the people from every part of the United Kingdom [and probably beyond] not only offered them a personal piece of the action by having an adopted ship to watch over, but funded a new navy [but see above to Lord Keyes' letter] to replace those splendid ships which were lost in the cause of freedom, whose men we will never forget. Rupert Brooke is often quoted when our thoughts turn to loved ones who perished on our warships, but little is heard [written] of this little piece - which I rather like. He wrote
GOD! I will pack and take a train,
and get me to England once again!
For England's the one land I know,
where men with splendid hearts may go.
For England of course read Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Were that only the case today ?