January 1, 2019

Warship Week

WHAT I KNOW…

From 1940, and for every subsequent year of the war, there was a national drive to get the population to save their money.  People could buy war bonds or put their money into other savings schemes, with the aim of putting more cash into the hands of the government rather than individuals or businesses.  The government would then spend the money on the war effort.  Each year had a different focus and schemes were based locally, often leading to neighbouring towns competing as to who would pledge the most savings.

For Brandon in 1942, it was all about ‘Warship Week’, saving the equivalent amount of money to ‘adopt’ a warship.  Unlike the previous years, Brandon was not spearheading its own campaign, but instead was part of a wider effort involving the Mildenhall Rural District Council.  The target was much larger than previous years – £62,000; which was hoped to convert a trawler into a minesweeper, so not actually buying a brand new warship.  The minesweeper was named H.M.S. Macbeth.  Below are a few details of how the campaign went.

THE CAMPAIGNS KICKS OFF…

“By their increasing attack, the men of the Navy are keeping the life lines open. Back them up by making your Warship Week a
smashing success. Come on, ship-mates: the signal is SAVE. So lash up spending, stow away savings! Go to a Post Office or your Bank or ‘Stockbroker’ and invest your money in 3% Savings Bonds. 1955-65, 2½% National War Bonds 1949-51, 3½% Defence Bonds, or Savings Certificates : or deposit your savings in the Post Office Savings Bank. Buy Savings Stamps at 6d, and 2 6d
each from a Post Office, or your Savings Group.

INVEST ALL YOU CAN IN
3% Savings Bonds
2½% National War Bonds
3% Defence Bonds
Saving Certificates
Post Office
Savings Banks

How did Brandon raise funds?
M.R.D.C.
 – The Mildenhall Rural District Council has announced that it will hold a Warship Week during 21st – 28th March, and the aim is to get enough funds for H.M.S. Macbeth, a Trawler Minesweeper, worth £62,000.

SATURDAY, 21st March

  • In Brandon, it all began with a football match – England vs Scotland; played out on Crown Meadow.  England won the clash 2-0!
  • Four prizes of 15s National Savings Certificates were won by Mr Donald Martin, Mr P. Terrington of Lakenheath, Mr B. Norton of Brandon but the final Certificate (number 54) was not claimed.
  • Toward the end of the afternoon the band of the Watts Naval Training School, with permission from Captain Lewis, paraded through the streets.

SUNDAY, 22nd March

  • A parade of the fighting and civil defence services, with a further three bands in attendance, arranged by R.S.M Kentward.  National Fire Service – Brandon and Lakenheath (under Section Leader B.Olley), Special Constables (Section Leader A.J. Gascoyne), A.R.P. Casualty Service (Commandant Mrs H. Wentworth-Smith), the Parish A.R.P. Organiser Mr R.J. Woodrow, and Head Warden Mr Herbert Edwards, Home Guard (Captain W.B. Wood), and the West Suffolk Constabulary (Segt. J.A. Adams and P.C. Johnson).
  • The parade marched through the main streets and Field Marshal Lord Ironside, C.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., and took the salute on the Market Hill, where a service of Intercession was conducted by the Rev. R.L.Gardner.  Those present on the platform were General H.G.J. de Lotbiniere, Mr H. Lingwood (Chairman of the Parish Council), Mr F.W. Gentle, Major H. Wentworth-Smith and Mr T.A. Green (secretary of the Warship Week).

MONDAY, 23rd March & TUESDAY, 24th March

  • Well attended military variety concerts were held at the Paget Hall.

WEDNESDAY, 25th March

  • A dance was held with music being played by a military band. Mr B.A.M. Lingwood was M.C.

THURSDAY, 26th March

  • A whist drive was held at the Paget Hall.

HOW MUCH WAS RAISED?  £74,697 6s 9d.

After welcoming Field Marshal Lord Ironside, General de Lotbiniere said the greatest compliment the people of the district could pay would be to raise sufficient money to buy and equip the trawler minesweeper. There were two things which everyone could do to help the country in its time of need – to avoid waste of all kind and to lend as much money as possible to the country.

In his address, the Field Marshal made reference to the loss of the Malayan colonies, which he pointed out were very important colonies because of the rubber and tin which they supplied for the war effort. “Why did Britain lose them?” he asked. The answer he gave was a lack of sea power.

It was therefore, up to Britain to bring that sea power back again so as to regain the lost colonies, and the people, to help in this respect, were asked to do their part by lending their money to the Government. Some men were earning higher wages and had money to spare, and it was not a great sacrifice to give up the pleasure of buying something.

Lord Ironside went on to speak of several exploits of the Navy, the gallant action of the “Warspite” at Narvik was one, he said, of which they could be proud. “Men like that are worthy of any ship or instrument that can be given them” he said. Then there was the Fleet Air Arm’s attack on the Italian Fleet which altered the whole strategy of the war in the Mediterranean, while in the Java recently, American, British, Dutch and Australian ships went down with flying colours. He was sure everyone would realise that more ships were very necessary.  He also referred to the trawler minesweepers and the exceedingly good work they did was a job of which everyone could be proud.

AUGUST 1942

The Secretary of the Admiralty sent a letter to the M.R.D.C. expressing pleasure at the result of the Warships Week in the district. H.M.S. Macbeth had been adopted and a commemorative plaque was to be sent and in return a plaque presented to H.M.S. Macbeth. The plaque would cost £10 and be made of oak.

JUNE 1943

M.R.D.C. –  In reference to the Warships Week held in 1942 to raise enough savings in the district to fund a minesweeper, the Clerk reported that arrangements had been made for Rear Admiral G.H. Knowles to present a plaque to Mildenhall to commemorate the adoption of H.M.S. Macbeth. Considerable discussion then arose about whether there should be a public tea provided, as it was a unique occasion. This was opposed as it could mean criticism of the Council for wasting public money.