This photograph shows Royal Navy crew members from H.M.S. Vivacious and members of the National Association of Local Government Officers (NALGO) who played a football match during the crew’s visit to Solihull in spring 1944. We think the sailors are on the right in the solid-coloured shirts and the NALGO union members are on the left in the light-sleeved tops, but do let us know if you have any further information. The man in the top hat is likely to be Councillor James Harold Malley (1891-1955), Chairman of Solihull Urban District Council 1943-45.
The reason for the ship’s company being in Solihull was because Solihull Urban District officially adopted the destroyer after raising more than half a million pounds during Solihull’s Warship Week National Savings campaign in March 1942.
At the invitation of Solihull Urban District Council more than one hundred members of the ship’s company paid a weekend visit to Solihull in 1944. Various events were laid on to entertain the guests, including a reception, a Ratings’ Dance at the Public Hall, and a football match.
H.M.S. Vivacious (D36) was built by Yarrow shipbuilders in Glasgow and commissioned on 29th December 1916. She was used as a minelayer during the First World War and then saw service in the Baltic Sea during the Russian Civil War. After service in the Atlantic Fleet and the Mediterranean Fleet, Vivacious was decommissioned and put in reserve in the 1930s.
She was recommissioned in August 1939 and was initially assigned to convoy escort and patrol duties in the English Channel and Southwestern approaches. Vivacious was also one of the ships involved in Operation Dynamo – the evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk – in May/June 1940. During one of the trips, the ship was hit by German Howitzers and 15 of her crew were casualties.Vivacious subsequently moved to convey escort and anti-invasion patrols in the North Sea.
Warship weeks were held in towns, cities and villages across the country between October 1941 and March 1942, with the intention of raising money to be deposited in national savings that would equate to the cost of building a warship. Once the target was achieved, the community adopted the ship, with additional money being raised to supply comforts to the ship’s company.
On 26th November 1942, a ceremony was held at Solihull Council House in Poplar Road (now Yates’s), attended by some of the ship’s officers and ratings, at which wooden plaques noting the adoption were exchanged. At the ceremony, the Chairman of Solihull Urban District Council, Councillor Harold Bernard Shaw, stated that the relationship between the district and the ship would continue, with efforts to support the welfare of those serving aboard her.
Following on from this there was a public notice in the Birmingham Daily Post on Friday 29 January 1943, stating that it was intended to set up, under the War Charities Act 1940, the H.M.S. Vivacious Comforts Fund, administered from Solihull Council House with the object of providing comforts for Solihull’s adopted destroyer.
H.M.S Vivacious was decommissioned in the summer of 1945 and sold for scrap two years later, arriving at the shipbreaker’s yard in September 1948. Full details of her service are at Naval-history.net
The V & W Destroyer Association website has additional information about H.M.S. Vivacious. The site also includes details of another V Class Destroyer, H.M.S. Viceroy, which was adopted by the “Heart of England Savings Commitee.” This comprised places from within the Meriden Rural District – including Balsall, Berkswell, Bickenhill, Hampton-in-Arden, Marston Green, and Meriden.
If you have any further information about Vivacious or Viceroy and their links with Solihull, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
© Solihull Council, 2020.
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