During the Second World War the Royal Navy lost 254 major warships due to enemy action, in addition to 1,035 minor war vessels and auxiliaries.

To counter these losses a huge ship-building programme was organised. However, ships are expensive to build, and to reduce the money borrowed from other countries the government appealed to the British people for help.

Between October 1941 and the end of March 1942, Warships Weeks were organised in cities, towns and villages throughout Great Britain. The intention was for each location to raise a sum of money by investment or deposit in all types of war savings, which would represent the cost of building one of His Majesty’s ships. These could range from the smallest vessels to the largest battleships.

Once enough money had been raised for the vessel, the local community would adopt the ship. Local organisations, Women’s Institutes, churches and schools also provided additional comforts for the crews of the ship they had adopted.

The campaigns were organised by the National War Savings Committee with the support of the Admiralty. A total of 1,178 Warship Weeks were organised during the campaign, involving a total of 1,273 districts. A national press announcement quoted the adoption of eight battleships, four carriers, forty-nine cruisers, three hundred and one destroyers, twenty-five submarines, one hundred and sixty-four corvettes and frigates, and two hundred and eighty-eight minesweepers.

The amount raised in the weeks specifically designated Warship Weeks was an astonishing £545,640,770, equivalent to about £25 billion in today’s money.

Local Warship Weeks

The Warship Weeks in South Buckinghamshire were mostly held in March 1942. As shown on the Indicator Board in the Guildhall, the total raised in High Wycombe and district was £560,306, but this fell short of the target of £700,000. The district had been in competition with Maidenhead and district, and there was satisfaction that their total had been surpassed by £1,457!

The towns and villages in the district had contributed handsomely to the total, for example the amount from Princes Risborough was £80,571 and from Marlow was £30,824. Penn and Tylers Green had raised a total of £32,200, and decided to send half of the amount to Wycombe and the other half to Amersham district.

It was confirmed that the R-class destroyer HMS Roebuck would be allocated to Wycombe district. Ordered in May 1940 from Scotts shipyard in Greenock, construction was delayed and she was not laid down until 19 June 1941. Roebuck then had the dubious honour of being launched prematurely by an air raid on December 10 1942! Her partially complete hulk then lay submerged in the dockyard for three months before it was salvaged. The ship was then completed in May 1943 and accepted into service on June 10 of that year. She served in the Far East for the remainder of the war.

Beaconsfield raised the magnificent sum of £217,446 which allowed the town to adopt the corvette HMS Clematis. She was on escort duty from 1941 to 1945 in the North Atlantic protecting supply convoys from America and Canada to the UK.