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. They responded magnificently, giving, in Cornwall alone, 8 [pounds sterling] per adult head of population (worth approximately 200 [pounds sterling] today).
1941 through to 1942 saw whole communities across the country coming together to raise £955,611,589 for the war effort. Referred to as ‘Warship Weeks’ this campaign of fund-raising ventures allowed a community to sponsor a naval vessel through individual investments in Government Bonds and National Savings Certificates. Also through the Post Office Savings Bank, so that investments were recovered with 2 ½ to 3 % interest. The weeks were organised by the National War Savings Committee and were fully supported by the Admiralty.
In order to involve the population these collections were made very local. A week was designated Warship Week and committees were set up to organise the various dances, concerts and fundraising collections. The main town would be the central point of an area with the out riding hamlets and villages contributing to the town's collection. A target sum would be decided on and a `target board' erected in order that the local people could monitor the amount of money they had raised.
There were 1,178 ‘Warship Weeks’ organised during the campaign, involving a total of 1,273 districts. Each district was set its own target appropriate to the size and affluence of its population. A small village therefore needed to sponsor a motor launch. Whereas a city could expect to reach the £2 m required for a battleship.
If a Flower Class corvette had an estimated cost of £55,000, a River Class frigate would have certainly cost twice that amount.
Where targets were exceeded, some areas were allocated additional ships. A press announcement quoted the adoption of 8 battleships, 4 carriers, 49 cruisers, 301 destroyers, 25 submarines, 164 corvettes and frigates and 288 minesweepers. The Coastal Forces’ MIBs, MGBs, and Motor Launches presumably made up the remainder.
To commemorate the campaign, the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, presented each district with a certificate and a small plaque. Where possible the Commanding Officers of the adopted vessels would make the presentation. The ensuing relationships between the districts and their respective ships varied greatly. While some lost track immediately, others have maintained close links to this day.
Rishton War Ship week was at the very start of the campaign, from the 24th - 31st January 1942. Rishton warship week raised £114,937 for a trawler minesweeper HMS Man O' War, at a cost of £19/2s/7d (£19.13) per head.
HMS Man O' War was an ASW Trawler, built in 1936. It was taken over by the Admiralty in August or September 1939. The ship had no class in the Navy, but its Pennant was FY104.
It had a displacement of 517 tons, and carried a 1/4 inch gun as armament.
It was sold by the Navy on the 2nd July 1945.
On the 10th June 1943, the Council resolved that the ceremony for the exchange of plaques should be arranged with the Admiralty to take place prior to a Council Meeting in July. The Clerk reported upon the arrangements for the ceremony of the exchange of the plaques to take place at 6-30 p.m. on Thursday evening, July 15th. Resolved that the Chairman and the Secretary of each of the Warship Week Committees be invited to this ceremony.
It was decided at a council meeting on the 15th July 1943, that the Admiralty Plaque presented to the Urban District Council was to be affixed in the Council Chamber beneath the clock.
The Council Clerk reported the receipt of a letter from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, on the 13th November 1947, stating that the association between the people of Rishton and the H. M. S. Man O' War was now brought to a conclusion and that the ship was now out of commission.
Rishton UDC Council Minutes.