DescriptionIn December 1941 the residents of the District of Wokingham were informed that, during their Week for Warships Campaign they would be given the opportunity to raise money by purchasing national war bonds, savings bonds of defence bonds to fund the building and equipping of a warship. If the required sum was reached, the residents would be given the honour of adopting a ship. To commemorate this honour the admiralty would present the residents with a replica of the ship’s badge together with the history of the ship’s name for permanent exhibition in the Town Hall.
At a meeting of the main committee of Wokingham’s Week for Warships Campaign it was decided to save then formidable sum of £400,000 for a destroyer and the committee decided to adopt H.M.S. Garth. The adopted ship was a 1,000 ton escort destroyer of the Hunt Type 1 class and a product of the famous shipyard of John Brown of Clydebank, near Glasgow. Launched on the 14th of February 1940, her crew comprised of 147 Devonshire men. The Hunt Type ships were named after fox hunts.
Amongst the collections was a donation from the County Girl’s School (now the Holt School) to start a ship’s library, later referred to as The Ocean Library. In recognition of this the crew later presented the school with a model of the ship, together with the ship’s code number in flags. This ship is still in a glass case in the school library together with a card written by J.Brooker of Form IVA in 1946 which describes the event.
To mark the adoption, there was an exchange of plaques at the Wokingham Town Hall in May 1943.
A plaque, of Windsor oak, and carved by His Majesty’s Carver at Windsor, was presented to Commander Southby, Captain of H.M.S. Garth. On one side was Wokingham’s symbolic acorn at the crown and on the other side was the County Crest representing the Rural District Council. In presenting the plaque the Mayor, Alderman E.W. Reeves said, “With this piece of oak go the well wishes of the district, to the officers and men of H.M.S. Garth.
A replica of the ship’s badge was then presented to the Mayor for display in the Town Hall.
H.M.S. Garth and her crew played an active role in the Second World War escorting convoys of merchant ships defending against aircraft and submarine attacks. It provided convoy protection based in Northern Ireland, Russian convoys and was involved in D Day and the liberation of Holland. She was also involved in the commando raid on Dieppe.
The residents of Wokingham setup a fund from which the officer commanding could withdraw for the men for comforts or to provide financial assistance in time of hardship. The money was raised by contributions, whist drives, garden parties and dances.
Commander, Captain W. Grono Davis D.S.C. and men of H.M.S. Garth made a second official visit to Wokingham on Friday, 26th January 1945 to present the residents with a German ensign that had been taken from an E-boat that the Garth had sunk.
H.M.S. Garth was reduced to Reserve Status at Sheerness in December 1945 after which she was used as an accommodation ship. She was placed on the Disposal List in 1958 at Barrow. Her scrap value was £ 19,000 after deduction of break-up costs, compared with build costs of about £ 150,000.
On the Pathe News website there is a video clip of the Garth showing King George being piped aboard her.
Class and type: Type I Hunt-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,000 long tons (1,000 t) standard
1,340 long tons (1,360 t) full load
Length: 85 m (278 ft 10 in) o/a
Beam: 8.8 m (28 ft 10 in)
Draught: 3.27 m (10 ft 9 in)
Propulsion: 2 Admiralty 3-drum boilers
2 shaft Parsons geared turbines, 19,000 shp (14,000 kW)
Speed: 27.5 knots (31.6 mph; 50.9 km/h)
26 kn (30 mph; 48 km/h) full
Range: 3,500 nmi (6,500 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h)
1,000 nmi (1,900 km) at 26 kn (48 km/h)
Armament: 4 × QF 4-inch (102 mm) Mark XVI guns on twin mounts Mk. XIX
4 × QF 2-pounder (40 mm) Mk VIII AA guns on quad mount MK.VII
2 × 20-mm Oerlikon AA guns on single mounts P Mk. III
40 depth charges, 2 throwers, 1 rack
Source"The Story of H.M.S Garth" by Jim Bell & Mike Hawkes
"P.O. Jack Hulbert" Journal by Ian Lyell
“H.M.S. Garth,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed August 12, 2020, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0293.