Monday, 2 May 2016

Budleigh’s own warship

I learnt recently that a visit to Fairlynch is being planned for local schoolchildren. They’re keen to find out about World War Two, so naturally I investigated what our museum might have in the way of things to look at and study. Various items are listed in the records, including a gas mask, a helmet, a stirrup pump, a ration book, and loads of photos, all stored away and waiting to be shown off to visitors.

One rather fine item which is not listed – I found it on the internet – is a copy of this ship’s crest, currently for sale on Ebay but at a specially discounted price for Fairlynch after an approach was made to the owner.  The image is of a parrot or popinjay perched on a trident.

The ship in question was HMS Polruan, a Bangor-class minesweeper launched on 18 July 1940. Bangor-class warships were named after HMS Bangor, and all Royal Navy ships of that class were named after British coastal towns.

During WW2 many towns adopted ships by raising money during Warship Week.

The little Northamptonshire town of Oundle where I lived for many years adopted HMS Nene in 1942 and was rewarded with this plaque presented by the Lords Commissioner of the Admiralty. It is on display in the town’s Council Chamber.  

This poster was issued by West Bridgford Urban District for a campaign to adopt HMS Fury

Was our own community of Budleigh honoured by having a ship named after it, I wondered?  Certainly a locomotive was named after the town: the massively heavy name plate is on display in Fairlynch’s Local History Room. But of HMS Budleigh Salterton or even HMS Budleigh there is no sign.

As for Polruan, it seems that this is a small fishing village in the parish of Lanteglos-by-Fowey in Cornwall.

Yet it was the civil community not of Polruan but of Budleigh Salterton which in March 1942 adopted HMS Polruan after a successful Warship Week National Savings campaign.

The ship’s crest is only a copy, but it is in cast aluminium and I reckon that it would be a star item in any WW2 exhibition at Fairlynch.. Please contact me if you would like to bid for the crest and donate it to the museum.  Or just go ahead and find the item on Ebay, win it for Fairlynch and tell us where it should be proudly displayed. 

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