Warship Week 1942 Canvey Island Essex

































Canvey Island Essex

Rounded Rectangle:

Warship Week 1942

Launch HM ML115


In January 1942 a savings committee, chaired by Mr Roy G King, undertook a fund-raising drive- “Warship Week” – with the objective of purchasing a harbour defence craft. A target of £14,000 was set, based upon the population and wealth of the district.


The week was officially launched on 17th January by Flight-Lieutenant, Victor Raikes MP for South East Essex and opened with a procession in which all the local organisations, Civil Defence units and naval and military contingents took part. Various other events followed. On Thursday 22nd January, there was an hour’s free film show at the Woman’s Institute Hall, and on the front near the Monico, off-duty men from the Canvey Island, Hadleigh and Benfleet branch National Fire Service gave a fire-fighting display. There was also a boxing tournament held at the Drill Hall in Runnymead Road on Thursday night.


That Thursday, early indications suggested a total of £10,000 had been collected and by mid day Friday the sum had risen to £13,000. But the final total was £29,280 19s 3d. The hard work and generosity of the Canvey people had exceeded its objective by double.


The vessel allocated to Canvey Island for Warship Week was HMML 115 a motor launch with gun armaments. It was commanded by Lieutenant Oswald Birrell Dieter RNVR, and American who it has been suggested was the first to volunteer for service in the Royal Navy prior to the USA’s entry into the Second World War (entered RNVR on March 24th 1941 as a sub-lieutenant)

The Exchange of Plaques

Friday, June 18th 1943 saw the success of Canvey’s Warship Week commemorated with an exchange of plaques. The exchange, which took place at the Canvey Council Offices, was attended on behalf of the Admiralty by Vice Admiral A L Snagge and Mr Roy King, Chairman of the committee responsible for holding Warship Week, was there to present the Admiralty Plaque to the urban district. Lieutenant Dieter, P O Burchall, L Tomlinson, A B Shipwash, O Lewis and O S Mayes were present to receive on behalf of the ship the plaque provided by the local savings committee in exchange. The ceremony was officiated by the Rev R J Webb.



The ceremony saw an impressive parade which included contingents of the Civil Defence, A T C, A F S, W V S and five members of the crew of HMML115. After which Vice-Admiral Snagge introduced by the Chairman of the Council (Mr E Rayment) delivered an address to the people of Canvey, remarking that “by contributing £29,000 when their target was £14,000, the people of the Island showed they were awake to the necessity of supporting that sea-power on which, from the days of Elizabeth, the safety, honour and welfare of the country had chiefly depended”.


Lieutenant Dieter was loudly cheered during his own address referring to the people of Canvey as “Our Foster Parents”. He concluded with words, “Memories of Canvey Island will go with the old girl (HM ML115) as long as she goes”.


Subsequently tea was served and later there was a dinner and dance at the Hotel Monico. There was also a civic dance that evening at the Cassino Ballroom.

The menu from the dinner at the Casino

The Crew

Bike donated to the crew

Deiter, Officers and Wives ML115

The Ships bell

Invite to Civic Ceremony

The Ship Makers Plaque

The Exhibition at the Heritage Centre, Canvey Island March 2002.

Featuring The Plaque for Warship Week and the Launch HMML 115 and its crew

John Buchell and his wife Diane at the back with his sisters Irene and Ann with the model of HML115 and the plaque is on the wall behind John's head


Bay Museum 2011


It was ten years ago that the late ‘Chalky’ White first contacted me regarding a War Ship Week Plaque that had been presented to Canvey in 1943. The plaque was to commemorate the fantastic amount of £29,280 19s 3d raised by Canvey Islanders in the 1942 fund-raising drive. The plaque was nowhere to be seen and no one had heard of it. After investigating Dave Thorndike was able to locate the plaque which now resides in the Bay Museum.

John Burchell had in the meantime contacted the archive regarding the plaque, as his father had been Petty Officer and Mechanic on ML115, the motor launch adopted by Canvey Island during Warship Week. He had memorabilia from the day of the Plaque presentation which he has now donated to the Bay Museum.

The museum decided to raise the money to build a model of the motor launch and James ‘Jimbo’ Walker was commissioned to build it in 2008. Unfortunately Jimbo died of cancer before the boat was finished but with the help of his friend, John Coster and Jimbo’s family, including his 10 year old granddaughter the boat was finished and is now taking pride of place in the Bay Museum.

Today, John Burchell, his wife Diane and his sisters, Ann and Irene visited the museum. John and his wife had travelled all the way from Australia, where they live some 100 miles south of Sidney. His sisters live here in Essex. He was able to at last view the plaque, which had gone ‘missing’ when he was last here. The family were also able to meet the wife and daughter of the late ‘Jimbo’ Walker.

So nearly 70 years after the event and 10 years since my involvement, the Burchell family came to the Bay Museum to see the Plaque, the memorabilia and the boat all together at last where they belong on Canvey Island.


I would like to thank the late Chalky White for his contribution to this story.