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Exhibit of the Week: Mementoes of HMS Hasty, Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre

The photograph of HMS Hasty presented to the people of Scalby by the Admiralty in recognition of their fundraising efforts during Warship Week in 1942.
The photograph of HMS Hasty presented to the people of Scalby by the Admiralty in recognition of their fundraising efforts during Warship Week in 1942.

A donation to Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre featured World War Two mementoes of a Royal Navy destroyer that Scalby District and the Borough of Scarborough adopted at the beginning of 1942.

The shield, along with a photograph of the destroyer, was presented by the Admiralty to the people of Scalby, in recognition of their fundraising efforts during Warship Week early in 1942.

A few months after this, in June 1942, Hasty was sunk near the island of Crete in the Mediterranean. She was torpedoed by her own sister ship, HMS Hotspur.

The background to the sinking is as follows. The H-class destroyer was built on the River Clyde and launched in 1936. In May 1940 she was sent to the Mediterranean. Here she went into battle against the Italian and German navies. By the time of her sinking she had been awarded 11 battle honours. On June 14, Hasty was torpedoed by a German E-boat. Most of the ship’s bow structure was blown off and both boiler rooms started to flood – 13 seamen died. HMS Hotspur rescued the remainder of the crew. Hotspur then fired a torpedo to scuttle Hasty, ensuring that she did not fall into enemy hands.

It might be assumed that the money raised in Warship Week would go to HMS Hasty, or to fund warships in general. The government had other ideas. Warship Week, and other similar campaigns throughout the war, were organised to promote wartime National Savings. Individuals and local businesses lent money to the government by buying saving certificates to help finance the war effort. The investment would be recovered with interest after the war. Therefore, during Warship Week local people were told what to do with money secreted in stockings, teapots and under mattresses: “Take it out!” Many were keen to invest as there was not a great deal to spend money on in wartime.

If the Scarborough area raised £250,000 during Warship Week, it would have the honour of adopting HMS Hasty. In the event, nearly £400,000 was invested, nearly a third from local businesses and banks. It was considered a matter of pride to be more generous than other Yorkshire towns.

Warship Week gave ordinary people the feeling that they were able to “do something” for the war effort. It also provided some colour in people’s drab wartime lives. As contributions to National Savings were drummed up, Scarborough was given over to a jamboree of military parades and bands, and exhibitions of war-fighting equipment. A column of armoured vehicles and howitzers, for example, was driven through the town on the opening day, with a number of civic dignitaries transported in a tank. Throughout the week members of the public had the chance to test their skills on a miniature tank training range, firing at stationary and moving targets – it was five shots for six pennies. As the RAF had a strong presence in the town, it was able to lay on an impressive programme of musical and sporting events. Citizens were given the opportunity of attaching replica national savings stamps to 500 pound bombs destined for Germany.

The Maritime Centre is run entirely by volunteers and public donations and is open to the public free of charge from Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 4pm all year round.