Hambledon Surrey or Hambledon Hampshire? Unfortunately, neither. As is mentioned at the end of an article on page 33 of the “Surrey Advertiser”, 9 February, a warship named “HMS Hambledon” isn’t associated with either village: it was allocated to HRDC – ie Hambledon Rural District Council – in 1942.
Nothing was known about this until the ship’s badge was delivered to Cdr. Tony Coates RN, Royal British Legion, Hambledon, Hampshire, in 2017 by a couple who were thought to have been from Hambledon, Surrey. That was not in fact the case; but it did lead Cdr. Coates to contact me, as our then-Parish Clerk, to see whether we knew anything about the ship and its history. I had a sneaking feeling that we should have Hambledon Rural District Council in our sights; and this has been proved by my subsequent researches in the HRDC archives which are held by the Surrey Hisrory Centre. It’s a fascinating story, still in the making; but a bit of preliminary background may help avoid any further confusion.
Hambledon Rural District Council comprised the villages that in 1974 were combined with Farnham and Godalming to form what is now Waverley Borough Council. Its headquarters were in Guildford, in what are now the offices of Guildford Borough Council.
During WWII Warship Weeks were organised as part of National Savings campaigns to raise enough money to build ships. Towns and villages focused on cruisers and destroyers and from 14-23 March 1942 the HRDC villages organised a Warship Week to raise the quarter of a million pounds that were needed to build (and permit you to adopt) a destroyer. In the event 11 villages, including our Hambledon, plus Godalming and Farnham raised over £500,000 and became the adopted parents of “HMS Hambledon”, a Hunt Class destroyer, and her crew. The District Council immediately commissioned (and paid for) a suitable badge and it’s pictured in the “Surrey Advertiser” article. Presumably it stayed with the ship until she was broken up in 1957; but what happened to it afterwards? To try and find out, Cdr. Coates decided to contact local Surrey media.
There’ll be a fuller story in due course, drawing on the ship’s naval record, the HRDC minute books and any other verifiable information that may come to light as a result of other enquiries that have already been put in hand. There’ll also be a bit of correcting to do to some of the information that currently appears on line!