The H.M.S. Hood Association Online Archive
"Newsheet 2" (Second Association Newsletter)
Updated 06-May-2014

The second H.M.S. Hood Association newsletter (circa 1975).

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With a standard displacement of 44,600 tons, a length of 873 feet, and a beam of 105 feet, the HOOD was the largest warship in the world, and as the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 limited the displacement of capital ships to 35,000 tons she remained so as long as that treaty continued in force.

Her main armament consisted of eight 15-in. guns mounted in four turrets, with an anti-aircraft armament of 4-in. and lighter guns, and four torpedo tubes. Geared turbine engines of 144,000 horse-power gave her a designed speed of 31 knots, and her war complement included over 1,400 officers and men.

Her turbines developed 144,000 horse power, and on her trials in bad weather she attained 32.07 knots. 12" Armour on her waterline. Total weight of armour was 13,800 tons; a further measure of defence was provided by the inboard slope of her sides down to the waterline, so that shells hitting the hull would strike obliquely. The 15" gun turrets were encased with 15" armour. Six 36" Searchlights of 120 million candlepower each. Fuel consumption at full speed - 3 yards to one gallon. Three times around the ship = one mile.

The HOOD was completed on 15th May 1920, and became the flagship of the Battle Cruiser Squadron, then commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes.   This squadron formed part of the Atlantic Fleet, the name of which was changed in 1931 to Home Fleet, and while its normal cruising area was in the waters around the British Isles it made periodical visits during exercise periods to the Baltic, to Gibraltar and the Western Mediterranean, and to the West Indies. In August and-September 1922, the HOOD and REPULSE represented the Royal Navy at Rio de Janeiro during the celebration of the centenary of the Independence of Brazil.

In 1923-24 the HOOD made a cruise round the world. She was the flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Field, Commanding the Battle Cruiser Squadron, who was given command of a Special Service Squadron consisting of the battle cruisers HOOD and REPULSE and five cruisers of the First Cruiser Squadron to show the flag in Dominion and foreign ports. Calls were made by the battle cruisers at Sierra Leone, Cape Town, East London, Port Elizabeth and Zanzibar. Crossing the Indian Ocean, Trincomalee, Port Swettenham and Singapore were visited. Going on the Australia, the battle cruisers called at Fremantle, Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne. Hobart (Tasmania). Jervis Bay and Sydney. In New Zealand, they visited Wellington and Auckland.

The return voyage began with calls at Suva and Samoa in the Fiji Islands. Honolulu was the first American port of call. Then came the British Columbian ports of Victoria and Vancouver. Passing through the Panama Canal, the ships visited Kingston (Jamaica), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Quebec and Topsail Bay (Newfoundland). The whole cruise occupied ten months, from 27th November 1923 to 29th September 1924.

Between 1929 and 1931 the HOOD underwent a large refit, re-commissioning in May 1931 as flagship of the Battle Cruiser Squadron. The squadron continued in the Home Fleet until 1936, when for a short time it formed part of the Mediterranean Fleet, the HOOD acting as flagship of the Second-in-Command on that station, Vice-Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham (later Lord Cunningham of Hyndhope).


Across the waters of the Bay of Biscay, the thunder of saluting guns shattered the evening peace, as the Mighty Hood pushed southwards with those ever friendly Porpoises gambolling at her forefoot.

In the distance the Japanese cruiser, Asingari, was firing her salute to Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Blake whose flag the Hood was flying. Hood was returning to the Mediterranean after the Coronation Review at Spithead.

With the return of the Mediterranean Fleet, the largest in the world, we were soon hard at it, carrying out day and night exercises and 15" shoots - was not war imminent; the Axis powers had planned to make, without warning, bombing attacks on the Fleet in the Grand Harbour and at Portsmouth in 1938. Events were also getting worse in the Far East. Years later when I visited my Captain, now Vice Admiral Sir Francis Pridham, K.B.E., C.B. at his home in the New Forest, he told me a secret he had kept over the years - that the Commander in Chief Mediterranean, Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, had sent for him and told him to be prepared to take the Hood to the Far East.

All over the world Britains six Fleets were exercising day and night in preparation for the war to come.

15" Throw off shoots at the Repulse and point blank full calibre shoots at Fifia Rock - how I loved the thunder of those mighty guns, the Repulse on the horizon, the mighty flash and then the roar of the shells coming through the Mediterranean sky to fall five points astern of the Hood, sending up gigantic columns of water.

Our movements being of great interest to the Germans and the Italians, who ran to dip their ensign to us on the high seas.

It was the German Navy which respected and admired the Royal Navy most and made no secret of their contempt for their Italian partners - it was the Hood which the German sailors looked at in awe and deep rooted respect.

Hood played her part in the Spanish war and sailed the Mediterranean unchallenged - she became a familiar sight at Barcelona, Valencia, Palma and Marseilles, and many other places in the middle sea.

Laurels grow in the Bay of Biscay,
I hope a bed of them may be found
in the Mediterranean.

Nelson to Sir Gilbert Elliot.  Aug.4th, 1794.

The deep rumble of her guns spoke for Britain's imperial might. Her movements were watched with interest, her beautiful, powerful, massive lines were a thing of credulous beauty, under the command of a gunnery expert in  the tall, immaculate figure of Captain Pridham, who always brought the mighty Hood stern first into her tight berth in Bighi Bay, as if she was a destroyer.

Hood always presented a terrifying sight when at speed on the high seas with her quarterdeck awash, her funnels rumbling like thunder as they expanded with the heat, while emitting dense clouds of oily smoke. Britains sure shield unchallengeable yet.

Whilst at school in the Dorset village of Langton Herring, the deep rumble of Hood's guns out in the Channel off  Portland would vibrate the windows with  their shock waves, and windows shattered if not left open.

Sometimes they in the villages,
heard the deep rumble of her
guns far out to sea.

While we learnt about the greatest Empire the world had ever known, on which the sun never set - and proudly sang "Land of Hope and Glory" and "Rule Britannia" on Empire Day, May 24th.

Britain was secure, Britain had the mighty Hood, the greatest symbol of imperial power.

Britain also possessed the greatest propaganda machine the world had ever known, which perhaps was our greatest enemy - our main mistake was that we should seek peace with those who did not want peace.

Towards the end of August 1937, Hood left Malta for Argostoli with the Fleet exercising on the way.

Hood arrived at Split on September 1st and stayed for eight days - the ship was floodlit for King Peters birthday celebrations, and we were given the freedom of the town.

Early October Hood sailed from Malta for Arzeu, then on to Gibraltar, then to Tangier, and from there to Palma, arriving back at Malta in the first week of November. Christmas was spent at Malta and early in the New Year Hood left Malta and arrived at Palma on 8th January - Hood left Palma on 3rd February for Malta.

The Mediterranean is of necessity the vital point of a Naval war,
and you can no more change this, than you can change the position
of Mount Vesuvious.

Admiral Sir John Fisher to Lord Selbourne, 1st Dec. 1900


The outbreak of the Second World War on 3rd September 1939, found the Hood back on her former duty as flagship of the Battle Cruiser Squadron of the Home Fleet at Scapa, in the Orkneys. She wore the flag of Rear-Admiral W.J.Whitworth, Commanding the Squadron. Her first action was with enemy aircraft which attacked the Fleet on 26th September 1939, causing only slight superficial damage; two enemy aircraft were brought down. Among her various operations in the winter of 1939-40 was the covering of the first Canadian troop convoy, which arrived in the Clyde on 17th December 1939.   On 8th March 1940, Mr.Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, visited the Hood at Scapa and stayed the night on board. Shortly afterwards, the attitude of Italy made it necessary to send reinforcements to the Mediterranean and on 30th March the Hood left the Clyde to retube her condensers at Devonport and then to proceed to that station. These plans were modified when the Germans invaded Norway on 8th April 1940, and the Hood remained in home waters after her refit.

On 28th June 1940, eighteen days after Italy had entered the War, the Admiralty constituted a squadron known as Force H, based on Gibraltar, to prevent units of the Italian Fleet breaking out of the Mediterranean, and to operate offensively against the Italians. Vice-Admiral Sir James Somerville was appointed in command and the Hood became his flagship. On 3rd July, she was present in the force which had the unpleasant but essential task of immobilising the French warships at Oran to prevent their falling into German hands. On 31st July, she left Gibraltar to assist in covering the first of many aircraft ferrying operations into Malta. Twelve Hurricane aircraft were flown from the carrier ARGUS on 2nd August from a position south-west of Sardinia, and all reached Malta, although one crashed on landing.

The Hood then returned to England, the RENOWN replacing her as flagship of Force H. She resumed her former duty as flagship of the Battle Cruiser Squadron, and took part in several operations of the Home Fleet. On 12th November 1940, Vice-Admiral W.J.Whitworth, whose flag she wore, became Second-in-Command of the Home Fleet. Early in 1941, Vice-Admiral Whitworth was selected to be Second Sea Lord of the Admiralty, and was succeeded in command of the Battle Cruiser Squadron by Vice-Admiral L.E.Holland, C.B.

On 21st May 1941, when it became known that the German Battleship Bismarck had escaped into the Atlantic, the Hood, with the Prince of Wales, and six destroyers was ordered to cover the cruiser patrol in the Denmark Strait, between Greenland and Iceland. The ships left Scapa Flow at 0050 on 22nd May. When the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen were sighted on the evening of 23rd May, the Hood's force was about 300 miles away, and Vice-Admiral Holland increased speed to 27 knots; the Bismarck was sighted at 0535 next morning, 24th May, about 17 miles away; at 0552 when the range was down to 25,000 yards, Hood's guns thundered out renting the cold Arctic skies. A few seconds later Bismarck replied, as the Hood was racing at a speed of 28 knots and on swinging to port to concentrate the full weight of her main armament - then a shell or shells appeared to fall forward of her aft 15" gun turrets - a great fire broke out. The ship was still racing ahead, with her guns firing, when there was a colossal explosion and the Hood was completely enveloped in flame and smoke. Masts, funnels and other parts of the ship were hurled hundreds of feet into the air - these crashed back into the sea and were lost to sight. The bows of the Hood tilted vertically and within minutes all that remained on the surface, apart from the strewn wreckage, was flame and smoke.

A destroyer was ordered to pick up survivors, but there were only three. On that Empire Day 1941 in northern latitudes, the British Empire died, with grief in thousands of homes.

In the cold Arctic currents of the Denmark Strait, 500 miles north east of Cape Farewell, at a range of 16,500 yards, the Bismarck had sunk our Mighty HOOD. The Hood and her gallant crew were no more - with 1,415 men her grave is in position 63 degrees 20' north, 31 degrees 50' west.

Hood was awarded Battle Honour 'Bismarck' 1941.

We that survive perchance may end our days,
in some employment meriting no praise.
They have outlived this fear and their brave ends,
will ever be, and honour to their friends.

Epitaph by Phineas James, Shipmaster to his stricken comrades.


Over the mast - Go!
Twice around the Parade Ground - Go!

After 40 years the powerful voice of P.O.Brady, G.I. still reverberates around SHOTLEY.

The year 1933 had been a tough one for 136 Class of 15/16 year old Jixers - now ready for draft.

The long covered way designed as the "original wind tunnel" was cold and draughty as we stood there waiting to be detailed - Nelson, Rodney (baa). Hood, Repulse, Royal Oak, Queen Elizabeth. Six for the Hood and on 25th October 1933 we saw her for the first time lying at anchor below the Forth Bridge with the Home Fleet. We climbed onboard - Ditty Boxes at the ready.

And so commenced a happy three year commission for one jixer - TOP Division, First Part of Port Watch, Action Stations - 5.5" Deflection Calculation in the Spotting Top. Ammunition Ship - 15" magazine. Abandon Ship Station - No. 6 Carley Raft.

What a ship! Efficient - Fast - Happy - Beautiful lines - Good at Sport - Football - Running (remember the Running Gunners). Good at everything - COCK OF THE FLEET.

What do you remember most about the MIGHTY HOOD - the cockroaches which outnumbered us 100 to one - the Ten Commandments adapted by Rory O'Conor who was later lost in H.M.S. Neptune - The Flash Club. Watch out for the next GRIPPING entry from the Diary.