-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
H.M.S. Crew List

It is estimated that as many as 18,000 men served aboard the 'Mighty Hood' during the operational portion of her 21 year career. Unfortunately, there is no surviving official single listing of ALL men who served in her. Here you will find our attempt at creating such a listing. We are using the few, fragmentary crew lists known to exist, Navy Lists, various official reports, public records, and most importantly of all, inputs from the families of former crew.

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James William Blake (Billy) Cracknell

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Service: Royal Navy
Rank: Electrical Artificer 1st Class
Service Number: M7530 and MX57299
Joined Hood First time: 13th May 1921
Left Hood First time: 14th May 1923
Joined Hood Second time: 28th August 1928
Left Hood Second time: 16th May 1929

Biographical Information:

James was born in Cambridge on 29 June 1893. On leaving school he was apprenticed as an instrument maker to the Cambridge Instrument Company. Having enlisted into the Royal Navy on 14 May 1914 he trained in H.M.S. Defiance at Devonport before a draft to HMS Thunderer in October 1914. His service in Thunderer included the greatest sea battle of World War 1 - the Battle of Jutland - fought between the British and German fleets on 31 May 1916. Thunderer was part of the Second Battle Squadron under the flag of Vice Admiral Sir Martyn Jerram. Interestingly, Jerram's Flag Captain was Captain Frederick L Field who would later, as Vice Admiral, hoist his flag in H.M.S. Hood in the same month James left the ship at the end of his first period of service in her. James' own service continued in Thunderer until 1920. In September 1920 he was married. He returned to Devonport before a draft to H.M.S. Hood from 13 May 1921 until May 1923. His service in Hood included the ship's first trip to the southern hemisphere when she travelled to Rio de Janeiro to represent the Royal Navy at the Brazilian centenary celebrations. On leaving Hood, James returned to Defiance prior to joining H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth September 1924. James volunteered to complete 22 years service to pension in January 1926 following which he joined H.M.S. Valiant in May 1926. His service continued in Valiant until May 1927. On leaving the ship he returned to Defiance until a draft to H.M.S. Osprey. August 1928 saw him return to H.M.S. Hood for his second spell in the ship. James remained in Hood until May 1929 when he transferred to H.M.S. Tiger. His service in Tiger went continued until March 1931 during which time he was awarded his long service and good conduct medal. On leaving Tiger James returned to Defiance to await his next draft which came on June 1927 to H.M.S. Castor in which ship he remained until November of the same year. Foreign service followed in H.M.S. Caradoc on the China Station from August 1932 to November 1934. James final years of service were in the Mediterranean in H.M.S. Eclipse then H.M.S. Electra at Malta. 18 May 1936 he left the Royal Navy and was discharged to pension.

But, with the war clouds gathering it proved not to be the end of James' naval career. On 10 May 1938 he was recalled. His second spell of service saw him in the old C class cruisers H.M.S. Ceres then H.M.S. Caradoc from September 28 until November 1940. Following this his service continued in Welsh ports in H.M.S. Lucifer until 1942. Further wartime service included a spell at then Scapa Flow in the minesweeper H.M.S. Proserpine at the anti submarine base at Lyness. James was finally discharged August 15 1945.

After leaving the Royal Navy, James served at Devonport dockyard as an electrical fitter until his retirement in 1958. He died in 1973.

Additional Photos

No known memorials

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
'Register of Deaths of Naval Ratings' (data extracted by Director of Naval Personnel (Disclosure Cell), Navy Command HQ, 2009)
His grandson, Paul Cracknell (biographical information & photos, Sep 2006)