-History of H.M.S. Hood-
The "World Cruise" of the Special Service Squadron
Written by Frank Allen & Paul Bevand
Updated 24-Jul-2014

This article covers Hood's participation in the famous around the world cruise undertaken by the Special Service Squadron in 1923/1924. The information here was derived from Admiralty records ADM 53/78914, ADM 53/78915, ADM 1/8662, ADM 116/2219 and ADM116/2220. These records are Crown Copyright and are referenced here by kind permission of the The National Archives, Kew, London. Originals in custody of Public Records Office. Our maps were prepared using MS Encarta Virtual Globe and NASA WorldWind. Lastly, a special thanks to Dr Bruce Taylor for sharing some details pertaining to some of the ports visited by Hood.

From 27 November 1923 to 28 September 1924, Hood, in company with H.M.S. Repulse and vessels of the First Light Cruiser Squadron, participated in the "Cruise of the Special Service Squadron." This epic journey, known to the public as the "Empire Cruise" or "World Cruise" (but called the "World Booze" by the Squadron's men), was a highly successful public relations victory for the Empire. It served as a subtle reminder to friend and foe alike that Britannia still ruled the waves. The squadron logged over 38,152 miles and visited numerous foreign countries around the globe. During the course of this cruise, over one million visited the entire Squadron, with Hood getting approximately 752,049 visitors alone.

Participating Squadrons & Vessels

Special Service Squadron
Commanded from H.M.S. Hood by Vice-Admiral (VADM) Sir Frederick Laurence Field, KCB, CMG

H.M.S. Hood During the World Cruise
H.M.S. Hood (flagship)
Commanded by Captain JK Im Thurn, CBE
H.M.S. Repulse during the World Cruise
H.M.S. Repulse
Commanded by Captain HW Parker, CBE







First Light Cruiser Squadron
Commanded from H.M.S. Delhi by Rear-Admiral (RADM) Sir Hubert George Brand, KCMG, KCVO, CB

H.M.S. Delhi
H.M.S. Delhi (flagship)
Commanded by Captain J M Pipon, MVO, OBE
H.M.S. Danae
H.M.S. Danae
Commanded by Captain FM Austin
H.M.S. Dauntless
H.M.S. Dauntless
Commanded by Captain CW Round-Turner
H.M.S. Dragon
H.M.S. Dragon
Commanded by Captain BWM Fairbairn, CBE
H.M.S. Dunedin
H.M.S. Dunedin
Commanded by Captain ARM Ramsay, DSO







Cruise Itinerary

Western Africa Ports of Call
Click to enlarge

Africa and the Indian Ocean
27 November 1923: The squadron departed Devonport, bound for Sierra Leone. While enroute, Hood conducted multiple sea boat, collision quarters and action stations exercises. The crew conducted a thorough cleaning and painting of the ship. By 03 December, the Squadron was off Tenerife, Canary Islands. Aboard Hood, tropical rig was adopted on 07 December. Hood averaged a daily speed of 10 knots. Arrived at Freetown, Sierra Leone on 08 December.

08–13 December 1923: At Freetown, Sierra Leone. Distance travelled: 2,805 miles. The ship was visited by the Governor of Sierra Leone. Hood was also refuelled (2053 tons of oil fuel) and provisioned (4,000 lb. fresh meat and 8,286 lb. fresh vegetables). Leave was granted to the Port Watch. Worked main derrick, conducted gunnery programme and exercised search lights. Visitors were permitted aboard on 11 December. The squadron departed for Cape Town, South Africa on 13 December.

13–22 December 1923: Enroute to Cape Town. Conducted day and night time searchlight exercises while enroute. Action station exercises as well as 15" sub-calibre throw off firing and HA firing gunnery programmes were carried out as well. A "crossing the line" (Equator crossing) ceremony was held on 14 December. The ship averaged a speed of 14–16 knots during this timeframe.

22 December 1923–02 January 1924: At Cape Town. Distance travelled from Freetown: 3,252 miles. Total distance covered (from Devonport): 6,057 miles. Upon arrival, the ship saluted dignitaries and was soon visited by the Acting Governor General. On 24 December, the majority of Hood's crew (@900 sailors and 300 marines) participated in a ceremonial march through Cape Town. The ship received visitors on 23, 24, 26 and 28–31 December. Hood was refuelled and provisioned. Leave was granted to both watches as well as the ship's boy ratings. Worked main derrick, conducted gunnery programme plus cleaned and painted the ship. On 26 December, the Squadron Ball was held. The squadron departed Cape Town on 02 January.

West African and Indian Ocean Ports of Call, January 1924
Click to enlarge

03 January 1924: Hood stopped briefly in Mossell Bay. Sea boat crew exercises and gunnery drills were conducted. The ship was also opened for visitors. The squadron departed for East London on the evening of 03 January.

03–05 January 1924: Enroute to East London.

05 January 1924: The squadron briefly visited East London. The ship was visited by the Port Captain. Hood's crew were engaged in mending clothing and cleaning the ship. The sea boat crews were also exercised once again (busy chaps!). The squadron departed for Durban on the afternoon of 05 January.

05–06 January 1924: Enroute to Durban.

06 January 1924: At Durban.

06–12 January 1924: Enroute to Zanzibar. As usual, the ship was heavily cleaned and the sea boat crews thoroughly exercised. Small arms parties and searchlight exercises were conducted as well.

12–17 January 1924: At Zanzibar. Distance from Capetown: 2,647 miles. Total distance covered: 8,704 miles. The ship was visited by the Sultan, Khalifa Bin Harud, on 16 January. While in Zanzibar, the ship was opened for visitors. For the crew, life went on as usual–much cleaning, provisioning and working of the main derrick. Some leaves were also granted. Hood conducted a gunnery programme. Members of the crew (small arms companies, Royal Marines and field guns) also participated in a ceremonial March Past. Departed amid much fanfare (a personal "escort" by the Sultan aboard his yacht), enroute for Trincomalee, Ceylon.

17–26 January 1924: Enroute to Ceylon. The sea boat crews were once again exercised. The ship was thoroughly cleaned. Another 15" full calibre and 5.5" throw off practice gunnery programme was carried out.

26–31 January 1924: At Trincomalee, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Distance from Zanzibar: 3,030 miles. Total distance covered: 11,734 miles. The squadron was placed in "At Home" status. While in port, Hood received visitors (but on a smaller scale than at her precious stops). The ship was cleaned, painted and provisioned. The main derrick was worked and the ship's divers were exercised. Leave was granted to elements of the ship's company. The squadron departed for Port Swettenham, Kuala Lumpur on 31 January 1924.

31 January–04 February 1924: Enroute to Port Swettenham. While enroute, the ship carried out gunnery programmes plus exercised sea boat crews and torpedo control parties. The ship was also cleaned once again.


Indonesian Ports of Call, January-February 1924
Click to enlarge
04–09 February 1924: At Port Swettenham, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Distance from Trincomalee: 1,311 miles. Total distance covered so far: 13,045 miles. The squadron was placed in "At Home" status. As usual, Hood received the lion's share of visitors. Routine cleaning of ship and working of main derrick conducted as well. The ship fired individual 17 gun salutes for Sultans of Perak, Pahang and Negri Sembilan. Numerous men were granted leave and went ashore to conduct "Kuala Lumpur excursions."

Aboard Hood, difficulties were experienced due to extreme heat as well as from sea salt contamination of drinking. water. Sadly, Able Seaman Walter Benger died of Malaria. A funeral was conducted for him and he was buried in a local cemetery. Departed for Singapore on 09 February 1924.

09–10 February 1924: Enroute from Port Swettenham to Singapore. Cleaned ship and exercised sea boat crews while under way.

10–17 February 1924: At Singapore. Distance from Port Swettenham: 318 miles. Total distance covered: 13,363 miles. The ship was opened to visitors. Hood saluted Admiral Sir Arthur Cavenagh Leverson KCB (Commander in Chief, China Station) with 17 guns. She saluted Sir Laurence Nunns Guillemard, KCB, KCMG ( Governor of Straits Settlements and High Commissioner for the Malay States) with 17 guns and Major General Sir Neill Malcolm KCB, DSO" (General Officer Commanding the troops in the Straits Settlements) with 15 guns.

While in port, Hood's crew worked the main derrick, cleaned ship, exercised search lights, tested the lifeboats (they were fine) and were granted leave. The ship was also provisioned. A small arms company of Royal Marines (Field and Machine Gun sections) participated in a ceremonial route march through Singapore. The Squadron admirals attended a dinner at Government House on 11 February. Departed for Fremantle, Western Australia on 17 February.

17–27 February 1924: Enroute to Australia. Hood's crew cleaned the ship, worked the main derrick, exercised sea boat crew and carried out a gunnery concentration exercise. The squadron conducted a very brief visit to Christmas Island on 20 February. The ships encountered extremely rough seas while enroute.

"Down Under"

Hood\'s ports of call in Australia and New Zealand in 1924
Click to enlarge
27 February–01 March 1924: At Fremantle/Perth, Western Australia. Distance from Singapore: 2,356 miles. Total distance covered since leaving Devonport: 15,719 miles. Hood's Naval Brigade marches through both Perth and Fremantle. Departed for Albany, Western Australia on 01 March.

01–02 March 1924: Enroute to Albany, Western Australia.

02–06 March 1924: At Albany, Western Australia. Distance from Freemantle: 403 miles. Total distance covered: 16,122 miles. Crew resumed regular rig. The squadron departed for Adelaide, South Australia on 06 March.

06–10 March 1924: Enroute to Adelaide, South Australia.

10–15 March, 1924: At Adelaide, South Australia. Distance from Albany: 1,046 miles. Total distance covered at this point: 17,168 miles. The Squadron was visited by over 69,510 visitors. The ships departed for Melbourne, Victoria on 15 March.

15–17 March 1924: Enroute to Melbourne, Victoria.

17–25 March 1924: At Melbourne, Victoria. Distance from Adelaide: 526 miles. Total distance covered: 17,694 miles. Signal Boatswain Albert Punshon died after suffering a heart attack. The crew participated in several social events and sporting matches. Additionally, the Naval Brigade marched through the city on 18 March. The squadron departed for Hobart, Tasmania on 25 March.

25–27 March 1924: Enroute to Hobart, Tasmania.

27 March–03 April 1924: Arrived at Hobart, Tasmania. Distance from Melbourne: 557 miles. Total distance travelled: 18,251 miles. The squadron departed for Jervis Bay, New South Wales on 03 April.

03–05 April 1924: Enroute to Jervis Bay, New South Wales. Briefly stopped in Twofold Bay, New South Wales on 04 April.

05–08 April 1924: At Jervis Bay, New South Wales. Distance from Hobart: 577 miles. Total distance from Devonport: 18,828 miles. The squadron departed for Sydney, New South Wales on 08 April.

08–09 April 1924: Enroute to Sydney, New South Wales.

09–20 April 1924: At Sydney, New South Wales. Distance from Jervis Bay: 93 miles. Total distance from Devonport: 18,921 miles. Hood's Naval Brigade marched through the city on 09 April. The following day, the ship was placed in "At Home" status. Musical revue held aboard the ship. Departed for Wellington, New Zealand on 20 April. The squadron was joined by H.M.A.S. Adelaide upon departure.

1924 Hood Crew Photo, left hand side
The Special Service Squadron at Sydney in April 1924. Click to enlarge.
Photo courtesy of James Warrand.

20–24 April 1924: Enroute to New Zealand.

24 April–08 May 1924: At Wellington, New Zealand. Distance from Sydney, 1,303 miles. Total distance covered: 20,224 miles. H.M.S. Dunedin was officially transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy. The squadron departed for Auckland on 08 May. Aboard Hood for this leg of the mision was Earl Jellicoe, Governer-General of New Zealand.

08–10 May 1924: Enroute to Auckland, New Zealand. On 09 May, Hood stopped briefly in Napier.

10–18 May 1924: At Auckland, New Zealand. Distance from Wellington: 640 miles. Total distance covered to date: 20,864 miles. The Naval Brigade marched through the city. Hood and the other ships of the squadron were placed in "At Home" status and received visitors. The squadron departed for Suva, Fiji on 18 May.

Across the Pacific

Pacific Ocean Ports of Call, 1924
Click to enlarge

18–21 May 1924: Enroute to Suva, Fiji.

21–27 May 1924: At Suva, Fiji. Distance from Aukland: 1,209 miles. Total distance covered: 22,073 miles. Departed for Honolulu, Hawaii on 27 May.

27 May–06 June 1924: Enroute to Hawaii. Briefly stopped at Apia, Western Samoa on 29 May.

06–12 June 1924: At Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. Distance : from Suva: 3,133 miles. Total distance covered to date: 25,206 miles. Embarrassingly, the Cricket team was beaten at cricket, by an American baseball team. Over all, it was a miserable time for most men due to American "Prohibition" laws (in observance of American laws, the men were not permitted any alcoholic drinks). The squadron departed for Canada on 12 June.

12–21 June 1924: Enroute to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Canada and the USA

Visits in Western North America, 1924
Click to enlarge

21–25 June 1924: At Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Distance from Honolulu, 2,459 miles. Total distance from Devonport: 27,665 miles. The squadron departed for neighbouring Vancouver on 25 June.

25 June–05 July 1924: At Vancouver, British Columbia. Distance from Victoria: 89 miles. Total distance travelled: 27,754 miles. The squadron departed for San Francisco, California, United States of America on 05 July.

05–07 July 1924: Enroute to San Francisco.

07–11 July 1924: At San Francisco, California, USA. Distance from Vancouver: 800 miles. Distance travelled from Devonport: 28,554 miles. The squadron was placed in "At Home" status for Britons living in the area. VADM Field was presented with the key to the city. On 11 July, the squadron departed San Francisco, bound for Central and South America.

Hood in Hawaii, 1924   Hood off Alcatraz Island, July 1924
Above/Left- Hood flying the American flag (click to enlarge); Above/Right - Hood near Alcatraz Island off San Francisco, California, July 1924 (click to enlarge)

Central America and the Caribbean

The Trek through Central America/the Caribbean, July 1924
Click to enlarge

11–23 July 1924: Enroute to the Panama Canal. On 12 July, the squadron split-up with the Special Service Squadron continuing towards the Panama Canal and the First Cruiser Squadron being detached to conduct a series of visits to various South American ports.

23–24 July 1924: The squadron arrived at Balboa, Panama. Distance from San Francisco: 3,442 miles (longest leg of trip). Total distance travelled to date: 31,996 miles. Both battle cruisers travelled through the Panama Canal. By all accounts, it was a very tight fit! Hood's total cost of tolls from transiting the canal: $22,399.50! On 24 July, the ships exited the canal near Colón and departed for Kingston, Jamaica.

24–26 July 1924: Enroute to Kingston, Jamaica.

26–30 July 1924: Arrived at Kingston, Jamaica. Distance from Panama: 546 miles. Total distance travelled: 32,542 miles. Hood's Naval Brigade marched through the city on 28 July. The squadron departed for Halifax, Nova Scotia on 30 July.

30 July–05 August 1924: Enroute to Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada).

Eastern Canada

Stops along Eastern Canada, 1924
Click to enlarge

05–15 August 1924: At Halifax, Nova Scotia. Distance from Jamaica: 1,848 miles. Total distance travelled since departing Devonport: 34,390 miles. The squadron departed for Québec on 15 August.

15–19 August 1924: Enroute to Québec.

19 August–02 September 1924: At Québec. Distance from Halifax: 868 miles. Total distance travelled: 35,258 miles. The squadron departed for Topsail Bay, Newfoundland on 02 September.

02–06 September 1924: Enroute to Topsail Bay, Newfoundland.

06–21 September 1924: At Topsail Bay, Newfoundland. Distance from Québec: 940 miles. Total distance from Devonport: 36,198 miles. On 15 September, a full crew photograph was taken (see below). On 19 September, a "Miss World" competition with 25 competitors was hosted aboard Hood. The winner was Miss Honolulu, followed by Miss Vancouver in second place and Miss Melbourne in third place. The squadron left for Devonport, England, UK on 21 September.

1924 Hood Crew Photo, left hand side 1924 Hood Crew Photo, centre 1924 Hood Crew Photo, right hand side
A crew photo (click to enlarge the three sections) likely taken in Topsail Bay, New Foundland on 15 September 1924.
Photo courtesy of Mrs A Bishop.

21–28 September 1924: Enroute to Devonport. Rendezvoused with the First Light Cruiser Squadron off the Lizard (Lizard Point).

29 September 1924: At Devonport, England. Distance from Topsail Bay: 1,954 miles. Total distance logged during the entire cruise: 38,152 miles. The mission was successfully completed.

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