-H.M.S. Hood Reference Materials-
ADM 1-19140: "Sinking of H.M.S. Hood by Long Range Torpedo"
Updated 24-Aug-2006

This document is a modern transcription of Admiralty record ADM 1-19140. It deals with a bogus German claim that Hood was sunk by torpedoes from Prinz Eugen. The original file is held at the The National Archives at Kew, London. This Crown Copyrighted material is reproduced here by kind permission of The National Archives.

It should be noted here that the commander of Prinz Eugen, Kapitän zur See Brinkmann, DID order his torpedo officer (Lt Reimann) to fire torpedoes. Reimann, however, for understandable reasons, elected not to do so. This is verified in a contemporary 1941 German report dealing on Prinz Eugen's actions during the battle.

If anything, this issue is a perfect example of how bogus rumours can start in a ship and through word-of-mouth, evolved into something quite different. In this particular case however, we know the real facts.

Chainbar divider


DATE . . . 4th December, 1945 No. W.7657/45.


During conversations with a German officer of Z.38, it has emerged that there is a school in the German Navy which considers that H.M.S. HOOD was sunk by torpedoes fired at long range by PRINZ EUGEN and not only by shell fire from the BISMARCK.

2. It has been difficult to establish without giving the officer concerned the satisfaction of seeing that we are interested, but his reasons appear to be that torpedoes were fired inside extreme firing range and that the time of the first of the large explosions in H.M.S. HOOD occurred at the time when the torpedoes should have arrived.

3. It is believed that the officer concerned was serving at the time as Torpedo Officer of the PRINZ EUGEN and is therefore probably biassed. He states that the German Admiralty claim that HOOD was sunk by gunfire was largely a matter of policy to boost up the award of the Iron Cross to the Gunnery Officer of the BISMARCK, who, it will be remembered, was the senior surviving officer.

4. It is surprising that the claim of torpedo fire having caused the main damage has not been heard before, but it should be possible from the comparison of German Admiralty documents to substantiate, at any rate, the time and range of firing torpedoes. The loss of H.M.S. HOOD from a large explosion would certainly be accounted for more readily by this explanation than by any other which has been heard so far. It will be remembered that at first the loss was attributed to an explosion of HOOD's own torpedoes.


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Note from website editors: Page 2 is a second copy of the above letter.

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I have now been able to scotch the rumour that H.M.S. "HOOD" was sunk by torpedo from the German battle-cruiser "PRINZ EUGEN".

2. On 4th December 1945, Captain "VERNON (W)" wrote to D.T.A/S.W. that one of the German destroyer officers "frozen" at PORTSMOUTH had hinted that "HOOD" had in fact been sunk by torpedo from "PRINZ EUGEN" and not only by shell-fire from "BISMARCK". D.T.A/S.W. asked me to interrogate this officer to verify his statements.

3. After talking it over with S.O.(I) PORTSMOUTH, however, it became clear that the German officer named had in fact no first-hand knowledge of this action: he had heard the story from a German Seaman Torpedoman now at PORTSMOUTH who had himself been in "PRINZ EUGEN" at the time of the engagement and who had spread the story throughout the German personnel in PORTSMOUTH.

4. On 24th January 1946, the "EVENING STANDARD" carried a story to the same general effect as in 1. above. This story was written after the Press had been allowed to board "PRINZ EUGEN" on her way from GERMANY to the UNITED STATES via PORTSMOUTH and had spoken to the Germans remaining on board. This indicates that the story was almost certainly generally current in the German Navy, at least on the lower deck.

5. As a result of these rumours, I have caused a thorough search of German Naval Staff documents to be made. I have thus been able to form the definite conclusion that there is no truth in these rumours, which are presumably the result of exaggerated "amour-propre" on the part of "PRINZ EUGEN"'s ship's company.

6. The German Naval High Command West Group reconstructed the action from the log of "PRINZ EUGEN", West Group and North Group (extracts attached as Appendix "A. This shows that "PRINZ EUGEN" at no time in this action fired any torpedoes; and there is no evidence that "BISMARCK" fired any.

7. According to the foregoing reconstruction, "HOOD" sank at 0601/24th May 1941. Between 0603 and 0614 "PRINZ EUGEN" avoided three torpedo tracks, believed to be from torpedoes fired by "HOOD". Personnel in "PRINZ EUGEN" saw two of these tracks: it may be that it was these tracks which gave rise to the rumour that "PRINZ EUGEN" had herself fired the torpedoes.

8. An extract from the German F.O. Cruiser's appreciation of "PRINZ EUGEN"'s log (attached as Appendix "B") categorically states that "PRINZ EUGEN" did not fire torpedoes in this action, either at "HOOD" or at "PRINCE OF WALES".

9. S.T.A/SW. and D.T.S.D. have been informed as above, and I now suggest that the matter be considered closed.

N.I.D. 1

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First sighted "HOOD" and "PRINCE OF WALES" over 300 h.m. distant at 0547/24.

At 0553 "HOOD and "PRINCE OF WALES" having closed each other and set course at high speed for the company, opened fire at a range of about 290 h.m.

At 0555 "P.E." and "BISMARCK" returned fire. Both ships concentrated on the "HOOD" and were on target after the first salvo.

At 0559, after the sixth salvo, the Flag Officer ordered the "PE" by V/S to change target to the enemy furtherest to port (the "PRINCE OF WALES").

At 0557, at the impact of her second salvo, "PE" observed a fire, rapidly spreading, high up forward of the after mast of the "HOOD". Apparently the A/C hanger or petrol were alight. Gunfire was accurate. Two definite hits were observed and a small fire. "PE" observed bursting shells on each side of her but she was not hit.

At 0601 a very loud detonation from "HOOD" was heard and a large column of metal debris was blown into the air from the explosion on the "HOOD". A heavy black cloud enveloped the ship, which was sinking rapidly by the stern turning to 180°.

"BISMARCK"'s expenditure of ammunition amounted to 93 heavy rounds and "PE"'s to 179 shells.

The "P. of W" circled the sinking "HOOD", threw a smoke screen around her and broke off the action.

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APPENDIX "A" (Continued)

From 0603 to 0614 "PE" evaded three torpedo tracks. This was made possible by the continuous reporting from the Listening Room. The presence of torpedoes cannot definitely be established but at the same time there were A/C in the vicinity. By their course and range, however, the torpedoes could only have come from the "HOOD" whose torpedoes have the greatest range. The plotting of the noises from the Listening Room was definite. The second and third torpedo tracks were seen by the C/O from the Control Post.

NOT. The foregoing reconstruction was compiled from:
Log of "West Group"
Log of "North Group"
O.K.M. Intercept Reports
Log of "BISMARCK" as reconstructed by "West Group".

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. . . . . (c) A question which has not yet been explained is the non-use of torpedoes by the Cruiser (i.e., the "PRINZ EUGEN") . . . . . . . . . . . .

The salvos of torpedoes ordered by the C.O. were not fired because of avoiding action and the turning away of the enemy. During the brief moment of time when the enemy reached the fringe of torpedo range, the Torpedo Officer hesitated to give the order to fire as he did not wish to fire from the fringe of the range, but, at the rate at which the "PRINCE OF WALES" was approaching he preferred to wait till she was within a range of 5 hectometres. The turning away of both ships ("PRINCE OF WALES" and "HOOD") deprived him of the only opportunity during the action. In any event, it is established from the evaluation of the gunnery situation that the enemy would never have come within effective torpedo range at all, even if he had not turned away.

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Extract from German Top Secret Series - "Operation and Tactics - Evaluation of Important Experiences of War at Sea" - under the "Atlantic Operation of the Combat Group BISMARCK - PRINZ EUGEN", page 16.


At 0601 the HOOD is torn apart in an extraordinary loud explosion, after a hit from the BISMARCK. A column of iron fragments is hurled high into the air, a heavy black cloud of smoke envelopes the ship - now sinking rapidly by the stern and turning 180°.

When the clouds from the explosion have dispersed, nothing more can be seen of the HOOD - with her tonnage of more than 42,000 hitherto the largest battleship in the world. An armour piercing shell from the BISMARCK had pierced the armour plating of the HOOD and exploded in the after magazine of the British battleship. The HOOD met the same fate etc.

Between 0603 and 0614 the PRINZ EUGEN has to avoid three torpedo tracks; she succeeds in manoeuvring out of their path, and in so doing the cruiser sees the only opportunity which presents itself during the battle, to turn her own spread salvo of torpedoes against the PRINCE OF WALES now in position just within range and showing her whole broadside. The origin of the English torpedoes cannot, according to the log of the PRINZ EUGEN be definitely established, especially as aircraft were in the vicinity. Judging by position and distance they could only be shots from the HOOD whose torpedoes have the greatest running range.

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Director of Torpedo, Antisubmarine & Mine Warfare

[To] The Captain, H.M.S. VERNON (W), Eastern House, Alverstoke, Hants.

28 February,

With reference to your letter No. W.7657/45 of 4th December, 1945, it has been established that Oberleutnant zur See Remy had no first hand knowledge of the incident but obtained the story from a German S.T. named Fritz Gerbing, now frozen at Portsmouth.

2. On 24th January, 1946, the "Evening Standard" carried a story to the same general effect. This story was written after the Press had been allowed to board PRINCE EUGEN on her way from Germany to the United States via Portsmouth and had spoken to the Germans remaining on board.

3. The matter had now been fully investigated and it has been established, beyond reasonable doubt, that there is no truth in these rumours, which are probably the result of exaggerated "amour-propre" on the part of PRINZ EUGEN's ships company.


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To: The Captain, H.M.S. VERNON (W)

Copy to: S.O.(I), Portsmouth

With reference to your letter No. W.7657/45 of 4th December 1945, (not to S.O.(I) Portsmouth), it has been established that Oberleutnant zur See REMY has no first hand knowledge of this incident but obtained the story from a certain German S.T. named FRITZ GERBING, now 'frozen' at Portsmouth.

2. The S.O. (I) Portsmouth is being asked to report the extent to which this story is known to German Naval Personnel in the Portsmouth Command. It is requested that you will assist him in the interrogation of any personnel found to have any first hand knowledge of the action.

3. Meanwhile, endeavours are being made to locate officers of the 'Command' of PRINZ EUGEN who were present at this action, and you will be kept informed of any further evidence that may come to light.

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D.T.S.D. referred.

2. The German Officer concerned is OBERLEUTNANT REMY who is at present in Z.38 in Portsmouth. D.N.I. is requested to question this officer to verify his statements and to obtain any further information which may be available.

3. Examination of the plan and narrative of the Action printed in the Battle Summary show that PRINZ EUGEN may have been in a position to fire torpedoes at HOOD.

4. D.T.A.S.W. concurs with paragraph 4 of VERNONS letter.

14 December 1945

The enclosed extract from the German Report is quite clear and entirely discounts the German Officer's story. From this is appears that PRINCE EUGEN fired her torpedoes at PRINCE OF WALES after HOOD had been sunk. Further in a book by Fritz Otto Busch entitled "Prinz Eugen Im Ersten Gefecht" 1943 (in N.I.D.06922), Lieuftenant Busch, gunnery lieutenant of the PRINZ EUGEN saw the HOOD blow up and gives a clear account of it. He makes no mention of any torpedoes fired at the HOOD.

The cruiser was presumably stationed ahead so as to be in a position to exploit her torpedoes should the occasion arise. It was not otherwise intended that she should remain in the line of battle

January 1946

In view of D.T.S.D's minute of 2.1.46 and enclosure it is presumed that there is now no requirement for interrogation by D.N.I.

8th January 1946

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Register No. TASW.524/45
Minute Sheet No. 1

The statements contained in the German official account and in VERNON's letter concerning the target for PRINZ EUGEN's torpedoes are in clear conflict. The officer believed to be responsible for firing them claims that they were fired at the HOOD, who subsequently blew up: the official account says that they were fired, some appreciable time (apparently about 20 minutes) after HOOD blew up, at PRINCE OF WALES.

2. D.T.A.S.W. considers that, in the interests of historical accuracy, this matter should be cleared up and therefore requests that D.N.I. arranges for Oberleutnant Remy to be interrogated concerning this action.

15th January 1946

Discussion with S.O.(I) Portsmouth establishes that Oberleutnant zur See Remy has in fact no first-hand knowledge of this incident.

2. There is, however, a German S.T. named FRITZ TERBING now "frozen" at Portsmouth who was a gunnery rating in "PRINZ EUGEN" at the time and whose remarks on the sinking of "HOOD" have been quoted by REMY.

3. S.O.(I) Portsmouth suggests that D.T.A/SW sends a representative to interrogate TERBING.

4. D.N.I. concurs in this suggestion.

5. Will D.T.A/SW please get into touch with S.O.(I) Portsmouth direct?

20th January 1946

D.T.A.S.W. does not consider that any conclusive evidence could be obtained from TERBING who can have little or no first hand knowledge of the tactical situation at the time of Hood's sinking.

2. The 'Command' of PRINZ EUGEN during this action are the only people whose evidence would be capable of confirming or contradicting the existing accounts, and it is considered that efforts should be made to trace and interrogate them. If it is not possible to trace the Captain and other officers of the 'Command', no volume of messdeck can alter tactical records.

3. It seems probable, in view of the publication of a similar story in the newspaper "Evening Standard" on 24th January, 1946, that this story may have a wide circulation in the German navy. It is therefore suggest that S.O.(I) Portsmouth should report the extent to which the story is known among German personnel stationed in the Portsmouth Command. Arrangements can be made for VERNON (W) to assist in the interrogation of any personnel who appear to have first hand knowledge of the action.

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4. It is noted that the German account quoted by D.T.S.D. states that PRINZ EUGEN manoeuvred to avoid torpedoes. As these can only have been fired by HOOD, whose torpedoes had a low performance, it is implied that PRINZ EUGEN must have been within torpedo range of HOOD some time prior to Hood's sinking.

5. Subject to the concurrence of D.T.S.D. and D.N.I. it is proposed to reply to the Captain, H.M.S. VERNON (W) in the sense of the attached draft.

29 January, 1946

Concur with D.T.A/S.W's draft letter. The documentary evidence available does not support the idea that HOOD was sunk by a torpedo, and indeed there is at present no reliable evidence to show that PRINZ EUGEN fired any torpedoes at HOOD.

13th February, 1946

The log of PRINZ EUGEN of 24th May 1941 (the date of this action) makes no mention of PRINZ EUGEN having fired torpedoes against HOOD.

2. A German Naval Staff paper entitled "Appreciation by F.O. Cruisers of PRINZ EUGEN's Log for May 1941" states that she did not fire any torpedoes in this action against HOOD.

3. S.O.(I) Portsmouth states that there are 50-60 German naval personnel in Portsmouth Command, and since the German S/T concerned has free access to all of them the story told by the S/T is, in S.O.(I) Portsmouth's opinion, certainly known to all of them. None except GERBING have any first-hand knowledge of the action.

4. It is perhaps worth noting that the "Evening Standard" story of 24th January, 1946 was published immediately following the visit of PRINZ EUGEN with some German naval personnel on board, to Spithead, where the Press was allowed on board her. It is, therefore, to be presumed that the story was also current amongst German naval personnel remaining on board.

5. In view of the foregoing it is proposed to omit paragraph 2 from DTASW's draft reference sheet, with the remainder of which DNI concurs.

6. It has since been established that the correct name of the Seaman Torpedoman is Fritz GERBING.

15th February 1946

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Register No. TASW.524/45
Minute Sheet No. 2

D.T.S.D. concurs that, in view of D.N.I.'s remarks above, there is now little point in pursuing investigations amongst the German prisoners at Portsmouth, and he therefore agrees that paragraph 2 of the draft letter should be omitted.

20th February, 1946

D.T.A.S.W. concurs with D.N.I. that the evidence against PRINZ EUGEN ever having fired torpedoes at HOOD appears to be conclusive. The attached reference sheet has accordingly been sent to VERNON (W).

28th February, 1946.

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