-H.M.S. Hood Reference Materials-
ADM 116/4351: Report on the Loss of H.M.S. Hood
Updated 22-Mar-2007

This document is a modern transcription of a portion of Admiralty record ADM 116/4351. The original record concerns the enquiries into the loss of H.M.S. Hood in 1941. 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.

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Appendix III

Series C

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SECRET

Appendix III

MINUTES OF EVIDENCE TAKEN AT A BOARD OF INQUIRY, BY A COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO ENQUIRE INTO THE LOSS OF H.M.S. HOOD IN ACTION WITH THE GERMAN BATTLESHIP BISMARCK ON 24th MAY 1941.

SERIES "C"

MEMBERS OF THE BOARD.

Rear Admiral H.T.C. Walker, Royal Navy (President)
Captain R.G. Duke, Royal Navy
Captain L.D. Mackintosh, D.S.C., Royal Navy

LIST OF WITNESSES

Name and Rank or Rating. Question Nos.
1. Commander E. Hale, R.N. - evidence taken on board H.M.S. KING GEORGE V. at Scapa Flow, 13th August, 1941. 1 - 6
EVIDENCE TAKEN AT OFFICES OF F.O. i/c NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE, 14th August, 1941, members of H.M.S NORFOLK.  
2. Lieutenant Ronald H. Royds, R.N. 7 - 28
3. Act. Paymaster Sub.Lieut. M.C.M. Jephson, R.N. 29 - 40
4. Lieutenant David L. Barclay, R.N. 41 - 57
5. Act. Petty Officer H. Harvey, D/JX. 134988 58 - 72
6. A.B.W. Snaith, S/SSX. 18488. 73 - 84
7. Ord. Signalman B. Morgan, D/JX. 158222 85 - 93
8. Act. Leading Seaman J. Stoker, SSX. 23707 94 - 104
9. Act. Leading Seaman J.W. Flynn, D/JX 161887. 105 - 108
10. Act. Leading Telegraphist P. Gallagher, D/JX.142261 109 - 121
11. Marine George Grainger, PLY/X.3359 122 - 127
12. Marine A. Stanton, PLY.X.680. 128 - 137
13. Marine M. Rushman, PLY.749. 138 - 142
14. Marine Thomas Hill. PLY.X.3431. 143 - 153
15. Marine R.J.Springett. Ply.X.3431. 154 - 173
16. Corporal W.L. Stocker, Ply.X.1217 174 - 184
17. Petty Officer S. Cross, D/J.108835. 185 - 191
18. Leading Steward E. Tromp. D/L.11676. 192 - 199
19. Mr. S.E.H.Mitchell, Commissioned Gunner. 200 - 213
20. Able Seaman L. Blease. D/J.X.135542. 214 - 222
21. Able Seaman W. Tonks, D/SSX.22723. 223 - 236
22. Ord. Seaman W.J. Cogan, D/J.X.159134. 237 - 245
23. A.B. W.W. Childs. D/J.X.136888. 246 - 252
24. AB H. Griffiths. D/J.X.187941. 253 - 263
25. Ord. Seaman E.S. Webb. D/J.X.160013. 264 - 277
26. Lieutenant R.S.C. Langford, R.N. 278 - 300
27. AB W.R. Ford, D/SSX. 31089 301 - 306
28. AB F.W. Holden, D/J.X.148102. 307 - 322
29. Assistant Steward C. Senior, D/L.X.24302. 323 - 337
30. Marine George Delmer Greenwell, Ply/X.1348. 338 - 348
31. Ord. Seaman D. Williams, D/J.X.191851. 349 - 360
32. Ordinary Seaman W. Hill, S/J.X.176615. 361 - 372
33. AB T.J. Dawson, D/J.X. 153315 373 - 378
34. AB R.R. Brett, D/J.X.222884 379 - 384
35. AB J.F. Moore, D/SSX.21848 385 - 395
36. AB A. Burgess, D/SSX.26255. 396 - 403
37. AB J.W. Booth, D/J.X.175660. 404 - 416
38. AB E.G. Hatton, D/SSX.20112. 417 - 425
39. Midshipman E.J. Somers, R.N.R. 426 - 437
40. Midshipman P.G. Buckley, R.N.R. 438 - 447
41. Midshipman C.J. Broome, R.N.R. 448 - 454
42. Temp.Acting Gunner (T) S.J. Woodwards. 455 - 458
43. Corporal J.F. Wood, R.N. PLY.X. 242 459 - 464
44. AB E.L. Davies, D/JX 187984. 465 - 471
45. Acting Leading Seaman W. Binns, D/SSX.19463 472 - 480
46. AB J. Thomas, D/JX158578 481 - 488
47. Chief Petty Officer John Bain, D/J.104011. 489 - 497
48. Actg.Petty Officer G.W. Lovett, D/J.113254. 498 - 505
49. Marine R.A. Forrest, PLY/M.1232 506 - 510
50. Chief Yeoman W.A.Mighall, D/J.81296 511 - 519
51. Actg. Petty Officer R.W. Tucker, D/JX.134567 520 - 527
52. Yeoman of Signals C.G.Tonkin, D/JX.140331. 528 - 543
53. A.B. A.W. Tanner, D/JX. 148019 544 - 552
54. A.B. M. Pickup, SSX20933. 553 - 562
55. A.B. Thomas A. Riley, D/JX. 226888 563 - 567
56. Ord.Seaman Joseph B. Mahoney, D/JX. 185048 568 - 573
57. A.B. H.G. Cain, SSX. 17608. 574 - 580
58. A.B. S.T. Hogan, D.JX. 132360. 581 - 589
59. Ord.Seaman R.C.S. Aggett, D/JX. 159970 590 - 596
60. Marine J.A. Macrae, PLY/X.1373 597 - 603
61. Marine G.A. Nelson, PLY/X.1194 604 - 610
62. Marine C.G. Wells, PLY/X. 370. 611 - 616
63. Petty Officer Charles Robertson Ogilvie, J.104859 617 - 624
64. Telegraphist R. Blanchard, D/JX. 155771. 625 - 632
65. Corporal P. Noonan, PLY/X. 2687 633 - 640
66. A.B. E.H. Pengelly, JX.137026. 641 - 646
67. Signalman T.W. King, D/JX.159385. 647 - 658
68. A.B. Henry Spencer Thomas, D/JX. 147673 659 - 669
69. Marine T.E. Keeley, PLY/X.2509 670 - 673
70. Marine J. Mahoney, PLY/E.Coy.20999 674 - 681
71. Marine G. Sharpe, PLY/X.1224. 682 - 689
72. Marine J.H. Chandler, PLY/X.3497. 690 - 693
73. Marine H. Wykes, PLY/X.3832. 694 - 701
74. Boy 1st Class A.C.A. Daniells, D/JX.163543 702 - 717
75. Boy J. Ball, D/JX. 175953 718 - 731
76. Commander Alfred Cecil Luce, R.N. 732 - 745

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Evidence taken on board H.M.S. "King George V" at Scapa Flow on 13th August, 1941.

First Witness.

Commander E. HALE. R.N. Fleet Torpedo Officer.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

1. Do you know what the orders were with regard to the armoured doors to the torpedo tubes in the Hood?

Not personally. Special instructions in these doors can be contained in the Battle Cruiser Squadron's Standing Orders. In the Torpedo Drill Book it says they should be open in the first degree of readiness.

(A copy of the Battle Cruiser Squadron's Standing Orders dated 2.8.39 was produced, but contained no information on this subject).

2. Could you give a useful opinion as to whether these doors are likely to be open or shut at about the time of the action with the Bismarck.

Probably open.

3. Would the warheads on the spare torpedoes over the tubes probably be on or not?

They would be on, as that would be their probable position in war time.

4. Would the spare torpedoes probably be run back ready for loading or not?

Probably not.

5. Would the pistols be shipped in all eight warheads?

As the Hood had been expecting to meet the enemy for some time, I imagine the four torpedoes in the tubes would be in the first degree of readiness for firing and therefore their pistols would be shipped. The pistols to the four spare torpedoes would be shipped until they were being actually loaded into the tubes.

6. Would the Hood's torpedoes fitted with enriched air?

No, natural sir.

Note: Enquiries were made, but there was no officer or rating in King George V familiar with the actual modern torpedo drill of Hood.

Note: The Board took the opportunity of examining one of King George V's U.P. mountings, its ammunition and its stowage.

 

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Evidence taken at the Offices of the Flag Officer in Charge, Tyne at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 14th August, 1941. (Note- Witnesses from H.M.S. Norfolk)

First witness.

Lieutenant Ronald Hugh ROYDS. R.N.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter 11.

7. What is your appointment in the Norfolk?

Torpedo Officer, Sir.

8. Where were you and what were you doing at the time of the action?

On the Compass Platform carrying out my duties as Torpedo Officer.

9. Are your recollections of the action and what you saw now clear?

No, Sir, such a long time has passed since the action took place.

10. Will you describe what you saw as far as your recollections serve. Do not hesitate to say if you cannot remember anything.

The Hood opened fire on the Bismarck from the Eastward, red 20 or so, Bismarck firing about green 40. First of all I was watching the fall of shot of the Hood and the Prince of Wales on the Bismarck. After a short period I saw an orange flame in the vicinity of the mainmast. (Can you indicate the colour on these groups? Witness indicated 4 to 5 on exhibit 2.) This died down and I remarked to the Commander standing next to me that we thought we had got the fire under control, but it immediately sprang up again with renewed intensity which followed what was apparently an explosion and a large amount of smoke and that was the last I saw of the ship, a large amount of heavy debris was thrown up into the air. I cannot say how long the fire burnt.

11. Was this the second fire or explosion the same colour as the first one?

Yes, sir.

12. You mentioned smoke, what was the position of the smoke in relation to the flame?

It was all over the after end of the ship from the bridge to the stern.

13. Was the smoke above or below the flame.

All round it.

14. Could you see the hull of the Hood?

Yes.
(Model was produced and witness indicated an inclination of 20° to the right).

15. Did you see any of the Bismarck's fall of shot before the fire burst out?

Yes, but I cannot remember where.

16. Did you see any after the fire broke out?

My impression was that the fall of shot never ceased until the Prince of Wales also disengaged.

17. Did you see any fall of shot round the Hood just before the second fire broke out?

At the time the Prince of Wales was practically in line with the Hood and you could not see whether the fall of shot was on the Hood or the Prince of Wales.

18. Did you see the Hood firing at all?

Yes, from the time the engagement started until the fire started and her foremost turrets for a very short period after the fire started.

19. Can you be certain if you saw her after turrets fire at all?

Yes, Sir I saw them open fire.

20. Can you saw the whereabouts in the Hood the explosion took place?

In the vicinity of the mainmast.

21. Can you describe the appearance of the explosion in ay detail?

Heavy debris was thrown up high into the air in all directions, amongst which was the after range finder on top of the after control.

22. Were you using glasses when you saw the debris?

Yes.

23. Can you remember whether the fire and the explosion were fore or above the mainmast?

It appeared to be all round the mainmast.

24. Can you give an idea of the size of the fire?

About half the beam of the ship at the mainmast, half its width high. Originally the fire was semi-circular.

25. Had you ever been close to the Hood when she was at sea and ready for action?

No, Sir.

26. Do you know anything about the orders as regard Battle Cruisers Squadrons' torpedoes?

I know the orders contained in the technical handbooks but no Squadron orders.

27. Could you see the mantlet doors over the tubes in the Hood?

No.

28. Could you see any of the ship after the explosion?

No.

Witness was obviously trying to avoid giving opinions that he might have formatted since the action and stated his recollections were a bit hazy.

Second Witness.

Acting Paymaster Sub Lieutenant Maurice Christian Mounteney JEPHSON, R.N.

29. What was your station and what were you doing during the action?

I was the Captain's diarist on the Compass Platform. At the time the Hood blew up I was below on B Gun Deck.

30. Is you recollection of what happened clear or hazy.

On this particular point it is hazy.

31. Will you tell the officer who is turning the model to stop when she is at the inclination at which you saw her.

(Witness indicated an inclination of 50° to the right.) My eyesight is not particularly good and I was not watching through glasses. Someone said the Hood was on fire, she appeared to me to be on fire amidships between the mainmast and the foremast. The fire seemed to be large and extended probably 80 feet long by 20 or 30 feet wide, it extended to about the height of the funnels. The colour was approximately number 6 on exhibit 2. It appeared to be rather yellow at the top.

32. Was it a steady flame?

It seemed to be a steady glow.

33. What happened then.

I must have seen it for a minute until I went below.

34. Did you see anything more?

When I came up again there was nothing to be seen except the smoke.

35. What colour was the smoke?

Black.

36. Could you see anything of the hull of the Hood?

Yes, sir.

37. Could you see her torpedo tube doors?

No, sir.

38. Could you see if any of her turrets were firing during the time the fire was burning.

No, sir, my impression is that they were, but I cannot say definitely.

39. How could you tell the breadth of the fire?

It is my impression that a fire of such dimensions would look like the one I saw on that part of the Hood.

40. Did you see any splashes round the Hood.

No, sir.

We do not consider that this officer's evidence is of much value, that is because he did not see the explosion and his eyesight is bad.

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Third Witness.

Lieutenant David Lovat BARCLAY, R.N. H.M.S. Norfolk.

The Witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter 11

41. What were you doing at the time of the action.

I was the officer of the 4 inch gun deck port side at P.2 mounting.

42. Will you tell us what you saw as regards the Hood blowing up from the time she started firing.

(Witness was shown the model and indicated an inclination of 30° right.) I only walked over to the port side about half a minute before the Hood blew up and I only saw one salvo of the Bismarck and then this one hit her. There seemed to be a spurt of flame from aft not very big, really a glow which remained for quite a long time, about half a minute. Meanwhile the Hood fired a salvo. I am sure the fore turret fired but I am not sure about the after one. The flame appeared to me to be on the starboard side not in a turret.

43. Was it before X turret?

I would not be prepared to say definitely, but I should think so. I had a pair of binoculars which I looked through but they were not very powerful.

44. You said you originally saw a fire break out in the after part of the Hood, could you be a little more specific as to its whereabouts.

No, sir, I could not, but it seemed to be on the starboard side of the ship round the middle line.

45. What was the colour of the flame.

Fairly deep red. (Witness indicated number 7 on exhibit 2.)

46. Will you continue after the time when the glow had been burning for about half a minute.

The Hood fired another salvo and then to me there appeared to be two explosions one followed very quickly after the other, a minor one and then the major one. After that I did not see much because of the smoke the Prince of Wales put up round her and I could not see her at all.

47. Did these explosions appear to come from the same part of the ship as the fire?

Yes, from the after part of the ship.

48. Can you describe the colour and characteristics of the explosion?

It appeared to go straight up like an inverted cone.

49. Did both the explosions you mentioned produce an inverted cone.

No, sir, they were too simultaneous it seemed to come up and follow straight on and it may have been the same explosion. The explosion was definitely cone shaped but I cannot remember the colour.

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50. When did you first see a lot of smoke in connection with the Hood.

A certain amount when she caught fire but not very much and then after the explosion when it died again I saw plenty of smoke.

51. What was the colour of it?

I would not be prepared to say.

52. Did you see any debris in the explosion?

Yes, I saw what might have been debris in the form of white streaks coming up from the explosion.

53. Did you see anything of the ship directly after the explosion?

No, sir, definitely not, but I saw smoke.

54. Have you ever seen the U.P. Mounting fired.

Yes.

55. Was there any resemblance between your white streaks you referred to and the appearance of a U.P. mounting firing.

They were too white and too bright.

56. Could you see the hull of the Hood at any time?

Yes, definitely.

57. How much?

The two after turrets, a bit of the after part of the hull.

An average witness.

 

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Evidence taken at the Offices of the Flag Officer in Charge Tyne Area at Newcastle on 15th August 1941. (Note- Witnesses from H.M.S. Norfolk)

Acting Petty Officer HERBERT HARVEY. D/J.X.134988

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

58. Are your recollections of what happened as regards the loss of Hood still clear or not?

Yes, sir they are still clear.

59. Will you tell us what you saw.

I saw a big flash which seemed to run from the stern of the bows and then a big flash that went high into the air and everything seemed to be covered in smoke after that.

60. Where were you and what was your duty?

I was on the port pom-pom as trained.

61. Did you see any firing before the first flash?

Yes, sir, I saw the Hood and the Prince of Wales open fire, bit I could not see the Bismarck at all and I saw the Hood fire about three salvoes, but I could not see with how many turrets. This flash came and that was all to it, it went up in the air and I could not see any more.

62. Can you tell us the extent of the first flash?

It seemed to run from the stern to the bows of the ship and then flame shot in the air and that is all there was.

63. What about the second flash or explosion?

It rose right up in the air and seemed to come from all the ship.

64. Were you looking through glasses?

No, the naked eye.

65. Was the first flash a steady flash or pulsating?

It was a steady flame.

66. Was there much smoke from that flame?

Yes there was black smoke all the time.

67. Was the colour of the second fire or explosion the same colour as the first one?

Yes, sir.

68. Can you indicate what colour it was?

(Witness indicated No. 5 on exhibit 2.)

69. Could you see any debris in the explosion?

No, sir

70. Did you see any salvoes landing round the Hood?

No, sir I never saw any at all.

71. Did you see any of the Hood's hull?

No, sir.

72. Have you any idea of the time between the first flash and the second flash?

A matter of seconds.

Intelligent, but saw little.

 

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Able Seaman WILLIAM SNAITH, D/SSX. 18488

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

73. Where were you and what was your duty?

I was action look-out in the A.D.P. Port side.

74. Had you got glasses?

Yes, sir.

75. Did you use them on the Hood?

Yes, sir.

76. Is your recollection of what happened still fairly clear?

Yes, sir.

77. Will you tell us what you actually saw of the Hood firing and blowing up?

The Hood was bearing at about red 25 when she opened fire on the Bismarck, she fired about four salvoes, but after the fourth salvo from the Bismarck the Hood was ablaze from Stem to stern, the guns were still firing all the same.

78. Did Hood fire with all four turrets?

I could not say, I could only see the foremost ones.

79. Which turrets did she fire with after the fire started?

I could not say, all that I could see was the flash, I could pick it out from the flames that were still going and the guns were still firing. Then I saw fall of shot round the Hood, the next thing was the Hood blowing up in the air in little pieces.

80. Was that accompanied by flame and smoke?

Yes, big flame and a lot of smoke.

81. Where was the smoke in relation to the flame?

There was a big flame and after the flame a great big pall of smoke and I could not see anything more.

82. Was the explosion the same colour as the flame from the first fire?

Yes, sir.

83. Can you indicate the colour?

(Witness indicated No. 5 on Exhibit 2.)

84. I think you said you saw the Hood go up in pieces, can you describe what the pieces looked like?

No, sir.

A man of average intelligence looking through glasses, his evidence represents what the average rating would be expected to record.

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Ordinary Signalman BERNARD MORGAN. D/J.X. 158222

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

85. Where were you and what was your station?

My action station is the Flag Deck, I was on the port side.

86. Were you watching the Hood through glasses?

No, sir.

87. Are your recollections of what happened still clear?

The main points are clear.

88. Will you tell us what you saw.

I saw the Hood open fire.

89. With all turrets?

Yes, sir. She appeared to fire three salvoes and there appeared a flame on the forecastle, then another flame on the stern which seemed to spread along the length of the whole ship, then it was only a matter of seconds when she went up in a huge flash and a lot of black smoke came out.

90. Was the first fire a steady flame?

It was a very small flame but steady.

91. What was the interval between the first fire appearing and the explosion taking place?

A short time.

92. Can you indicate the colour of the fire?

(Witness indicated No. 5 on exhibit 2.)

93. Was the colour of the explosion the same as that?

Yes, sir.

His impressions were quite hazy.

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Acting Leading Seaman JACK STOKER, SSX. 23707.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

94. Where were you and what was your duty?

In was in the action pom pom on the port side as breach worker.

95. Had you got glasses?

No, sir.

96. Will you tell us what you saw as regards Hood as shortly as you can?

The Hood fired about four salvoes and she seemed to be on fire and about a few seconds after she was on fire she opened fire again and then she blew up.

97. Where did this fire extend to?

It seemed to be the whole length of the ship.

98. What colour was it?

Dark red.

99. Will you indicate that?

(Witness indicated No. 6 on Exhibit 2.)

100. Was the flame of the explosion the same colour as that of the fire?

Yes, sir.

101. Describe the explosion a little more.

There was just a flash of flame and then a lot of smoke.

102. What colour was the smoke?

Black.

103. Could you see which part of the ship the explosion came from?

It seemed to be from amidships.

104. You saw Hood fire between the first fire and the explosion, could you see which guns fired?

No, you could not distinguish, sir.

Average witness, bearing in mind the conditions in which he saw the action.

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Acting Leading Seaman JAMES W. FLYNN, D/J.X. 161887.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

105. Where were you and what was your duty?

On the port .5" gun alongside the funnel as layer.

106. Are your impressions still quite clear?

Not very, sir, I have only a faint recollection.

107. What is you recollection?

I just saw two ships on the port side firing at each other, I saw a few salvoes, one of them set alight and a few seconds after there was an explosion in the same ship, then there was a large flash with a lot of smoke and there was only one ship left.

108. What was the colour of the fire?

It was bright red. (Witness indicated No 4 on Exhibit 2.)

This witness did not know much.

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Acting Leading Telegraphist PATRICK GALLAGHER. D/J.X. 142261.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

109. Where were you and what was your duty?

After control.

110. Were you watching through glasses?

No, sir.

111. Are you recollections still fairly clear?

Yes, sir.

112. What did you see?

The Hood was on our port bow and she opened fire with two salvoes and then she was hit on the forecastle.

113. How do you know she was hit?

A sheet of flame came out from the ship's side and then receded back again, just at that moment the Hood fired another salvo and then a few seconds late she blew up. The explosion seemed to come from the base of the foremast.

114. Was the foremast to the right or left end of Hood as you were looking at her?

The right hand end, sir.

115. What colour was the flame?

Deep red. (Witness indicated No. 7 on Exhibit 2.)

116. How did the flame shoot, outwards?

Yes, sir.

117. Horizontally?

Yes, sir.

118. Did you see which guns of the Hood fired between the flash and the explosion?

B turret, I never saw her after turrets fire at all.

119. Could you see the funnels of the Hood?

Yes, sir.

120. And the mainmast?


Yes, sir.

121. The flame that you saw was to the right of the mainmast?

From B turret right forward.

The witness thought he saw more than he possibly could have done.

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Marine GORDON GRAINGER, PLY/X. 3359.

122. Where were you at the time of this action?

On P.24" gun.

123. Were you watching through glasses?

No, sir.

124. Will you give a description of what you saw of the action?

There were two ships, but I did not know which was which, when they opened fire the Hood got a hit on the Quarterdeck and she started on fire, then she replied with her own guns and after that she blew up, I did not see any more flashes after that.

125. You saw the Hood fire?

Yes, sir.

126. Between the first and the second flash which guns did she fire?

The full broadside, and the first fire was round about X turret.

127. Can you be quite certain she fired a full broadside?

I could not be certain, but that was my impression. Average impression of an untrained observer.

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Marine ALFRED STANTON, PLY X.680

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

128. Where were you and what was your duty?

On S 2. H.A. gun on the port side by P.2 gun.

129. Had you glasses?

No, sir.

130. What did you see?

All I saw was a cloud of black smoke and after that there was nothing there.

131. Did you see any flame?

No, sir.

132. Were you actually looking at the Hood before this black smoke appeared?

Yes, sir.
133. Could you see the Hood?
Yes, sir.

134. How much could you see?

It was too far away to have a clear view.

135. Could you see if she was firing?

She Was.

136. Did you see any big explosion?

Yes, sir, just before the black cloud she seemed to fire a broadside.

137. Did you see any flashes round the Hood?

There were some, but I think they were firing at the Prince of Wales.

Average impression of an untrained observer.

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Marine MAURICE RUSHMAN, PLY X.749.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

138. Where were you and what was your duty?

No. 2 of the port P.2 H.A. gun.

139. Were you looking through glasses?

No, sir.

140. Tell us what you saw.

Somebody said that the ship was on fire and I walked over from the gun to the screen and pushed myself through the crowd and they said she had gone up and all I saw was a cloud of smoke.

141. Did you see any flame?

No, sir.

142. You saw no ship at all?

No, sir.

Average impression of an unexpected happening by an untrained observer.

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Marine THOMAS HILL, PLY X. 3431.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

143. Where were you and what was your station?

On the 4" gun deck, P.2 port side.

144. What did you see?

We were going along and could see three ships and then they opened fire, after about five salvoes we saw on of the ships on fire, she continued firing. She fired about one or two salvoes after that only one or two guns fired. All this time the fire was getting high, then there was a rumbling noise and the flame shot up in the air, then clouds of black smoke and that was all.

145. Did the fire appear to envelop the whole ship?

Yes, sir.

146. What colour was it?

Reddish orange. (Witness indicated No. 5 on Exhibit 2.)

147. Was the colour of the explosion the same as that of the fire?

I do not recollect that, sir.

148. Did you see any salvoes landing near the Hood?

No, sir.

149. Did you have glasses?

No, sir.

150. You said you heard a low rumbling noise, was that at exactly the same time as you saw the explosion, a matter of definitely a few seconds?

No, exactly the same time.

151. Did you see any pieces of the ship in the air?

Yes, sir.

152. Could you recognise any of the pieces?

No, sir.

153. Were they large?

It is rather difficult to say with all the smoke, you could just see black objects coming down, the size was relatively small.

Above average intelligence, though his statement as regards the rumbling noise was obviously incorrect. An example of the difficulty of obtaining correct evidence from untrained observers after a lapse of time.

- Page 284 -

Marine RONALD JAMES SPRINGETT, PLY X.2544.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

154. Where were you and what was your duty?

At P.2. 4" gun as gunlayer.

155. What were you looking through?

Telescope , sir.

156. What did you see?

I had my telescope trained on the Hood, you could see both ships on the horizon firing at one another and then the Hood burst in flames more towards X turret and gradually spread the length of the ship, then the Hood fired another broadside.

157. When you say broadside do you mean all the turrets?

Yes, sir, directly she had finished the broadside there was a big flash then a cloud of black smoke and when the smoke cleared away there was nothing left.

158. Did the first flame spread very high?

No, it was a low flame and seemed to go along the upper deck.

159. What colour was it?

It was an orange red colour. (Witness indicated No. 4 on Exhibit 2.)

160. What was the interval between the burst of the first fire and the explosion?

I could not say exactly, it was only a matter of seconds.

161. Was the colour of the explosion the same colour as the fire?

It seemed to be a little darker, but there was not a lot of difference.

162. Could you see any debris?

No, I did not see anything at all.

163. Could you see any fall of shot round Hood?

None at all, sir.

164. How did the colour compare with the colour of Hood's flashes?

It may have been a little darker in the flashes, but there was not much difference.

165. What colour was the smoke.

Black.

166. Was it the same colour as the smoke from her own guns?

No, it was a bit darker.

167. Was your ship fairly steady?

Yes, sir, very steady.

168. Could you see anything of the hull or upper works of the Hood?

No, sir, it was rather blurred, I could not pick anything out definitely.

169. What was your recollection of the background?

It was a medium grey colour.

170. You say you did not see any fall of shot round Hood, do you think it was possible for you to have done so?

Yes, I think so, sir if it was between the two ships, but not if it went over.

171. Did you see any fall of shot round Prince of Wales?

Yes, sir.

172. Was that before or after Hood disappeared?

After.

173. Only after?

Yes, sir.

A good impression of a fairly well trained observer who was actually looking at the Hood at the time. An intelligent man.

- Page 286 -

Corporal WILLIAM LEONARD STOCKER, PLY/X. 1217.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

174. Are you recollections quite clear?

Yes, sir.

175. Where were you and what was your duty?

At P.2. 4" mounting as Captain of the gun.

176. Were you watching through glasses?

No, sir.

177. What did you see?

The first thing we saw was smoke, black smoke, coming off the Hood, it was followed up by the flame. We heard another broadside which was fired from the Bismarck, it was soon after that hat we saw the Hood blown to pieces.

178. Was that accompanied by more flame?

There was a lot of flame and it seemed to come from the after mainmast end of the ship around X turret.

179. Is that where the original smoke and flame came from?

It was from amidships to start with and the big mass of flames seemed to come from further aft around X turret.

180. Did you see any fall of shot round Hood?

No, sir.

181. Did you see Hood fire?

Yes, sir, she fired from her forward guns and not at all from the after ones.

182. What was the colour of the smoke?

It was very black.

183. Was the colour of the fire the same as the colour of the flash of the explosion?

Definitely not.

184. Will you describe the two colours?

The fire seemed to be red and the explosion was more yellow. (Witness indicated No. 5 on Exhibit 2 for the fire and No. 3 for the explosion.)

The Committee's impressions were that this witness is of an inventive turn of mind.

- Page 287 -

Evidence taken at the Offices of the Flag Officer in Charge, in Newcastle on 15th August 1941.

Petty Officer SYDNEY CROSS. D/J.108835.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

185. Will you give us a description of what you saw of the Hood giving details of any fires, explosions or smoke from the time she was in action?

I was Captain on the port pom pom, the first time we saw her was on the horizon then she closed in and the next thing I saw was the Hood opening fire.

186. Were you watching through glasses?

No, sir. By her flashes she fired three salvoes. Just after the third salvo there appeared to be a splash to the port side of the Hood, just after that it looked very much as if the fire was amidships, I could not say the length of time afterwards the fire broke out in the stern, I did not see any more shots fall. The fire appeared to go from the quarterdeck right forward, there was a huge flame and a cloud of smoke and that was all.

187. Did you see an explosion?

No, sir.

188. Could you describe the colour of the fire?

The colour was dull red. (Witness indicated No. 5 on Exhibit 2.)

189. Were both fires the same colour?

Yes, but we were a long way off.

190. You told us you saw the Hood fire three salvoes before the fire, did she fire after the fire?

She fired after she was hit amidships, it appeared to be from her after turret.

191. Did you see her fire from all her turrets?

I could not be certain.

A typical report from a partially trained witness without glasses.

- Page 288 -

Leading Steward EDMUND TROMP, D/L.11676.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II

192. Where were you when the action took place?

By the P.1 port 4" H.A. guns as supply party.

193. Were you using glasses?

No, sir.

194. Will you tell us what you saw?

Somebody shouted from the after gun to come and look and I went to the after gun and looked where the rating pointed and all I saw was a red glow. I turned to call someone else to it and when I looked again there was nothing there.

195. Could you see any smoke?

No, it was too dark.

196. You say it was too dark, wasn't it proper daylight?

No, sir.

197. Did you see any sign of an explosion?

No, sir.

198. Did you see any salvoes landing?

No, sir.

199. Did you see any ships?

No, sir.

An untrained witness who was not even looking.

- Page 289 -

Mr. SYDNEY EDGAR HARRY MITCHELL, Commissioned Gunner.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

strong>200. Where were you at the time of the action and what was your duty?

I was on the port side of the H.A. gun deck by P.2 gun principally in charge of the supply parties.

201. Will you tell is what you saw?

I saw two ships on the port bow, I heard there were more on the starboard side and went over to have a look. All the ships seemed to be firing, I do not know who opened fire first. I stood on the port side again and gathered that our ships were off the port bow so stayed and watched them. After the fourth salvo from the enemy I saw a large fire spring up in the Hood round the position of the mainmast and I remember passing a remark to an officer standing beside me saying "she is on fire." It appeared to me to be a cordite fire as it was very fierce, the flames were very high and were similar flames to when I have seen large pieces of cordite burning, an orange coloured flame. (Witness indicated No. 3 on Exhibit 2.) Within a few seconds the Hood just seemed to disappear, it was like a matchbox suddenly lighting.

202. Was the colour of this explosion the same colour as the fire?

I did not get an impression of any colour, a lot of black smoke was there.

203. Could you say which part of the ship the explosion came from?

The explosion seemed to be general.

204. Did you see any debris in the explosion?

No, sir.

205. Did you see any fall of shot round the Hood?

I do not remember noticing any.

206. Were you looking through glasses?

No, sir.

207. You say the fire was a very large one, can you tell us what shape it was?

It gave me the impression of a rectangle with very high flames.

208. Was the base of the rectangle higher than its height, or the other way around?

I do not know. As far as I can remember it was a square fire, it seemed evenly spread over whichever was I looked at it.

Page 289A

209. You said you saw two or three ship, how much of them could you see?

I could see them distinctly.

210. How much of them?

All of them, I could definitely see the whole of the upper structure, I could not pick out details.

211. Did you see the Hood fire?

Yes, sir.

212. Could you say if she fired with all turrets or not?

At the start of the action, yes, sir.

213. Was the main explosion instantaneous?

Yes, just one terrific explosion.

A witness whose similes are coloured by his technical knowledge.

- Page 290 -

Able Seaman LEONARD BLEASE, D/J.X. 135542.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

strong>214. Where were you at the time Hood blew up and what was your duty?

I was on the port pom pom and my duty is trainer of the starboard pom pom.

215. Will you tell us what you saw?

All I saw was a fire aft and a couple of seconds later the whole thing went up in smoke.

216. Will you describe this fire more full?

It was like a huge sheet of flame.

217. Could you say whereabouts in the ship it was?

Somewhere about the mainmast.

218. What colour was it?

(Witness indicated No. 4 on Exhibit 2.)

219. Was the explosion the same colour as the fire?

It seemed just the same only the smoke seemed to obscure everything.

220. Had you seen Hood before she was on fire?

Yes, sir.

221. How much did you see?

All the ship.

222. Were you looking through glasses?

No, sir.

Evidence of this witness is of no value.

- Page 291 -

Able Seaman WILLIAM TONKS, D/SSX. 22723.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

strong>223. Are your recollections of the action still quite clear?

Yes, sir.

224. Where were you at the time the Hood blew up and what was your duty?

On the port pom pom gun deck, number 3 on the port pom pom.

225. Were you using glasses?

No, sir.

226. Will you describe to us what you saw of the Hood blowing up?

I saw the Hood coming off the port bow, the Prince of Wales was behind her, but we could not see which was which. I saw the leading ship fire a first salvo, she fired two after that, after the third salvo the leading ship seemed to be on fire about midships, immediately after that she fired another salvo and immediately after that a big flash and a lot of smoke.

227. Can you tell is the colour of the first fire?

(Witness indicated No. 3 on Exhibit 2.)

228. Can you tell us from what part of the ship the explosion seemed to come?

I could not say.

229. Was the colour of the explosion the same colour as the fire?

No, sir, the explosion was rather a reddish flame. (Witness indicated No. 7 on Exhibit 2.)

230. Could you see any debris?

No, sir.

231. Did you see any fall of shot round the Hood?

No, sir.

232. can you tell us which of Hood's guns fired her fourth salvo?

It seemed to me to be the whole broadside.

233. Are you fairly certain?

Yes, sir.

234. Did the flash of the Hood's guns shoot up lighter or darker than the rest of the fire when she fired the fourth salvo?

Darker.

- Page 292 -

235. What was the shape of the first fire?

Like a ball.

236. The shape of the explosion?

A fan shape.

Typical nearly untrained witness without glasses.

- Page 293 -

Ordinary Seaman WILLIAM JOHN COGAN, D/J.X.159134.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

strong>237. Are you recollections of what you saw quite clear?

Yes, sir.

238. Where were you at the time Hood blew up and what was your duty?

Port pom pom No. 10 loading number.

239. Will you tell us what you saw of the Hood blowing up?

I counted four salvoes, just after the salvo had been fired a very brilliant flash and clouds of black smoke, there was not any firing after that.

240. Could you see any ships before the firing started?

No, sir.

241. Did you see any fire before the explosion?

Yes, two fires, one amidships and one astern.

242. Where did the explosion come from?

Just by midships.

243. Do you remember the colour of these two fires?

Yes, a yellow colour. (Witness indicated No. 3 on Exhibit 2.)

244. What were these fires like, very high or low?

Low at first and gradually got higher.

245. What was the colour of the explosion?

A shade darker.

Typical report from an untrained witness.

- Page 294 -

Able Seaman WALTER WILFRED CHILDS, D/J.X. 136888.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

246. Are you recollections still quite clear?

Yes, sir.

247. Where were you and what was your duty?

Port H.A. gun.

248. Tell us with as much detail as you can what you saw of Hood.

The first thing I saw was the Hood on fire amidships and the next thing there was an explosion, you could see flame and smoke afterwards nothing was left.

249. What was the position of the fire?

Amidships.

250. How long did it last?

About seven minutes.

251. What was the colour of the fire?

(Witness indicated NO. 4 on Exhibit 2.)

252. And the colour of the explosion?

That was the same colour.

Typical untrained witness without glasses.

Missing Page 295, questions 253-263), the testimony of A.B. H. Griffiths. D/J.X.187941.

- Page 296 -

Ordinary Seaman EDWARD STANLEY WEBB, D/J.X. 160013.

264. Are you quite clear now of what you did see?

Yes, sir.

265. Where were you and what was your duty?

On the 4" gun deck as communications number.

266. Were you using glasses?

No, sir.

267. Now tell us what you saw of the Hood.

They opened fire and there were flashes, she had about four salvoes and you could see a flare astern, a small one and then a big one broke out somewhere forward and then the next thing I saw was another big flash and big clouds of smoke.

268. What colour was the flare you saw?

(Witness indicated between Nos. 3 and 4 on exhibit 2.)

269. Were the fires different colours?

No, sir, they were both the same, but when she blew up it was darker.

270. Could you tell whether it was a high fire?

No, it just blew up with a big flash and did not last long enough.

271. Could you see if the Hood fired after the fire started?

Yes, when the fires were still burning.

272. Could you see which turrets she fired?

No, sir, just a flash.

273. Could you see any debris from the explosion?

No, sir.

274. Did you have any idea where the big explosion came from?

It seemed to come from the big fire amidships.

275. Was there a lot of smoke?

Yes, afterwards.

276. What colour?

Dark grey.

277. Darker than the background?

Yes, sir. Above the average in witnesses. He related about all that could have been expected from a man without glasses.

- Page 297 -

Lieutenant ROBERT SUSSEX COULTON LANGFORD, R.N.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

278. Where were you and what was your duty?

I was in the A.D.P. as air defence officer above the Compass Platform.

279. Were you watching the Hood through glasses?

Not al the time, I only had them round my neck, I was not at a sight.

280. Will you give us a brief description of what you saw?

In fact I do not remember who opened fire first, it is rather a long time ago, but it did strike me that the Bismarck seemed to engage the Hood first of all. She only appeared to fire about six or seven salvoes in the whole thing before the Hood disappeared altogether, and it seemed about her third one or something that there was a flash of flame aft in the Hood about the mainmast or X turret.

281. Could you see Hood before she opened fire?

Yes, sir.

282. How much could you see?

All of her. As far as I can remember I saw a piece of the upper deck, of course I could see the super structure and some of the upper deck, but not necessarily the quarter deck.

283. How any guns did you see Hood fire with?

When she opened fire, with them all. I did see the first salvo when she was untouched and it seemed like one gun from each turret. The fire broke out in the Hood half way up the mainmast about 100', then a flash of flame, cordite I think, and then the Bismarck fired another salvo or possibly two and after that my only recollection is that I saw a pyramid of smoke. I would not like to say I saw a flame extending forward of the ship, but just a terrific cloud of smoke which seemed to envelop the whole ship and was several times higher than the height of the mast. Between the time when I saw the cordite fire and the cloud of smoke she did fire at least one salvo with A and B turrets.

284. You mentioned a cordite fire twice, why do you say a cordite fire?

Because it became a fire so instantaneously, and seemed to me to be the reddish colour which cordite has when it burns.

285. Will you indicate the colour?

(witness indicated between Nos. 4 and 5 on Exhibit 2.)

- Page 298 -

286. Can you give us a little more detailed description of the position and size of the original fire.

It seemed to me to be coming just about the position of the narrow gangway between the forward end of X turret and the after upper structure and about the height of the lower mainmast, the shape of an open fan.

287. Extending both forward and aft?

I cannot say, sir.

288. And you saw no flame between this one and the enormous explosion of smoke.

No, sir.

289. Could you be certain if any of the Bismarck's salvoes hit the Hood?

No, sir.

290. Did you see any debris coming out of the smoke?

Yes, one or two quite sizeable things, I could not really tell what they looked like, I think there was one piece which might have been the main derrick, a long thin thing.

291. Was that through glasses?

No, sir, all this was with the naked eye.

292. You have given us a very exact position for the start of the original fire, how certain can you be of that?

I think I am completely certain, I know it was abaft the mainmast and it was my impression, having been in the Hood, that it was just about as far aft as X turret.

293. What was the inclination of the Hood?

As far as I remember about 30° to the right.

294. Having seen the model at 30° inclination, would you like to make any addition to your statement about the position of the original fire?

No, sir, I do not think so, my impression was that that was where it came from.

295. Could you say if Bismarck or Hood opened fire first?

I could not be certain, but I think the Bismarck opened fire first.

296. Could you tell us if the Mantlets over the openings to the torpedo tubes were generally kept open or shut at sea?

No, sir I do not know.

297. Where was the petrol stowed for the motor boats?

I think in drums on the boat deck.

298. Were you aware of any orders given as regards these drums before going into action?

I only remember we were bombed when I was in the ship on the way over to Norway and I do know that before the air attack they slipped four of those drums.

299. Do you know how many there were all told?

No, sir.

300. When did you join and when did you leave Hood?

17th January 1939 I joined and 1 October 1939 I left and went to her drifter.

This officer's evidence differs from that attributed to him by the last Board, this may be due to the lapse of time and the witness informed us that this might be the case.

- Page 300 -

Able Seaman WILLIAM ROBERT FORD, D/SSX.31089.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

301. Where were you and what was your duty?

I was action lookout on the A.D.P., starboard side.

302. Were you using glasses?

Yes, sir.

303. What did you see?

I saw the Hood open fire, after that I could not see anything except smoke.

304. You saw no flame?

There seemed to be to be a little aft, but you could not see it very well because immediately it went up in smoke.

305. Do you mean smoke from her guns.

No, the smoke from the ship wherever she was hit.

306. Did you see an explosion.

No, I could not see anything. A witness who obviously saw very little and who could have seen nothing if he had paid attention to his duty.

- Page 301 -

Able Seaman FREDERICK WALKER HOLDEN, D/J.X. 148102

307. What was your duty and position?

At S.1 look out sight on the A.D.P.

308. Had you glasses?

Yes, sir.

309. Did you use them?

Yes, sir.

310. Tell us what you saw from the time the action started.

We saw two ships on the port side, I did not know which was the Hood. I saw one ship get hit amidships, there was a flash and a little flame on the after quarterdeck. The same ship went on firing, she fired her last salvo and a split second afterwards there was a flash of flame and that is all I saw.

311. You say you saw a hit?

I saw a hit amidships between the foremost and after funnels.

312. How can you describe a hit?

I saw a flash and a flame then she seemed to turn round and the flames met each other, there was one on the quarterdeck and it seemed to spread.

313. What colour were these flames?

An orange colour. (Witness indicated No. 3 on Exhibit 2.)

314. How high did these fires reach?

Not much higher than the funnels, they seemed to try to get them under control and later on the big explosion occurred.

315. You told us the big explosion was accompanied by flames.

All I saw of the explosion was one big flash of flame.

316. How high did that reach?

I do not know, a pretty good height.

317. Could you see anything or much of the ship before the fire started?

You could see an outline of the ships.

318. How much of the outline could you see?

The whole length of the ship.

319. You told us you could see the outline of a ship, how much could you see?

I could see her superstructure.

320. Was the explosion followed by smoke?

Yes, black smoke.

321. You were asked to describe exactly what you saw, you said they were trying to get the fire under control.

It may have been the wind, but the flame was going up and coming down again all the time, it is only my own opinion.

322. Did you see which turrets fired between the fire and the final explosion?

I saw two forward guns fire, but I do not know about the after ones.

Verbose and imaginative witness.

- Page 303 -

Assistant Steward CLIFFORD SENIOR, D/L.X. 24302.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

323 What is your station?

4" supply on the port side.

324. Had you glasses?

Yes, sir.

325. Did you watch the action through them?

Yes, sir.

326. What did you see?

I saw the Hood on the port bow and all I remember seeing was Y turret in flames and there was a sudden explosion and a lot of smoke and after that there was no more.

327. What was the interval between the first fire you saw and the explosion?

It was a matter of seconds.

328. Could you see the whole of the Hood?

No, sir it was too far away.

329. What was the size of the first fire?

It seemed to occupy Y turret only.

330. Did the big flame and explosion come from Y turret too?

No, it seemed to come from amidships.

331. Did you see much smoke accompany the explosion?

Yes, there was a lot.

332. Was this on top of the flame?

It was more or less all round.

333. Did you see any splashes round the Hood?

No, sir.

334. What power are your glasses?

Only field glasses.

335. Did you see Hood fire her own guns?

Yes, sir.

- Page 304 -

336. Could you say how many salvoes she fired?

I could not say.

337. Did you see the Hood fire any guns after the fire you have described which enveloped Y turret?

No, sir.

Quite intelligent, but very untrained and inexperienced.

- Page 305 -

Marine GEORGE DELMER GREENWELL, PLY/X.1348.

Witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

338. What was your position and action station?

Trainer on P.2 4" gun.

339. What was the gun trained on?

At the time we were trained on the two ships nearest and they turned out to be Hood and Prince of Wales.

340. You were therefore watching through a telescope?

Yes.

341. Will you tell us exactly what you saw of the Hood?

I could not see very much because both ships appeared to be making black smoke, but occasionally you could get a glimpse of them as the smoke thinned, both ships were firing and the leading ship suddenly caught fire between the foremast and the mainmast, I watched for two or three minutes and it just exploded, I did not see which ship it was.

342. Why did you think it was between the foremast and the mainmast?

It appeared to be somewhere in the centre of the ship.

343. What was the colour of this fire?

It was orange. (Witness indicated No. 4 on exhibit 2.)

344. How high did it go?

The flame was about half way up the funnels.

345. Was the colour of the sheet of flame the same as the original fire?

No, it was a brighter flash.

346. Did you see any fall of shot round the Hood?

No, sir, all I saw from the Hood was two salvoes which they appeared to fire, after the first one she was on fire and just after the second one she blew up.
It appeared to be three.

348. For both salvoes?

Yes, sir.

His recollection is not very clear.

- Page 306 -

Ordinary Seaman DAVID WILLIAMS, D/J.X.191851.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

strong>349. Is your recollection fairly clear?

Yes, sir.

350. Tell us what you saw from the time the action started.

The first thing I saw was a fire on the quarterdeck and it was on fire about five minutes and for about three minutes you could not see the flames at all and then the flames started coming again and a couple of minutes afterwards it all went up.

351. The fire in the first place, what size was it?

It was all on the quarterdeck.

352. And when she went up finally, where did the explosion come from?

From the same place.

353. What was the colour of the fire?

Proper red. (Witness indicated No. 7 on Exhibit 2.)

354. Was the explosion the same colour?

I do not know.

355. Did you see any fall of shot round Hood?

No, sir.

356. Where were you at the time?

On the port side of the 4" gun deck.

357. Did you have glasses?

No, sir.

358. Did you see the Hood fire her own guns before the fire?

Yes, sir and afterwards.

359. Only after the fire which guns did she fire?

Forward guns only.

360. You are sure not the after ones?

Yes, sir.

A good witness. As much as could be expected without glasses.

- Page 307 -

Ordinary Seaman WILLIAM HILL, D/J.X. 176615.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

strong>361. Where were you at the time of the action?

On the P.1 4" gun, forward as views setter.

362. Did you have glasses?

No, sir.

363. Is your memory quite clear as to what you saw?

Yes, sir.

364. Tell us what you saw.

When the Hood came into action she opened up straight away on to the Bismarck and they were exchanging shots and the next time the Bismarck opened up she caused a fire in the after turret of the Hood and they exchanged a few extra shots and there was an explosion, a big flare and smoke afterwards.

365. What was this fire like?

You could just see it above the water.

366. What colour was it?

(Witness indicated No. 4 on Exhibit 2.) The forward guns of the Hood fired just before she went down.

367. That was after you saw the first fire?

It was after the explosion and just before she sank, the forward guns fired another salvo.

368. Are you quite certain?

Yes, sir, then there was just a pall of smoke.

369. What was the colour of the smoke?

It was dirty black.

370. Did you see any fall of shot round the Hood?

No, sir.

371. Will you describe the actual explosion?

It was very quick and I could see a flare from the Bismarck's guns and then there was some smoke and she vanished.

372. Did the after guns of Hood fire between the first fire and the explosion?

Yes, sir they all four fired.

Typical report from an untrained witness.

- Page 308 -

Able Seaman THOMAS JAMES DAWSON, D/J.X. 153315.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

strong>373. Where were you at the time of the action?

On P.1 gun.

374. Were you using glasses?

I had a pair but was not using them all the time.

375. Tell us in as much detail as you can exactly what you saw.

I could not say whether it was the Hood at the time, but we saw some ships and what I thought was the Bismarck I saw catch fire from a salvo and then it started from amidships and then after a few seconds there was another fire aft and these two fires seemed to meet each other and there was an explosion and it was then the flame was only a matter of seconds and it was just covered up by smoke and that was the last I saw of it.

376. You said that hits started the fire, how do you know that, did you see a salvo land?

No, sir, we saw a fire.

377. What was the colour of the fire?

It was very dark red. (Witness indicated starting at No. 7 on exhibit 2 and finishing blacker.)

378. Could you see much of the ship?

No, I could not make anything out at all.

Evidence of not much value.

 

- Page 309 -

Able Seaman REGINALD ROBERT BRETT, D/J.X.222884.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

379. Are you clear of what you saw?

Yes, sir.

380. Where were you?

In the after control room.

381. Tell us in as much detail as you can what you saw of the Hood.

I saw the first three salvoes fired from the Hood and then she seemed to be on fire amidships, there was a dull red glow and the I was called away and the next I heard was that she had gone. The fact was that as I got to the window the volume of smoke was all that I could see.

382. Were you using glasses?

No, sir.

383. What was the shape of the first fire you saw?

It was just a round red glow with smoke, the glow was coming through the smoke.

384. Did Hood fire after you saw the glow?

I did not see any.

Saw very little.

 

- Page 310 -

Able Seaman JOHN FRANCIS MOORE, D/SSX. 21848.

The witnesss was cautioned in accordance with K.R. chapter II.

385. Where were you at the time of the action?

I was at P.1 4" gun as trainer.

386. Were you using glasses?

No, sir.

387. Will you describe in detail what you saw of the Hood?

I saw her hit several times and there was a fire started near the after funnel and a couple of seconds later she blew up and that is all I saw.

388. How do you know she was hit?

I could see the shells burst.

389. Where?

Near the after funnel.

390. What did you see of the explosion?

I saw a lot of debris.

391. What sort of debris?

I think it was superstructure, but I cannot describe it.

392. What colour was the fire?

It was a very light colour. (Witness indicated no. 3 for the fire and No. 5 for the explosion on exhibit 2.)

393. You saw you thought you saw some sheels bursting on the Hood what did they look like?

Just a flash.

394. Would it have been possible that that was Hood firing herself?

It might have been.

395. Did you notice Hood actually firing?

No, sir.

Evidence of very little value.

 

- Page 311 -

Able Seaman ARTHUR BURGESS, D/SSX. 26255.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. chapter II.

396. Where were you at the time of the action?

I was at P.1 port side of the 4" gun deck.

397. Were you using glasses?

No, sir.

398. Tell us in detail what you saw of the Hood?

The Bismarck was firing and as far as I could make out there was a lot of flashes coming from the Hood, but I do not know whether these flashes were gunfire of whether she had been hit, but eventually a fire broke out somewhere amidships towards the after part somewhere about the after funnel and after that it only lasted a few seconds and there was a big flash and a lot of smoke and then there was nothing.

399. What was the colour of the fire and the shape of it?

It was dark red, (Witness indicated No. 6 on Exhibit 2.) and semicircular in shape.

400. Did the explosion seem to come from the middle fo the fire?

It was all spread out.

401. Did the flash come from the same place as the fire?

I should think so.

402. Did you see any fall of shot round Hood?

I was very far away and could not see.

403. You told us at the start that you saw some flashes but you could not tell if they were shells bursting, did you see any of those flashes after the fire and before she blew up?

No, the explosion was immediately after the fire flared up and seemed to die down a little and then the explosion came immediately after.

Very clear and no inventions.

 

- Page 312 -

Able Seaman JOHN WILLIAM BOOTH, D/J.X. 175660.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

404. Where were you and what was your duty at the time of the action?

I was on P.1 A.A. gun.

405. Were you watching through glasses?

No, sir.

406. Were you watching attentively?

No, not very you could not see it very well.

407. Tell us what you did see.

All we could see was the ship in the smoke, probably its own smoke from gunfire, only one turret was firing, it seemed to be on fire somewhere about midships and after that it just blew up.

408. How much of the ship could you see?

Nearly all of it.

409. How much of her hull and upper works could you see?

I cannot say definitely.

410. What was the colour of this fire?

A reddish colour. (Witness indicated No. 7 on exhibit 2.)

411. What was the shape of the fire?

It was a long low flame.

412. Can you describe the explosion a bit more?

No, it just seemed to go up in one flash.

413. What colour was that flash?

A bit lighter. (Witness indicated No. 5 on exhibit 2.)

414. Did you see any splashes of fall of shot?

No, sir.

415. Could you describe the smoke a little more?

It was rather far away and I thought it was just her own gunfire, it was rather black.

416. Did you see any debris?

No, sir.

Average report from an untrained witness.

 

- Page 313 -

Able Seaman ELLIS GEORGE HATTON, D/SSX. 20112.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

417. Where were you and what was your duty?

I was action look out in A.D.P. on the starboard side.

418. Did you watch through glasses?

No, sir.

419. What did you see?

I saw a fire amidships in a ship on the port bow and there also appeared to be another fire aft and the two fires seemed to come together and shortly afterwards there was an explosion.

420. What colour were these fires?

Orange. (Witness indicated No. 5 on exhibit 2.)

421. Did you see the Hood firing at all?

She fired just before the explosion, I only went over there shortly before.

422. What was the shape of these two fires?

They appeared to be conical.

423. Will you describe the explosion a bit more?

There was a terrific flash and afterwards masses of smoke.

424. Was this flash the same colour as the original fires?

Practically the same colour.

425. You said you saw Hood fire just before she blew up, have you any idea which guns fired?

I think it was the forward.

Typical report from an untrained witness without glasses.

 

- Page 314 -

Evidence taken at the Offices of the Flag Officer in Charge at Newcastle on 25th August 1941.

Midshipman EDWIN JOHN SOMERS, R.N.R.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

426. Where were you?

I was in the starboard wings of the bridge during most of the action.

427. Were you watching through glasses?

Part of the time, yes.

428. Will you tell us what you saw from the time the Hood opened fire?

The Hood approached on the port bow and opened fire and the Bismarck replied and it was a second salvo from the Bismarck that hit the Hood, and then I turned my head away and the next time I turned I saw she had smoke and flames on the quarterdeck and on looking through the glasses I saw flames and smoke on the forecastle as well. I then turned away and spoke to one of the torpedomen standing next to me, on looking round again I saw the Hood go up. After I saw the smoke I could just see the bare outline, none of the superstructure.

429. You say you saw smoke and flames on the forecastle and the quarterdeck, you could not actually have seen either her forecastle or quarterdeck.

No, I saw flames and smoke before the foremost and abaft the mainmast. Then I turned round and saw her go up.

430. Will you describe seeing her go up.

There just seemed to be one great big flash and a lot of smoke there seemed to be two balls of fire of which one higher than the rest.

431. What colour were these balls of flame?

A pinkish red. (Witness indicated No. 5 on exhibit 2.)

432. Are you absolutely convinced that you saw these two red balls of fire?

Yes, sir, I am definitely convinced of that because I remarked to several people who were next to me.

433. What was the position of the balls of fire relative to the main explosion?

I should say that as the main explosion went up they just seemed to rise higher than the others, they were outstanding above the other flashes.

434. How did their colour compare to that of the main explosion?

I could not be certain, but should think it was more of less the same.

- Page 315 -

435. Whom did you remark to about these balls of fire at the time?

Midshipman Buckley.

436. Where were the balls in relation to each other?

I am not quite certain, but I think one was above the other.

437. Can you remember if they were close together?

I should say that they were fairly close.

His evidence as regards the balls of fire was important if correct.

 

- Page 316 -

Midshipman PETER GORDON BUCKLEY, R.N.R.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

438. Where were you?

On the port wing of the bridge.

439. Were you watching through glasses?

Yes, sir.

440. Were you watching closely?

Yes, sir.

441. Tell us what you saw.

The first thing I noticed was a fire which I thought was on the quarterdeck and there was a slight amount of smoke forward and the Hood fired one or two more salvoes and then there was the actual explosion.

442. Can you describe the explosion?

It was an orange yellow colour and the one thing I did notice was that there were two balls of fire from the forward end of the ship and then a great big black cloud of smoke.

443. What colour were the balls of fire?

A very light yellow. (Witness indicated No. 1 on Exhibit 2.)

444. Describe the position of the balls of fire relative to each other and the general explosion?

I should say they went up in the forward end of the ship approximately opposite the bridge and they looked as if they might have been a white hot chunk of metal. One was above the other fairly high above the flames.

445. What was the colour of the flame?

A yellowish orange. (Witness indicated between Nos. 2 and 3 on Exhibit 2.)

446. You are definite that you saw these balls of fire?

Yes, sir.

447. Did you and Somers talk this over at the time?

The only thing we said about it was that we both noticed the balls of fire, we were talking to the Officer of the Watch.

His evidence as regards the balls of fire is important, if correct.

 

- Page 317 -

Midshipman COLIN JOHN BROOME. R.N.R.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

448. Where were you?

In the A.D.P.

449. Were you watching the Hood?

Yes, sir.

450. Through glasses?

No, sir.

451. Tell us what you saw.

After the Hood had fired twice she was hit.

452. How do you know she was hit?

There was a distinctive flash which was different from the flashes of the guns and she started to smoke, then she appeared to be on fire. She fired again after she was on fire and then there was a cloud of smoke like and explosion and that is all we saw.

453. What was the colour of the flame and the smoke of the explosion?

The flame was yellow orange, (witness indicated No. 4 on Exhibit 2), the smoke was thick greyish black.

454. What was the colour of the flame of the fire?

It seemed to be more reddish. (Witness indicated No. 6 on Exhibit 2.)

Average general impression only.

 

- Page 318 -

Temporary Acting Gunner (T) SIDNEY JAMES WOODWARDS.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

455. Where were you at the time of the action?

On the starboard tube position, on the upper deck almost amidships.

456. Were you watching the Hood closely?

Yes, at the time just before she was lost.

457. Were you using glasses?

No, sir.

458. Tell us what you saw.

I saw the first hit above the superstructure and fire broke out. A later salvo seemed to light up the whole of the starboard side of the Hood, it appeared to be one sheet of orange coloured flame. From that point the Hood drew aft and my vision was obscured, I saw the smoke but did not actually see any flames.

Did not see very much.

 

- Page 319 -

Corporal JAMES FREDERICK WOOD, R.M. PLY/X.242.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

459. Where were you at the time of the action?

I was on the starboard side by S.2 4" gun.

460. Were you looking through glasses?

No, sir.

461. Were you watching closely?

No, sir, I was trying to watch the fall of shot between the ships.

462. Tell is what you saw.

My attention was drawn to the Hood by another member of the gun's crew, I looked and saw what appeared to be a red glow forward. Then I saw Hood open fire and then the ship slewed and we lost it. I crossed over to the other side and all I saw was a big mass of smoke.

463. Could you see any flames in the smoke?

No, sir.

464. Could you say the colour of the smoke?

Black smoke.

Did not see much.

 

- Page 320 -

Able Seaman ERNEST LESLIE DAVIES, D/JX. 187984.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

465. Where were you?

On the port wing of the compass platform.

466. What were you doing?

I was communication number.

467. Were you watching Hood closely?

Yes, sir.

468. Through glasses?

No, sir.

469. Tell us what you saw of the Hood.

She started to open fire and the first I saw she hit the Bismarck, then they opened fire on the Hood. I saw a fire on the after end, a few minutes after that there was a big crash. The last guns that fired were X turret, a few minutes after I heard a big bnag amidships. I saw pieces flying about, there was black smoke and she disappeared.

470. Could you saw what any of the pieces were?

They appeared to be small pieces.

471. Was it the bang that drew you attention to the explosion?

No, sir, I was watching and I saw the fire and then the bang went afterwards.

An imaginative witness.

 

- Page 321 -

Acting Leading Seaman WILLIAM BINNS, D/SSX. 19463.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

472. Where were you at the time of the action?

On the .5" gun deck, starboard side of the midship funnel, but I crossed over to the port side.

473. Were you watching the Hood closely?

Yes, sir.

474. Through glasses?

No, sir.

475. What did you see?

I saw the Hood fire seven or eight salvoes and then about three minutes before she blew up there was a red glow which came from X turret and that red glow got larger and brighter and then she finally blew up. Just before that her guns were firing.

476. Can you say which turret?

After turret, X or Y.

477. Can you describe the blowing up?

The whole ship seemed to lift up. The explosion seemed to be greater aft than forward.

478. When you say the whole ship, do you mean bits of the ship?

I did not see any bits. What I really mean is that I saw smoke and flame coming up.

479. What colour was the flame?

It was red.

480. What colour was the smoke?

Black.

Saw as much as could be expected.

 

- Page 322 -

Able Seaman JOSEPH THOMAS, D/JX. 158578.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

481. Where were you?

In the A.D.P.

482. Were you watching the Hood closely?

I was looking through glasses.

483. Tell us what you saw.

The Hood came up and she opened fire and after about the second or third salvo from the Bismarck she was blazing just forward of X turret and the flame seemed to be all on the upper deck because it was spreading both ways, but more forward. X turret fired.

484. Are you sure it was X turret?

I remember making a comment, "The 'turkeys' will be feeling warm." Then she fired and about two or three seconds afterwards the fire just seemed to cave in and she simply blew up.

485. When she blew up was there a lot of smoke and flame?

Yes, sir, it seemed that the flame changed colour, but the smoke was so dense that you could not be sure what colour it was, I thought it was a dull yellow, but the flames were too great to be certain.

486. Could you see which part of the ship the explosion came from?

Yes, sir, it definitely came from the aft the way the fire seemed to fall down.

487. Did you see the smoke or flame of the explosion first?

I saw them both together.

488. Do you mean you were looking at the flame through the smoke?

Yes, sir.

This witness was above the average.

 

- Page 323 -

Chief Petty Officer JOHN BAIN, D/J 104011.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

489. Where were you?

Starboard H.A. Director.

490. Were you watching the Hood closely and did you have a good view?

Yes, sir, I was looking through a telescope.

491. Tell us what you saw.

I saw the Hood open fire with all turrets, then there was a red glow and she fired after that about two salvoes and everything shot up in the air, very red and white streaks went very high then it all settled and there was nothing but black smoke.

492. What colour was the red glow of the fire?

It was a deep red. (Witness indicated NO. 7 on Exhibit 2.)

493. You have told us you saw red and white streaks as she blew up what was the shape of these flames?

Straight lines, it was high in relation to its width.

494. Were the red streaks in the explosion the same colour as the fire or not?

No, sir, I could not say exactly. The white streaks were very white.

495. Can you say whereabouts the explosion came up from?

I should think by the mainmast. It seemed to be ahead of the two after turrets.

496. Did you see the smoke after or before or with the flame of the explosion?

After all the flame had gone the smoke seemed to come down in a pall.

497. Did you see any debris?

No, sir.

A very good description, similar to Admiral Wake Walker.

 

- Page 324 -

Acting Petty Officer GEORGE WILLIAM LOVETT, D/J. 113254.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

498. Where were you?

On the port pom pom above the after funnel.

499. Did you have a good view of the Hood?

Yes, with the naked eye.

500. Tell us what you saw.

I saw two ships engaging the enemy, that lasted about six minutes and I saw a red glow and the ship still firing. Then the next thing I saw was a cloud of black smoke about 150 feet high and a deep red glow, I could only see it through the black smoke. Smoke and flame went up in the air and I did not see anything left.

501. Could you tell where the explosion came from?

I have no idea, it was behind the smoke.

502. Could you show us the colour of the glow?

(Witness indicated No. 7 on Exhibit 2.)

503. Was the smoke black?

Yes, sir.

503. Did you have any idea of the shape of the glow?

No, it was just one big glow with no particular shape.

505. Was it at the bottom of the smoke?

I am not very sure, I think it was a little way up from the bottom.

A vague general impression.

 

- Page 325 -

Marine ROBERT ALOYSIUS FORREST, PLY/X. 1232

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

506. Where were you?

I was on the starboard side on S. 2 gun deck abreast the after funnel.

507. Did you get a good view?

I could not distinguish which ship it was.

508. Were you watching closely?

I was watching with the naked eye but could not see which ships they were.

509. Tell us what you saw.

I was watching the engagement and I saw a brilliant red flash in one of the ships, which appeared to me to be the ship on fire, I mentioned it to the Captain of the gun and after that we slewed to starboard and that is all I saw.

510. Was there any smoke with the red fire?

No, just a red fire.

Saw very little.

 

- Page 326 -

Chief Yeoman WALTER ALFRED MIGHALL, D/J. 81296.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

511. Where were you at the time?

On the Compass Platform.

512. Were you watching the Hood?

Yes, all the time.

513. Through glasses?

Yes, through binoculars.

514. How much of the Hood could you see?

I could see practically the whole ship.

515. Tell us what you saw.

The Hood opened fire and I cannot be certain now whether she was first or second, shortly afterwards there was a salvo and I am not quite sure whether the first one was just over, but one was just over and one just short at the Hood and about the third or fourth salvo there were sparks from the vicinity of one after turret of the Hood and I reported to the Captain that the Hood had been hit. Almost at the same moment there was a very vivid red glow which persisted and I reported the Hood was on fire. In a time that was probably a minute afterwards we actually saw flames and almost at the same moment there was a terrific explosion.

516. Can you describe the explosion more fully?

To begin with there was only the glow then flames and if there was smoke it was not discernible and I saw no appreciable smoke before the actual explosion. Then the explosion itself was very high and appeared to spread fanwise and as near as possible straight up.

517. Can you give us the colour of the explosion?

No, sir, it was very vivid. When the debris and the results of the explosion had cleared, which took some seconds, what may have remained of the ship was completely enveloped in black smoke.

518. Did you see any debris?

Yes, very definitely there were large pieces of debris.

519. Were there many large pieces?

I could see one huge piece and probably many many smaller pieces, but it was so unexpected that I am not particularly clear.

Quite a good witness.

 

Acting Petty Officer ROY WILLIAM TUCKER, D/JX. 134567.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

520. Where were you at the time?

I was in the starboard H.A. Director.

521. Were you watching Hood carefully?

Yes, sir, with the naked eye.

522. How much of the Hood could you see before she opened fire?

I could see all of her.

523. Tell us what you saw.

I saw Hood off the starboard bow, she opened fire and the next thing I saw was a big fire about midships and the Hood fired another broadside.

524. Did you see all four turrets fire?

Yes, definitely sir. Then it just blew up and it went sky high.

525. Can you describe the explosion more fully?

It was a broad explosion, it seemed to blow out and up, I could not say the colour. After that there was a dense cloud of black smoke and as soon as it cleared away there was nothing left.

526. Did you see any debris in the air?

I saw one big lump that flew well up.

527. Have you any idea what that was?

No, sir.

A vague general impression.

 

- Page 328 -

Yeoman of Signals CLIFFORD GEORGE TONKIN, D/JX. 140331.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

528. Where were you at the time?

I was the yeoman on watch on the Flag Deck with a glass trained on Hood.

529. Were you watching her closely?

Yes, sir.

530. How much of the actual ship could you see?

The upper work.

531. You could not see her hull?

No, sir.

532. Will you tell us what you saw?

I saw Hood fire, I think, two salvoes before there was any reply, I could not be sure from which turrets but I should say the after turrets. Then I saw splashes round her and thought the Bismarck had opened fire. The second salvo from Bismarck hit the Hood, I could actually see she shell going inboard abaft the bridge. The third salvo I saw a small fire about between the mainmast and the after funnel, the fifth salvo fell round and there appeared to be a considerable amount of smoke and I could not be sure of any hits. By this time the small fire had spread only it appeared to be running along the upper deck both ways. The sixth salvo definitely hit and there was a sheet of flame and Hood appeared to fire from one or other of the after turrets but I could not be sure of it. Just before the sheet of flame and almost immediately after that there was a terrific sheet of flame and that shot up and it appeared that practically the whole of the after part of the ship had gone up.

533. Do you mean by that that this terrific sheet of flame rose from the after part of the ship?

Yes, sir.

534. Can you say what colour it was?

(Witness indicated No. 4 on Exhibit 2.) There were black blodges in it.

535. Was there much smoke?

No a lot, sir.

536. What colour?

At the actual time of the flame I could not say, but afterwards very black.

- Page 329 -

537. You said you saw a shell hit, what did you actually see?

At the back of the bridge just by the funnel it was like a piece of the ship there seemed to fall apart.

538. Did you see a spark?

No, sir.

539. Was that before the foremost funnel?

Yes, sir.

540. How high did this piece of ship go?

It just seemed to fall down, it may possibly have been a bit of the funnel.

541. When the explosion occurred did you see two separate sheets of flame?

When the sixth salvo hit you could see a flame rise, but it was a matter of seconds between then and when the big sheet of flame shot up.

542. Did you see any debris in the air?

All I could see was the black blodges.

543. What was the position of this second flame relative to the fire?

It came up slightly aft of the fire.

His evidence differed from that attributed to him by the previous board and is obviously incorrect in certain respects.

 

- Page 330 -

Able Seaman ARTHUR W. TANNER, D.JX. 148019.

544. Where were you at the time?

On the port pom pom.

545. Could you see the Hood clearly?

Just a blur.

546. Were you watching her carefully.

I was watching Hood and Prince of Wales.

547. Were you using glasses?

No, sir.

548. Will you tell us what you saw?

We saw Hood opening fire and it went on for a couple of minutes, there was a small fire amidships and a couple of seconds after that all the guns went off and there was a flash and four big sparks went up in the air. Prince of Wales turned round and made a smoke screen round the Hood and the Bismarck's shells were still falling in the same place.

549. Could you see where this big flash came from?

Just about the same place as the small fire.

550. Where was that?

Just abreast the after funnel.

551. What was the colour of these sparks?

Ordinary yellow. (Witness indicated NO. 3 on Exhibit 2.)

552. Were they lighter or darker than the ordinary flame?

I could not say.

Rather vague general impression.

 

- Page 331 -

Able Seaman MOSES PICKUP, SSX. 20933.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

553. Where were you at the time?

After look out on the port side of the A.D.P.

554. Were you watching Hood when she opened fire?

Yes, sir.

555. Through glasses?

Yes, sir.

556. How much of her could you see?

From the upper deck upwards?

557. Tell us what you saw.

I saw the Hood open fire and she got about three salvoes and a small fire broke out abaft the funnels then the fire died down again and then she went up and you could not see anything but smoke.

558. Can you describe the explosion more fully?

It was all flame and went very high and seemed to spread all round the ship and then the smoke came. It seemed to be more steam than smoke, it was a grey colour.

559. Can you say the colour of the flame?

It was very bright red.

560. Could you see any debris?

No, sir.

561. Did the flame of the explosion last very long?

It went straight up and lasted a fraction of a second.

562. Will you describe what you mean by "steam" rather than smoke?

It was light grey. There was a dark grey smoke at first and then it became light coloured.

Very untrained witness, vague impression.

 

Able Seaman THOMAS ACKERS RILEY, D/JX. 226888.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

563. Where were you at the time?

In the after control.

564. Were you watching Hood?

Yes, sir.

565. Through glasses?

No, sir.

566. What did you see?

The Hood opened fire and Bismarck replied and after about the fourth salvo from the Bismarck Hood seemed to catch fire well away forward and the flames were a yellowish colour, but I could not see much smoke on account of the distance but the flames spread a little aft and flared up and then they seemed to die down again. All the time she was firing and then after about four or five more salvoes the flames shot up a little bit but not quite so high and then there was the explosion and she just seemed to disintegrate.

567. Can you describe the explosion more fully?

It seemed to spread out in a sort of come from somewhere before the bridge.

Inaccurate general impression.

 

- Page 333 -

Ordinary Seaman JOSEPH B. MAHONEY, D/JX. 185048.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

568. Where were you at the time?

I was on the .5 machine gun, starboard side.

569. Could you see Hood clearly?

I could make out her position by the gunfire.

570. Were you watching her carefully?

Yes, sir, through the naked eye.

571. Tell us what you saw.

As the Bismarck and Hood were exchanging salvoes they were falling round the Hood and giving off black smoke and then near the end the Bismarck seemed to give off three salvoes, Hood was hit and then she seemed to disappear.

572. Did you see any explosion?

No, not much sir.

573. Did you see any fire?

Between the three salvoes the Hood seemed to open fire, it looked like a cordite flash.

This evidence is of no value.

 

- Page 334 -

A.B. H.G. Cain, SSX, 17608.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

574. Where were you at the time?

On the port pom pom.

575. Were you watching the Hood carefully?

Yes, sir, with the naked eye.

576. Tell us what you saw.

I saw the Hood open fire and then the next thing was apparently a salvo from the Bismarck which hit the Hood and to me it appeared to be somewhere round B turret. I saw a flash as if something had gone and then the next thing was the Prince of Wales making a smoke screen.

577. Can you describe the big flash more fully?

It seemed to come right up from the middle of the ship in a half moon shape.

578. What colour was the flash?

(Witness indicated No. 6 on Exhibit 2.)

579. Did you see any debris in the flash?

No, sir.

580. Did you see any smoke other than the smoke screen.

No, sir.

Vague general impression.

 

- Page 335 -

Able Seaman SYDNEY THOMAS HOGAN, D/JX. 132360.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R Chapter II.

581. Where were you at the time?

On the port pom pom.

582. Were you watching the Hood carefully?

With the naked eye.

583. Tell us what you saw.

I saw the Hood come in off the bow and then the engagement began and she opened fire and after about two salvoes from the Bismarck which hit the Hood she caught fire somewhere aft, I could not say if it was the quarterdeck. And after that they fired about two more salvoes and just after the second salvo I distinctly saw the explosion occur, but it was just about a fraction of a second between the salvo and the explosion and after that there was nothing left.

584. Can you describe the explosion more fully?

It was orange coloured and seemed to be more from the centre of the ship, there was quite a lot of debris.

585. Could you identify any of the debris?

No, sir.

586. Were they big pieces?

Some were large and quite a number were smaller pieces.

587. What was the colour of the smoke of the explosion?

It seemed to be a very dark shade.

588. Are you quite sure that the original fire was in the after part of the ship?

Yes, quite sure, sir.

589. Did the explosion come from before the fire?

Yes, it came from amidships.

A sound general impression.

 

- Page 336 -

Ordinary Seaman RONALD CHARLES SIDNEY AGGETT, D/JX. 159970.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

590. Where were you at the time?

On the starboard pom pom as communication number.

591. Could you see the Hood clearly?

Not very distinctly, sir.

592. Were you watching carefully?

Yes, sir.

593. Tell us what you saw.

I saw two ships exchanging salvoes and I was not quite sure which they were and then I was able to make out the Hood on the port side as we approached. At about the sixth salvo that the Bismarck fired the Hood had just opened fire and then about three seconds afterwards there was a big flash and that was the last I saw.

594. Can you describe the flash?

It covered an edge and was orange coloured with a lot of smoke mixed with it.

595. What was the colour of the smoke?

Very dark black.

596. Did you see any debris in the air?

No, sir.

Vague general impression.

 

- Page 337 -

Marine JOHN ANDREW MACRAE, PLY/X. 1373

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

597. Where were you and what was your duty?

Range taker on the fore link above the bridge.

598. Were you watching the Hood through glasses?

Yes, through the range finder.

599. Tell us what you saw of the Hood.

She was firing at the Bismarck, she altered course to port and a few minutes afterwards I saw an orange flame from amidships, a couple of seconds after that she was gone, there was a very thick cloud of smoke and that was all that was left.

600. Can you give us any more detail of this orange flame and the explosion?

No, sir, it happened so quickly.

601. Can you say which part of the ship the explosion came from?

I should think about amidships.

602. Did you see any debris in the air?

No, sir.

603. What colour was the smoke?

Very black.

A vague general impression.

 

- Page 338 -

Marine GEORGE ALFRED NELSON, PLY/X. 1194.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

604. Where were you?

In X turret as trainer.

605. Were you watching the Hood?

We were trained on the Hood.

606. Were you looking through glasses?

No, sir, through a telescope.

607. Tell us what you saw.

I saw the Hood firing her guns and after about six salvoes she was hit by a shell and the flames shot up about as high as the mast and she was enveloped in a cloud of smoke, after that she fired another salvo and the turret swung out of line and the ships went out of my view and that was all I saw.

608. Did you see the actual explosion?

No, sir.

609. Can you give us the shape of the flame?

It was a long flame going up straight rather like a splash of a shell falling.

610. Where was the smoke?

It came from all round the ship.

Vague general impression.

 

- Page 339 -

Marine CHRISTOPHER GEORGE WELLS, PLY/X. 370.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

611. Where were you?

I was gunlayer on S.2 4" gun.

612. What did you see of the Hood?

I only saw the Hood hit and then a fire started in the vicinity of the bridge and the next thing I saw was a huge black cloud of smoke. 613. Did you see the explosion? No, sir.

614. How do you know the Hood had been hit?

The splashes were across her, I could not definitely say, but the flames shot up immediately the splashes dropped.

615. Have you got any idea of the colour of the flame?

It was dull red. (Witness indicated No. 7 on Exhibit 2.)

616. Was there any smoke to the fire?

No, sir.

Vague general impression.

 

- Page 340 -

Petty Officer CHARLES ROBERTSON OGILVIE, J. 104859.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

617. Where were you?

On the port pom pom gun deck.

618. What did you see of the Hood?

The Hood was firing and I noticed a red glow which appeared to be about Y turret, that was after about five minutes, then the Hood fired a salvo and a few seconds afterwards a great big flash went up with black smoke and then there was a dull boom and we did not know what had happened.

619. Can you give any more detail of the explosion?

(Witness indicated No. 7 on exhibit 2 as the colour of the original fire and the explosion as No. 6.)

620. Did you see any debris?

We were too far away.

621. Where was the flash compared to the red glow?

It was about the same place.

622. Both the glow and flash were, you said, at Y turret, what gave you that idea?

The way the ships appeared to be steaming along it looked as if it was at the stern of the ship.

623. Did you say you heard a dull boom?

Yes, after the flash.

624. Very long after?

No, a matter of seconds.

Rather vague idea.

 

- Page 341 -

Telegraphist RONALD BLANCHARD, D/JX. 155771.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

625. Where were you and what were you doing?

I was wireless operator in the after control.

626. Were you watching the Hood?

Yes, sir.

627. Through the naked eye?

Yes, sir.

628. Tell is what you saw of the Hood.

She fired about five salvoes and the first one fell short and then one went amidships and there was smoke coming from her and one or two on the forecastle and set her on fire and it spread quickly and the next one she just flared up.

629. How did you know the shells hit her?

Because you could not see any splashes and smoke came from every hit.

630. Can you give any more details about the explosion?

There was just one big flash and then nothing left.

631. Was the flash of any duration?

No, just a big flash.

632. You remember no other detail.

No, sir.

Vague general impression.

 

- Page 342 -

Corporal PATRICK NOONAN, PLY/X 2687.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

633. Where were you and what were you doing?

I was one of the range finders in X turret.

634. Were you watching the Hood through a telescope?

Yes, sir.

635. What did you see?

Hood opened fire with two salvoes then she burst into flames from fore and aft to her yards, she was in that condidion (sic) for about half a minute then there was a great orange flash and I did not see any more.

636. What colour was the flash?

(Witness indicated No. 2 on exhibit 2.) There was a cloud between the orange flash and the Hood's yards.

637. Did you see any debris?

No, sir.

638. Any smoke?

Very little, it was all flame.

639. You say the flame came from all parts of the ship?

I could not say, but the ship appeared to be in flames from fore and aft and then reached to about her yards, and then suddenly there was a ball of orange flameabove the Hood but I could see the sky between the ball of orange and the Hood and for that instant the flames on the Hood seemed to be slightly broken which I put down to smoke but there was not enough to kill the idea of the ship being in flame from fore and aft.

640. Did you see any smoke after the ball of fire?

My attention was diverted.

Not much value.

 

- Page 342A -

Able Seaman E.H. PENGELLY, JX. 137026.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

641. Where were you and what were you doing?

Inboard of the foremost 4" gun deck, port side.

642. Were you watching the Hood through glasses?

No, sir.

643. Will you tell us what you saw of the Hood?

I did not see the opening salvoes, the first part of the engagement I was watching the enemy ships firing and then it occurred to me to look towards our own ships to see if they were firing. Hood did not fire although I thought at first she did because I saw a flame, but the flame was far straighter than it would have been from an ordinary salvo and I came to the conclusion that it must have been some form of fire. Almost immediately I noticed a salvo fall through and I think left, shortly afterwards the Hood fired another salvo and then I turned my attention to the other ships and I did not see anything more of the Hood until somebody drew my attention to the fact that there had been an explosion there. Of the explosion all I could see was a pall of smoke and nothing more.

644. You did not actually see the explosion?

No, sir.

645. What colour was the smoke?

Very much the same as an ordinary salvo, black.

646. Did you see any debris in the air?

No, sir.

Saw very little.

 

- Page 343 -

Signalman THOMAS EDWIN KING, D/JX. 159385.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

647. Where were you at the time and what were you doing?

On the port side of the flag deck, forward.

648. Were you watching the Hood?

Yes, sir.

649. Through glasses?

Yes, through binoculars.

650. Tell us what you saw of the Hood.

She opened fire with a starboard broadside, eight guns fired from forward to starboard, the Bismarck replied immediately and the first salvo from the Bismarck fell about 200 yards short, the second salvo from the Bismarck hit the Hood on the forecastle and she caught fire, the fire rapidly spreading from forward to aft. The Hood replied after the second hit and another salvo from the Bismarck fell short and the next one from the Bismarck hit the Hood about midships and that was the shot which blew the Hood up, and three seconds before she blew up she fired at the Bismarck, I could not say which turret she fired with.

651. Can you give more of a description of the actual explosion you saw?

I saw the mainmast go up complete and drop into the water complete. There was a very thick pall of smoke and it was a very yellowish flash like No. 3 on exhibit 2. It was very quick and quite a pall of smoke hung over it for some time.

652. Did you see the tripod go up?

Yes, sir, I had a friend and we both mentioned seeing the tripod mainmast go up.

653. Did you see any other debris?

No, sir, the only thing was the tripod mainmast.

654. Was that through glasses?

Yes, sir.

655. Had the explosion got any duration?

It was just a split second.

656. I think you said you saw two hits on the Hood did you see anything other than the effect of the hits?

The first hit that we saw appeared to hit her on the forecastle but really we only saw the fire start and I was assuming that a shell hit her and the fire started.

657. Cold you give any rough idea of how high the mainmast went up in the air?

About three or four times its own height.

658. Where was the explosion with relation to the fire?

To me it appeared that the fire started forward on the forecastle and the explosion from amidships.

Intelligent and a good account.

 

- Page 345 -

Able Seaman HENRY SPENCER THOMAS, D/JX. 147673.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

659. Where were you and what were you doing?

I was on the port wing of the Flag Deck as Boatswain's mate.

660. Were you watching the Hood through glasses?

No, sir.

661. Tell us what you saw of the action.

I saw the Hood firing her guns and the Bismarck, about the fifth or sixth salvo from the Bismarck I saw a bright line of white flame on the forecastle just before A turret. That flame lasted for about five seconds and then she fired her forward guns and directly afterwards I saw a red streak running from forward to aft on the ship's side and directly after that a terrific explosion and all you could see than was a lot of smoke and when that cleared I could not see a thing.

662. Could you see the colour of the flash of the explosion?

No, sir.

663. Did you see any debris in the air?

No, sir.

664. What was the colour of the smoke?

It was more of a greyish colour and not black.

665. You said then there was a terrific wxplosion, (sic) will you describe that explosion?

I could see a large flash of flame and that was all over in a matter of a couple of seconds and after that there was only the smoke.

666. Whereabouts in the ship did this explosion come from?

It seemed to start from forward and then travel through the length of the ship before there was the final explosion because I saw a red streak running through the length of the ship just before the final explosion.

667. What was the shape of the flame of the final explosion?

I should say it was fan shaped.

668. You say you cannot remember the colour?

No, sir.

669. Can you give a little more detail as to the red flash that ran along the ship?

It was more or less in the centre of the ship's side, the actual side and not the superstructure.

A bit imaginative.

 

- Page 346 -

Marine THOMAS EDWARD KEELEY, PLY/X. 2509.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

670. Where were you?

At S.2 H.A. gun, starboard side.

671. Were you watching the Hood closely?

Yes, sir.

672. Through glasses?

No, sir.

673. Tell us what you saw.

The Hood fired a broadside, there was a smoke screen put round her and the next thing I saw there was nothing there.

No use at all.

 

- Page 347 -

Marine JOSEPH MAHONEY, PLY/E. Coy. 20999

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

674. Where were you?

On S.2 gun.

675. Were you watching Hood closely?

I could not see the ship, only the gun flashes.

676. Were you using glasses?

No, sir.

677. Tell us what you saw.

I saw the exchange of fire in the distance, there were two ships and the Hood firing at each other and after about five or six broadsides from each I saw a red flash which burned yellow and looked like burning cordite.

678. Did you see anything of the explosion?

I thought the ship had just fired, but it looked to be too much of a flash for a broadside.

679. Did you see any black smoke?

I cannot recollect.

680. When you say you could not see the ship except her gun flash was it because of the weather?

No, it was clear.

681. Why could you not see her?

Because of the distance, we were too far away.

Honest, but not much value.

 

- Page 348 -

Marine GEORGE SHARPE, PLY/X. 1224.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

682. Where were you?

On the H.A. gun deck, starboard side.

683. Were you watching the Hood closely?

No, sir.

684. Had you got glasses?

No, sir.

685. Tell us what you saw.

I just saw an orange flash and smoke follow (sic) after it.

686. Did you see the Hood firing at all?

I saw a salvo come from the Hood previously.

687. You saw no explosion at all?

I just saw an orange flash.

688. You saw no fire before the explosion?

No, sir.

689. Have you any idea of the part of the ship which the explosion came from?

No, sir, it seemed to be the length of the ship.

Saw very little.

 

Marine JOHN H. CHANDLER, PLY/X. 3497.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

690. Where were you?

At S.2 H.A. gun, starboard side.

691. Were you watching the Hood closely?

Yes, sir.

692. Did you have glasses?

No, sir.

693. Tell us what you saw.

All I could see was splashes from each ship and we were watching them firing at each other for about ten minutes and they seemed to both fire nearly together and all of a sudden there was a big orange coloured flash.

Saw very little.

 

- Page 350 -

Marine HARRY WYKES, PLY/X. 3832.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

694. Where were you at the time?

On the 4" H.A., port side.

695. Were you watching Hood carefully?

No, sir, not carefully, I was watching the battle.

696. Did you have glasses?

No, sir, I did look through the telescope but could not make anything out.

697. Tell us what you saw.

We were watching the battle for a few minutes and then all of a sudden the Hood seemed to fire and there was a cloud of smoke and what I imagine to be an orange flame and that is all I saw.

698. Which came first, the smoke or the flame?

The flame, sir.

699. Are you certain the flame came first?

Yes, sir.

700. What was the colour of the flame?

(Witness indicated No. 3 on exhibit 2.)

701. Did you have any impression of the shape of the flame or its height?

No, sir.

Saw very little.

 

- Page 351 -

Boy 1st Class A.C.A. DANIELLS, D/JX. 163543.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

702. Where were you at the time of the action?

Starboard pom pom.

703. Could you see the Hood clearly?

Yes, sir.

704. Were you watching carefully?

Yes, sir.

705. Without glasses?

Yes, sir.

706. How much of the Hood could you see?

All of her.

707. What did you see?

They opened fire and after a while a flame came from the quarterdeck and the same from the forecastle and smoke seemed to light over her and then suddenly a column of smoke shot from the middle of the smoke and that is all I saw.

708. Are you quite sure you saw a flame at each end of the ship?

Yes, sir.

709. And the smoke covered the ship?

Yes, sir.

710. Where did the column come from?

From the centre and it shot up at a steep angle.

711. What colour was the column of smoke?

Black, sir.

712. Is that all you saw of the Hood?

Yes, sir.

713. Did you see the explosion?

If you call the flames an explosion, yes, sir.

714. How long did the flames last?

Only a few seconds, it was just like a salvo being fired.

715. Did this column of smoke that shot up in the centre shoot up at an angle going forward or not?

Forward.

716. Have you any idea how high it shot up?

I could not say.

717. Did you see any debris in the air.

No, sir.

Evidence not of much value.

 

- Page 353 -

Boy J. BALL, D/JX. 175953.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

718. Where were you at the time?

On the P. 1 4" gun.

719. Could you see the Hood clearly?

No, sir.

720. How much could you see?

I could see her smoke.

721. Were you watching her carefully?

Yes, with binoculars.

722. Tell us what you saw.

All I saw was when she went up.

723. Did you see any firing?

I heard it, but I did not see any.

724. How did she go up?

All I could see was a sheet of flame and hear the explosion and there was black smoke over the ship.

725. What colour was the flame?

Orange red.

726. Did it cover the whole ship?

It went up in the air amidships.

727. Did you see anything of the flames?

No, sir.

728. What was the shape of the flame?

It was very high

729. Did you see anything after the smoke?

No, sir.

730. Did you hear the bang of the explosion directly after you saw the flash?

No, I heard the bang first, that is what made me look.

731. What was the colour of the smoke?

It was black.

Not much value.

 

- Page 354 -

Commander ALFRED CECIL LUCE. R.N.

The witness was cautioned in accordance with K.R. Chapter II.

732. Where were you?

I was on the Compass Platform.

733. Were you watching the Hood closely?

I was dividing my attention between her and the Bismarck.

734. Were you using glasses?

Part of the time.

735. Will you tell us what you saw?

I was on the Flag Deck when the firing was opened by the heavy ships and went to the compass platform where I watched our heavy ships exchanging broadsides with the Germans. I had considerable difficulty in seeing the fall of shot and noticed that the Germans had a larger spread than I expected.

736. Did you see Hood?

Yes, sir. The Hood had an inclination of about 035, I was quite certain of being able to see her quarterdeck. She was firing normally and after having watched her aft on the steps a few minutes I then watched the Bismarck and was looking backwards and forwards from the two for a period of not more than three or four minutes. I was actually watching the Bismarck when I heard the Chief Yeoman say, "Hood's on fire." I looked at the Hood and could see her on fire just below the mainmast on what I thought was the quarterdeck level. The fire looked low and resembled very much the disappearing tip of the sun below the horizon, just a little arc of light. At the time my impression was that it was a cordite fire of some description as it had a very lurid light that cordite has when it is burning, it was like No. 4 on exhibit 2. I am not very certain, but I distinctly remember having seen cordite burn many times that the light was of that nature and we remarked as much on the bridge. I then watched the Bismarck until Lieutenant Royds drew my attention to the Hood, she was in the act of blowing up. Although the initial explosion was, I think, mostly over when I looked, I saw chunks of white hot material thrown into the air. The impression was a limited amount of flame with masses of black smoke.

737. Will you elaborate the appearance of the limited flame?

First I saw chunks of white hot metal, then very little fire, but masses of black smoke.

738. How high did these chunks of metal seem to go?

About the height of the Hood's fore top.

739. You made a sketch for the last board of which this is a copy, do you endorse that as being what you saw?

The fire in my sketch was done with red pencil only and makes no attempt to reproduce the colour of any fire I saw. In the centre sketch the flame is far bigger than I intended to show.

740. You have shown two little red blobs in your centre sketch, what are they meant to represent?

They were meant to represent the chunks of white hot metal.

741. You may like to make other sketches, as the original colours are not correct.

One's impressions fade so rapidly that I do not think I could produce any more reliable ones. The sketches represent my present impressions except for the colour of the flame and that the flame of the explosion in the centre picture is too big, the two red dots represent the chucks of white hot metal. I should now say that the colour in sketch 2 was about No. 3 on exhibit 2, but I am afraid my memory as regards colours excepting as regards the first fire are not now very distinct.

742. Is it possible that the so called white hot chunks were U.P. ammunition?

Possible, but not in my opinion probable.

743. Is it possible that a main flash from the explosion may have occurred before you looked back at the Hood?

Yes.

744. Did these masses of black smoke appear to you to be coming out of the ship or were they already in the air?

There was black smoke in the air when I looked back, but this increased enormously while I was watching the Hood.

745. Could you say the position of the centre of the flames in you sketch No, 2?

By the after funnel.

Note: Witness explained that the expression 'white hot metal' did not mean literally white and was simply a form of expression, the actual colour being nearer No. 3 on Exhibit 2.