-H.M.S. Hood Reference Materials-
ADM 116/4351: Report on the Loss of H.M.S. Hood
Updated 21-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.

Chainbar divider

SERIES

EVIDENCE OF SHIP'S PERSONNEL H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES.

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.
Captain John Catterall Leach, M.V.O., R.N. 1-28 & 778-781
Lieutenant Commander George William Rowell, R.N. 29-49, 118 & 785-787
Lieutenant Commander Anthony Hunter Terry, R.N. 50 - 66
Petty Officer George Henry Goff, D/JX. 143304 67 - 79
Petty Officer Albert Elba Fenton, J. 99965 80 - 88
Petty Officer John Herbert Blockley, J. 110775 89 - 103
Acting Petty Officer Frederick Sweett, J. 108267. 104 - 117
Lieutenant Clement Richard Bateman, R.N. 119 - 127
Sub. Lieutenant John Bassett Womersley, R.N.V.R 128 - 144
Petty Officer Lawrence Sutton, L.110989. 145 - 163
Chief Petty Officer William Henry George Mockridge, J.104763 164 - 181
Petty Officer James Crowley, J.115425 182 - 194
Petty Officer Edgar Holt, J.J.103114 195-218
Bandmaster 2nd Class Percy Edward Cooper, R.M.B.X80. 219 - 227
Sergeant Terrance Charles Frederick Brooks, R.M. Ply.G.X.1209 228 - 262
Chief Petty Officer (O. ) William Henry Westlake, DMX.46253 263 - 274
Mr. Horace Aubrey Jarrett, Commissioned Engineer 275 - 282
Lieutenant (E) Peter John Allan Slade, R.N. 283 - 289
Lieutenant Commander George Cuthbert Irwin Ferguson, R.N.V.R. 290 - 295
Chief Petty Officer Frederick Albert French, DJ.94677 296 - 312 & 788 - 795
Lieutenant Commander Cecil Graham Lawson, R.N. 313 - 316
Petty Officer Ronald Sheridan Howell, D.JX129115 R.N. 317 - 328
Petty Officer Arthur Brokenshire, J.110880. 329 - 341
Commander Harold Fergusson Lawson, R.N. 342 - 345
Petty Officer Harold Pickard, J.108011 346 - 356
Leading Seaman William Charles Henry Wonnacott, JX.139781 357 - 370
Leading Seaman Thomas Evans, JX. 142848 371 - 386
Able Seaman Cornelius O'Driscoll, SSX.16573 387 - 395
Lieutenant Richard Chichester Beckwith, R.N 396 - 398
Petty Officer William George Bray, J.23325 399 - 416
Leading Seaman Hubert Ernest Edmund Fackrell. D.JX.140789 417 - 430
Signalman Alan George Cutler, LDX.4441, R.N.V.R. 431 - 444
Petty Officer Cyril Henry Coates, DJ.106924 445 - 453
Able Seaman John Kevin Boyle, SSX.20217 454 - 464
David Wilson Boyd, Ply. X.3052 R.M. 465 - 471
Able Seaman Philip Smalley, JX.190211. 472 - 482
E.R. (3rd) John Arthur Farnell, HX.55899 483 - 489
Air Mechanic (1st Cl.) Robert Law, FX.76244. 490 - 491
Leading Air Fitter Raymond Arthur Mitchell Dyer, FX.75566 492 - 493
Ordinary Seaman Alfred Louis Ellis, M/OX.3125 494 - 498
A.B. Richard Thomas Knott, DJX.27571 499 - 500
Leading Air Fitter Bernard John Henry Srodzinski, FX.75651 501 - 508
Air Artificer David Ferrier, FX.75949 509 - 517
A.B. Harry Gordon Bartlett, DSSX.18353 518 - 526
A.B. William Usher, D/JX.153984 527 - 535
A.B. William Burgess Jessop, D.JX.149590 536 - 545
A.B. Harry Eastwood, SSX.44308 546 - 560
Leading Seaman John Alfred Whiteham, DJX.147835 561 - 571
Boy Alexander Roy Reynolds, DJX.183660 572 - 580
Boy Ralph Cooke, DJX.180642 581 - 589
A.B. Robert Abbott, SSX.22114 590 - 600
A.B. Alfred James Priddey, SSX.19041 601 - 611
A.B.Alister Paton, DJX.151642 612 - 617
Boy Ivan Lean, DJX.177455 618 - 627
A.B. Clive Sutton, DJX. 212782 628 - 642
Boy Leonard Burchell, D/JX.177445 643 - 655
Ordinary Seaman John Brodie, JX.213502 656 - 661
A.B. Walter Marshall, D/SSX. 26564 662 - 668
A.B. Arthur Hutchinson, SSX.23084 669 - 672
A.B. Geoffrey Gibson, D/SSX.D/SSX.18614 673 - 687
Stoker 1st Class Norman Richard Greening, DKX.88680 688 - 692
Boy Francis Gerrard McElhill, D/JX180641 693 - 699
Boy Thomas Frederick Green, D/JX.180633 700 - 712
Lieutenant Commander Colin William McMullen, R.N. 713 - 722 & 782-784
Lieutenant Michael Auriol Buxton, R.N.V.R. 723 - 726
Boy Royston Frederick Allen, D/JX.183693 727 - 734
A.B.Cyril Robert Bourne, D/JX.135848 735 - 746
A.B. George Robert Ernest Pegg. D/X.9503 747 - 753
Marine Ernest David Harry, R.M. PL.X.3051 754 - 757
A.B. Norman Chrimes, JX.213670 758 - 765
Ordinary Seaman Ernest James Pearson, DJX.198445 766 - 777

- Starting at page 198 -

Minutes of a Board of Enquiry held on board HMS "DEVONSHIRE" on the 12th August 1941, to enquire fully into the circumstances attending the loss of HMS "Hood".

MOST SECRET

CAPTAIN JOHN CATTERALL LEACH, M.V.O., ROYAL NAVY, H.M.S. "PRINCE OF WALES" Called and cautioned.

1. Are you Captain J.C. Leach, M.V.O., Royal Navy, of H.M.S. "Prince of Wales"?

Yes

2. Will you tell us what you saw from the time the action started until the "Hood" was sunk?

Before the action started I was in station on "Hood's" starboard quarter at a distance of about four cables. We had had a concentration signal and waited to open fire in our proper time sector after "Hood" had opened fire. The "Hood" opened fire first and in between the time she opened fire and the time it  was due for me to open fire the German ships opened fire. I saw the first salvo from the German ships arrive near the "Hood" and about the second or third salvo I looked toward the "Hood" and saw a fire burning on the superstructure deck on the port side right aft. I did not actually see the fire start but I saw it a few seconds after it started. From that time onwards I looked at the "Hood" occasionally but I noticed that the fire spread quickly from the port after superstructure deck till it was extended from the after superstructure deck to about the mainmast. (Witness was given a model of the "Hood" which he placed at the correct inclination, which was 40° to the right.)

3. What was the colour of this fire and was it accompanied by much smoke?

The colour was reddish yellow and there was a certain amount of smoke, but no more than I should expect to see from a fire of that size.

4. Would you indicate the colour on either of these two papers?

The bottom was redder than the top and was somewhere between "R" and "D" on Exhibit One. We opened fire half a minute approximately after "Hood" and as far as I can recollect it was about the third or fourth salvo from the enemy which caused the explosion in "Hood". I happened to be looking at "Hood" at the moment when a salvo arrived and it appeared to be across the ship somewhere about the mainmast. In that salvo there were, I think, two shots short and one over, but it may have been the other way round. But I formed the impression at the time that something had arrived on board "Hood" in a position just before the mainmast and slightly to starboard. It was not a very definite impression that I had, but it was sufficiently definite to make me look at "Hood" for a further period. I in fact wondered what the result was going to be, and between one and two seconds after I formed that impression an explosion took place in the "Hood" which appeared to me to come from very much the same position in the ship. There was a very fierce upward rush of flame the shape of a funnel, rather a thin funnel, and almost instantaneously the ship was enveloped in smoke from one end to the other. Subsequently beyond glancing in the direction of the "Hood" I was fully occupied in attending to other things and I had no very distinct impression of anything after that except that I formed the impression that the gunwale of the "Hood" was just showing outside the cloud of smoke and quite a short distance above the water, I should say about two to three feet. I am not certain what part of the ship that was.

5. In other words the bit of the ship's side that you last saw appeared to be intact.

Yes, it was an unbroken line, but only a very narrow strip of the ship above the water, and I am not at all certain what portion of the ship it was.

6. Can you describe the colour of the flame of the explosion?

I formed the impression that it was generally rather lighter in colour than the first one. Somewhere between "D" and "E" on Exhibit One.

7. Can you tell us the shape of the first fire?

It was an irregular flickering fire and I should say was not more than 12 or 14 feet high in general, there may have been tongues above that but generally peaking it did not impress itself upon me as being a very tall fire or a particularly solid one.

8. Did you see much debris thrown up by the explosion?

Yes, a considerable quantity of all sorts.

9. Did you see some big objects in the debris?

Yes

10. What was the state of the first fire when the explosion occurred?

I did not notice it, but looking back on it I should say that it was less noticeable than it had been a little while previously.

11. Are your recollections of this incident pretty clear now?

My recollections are quite clear on what I have told you up to the present.

12. You have told us that you saw the "Hood" open fire.

Yes

13. Can you tell us more about her shooting?

As far as I can remember she opened fire from her forward turrets, but before she blew up she had fired from either "X" or "Y" and I think both.

14. Have you available any exact times of the "Hood" catching fire and blowing up?

No, not exact times

15. Can you find out for us the interval between "Hood" opening fire and her blowing up?

Yes, I will get that.

16. Did "X" and "Y" fire after the fire started?

I think so.

17. For the previous board you made a sketch of the "Hood". Do you consider this copy to be correct particularly as regards colour?

The general impression is correct but I think the flame and smoke should have extended higher relative to the upper deck and the sides of the cone of flame were more nearly parallel.

18. Can you indicate any more closely than you have already done where the base of the explosion started?

It was definitely just before the mainmast in my opinion and about the middle line. I would like to emphasise the difference in appearance between the fire on the port side and the explosion. The former gave the impression of a fire burning on the upper deck with flickering flames as might be expected with the wind of the ship's speed. It did not give me any impression having come from between decks. The explosion gave the impression of a vast blow lamp. I almost expected to hear the corresponding noise but I did not. I do not remember hearing any noise.

19. Was the explosion a flash or had it duration?

I should say it had duration and that it had not ceased by the time the ship became obscured in smoke from one end to the other. I did not notice any considerable quantity of debris until after the smoke had formed.

20. Could you say definitely whether the armoured doors of "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or shut?

No.

21. Have you any impression on that point?

No.

22. Did you at any time see any holes in the "Hood's" ship's side?

No.

23. So far as you can remember was the "Hood" still going at the same speed when she blew up?

Yes, I am sure of this.

24. Did you feel any shock to your own ship?

None.

25. Did you see anything in the debris which could possibly be portions of "X" or "Y" turrets?

I remember seeing one fairly large plate fairly high in the air. Whether it was armoured plate or thin plate I do not know.

26. Did you notice if "X" and "Y" turrets were intact at the time of the explosion?

No, but I did not notice that there were any signs of damage. My impression was that "X" and "Y" were widely separated from the explosion.

27. You have told us that the effect of the explosion was similar to a vast blow lamp. Was there just one gush of flame or a number of gushes?

One.

28. Are you an expert in the appearance of explosions?

No, but I should say the fire on the port side was not typical of a cordite fire. As regards the explosion, I consider this was obviously caused by some explosive going off but I could not say what sort of explosive.

WITNESS WITHDREW

- Starting at page 200 -

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER GEORGE WILLIAM ROWELL, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES." Called and cautioned.

29. Are you Lieutenant Commander George William Rowell, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. "PRINCE OF WALES."

Yes.

30. Where were you and what was your duty?

I was on the compass platform as navigating officer.

31. Will you tell us what you saw of the "Hood" from the time she opened fire until the time she blew up?

The "Hood" opened fire with her foremost turrets with the enemy about 40 deg. on the starboard bow and "Prince of Wales" opened fire with her foremost turrets about half a minute later. Shortly after "Prince of Wales" first salvo "Bismarck" opened fire with all four turrets. The Bismarck's opening salvo fell very close to the "Hood." I think, but I am not sure, that it was just over. The spread was extremely small, I think it was the third salvo from the "Bismarck" which first hit the "Hood" and a fierce fire started on the "Hood" boat deck abaft the mainmast. My impression is that this fire was on the portside. "Prince of Wales" at this time was fine on the "Hood's" starboard quarter.

32. Will you turn the model so that it is at the correct inclination?

(Witness indicated an inclination of approximately 20 deg. to the right and told the court he would work out what it actually was.) Immediately after being hit, the Vice-Admiral hoisted the signal for a turnaway together of 20 degrees. This was executed about two minutes later and the "A" arcs of  "Hood" and "Prince of Wales" thus brought to bear. Meanwhile the fire on the boat deck was spreading forward steadily and appeared to be gaining ground. The fire appeared to me to be similar to a petrol fire. There was a large amount of flame  but very little smoke.

33. Can you indicate the colour of the flame?

The flame was comparatively light in colour I should say "5" in exhibit 2. I remember thinking that although the sire was spreading it appeared to be confined to above the boat-deck and there was no indication that it was spreading downwards. "Bismarck's" firing continued to be accurate and salvos fell just short and just over as if she was using some form of zig-zag ladder. The Vice-Admiral hoisted a second signal for another turn of 20 deg. away but before it could be executed the "Hood" was hit by another salvo. It was clear that she had been hit because of a throwing up of dark coloured debris from just before the mainmast from a position which I am sure in my own mind was close to the centre line on the boat-deck. After perhaps two or three seconds there was an uprush of orange coloured flame from this same position and it was apparent that a very serious explosion had resulted. The flame was followed by a dense column of white smoke which almost had the appearance of steam, and within a few second all that I could see of the "Hood" was her quarter-deck and her fore-top for a moment or two. The fact that the fore-mast was still visible made me hope that she had not gone,  but as I remarked to the Captain that her top was still standing it fell backwards towards us and I then saw that the fater part of the ship was also plunging forwards. We put the wheel over to starboard to give us a greater clearance from the wreckage and by the time we were abreast of her all that apparently remained were three large sections of the hull which were unrecognisable and themselves slipping into the water. I formed the very definite opinion at the time that the explosion was the direct result of the second hit made on her and that although the fire which was raging on the boat-deck looked unpleasant it was not the cause of her destruction. At the time my own impression was that "Hood" was hit by two shells from that salvo which sank her and I gave this as my opinion to the Captain immediately afterwards. He however thought that there was only one.

34. Did you observe the state of "X" and "Y" turrets at the moment of the explosion?

Yes, I was actually looking at the "Hood" at the moment when she was hit. I saw nothing unusual with her after turrets which had very shortly before fired a salvo.

35. Did you see any definite hits on the "Hood's" side?

No.

36. Did you observe if the armoured doors in the ship's side over the "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or shut?

No, I did not observe it.

37. When the fire was burning on the upper deck did any smoke appear to come out of the ship's sides?

No, the fire appeared to be confined to the boat-deck.

38. What form was the debris you first saw?

Only small pieces were thrown up and the subsequent explosion therefore seemed all the more remarkable.

39. Will you indicate the colour of the flame of the explosion?

I think it was "7" in exhibit 2. I formed the impression that it was of a slightly darker colour than the previous fire on the boat deck.

40. What shape was the explosion?

I might say egg shaped. It was definitely a vertical sheet of flame but the subsequent smoke expanded in all directions.

41. Will you elaborate the colour of the smoke?

I have said that the smoke was white in colour but it grew darker as time passed. At no time in my recollections was it black. I formed no impression at the time of the noise of the explosion, but this may well be due to the fact that our own guns were still firing.

42. In your Captain's report of the action it is stated that "Hood" opened fire at 0552 1/2 and that she blew up at 0600. As you probably assisted in making this report, can you tell us if these times are accurate or not?

They were complied on the following day from the information available. Unfortunately the plot where the narrative was being kept was thrown into some confusion by a large amount of blood that was pouring down from the compass platform on to the track chart and I think it is possible that these times may be in error up to as much as two minutes but I am satisfied that relative to each other they are correct.

43. Did you notice any reduction in the "Hood's" speed before she blew up?

No.

44. Can you describe the explosion as practically instantaneous or did it endure for some short time?

Not having previously seen a ship blow up I have no real yard-stick by which to judge this question. But I am quite certain that at the time there was an appreciable pause between the ship being hit and the uprush of flame. There was no appearance of a succession of explosions.

45. Did you feel any shock to your own ship?

No, but similarly to the apparent absence of noise this may have been the result of the effec produced by our own gun-fire.

46. Did you see any debris in the air after the explosion and if so, can you describe it?

There was some debris thrown well up into the air but I remember feeling surprised at the time that there was not more, and that the pieces were not larger. I saw nothing that I could identify.

47. Did you notice "X" and "Y" turrets after the explosion?

No, my impression is that the column of smoke hid all but the after end of the quarter-deck. But I feel quite sure that at the moment of the uprush of flame from the boat-deck the turrets were in their normal firing positions.

48. Do you consider that "Hood" broke her back before she sank, and if so where do you think the rupture occurred?

I formed the impression that she did break her back and that the ship appeared to fold up about the position close to that at which I observed the hit, namely between the after funnel and the mainmast.

49. Was the explosion of any duration or did it appear as a flash?

I should say of some duration. It was not dissimilar from the flame of discharge of a gun as regards time.

- Starting at page 203 -

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER ANTHONY HUNTER TERRY, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES." Called and cautioned.

50. Are you Lieutenant Commander Anthony Hunter Terry, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes

51. Is your recollection of what you actually saw fairly clear?

Yes.

52. Where were you at the time?

Port-After H. Director.

53. Will you describe what you saw of the action particularly with reference to the "Hood", from the time "Hood" opened fire?

"Hood" opened fire with foremost turrets, that is "A" and "B", at 0552. "Prince of Wales" opened fire with "A" and "B" turrets shortly afterwards. "Bismarck's" first salvo straddled the "Hood", apparently no hits. One or two more salvos fell close to the "Hood". One salvo which fell astern of "Hood" I took to be 8" H.E. The splashes were considerably smaller than the previous ones and apparently burst on striking the water. There was a flash and black smoke when it burst.
At 0557 "Hood" was hit amidships by "Bismarck's third or fourth salvo. A big fire started just before the main-mast and a lot of black smoke was given off. The fire appeared to die down slowly and then increase again, flames were a dull red colour. The flames did not reach high but appeared but appeared (sic) to be burning just forward, around the foot of the main-mast. "Hood" continued to fire and fired one salvo from the after group on the foremost bearing. At 0600 there was a heavy explosion at the after end of the "Hood", no actual fall of shot was observed at that time. A column of smoke rose above the ship and completely enveloped her. It formed into a mushroom at the top. I thought she had blown up completely but shortly afterwards the smoke cleared sufficiently for me to see her. She was apparently still moving ahead and turning to port. She was down at the stern and listing heavily to port and the after part of the ship appeared to be a mass of twisted framework, as though the plates of the side had been blown out leaving only the frame. The part of the ship which I saw was just forward of "X" turret. At this time we were turning to port between the "Hood" and the enemy and I observed debris falling towards "Prince of Wales", in particular one large piece that looked like the main-mast or a derrick. 0601, "Prince of Wales" was hit by a shell in the after funnel and this obstructed my attention. Shortly after this I observed "Hood's" bows sticking vertically out of the water and sinking rapidly, I think on an even keel. This was about 0603 and after that I saw nothing but black smoke hanging over the scene of the wreck.

54. Can you give us a more elaborate detail as to the position and appearance of the explosion?

A large cloud of black smoke rising I think from the quarter-deck abreast "X" turret.

55. Did you see any flash before the smoke?

No, but I think my attention was slightly distracted.

56. Do you consider that the explosion was abaft of the original fire?

Yes.

57. Were you watching through glasses or the naked eye?

Naked eye.

58. Are you quite certain that you saw the ship's-side plating had been blown away and that the position was about abreast the after-end of the superstructure?

Yes.

59. Did this gap in the ship's side extend to the upper deck or not?

I am not absolutely certain. My impression is that it did.

60. Can you remember if you could see "X" turret at the same time?

No, it was enveloped in smoke.

61. Did you see any smoke emerging from the hole in the ship's side?

No.

62. Do you know if the armoured doors overing "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or shut?

I could not say defiitely, my impression is that they were shut. I am almost certain about that.

63. Did you actually see any shell strike "Hood's" side or upper deck?

No.

64. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

I did not notice anything. Our guns were firing at the time.

65. Did you feel any shock on your own ship?

No, our own guns were firing.

66. Were you looking at the "Hood" at the time of the expolsion?

Not at the actual moment of the explosion.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(WITNESS'S EVIDENCE WAS LARGELY TAKEN FROM NOTES WRITTEN AT THE TIME OF THE ACTION AND THE TIMES TAKEN WERE ON THE SPOT.)

PETTY OFFICEER GEORGE HENRY GOFF, DJX.13304, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

67. Are you Petty Officer George Henry Goff, DJX143304, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

68. What was your position is (sic) duty?

Layer-Rating 1. Of the port battery in the port-after director.

69. Can you remember clearly what you saw?

Yes, I have got quite a clear idea of what I saw. The port-side was the disengaged side and the lookout bearing was about 40 deg. On looking over the side you could see the "Hood" quite clearly. The first salvo appeared to fall ahead of the "Hood", the second salvo astern, and the thrid salvo appeared to fall on the starboard side of the "Hood", very close. The next thing I remember was seeing flames from "X" turret. "A", "B" and "Y" turrets were firing at the time and I noticed that "X" turret was not firing. The fire appeared to grow bigger and reached half way up the mainmast. It was a red fire. The next thing I noticed was that "B" turret was firing but belching out flames. After that "Y" turret fired on its own and the "Hood" went up. The next thing I saw was part of the mainmast in the air or a part of the turret. As we passed close by all I could see was the bows of the "Hood" going down.

70. Can you describe the explosion more fully?

It was like a ship lifting out of the water with red flames and black smoke.

71. You said "B" turret was belching flame, can you describe this more fully?

When a gun fires the flash licks slowly round the muzzle of the gun. But there was no straight flash and the flames licked slowly round.

72. Can you describe the position of this fire which you said was about "X" turret?

The fire appeared to be beyond "X" turret (i.e. the port side) spreading forward to quite half way up the mainmast. I am not certain if it went before the mainmast.

73. Where did the explosion seem to come from?

I could not see exactly where it came from.

74. Do you think it was before the original fire or after it?

It seemed to be the same fire which seemed to be preading rapidly. That was quite obvious to me.

75. Could you see the armoured doors covering the torpedo tubes of the "Hood's" side?

No.

76. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

No, I just saw a flash. Our own guns were firing.

77. Was the smoke black?

Yes.

78. What was the colour of the flame?

The fire started at 6 and deepened to 7. Exhibit 2.

79. Were you watching "Hood" the whole time?

Yes.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

(THIS WITNESS IS RATHER INCLINED TO BE IMAGINATIVE).

PETTY OFFICER ALBERT ELBA FENTON, J99965, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

80. Are you Petty officer Albert Elba Fenton, J99965, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

81. Where were you in the action?

Starboard forward H. Director.

82. Were you watching the "Hood" or not?

I could see the "Hood" with my disengaged eye.

83. Will you tell us what you saw?

The first thing I saw was the "Hood" open fire. I saw the flash of the "Hood's" forward guns. The next thing I saw was a splash just ahead of the "Hood". I saw one salvo drop just between us and the "Hood". The next thing I saw was smoke Abreast "X" turret.

84. Did you see a salvo fall at that time.

No. The fire started small at first and then got larger and developed into a huge yellow flame. The next thing a saw was the "Hood" blown to pieces.

85. You saw (sic) you saw smoke abreast "X" turret. Which side?

It seemed to be the port side of "X" turret.

86. What was the colour of the first flame you saw.

Number 3 Exhibit 2.

87. Can you describe the explosion a bit more fully.

No, that was all I saw.

88. Did you hear anything?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

(THIS WITNESS COULD NOT HAVE SEEN VERY MUCH).

PETTY OFFICER JOHN HERBERT BLOCKLEY, J.110775, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

89. Are you Petty Officer John Herbert Blockley, J110775, Royal Navy, Of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

90. Are your recollections quite clear?

Yes.

91. Where were you?

In the port foremost H. Director.

92. Were you watching through glasses?

No.

93. Will you tell us what you saw?

The first salvo from the "Bismarck" fell ahead of the "Hood" and was absolutely correct for range. The second salvo fell astern and the third salvo but not so much. The fourth salvo fell and I saw one fall fairly close on the starboard side almost amidships, and one short. The rest I did not see.

94. Did you see either of the other two shots of the salvo hit "Hood"?

No. I think it was after the fourth salvo that the fire started abreast the mainmast on the port side of the "Hood".

95. Could you see if this fire was before or abaft the mainmast?

At the angle I was looking at it it appeared to be before the mainmast but it was gradually working aft. The fire appeared to be rather yellowish in colour with much flame and not very much smoke. The colour was a little lighter than No. 3 on exhibit 2. The flames were about half way up the mainmast. It was about this time that I noticed "Y" turret was still fore and aft and "X" turret on a bearing. The fifth salvo I saw two splashes over. The must have been dead in line. The sixth salvo the majority of splashes were over. Between the fifth and sixth there were splashes which I took to be from the cruiser. They fell astern of the "Hood" and burst with black coloured smoke. It was also about the time of the sixth salvo when "Y" turret fired and immediately after that an explosion took place. It seemed to me to come from just abaft the mainmast and after that everything was enveloped in flame and smoke except the bow which was sticking up at an angle of about 10 deg. The "Prince of Wales" passed her and on looking back the foremost part of the "Hood" had turned turtle, and that is all I could see.

96. Could you say definitely if the armoured doors masking "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or shut?

No, I did not notice.

97. Did you see any debris in the air after the explosion?

Yes.

98. Did you form any opinion as to what part of the ship it was?

No.

99. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

Only a muffled report, but not loud which may have come from the "Hood".

100. Did you feel any shock on your own ship?

No.

101. You say you saw the bows of the "Hood" floating bottom upwards. About what length of the ship did you see?

I should say to the after end of "A" turret.

102. Are you certain that bows turned turtle?

There is a possibility it may have turned turtle on it's (sic) side but the upper deck was not visible.

103. What colour was the portion was the portion of the ship you saw?

Rather blackish.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(A VERY GOOD WITNESS).

- Starting at Page 208 -

ACTING PETTY OFFICER FREDERICK SWEETT, J108267, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

104. Are you Acting Petty Officer Frederick Sweett, J108267, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

105. Are you recollections of the action quite clear?

Yes.

106. Where were you?

In the Port After H. Director.

107. Were you watching through glasses or not?

I was watching throughout with the naked eye.

108. Will you tell us what you saw?

I observed the first fall of shot which was in the "Hood's" path. The second fall of shot was right astern. The "Bismarck" or "Prince Eugen" or whoever was firing at the "Hood" halved their deflection and the third salvo hit the "Hood" on the port side. I saw yellow flames coming from the port battery. "A" and "B" turrets fired and within a few seconds an explosion occurred on the "Hood" which blew the stern from "X" turret aft right off. The remaining part of the "Hood" immediately swung to port and bow was in reverse position to course. The last part seen was the bows to stem piece, this became submerged and the last part seen was the stem piece above water with burning wreckage floating about.

109. You say the fire broke out about the port battery aft. Will you please point out where that was?

The fire was about abreast the mainmast with flames spreading to starboard and forward.

110. Could you see if the armoured doors masking "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or shut?

No.

111. How can you be certain that "Hood's" stern was blown off from "X" turret?

The controlling office and myself passed the remark that "X" and "Y" turrets had failed to fire, and our attentions were concentrated on the after part of "Hood". First of all our attraction was drawn by the yellow flame spreading and then a huge column of black smoke and sudden disappearance of the after part of stern of "Hood". The stern was not obscured by smoke but was blown to pieces.

112. Does that include "X" and "Y" turrets?

Yes.

113. Where did you think the centre of this explosion was?

By the mainmast.

114. Did you see the mainmast after the explosion?

No. Once the smoke had cleared away the only thing observed was the "Hood" upside down.

115. You told us that the after end of the ship was blown off. Where do you think the break occurred?

About the mainmast.

116. Which turrets fired the last salvos from the "Hood"?

"A" and "B".

117. Did you see "X" fire at all?

No. "Y" only.

WITNESS WITHDREW

- Starting at Page 209 -

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER GEORGE WILLIAM ROWELL, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

Witness handed in track charts of "Hood", "Prince of Wales", and "Bismarck" during the relevant period.

118. You said yesterday that you saw a fire on the boat deck of "Hood" after the third salvo from "Bismarck". Please give as closely as you can the position of that fire.

The fire commenced on the port after end of the boat deck abaft the mainmast and spread forward towards it. My impression is that it had almost reached the mainmast before the "Hood" blew up.

WITNESS WITHDREW

- Starting at Page 210 -

LIEUTENANT CLEMENT RICHARD BATEMAN, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

119. Are you Lieutenant Clement Richard Bateman, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

120. Where were you?

I was in the aircraft run back to the port side ready for catapulting.

121. Please tell us what you saw.

Of the end of the "Hood" I only saw the plunge of her bows. I had to abandon my aircraft and I saw the bows of the "Hood" sinking rapidly. The bows were standing up very steeply and sinking very rapidly.

122. What length of bow could you see?

About from the forward breakwater to the stem.

123. Were the bows listed?

I could not see the deck. I thought I could see the underside of the ship.

124. Could you see the side or the bottom?

I think I could see the bottom and the side. I could not see anything of the deck.

125. Was it your impression that the bows had capsized or not?

I thought not.

126. Did you see anything of the debris?

Some flaming patches in the water but it was rather vague. It may have been oil.

127. Did you, while still in your aircraft, feel any particular shock which you could not account for?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW
(WITNESS HAD NOT SEEN VERY MUCH)

- Starting at Page 210 -

SUB-LIEUTENANT JOHN BASSET WOMERSLEY, ROYAL NAVAL VOLUNTEER RESERVE, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

128. Are you Sub-Lieutenant John Basset Womersley, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

129. Where were you and what was your duty?

In the port forward H. director as control officer.

130. Will you describe what you saw?

We were trained on a foremost bearing and therefore almost on the "Hood". The first thing I saw was two splashes from the "Bismarck" which were short by about 2000 yards I should say. Meanwhile "Hood" opened fire with "A" and "B" turrets. The next salvo appeared to fall on the port quarter of "Hood" and over by about 200 yards. After this a fire appeared on the "Hood's" boat-deck. This fire appeared to be between P.3. and S.3. mountings thought I am not absolutely sure of this. I think it must have been abaft the mainmast because I remember thinking it was not very far from "X" turret. It seemed to be in the centre line of the ship. In view of the fact that the fire sprung up almost immediately and had brown smoke with orange flames I would have said it was a cordite fire. I did not notice it spreading but it seemed to be about the size of a 4" turret twin mounting, only higher.

131. Can you pick out the colour of the fire on these diagrams?

Between "3" and "4" on exhibit 2.

The next thing I saw happen on the "Hood" was "A" and "B" turrets fire again, also one of the after turrets fire but I could not say which. And then the ship blew up. I cannot say which part of the ship blew up first. As far as I could see it seemed as if all the magazines had blown up simultaneously and the only part of the ship I remember seeing immediately after the explosion was the mainmast. This disappeared into the smoke and after several minutes when the smoke had cleared away I could see a piece of the bow from the stem to the forward breakwater and tilted at an angle of about 20 deg. To the horizontal. It slipped backwards.

132. Cold you see if this portion of the bows had a list or not?

No, it appeared to have no list. The only other thing was a patch of what I took to be burning oil floating on the surface.

133. Just before the explosion did you notice if "X" and "Y" turrets were still intact?

The fire seemed to be getting pretty close to "X" and I thought during the fire they fired but would not swear to that.

134. Did you notice if the armoured doors masking "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or closed during the action?

I did not notice that.

135. Did you see any flash of the explosion?

Yes I think there was definitely. There was a colossal volume of brown smoke with a red glow all the way along the base of it. The red glow did not last very long.

136. Can you say where the glow or the smoke was centred?

No.

137. Did you hear anything?

I do not remember that.

138. Did you feel any shock to your own ship?

No.

139. Would you indicate the colour of the red glow?

About "4" on exhibit 2.

140. What was the colour of the smoke of the first fire?

About "Y" on exhibit 1.

141. What was the colour of the smoke from the explosion?

Almost the same except it was more varied in shade, some being darker and others lighter.

142. Is your memory quite clear as to the details of these colours?

Concerning the fire, yes, but not so definite in the case of the explosion.

143. Do you consider the fire was entirely on or above the boat-deck?

It seemed to have the origin on the same level as the deck.

144. Have you any particular knowledge or experience of fires and explosions?

Only those carried out in the normal laboratory routine such as burning things for tests. I did a certain number of lectures on spontaneous combustion, but I am not experienced in cordite fires or high explosives.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

- Starting at Page 212 -

PETTY OFFICER LAWRENCE SUTTON, J110989, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

145. Are you petty Officer Lawrence Sutton, J. 110989, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

146. Where were you and what was your duty?

On the port side of the Admiral's shelter deck.

147. Were you watching through glasses?

No.

148. Were you watching "Hood" particularly?

Yes.

149. Is your memory quite clear?

Yes.

150. tell us what you saw.

The first thing I saw was a salvo fall short of the "Hood"; the second salvo fell short astern; the next salvo I saw was a salvo of H.E. fall more or less in line amidships of the "Hood" also short. This was of smaller calibre than the other two. The next salvo I observed appeared to go over and at the same time there was a flash just before the mainmast of the "Hood" and there was a volume of black smoke which afterwards turned into grey smoke. H.E. shells burst on the other side of the "Hood" which gave me the impression that "Hood" had been hit by one of the salvos which had been fired. The "Hood" was firing with her foremost turrets. "Y" turret had been trained fore and aft during this time. "Y" turret then trained towards the enemy and before firing there was a flash abaft the mainmast of the "Hood" which appeared to be a fire on the boat-deck. "Y" turret then fired and at the same time a huge flash came up all around "Y" turret. The flash rose to well above the mainmast of the ship and all I heard was a tremendous roar and I could not see anything until the smoke had cleared away. That was all I saw of the "Hood".

151. You talk about a tremendous roar. Can you describe that?

It was something I have never experienced before. It was very load and unexpected. It was like the roar of a gun and was mingled with the noise of "Y" turret firing.

152. Did you notice if the armoured doors masking the "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or closed?

I did not notice them being open. If they had been I think I would have noticed them as we were so close.

153. Could you differentiate between the roar you heard from either your own guns firing or the "Hood's" guns firing?

The "Prince of Wales" did not fire at that moment and the roar I heard was louder that I had previously heard from the guns in "Hood".

154. When you saw "Y" turret fire did you notice whether any of the forward turrets fired?

No, I did not see the other turrets fire then.

155. What was the colour of the smoke you saw come up from "Y" turret. A yellowish cordite colour?

(Witness indicated between "X" and "Y" on exhibit 1).

156. Could you indicate the colour of the flash you saw come from "Y" turret?

It was a very bright flash indeed. (Witness indicated "H" on exhibit 1).

157. Which did you see first, the flash or the smoke?

The flash.

158. Did you see any debris in the air after the explosion?

No.

159. What did you see of the ship after the smoke had cleared?

I did not see anything. My duties distracted my attention.

160. Did you feel any unusual shock on your ship when the explosion occurred in "Hood"?

No.

161. Can you describe the final explosion in greater detail than you have done?

The starting of it was a thin column of flame because it attracted my attention the way it shot into the air abaft the mainmast and before "X" turret.

162. Did you see the first flash you spoke of near "Y" turret separated from the explosion you have just described?

It was separate. When "Y" turret fired there was a flash of the gun and it appeared that the turret was illuminated up. It was only a matter of seconds befor the main explosion occurred.

163. Will you give us a sequence of the flashes you saw?

The flash from "Y" gun was followed by the flash around "Y" turret. This was followed by the main flash of the explosion, which was between the superstructure near "X" turret and the mainmast.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(THIS WITNESS'S EVIDENCE AS REGARDS THE FLASH AROUND "Y" TURRET WOULD BE IMPORTANT IF IT COULD BE RELIED UPON, BUT WE CONSIDER HIS MEMORY OF WHAT HE SAW VERY CONFUSED).

- Starting at Page 213 -

CHIEF PETTY OFFICER WILLIAM HENRY GEORGE MOCKRIDGE, J. 104763, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

164. Are you Chief Petty Officer William Henry George Mockridge, J. 104763, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

165. Where were you and what was your duty?

Captain of P.2. 5.25 turret, and on a lookout bearing on the "Hood".

166. Were you looking through a periscope?

Yes. I was watching "Hood" to see how many salvos she was firing and I observed a fire break out aft which I am sure was the 4" ready use lockers. The ready use lockers were on the after end of the boat-deck. The supply also came up by the ready use lockers. I then saw a very vivid flash. It was so bright, like a magnesium flare. This continued to burn for at least 10 seconds. As I moved my view to forward to see how "A" and "B" turrets were firing the explosion occurred. The only part I saw of the sinking was that the bows appeared out of the smoke. That was the last part I saw. After the bows had disappeared all I could see was the flames on the water and a great pall of smoke at least 100 feet high.

167. This first fire that you saw, do you think it was on the centre line of the ship or now?

Yes, definitely on the centre line of the ship.

168. What was its shape?

It appeared to be extending along my line of sight towards me.

169. Was there much smoke attached to this flame?

No smoke at all.

170. Would you indicate the colour on these diagrams?

About "1" in exhibit 2. It was very brilliant.

171. Did you notice if the armoured doors covering the "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or shut?

I did not notice.

172. Do you know where the petrol is stowed in the "Hood"?

I won't swear to this, but I think on both sides of the boat-deck abreast the mainmast.

173. You say the explosion occurred at the time you were shifting your periscope to the forward part of the ship. Did you actually see the explosion or not?

No.

174. Did you think the fire at the after end of the boat-deck was entirely on the deck and not below it?

To my mind it was entirely on the top of the boat-deck.

175. Have you ever seen a ready use locker on fire before?

No.

176. Have you seen a U.P. mounting on fire?

Yes.

177. Was the very bright flash you saw, which you described like magnesium burning, at all similar to the trail of U.P. ammunition?

No, I don't think so.

178. Did you see any debris after the explosion?

No.

179. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

No, the noise of the machinery in the turret would have prevented me.

180. Are you very well acquainted with the 4" guns and the lockers on "Hood"?

I did equipment trials of the 4" guns and supply arrangements in 1940.

181. You said the bright fire lasted for about 10 seconds. Do you say it died down?

No, it was still burning when I shifted my periscope.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

PETTY OFFICER JAMES CROWLEY, J. 115425, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

182. Are you Petty Officer James Crowley, J. 115425, ROYAL NAVY, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

183. Where were you and what were you doing?

I am captain of P.4. turret. I was on the disengaged side looking through a periscope on and off.

184. tell us what you saw.

I was looking through the periscope and saw several salvos near "Hood" on the starboard side. All of a sudden on the port side aft on the boat-deck, I saw a cordite flame about 60 feet high. I took my eye off the "Hood", and when I looked through the periscope again I saw a flame come from "B" turret through one of the guns. Not many moments after that she blew up.

185. What part of the "Hood" were you looking at when she blew up?

I should say the fore part.

186. Did you see anything of the blowing up?

I could not describe it at all.

187. What was the colour of this fire on the boat-deck?

It was a cordite fire. It was the same colour as cordite fires I have seen at Bull Point.

188. Was there much smoke with this flame?

No, not very much.

189. Can you describe its shape?

It went up in a column, the base being about one third of its height. It seemed to die down.

190. Did you notice if the armoured doors masking "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or closed?

I did not notice.

191. Could you see any damage to the "Hood" with your periscope?

No.

192. Did you see any debris in the air or coming down?

I saw some going up but could not recognise it at all.

193. Did you hear any noise from the explosion?

No.

194. Did you feel any shock from the explosion?

No.

(VERY CLEAR WITNESS, BUT DID NOT SEE MUCH).
WITNESS WITHDREW.

- Starting at page 216 -

PETTY OFFICER EDGAR HOLT, D.J. 103114, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

195. Are you Petty Officer Edgar Holt, D.J. 103114, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince os Wales."

Yes.

196. Are your recollections clear of what you saw?

Yes.

197. Where were you at the time?

Closed up in P.3. turret.

198. Were you looking that the "Hood" all the time.

Yes, through my periscope.

199. Will you tell us what you saw?

I was looking at the "Hood" through my periscope and I saw a number of salvos or shots fall around the "Hood". A fire broke out abreast "X" turret on "Hood" port side. About two minutes late I saw a flame about 10 feet long shoot out of "B" turret muzzle and about half to one minute later "Y" turret on "Hood" fired her first salvo. About a second later "Hood" blew up.

200. Did you see where the explosion occurred?

It appeared to envelope the whole ship.

201. How much of the "Hood" comes into the field of your periscope?

All of it. I saw a fire across "X" turret. (Witness indicated on a model where he saw the fire.)

202. Will you indicate the colour of the flame?

Witness indicated "3" on exhibit 2.

203. Did you notice if "X" turret fired at all?

I did not notice.

204. Did you see the flames of the explosion?

Yes.

205. Can you say where the centre of the flames came from?

No.

206. Did you notice if the torpedo doors in the "Hood's" side were open or shut?

I did not notice.

207. Did you see any debris in the air after the explosion and can you describe it?

I saw a number of small pieces of stuff in the air and one big piece about six feet square, fly straight up in the air.

208. Did you see anything of the "Hood" after the explosion?

Yes. "Hood" appeared to alter course to port and then she gradually submerged. When nearly submerged she appeared to break in half about the mainmast, and the after part came up and the bows went straight down.

209. Do you mean that you saw the after part of the "Hood" sticking up out of the water?

Not a great deal. She appeared to break in half and the stern came up to an angle of about 20 deg.

210. Did you see "X" and "Y" turrets on the stern portion of "Hood"?

I did not notice them. I could not swear to it.

211. What was the colour of the smoke after the explosion?

It was a very dark brown colour changing to black.

212. What was the colour of the flash of the explosion?

Witness indicated "4" on exhibit 2.

213. Which did you see first the flash or the smoke?

The flash.

214. Did you think the fire you told the Board about at the beginning of your evidence was on the quarterdeck or the boat-deck?

It appeared to be on the boat-deck.

215. After the explosion did you see the stern of the "Hood" clear of the water?

Not quite clear.

216. Did you at any time see holes in the "Hood's" side?

No, I never noticed any holes.

217. Did you definitely see any shell hit "Hood"?

No.

218. When you saw "Y" turret fire can you remember if "X" turret was still intact?

"X" turret was still on the fore and aft bearing and intact.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(A VERY DECIDED WITNESS BUT ALL HIS IMPRESSIONS CANNOT BE ACCEPTED).

BANDMASTER 2nd CLASS PERCY EDWARD COOPER, R.M.B. X80, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

219. Are you Bandmaster 2nd Class Percy Edward Cooper, R.M.B. X80, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES"?

Yes.

220. Where were you at the time "Hood" blew up?

In the Port forward H.A.C.P. below the waterline.

221. Were you receiving any messages telling you of the progress of the action?

Yes.

222. Do you remember receiving any message telling you when the "Hood" blew up?

Yes.

223. Do you remember whether you felt any shock or heard any noise at that time?

To the best of my knowledge there was no shock or noise of the explosion.

224. Were you surprised when you heard "Hood" had blown up?

Yes.

225. Could you hear the sound of gunfire?

Yes.

226. Could you hear any gunfire in addition to your own ship's gunfire?

I heard "Hood's" gunfire up to the time our own ship opened fire.

227. Do you remember how many salvoes you heard her fire?

No, I cannot remember.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

SERGEANT TERENCE CHARLES FREDERICK BROOKS, ROYAL MARINES, Ply G X 1209, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

228. Are you Sergeant Terence Charles Frederick Brooks, Royal Marines, Ply G X 1209, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

229. Where were you at the time "Hood" blew up?

In P.1. turret.

230. Were you looking at "Hood"?

Yes.

231. Through a periscope?

Yes.

232. Is your recollection clear of what you saw at the time?

Yes.

233. Tell us what you saw.

I was looking at the "Hood" through my periscope and I saw the first salvo from the "Bismarck" midway between our two ships. At the same time the "Hood" opened fire on the foremost bearing with all turrets. The second salvo from the "Bismarck" arrived and landed two on the starboard side and one inboard on the 4" gun deck. The remainder I did not see. Immediately afterwards there was an enormous flash of flame on the 4" gun deck starboard side aft. Just before this I had seen the 4" guns crews clustered around the guard rail on the starboard side of the 4" gun deck of the "Hood". After the shell landed all I could see was a mass of flame as high as the mainmast. I could see nothing of the 4" guns crews. After this "y" turret on the "Hood" trained fore and aft. I am not quite certain of the number of salvoes from the "Bismarck" after that. I know one fell left, one fell short, and then one salvo hit the "Hood". It seemed to me that one shell went into the ship by the after funnel, and one also seemed to enter the ship by the barbette of "X" turret. There was an enormous flash which blinded me for a few moments. I took my eye away from the periscope. When I looked through my periscope again I was in time to see a black pall of smoke out of which I distinctly saw a 15" gun thrown through the air followed by what appeared to be the roof of a turret. Just before the "Hood" was hit the second time "Y" turret trained on the foremost bearing starboard side and fired. I immediately depressed my periscope to look into the sea, I don't quite know why. All I could see were objects dropping into the water. When I elevated the periscope again we were slewing round what appeared to me to be part of the forecastle of the "Hood". The remains of the "Hood" then passed out of my view.

234. You said you saw the first hit on the "Hood's" gun deck followed by a flash of flame. How could you tell it was a hit. What did it look like?

It was a yellowish red flash followed immediately by a red glare of leaping flame.

235. What colour was the flame of that fire?

Deep red. (Witness indicated "7" on exhibit 2).

236. What was the colour of the flash you saw after the second hits?

I cannot say for certain.

237. Did you see a flash as well as smoke resulting from the second hit?

I saw the beginning of a flash and then took my eye off. When I looked again I saw smoke.

238. Could you see where that flash came from?

No, it happened too suddenly.

239. Did you watch this fire on the boat-deck for any length of time?

No more than half a minute.

240. Was it confined to the starboard side of the boat-deck or did it spread?

It spread all over the boat-deck.

241. Was it abaft the main-mast?

Yes.

242. Can you describe how much of the focsle of the "Hood" you saw in the final stage?

No.

243. Could you see if the torpedo doors in the "Hood's" starboard side were open or closed?

No.

244. You said you saw two shells arrive from the last salvo from the "Bismarck", one near the after funnel and one on the barbette of "X" turret. Will you describe what you saw of each of these hits?

When the second hit was obtained on the "Hood" the after funnel seemed to crumple over and fall away to the port-side and I saw a yellow flash come at the same time from the barbette of "X", and these are the only reasons why I think that shells did land in the positions I have stated.

245. Could you point on the model to the position on the barbette of "X" where you saw the flash?

Witness indicated a position almost immediately under the chase of "X" guns at the position at which they were trained.

246. You told the Board that you saw "Y" turret on a forward bearing then back into it's (sic) fore and aft position and finally on a forward bearing again. Did you see it actually train in the positions you mentioned?

I saw the turret train both times.

247. You saw the 4" guns crews on the boat-deck. Was this before or after "X" and "Y" turrets had fired?

"X" and "Y" turrets had fired and I definitely saw the "4" inch guns crews on the starboard side of the "4" gun deck.

248. Did you hear any noise from the explosion?

I cannot remember.

249. Did you feel any shock?

Yes.

250. Could you describe it?

The "Prince of Wales" seemed to shudder and dip into the sea when the "Hood" exploded. It was the same impression as you would get when you fire a complete broadside with all guns.

251. Have you been in your turret when a depth charge has been dropped close by?

Yes.

252. Was the effect you have just described in any way similar to a depth charge?

No.

253. How was it dissimilar?

A depth charge is more or less a crack and it is a sharper shock than what happened when the "Hood" exploded.

254. When you saw "Y" turret fire her last salvo did you notice if "X" fired at the same time?

I did not notice.

255. Are you certain you saw in the debris a 15" gun or could it be confused with a main-derrick or main-mast?

No, it was definitely a 15" gun.

256. And were you absolutely certain it was the top of a turret.

No, it appeared to be the top of a turret?

257. Did you see any hole in the "Hood's" side abreast the after funnel following the collapse of that funnel?

I cannot say.

258. Could you see a hole in "X" barbette?

No.

259. You said earlier on you saw one shell go into the ship by the after funnel. Whereabouts did this shell enter?

I was given the impression when the after funnel went over the side that the shell landed at the base of the after funnel.

260. How long after the last two hits you saw did the "Hood" blow up?

I cannot say.

261. Was it a very short time?

Yes.

262. Did you see "Hood's" side at all after the explosion?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(A VERY CLEAR AND CONFIDENT WITNESS WHOSE EVIDENCE IS ACCEPTED AS IMPORTANT).

CHIEF PETTY OFFICER (O. ) WILLIAM HENRY WESTLAKE, DMX. 46253 ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

263. Are you Chief Petty Officer (O. ) William Henry Westlake, DMX 46253, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

264. Where were you?

In the Upper Conning Tower.

265. Are your impressions quite clear now?

My impressions of what I saw are clear.

266. Describe with as much detail as possible what you saw of the action as far as "Hood" was concerned?

When I first observed "Hood" there was a fire blazing on the Quarter-Deck. Then I saw a salvo around the "Hood", one or two of the shells pitching astern of the "Hood". The "Hood" then became enveloped in smoke and started to heel to port because I saw the black paint of her bottom coming out of the water. The "Hood" was covered in smoke and it was impossible to pick out anything definite of the ship at all. Another salvo hit the waterline of the "Hood". I saw spurts of smoke coming out of five or six places. After a few seconds the whole ship seemed to blow up in pieces. The bow from between "A" and "B" turrets was blown out of the water and then slid directly back. The plating from the ship's side between the foremast and mainmast was blown into the air. There were huge columns of smoke and that was the last I saw of her.

267. Were you watching the "Hood" the whole time?

During that period, yes.

268. Can you describe the final explosion in more detail?

There was a huge cloud of smoke and in the centre of the smoke was a flame. The flame appeared to be more aft than forward in the smoke.

269. Did you note the positions of the turrets at all throughout the action?

I saw "X" turret firing while the fire was burning on the Quarter-Deck.

270. Could you point on the Quarter-Deck where you saw the fire?

Witness indicated a position between the forward end of "X" barbette and the after end of the superstructure.

271. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

No.

272. Did you feel any shock from the explosion on your own ship?

No.

273. Did you notice whether the armoured doors over the torpedo tubes were open or shut?

I did not notice.

274. Did you notice any of the side plating round the mainmast come away?

Yes, it was included in my previous description.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(THIS WITNESS'S ACCOUNT WAS VERY CONFUSED. HIS EVIDENCE AS REGARDS THE SIDE PLATING BEING BLOWN OUT IS VERY IMPORTANT IF IT CAN BE TRUSTED).

At this point the Board decided that the position and nature of the fire on the after end of the boat-deck was sufficiently established and questions to the remainder of the witnesses were framed accordingly.

MR. HORACE AUBREY JARRETT, COMMISSIONED ENGINEER, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

275. Are you Commissioned Engineer Horace Aubrey Jarrett, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

276. Where were you during the action?

In "B" engine room for the majority of the time, and in "B" action room or "B" boiler room to visit running machinery. I was in charge of "B" unit.

277. Do you know in which compartment you were in when "Hood" blew up?

From what I know now, "B" engine room.

278. What was the effect as regards noise and concussion?

At the time I was unaware of the loss of the "Hood". Even now looking back, I can think of no effect.

279. Have you been in this position when depth charges have been dropped near "Prince of Wales"?

Not in "B" engine room. I have been in "X" on two occasions, one being last Monday morning.

280. Did you feel any concussion from those depth charges?

Yes, two definite detonations on Monday.

281. Did your ship firing shake you much?

Only the shock that I would expect from 14" or other large gun firings.

282. Do you know the distance of the depth charges which we were referring to just now?

No, neither distance from the ship or depth.

(Lieutenant Beckwith, cautioned, stated that the distance was about three cables).

LIEUTENANT (E.) PETER JOHN ALLEN SLADE, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

283. Are you Lieutenant (E.) Peter John Allan Slade, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Price of Wales"?

Yes.

284. Where were you and what were you doing?

I was on the catapult deck preparing to fly off the aircraft.

285. Will you tell us what you saw?

I saw the "Hood" when she opened fire with her forward turrets as I was by the side of the ship. I moved to the centre and could not see anything as I was screened by the hangar. I then saw a red glow reflected from the after side of the catapult deck and I went over to see what had happened. When I reached the rails all I could see was a large pall of smoke and some flying debris. Then I went back to the centre of the catapult deck. Shortly afterwards I saw about the last 30 feet of the bows actually sinking when we passed the smoke pall.

286. Could you see if the bows were listed?

They were practically vertical.

287. When you were watching the "Hood" fire did you notice if the armoured doors covering her torpedo tubes were open or shut?

I did not notice.

288. Can you describe the debris you saw?

No.

289. Did you hear any noise of this explosion?

The noise in our own boiler room and the noise of the guns would have drowned any other noise.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER GEORGE CUTHBERT IRWIN FERGUSON. ROYAL NAVAL VOLUNTEER RESERVE. "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

290. Are you Lieutenant Commander George Cuthbert Irwin Ferguson, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

291. What was you position and duty?

I was P.C.O. 5.25 armament at the air defence position which is just in rear of the compass platform.

292. tell us what you saw.

I saw "Hood" open fire with her forward turrets only to the best of my knowledge. Then we opened fire followed by "Bismarck" opening fire. A salvo fell close ahead of the "Hood", I think, but my impression is that there was smoke on the boat-deck before the next salvo fell. Therefore my impression was that one shot from the first salvo might have hit "Hood". The we had some splashes on our engaged side but short of the "Prince of Wales". These were of smaller calibre. I looked at the "Hood" again and the next salvo seemed to be all round "Hood". I never saw her again after that because just after that I was called away by duty. The range at that time was 20,000 yards.

293. Did you notice if the torpedo doors on the "Hood's" starboard side were closed or open?

I did not notice, but I think I would have noticed if they had been open.

294. Can you describe any of the debris you saw?

There was what I was almost certain was a P.V. shoe and then there seemed to be bits of timber and objects of all shapes and sizes; nothing recognisable. Some bits fell on board but I understand have since been thrown overboard.

(NOTE: This was the first time debris falling on board "Prince of Wales" had been mentioned though it is understood the last Board of Enquiry were informed about them.)

295. Did you hear any noise of "Hood" blowing up?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(THIS WITNESS DID NOT KNOW VERY MUCH.)

CHIEF PETTY OFFICER FREDERICK ALBERT FRENCH, DJ. 94677, ROYAL NAVY, "PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

296. Are you Chief Petty Officer Frederick Albert French, DJ 94677, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

297. Where were you?

On P.2. Pom-Pom deck approximately 20 feet below the compass platform.

298. Will you tell us what you saw?

I saw "Hood" about 20 to 30 deg. off our port bow. The first salvo that I saw fall from the "Bismarck" fell between the two ships. The "Hood" had been firing and had fired two salvos from "A" and "B" turrets only. The second salvo from "Bismarck" that fell appeared to fall across the "Hood" and I consider that she was hit with one round on the port side just before the mainmast. The reason I think the "Hood" was hit is because as the splashes came up around her I saw pieces flying on the port side of the boat deck just before the mainmast. In a matter of seconds, a cordite fire in my opinion, occurred there. The reason I saw it was a cordite fire was because the flame was very bright, the edge of the flame was black and that coming away from it was the brown cordite fumes which you see come from the muzzle of the guns as they fire. It was similar to the burning of cordite which I have seen before. Meanwhile I saw the "Hood" fire another two salvos all from "A" and "B". At the fourth salvo I saw "Hood" fire, the boat-deck appeared to raise in the middle. Before I saw any more of the boat-deck all what I term cordite fumes came from underneath the ship from aft and about abreast the after funnel. This spread right along the water line to the bows. That stopped me from seeing any more of the boat-deck. The fumes then rose very high and came up to an apex, like the apex of a pyramid, which I should judge to be between 400 and 500 feet.

299. What was the colour of these fumes?

Witness indicated the top part of "X" on exhibit 1.

300. This pyramid of fume was about all the same colour?

No, there were splashes of black in it. From the sore part of the fumes the bows of the "Hood" were broken off abaft number one breakwater and came up to an angle of about 40 deg. and then slid straight back into the water.

301. Are you quite clear this portion was broken off?

The reason I am sure was because I could see a portion of the focsle. I am quite clear in my mind that it was broken off. From the after end I saw a complete turret with two guns and also a single gun in the air appeared to be coming towards our own ship and then I saw them fall into the water. The fumes were lowering all the time and when the fumes had completely gone off the surface I saw a terrific circle whose perimeter appeared to be all white foam and near the centre was a burning patch of about 30 feet on the surface.

302. Did you notice if the armoured doors covering "Hood's" torpedo tubes were open or shut?

The ones in the ship's side were shut at the beginning of the action.

303. Are you quite sure of this?

I am quite sure.

304. The bulge in the boat-deck which you referred to: was that between the after funnel and the mainmast?

Yes, definitely.

305. You said you saw a complete turret in the air: did you include the trunk of the turret?

No. The gunhouse and guns only.

306. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

No.

307. Did you see any flash?

There was no flash other than the fire I described.

308. Can you tell which end of the ship the turret you saw came from?

The after end, definitely.

309. Are you certain of that?

Yes.

310. Did you see the boat-deck bulge abaft the mainmast?

No.

311. Was the bulging of the boat-deck simultaneous with the fumes coming out of the side?

Yes, it was practically simultaneous.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(A VERY REALISTIC AND CONFIDENT REPORT BY A TRAINED WITNESS.)

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER CECIL GRAHAM LAWSON. ROYAL NAVY. "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

313. Are you Lieutenant Commander Cecil Graham Lawson. Royal Navy of "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales".

Yes.

314. Where were you and what was your duty?

I was at the periscope in the emergency conning position of "A" turret. I had been watching the "Bismarck" fire at the commencement of the action and then I trained my periscope on to the "Hood" and was very surprised to see that she was on fire between the after funnel and "X" turret. It appeared to me that she was very heavily on fire. Another point that much impressed me was that dense volumes of smoke were pouring out of the superstructure, the entire length of the boat-deck. I then turned to watch the "Bismarck" fire. I knew we were altering course and I turned my periscope to try to view the "Hood" but could see nothing of her anywhere until I saw on the water and enormous patch of oil with a few flames flickering on it.

315. What was the colour of the smoke you saw pouring out of "Hood's" starboard side?

It appeared to be all black.

316. Did you notice if the torpedo doors in the "Hood's" side were open?

I did not notice that.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(EVIDENCE OF NO GREAT VALUE.)

PETTY OFFICER RONALD SHERIDAN HOWELL, D/JX 129115, ROYAL NAVY, H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

317. Are you Petty Officer Ronald Sheridan Howell, D/JX 129115, Royal Navy, of H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

318. Where were you and what was your duty?

I was in charge of the flag-deck on the port side and was watching the "Hood" at the time without glasses.

319. Do you remember clearly now what you saw then?

Yes.

320. Describe in as much detail as you can what you saw of the "Hood".

I should imagine about the 5th or 6th salvo after "Hood" opened fire I observed rather a large fire aft, just before the mainmast. Approximately 3 or 4 minutes after this "Hood" blew up.

321. Did you see the "Hood" after the explosion?

All there was to see was a little of her bows.

322. Did you notice whether any of the torpedo doors were open or shut?

No.

323. Did you see any flash of the explosion?

No.

324. Did you see any smoke from the explosion?

No.

325. Did you see any debris in the air after the explosion?

No.

326. Did you hear anything?

Yes, quite a loud report; rather a dull one.

327. Could you describe it in detail?

Something very similar to a depth charge.

328. Have you got any impression in your mind of whereabouts in the "Hood" the explosion occurred?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(CHIEF POINT OF INTEREST IN THIS WITNESS'S EVIDENCE IF THE FACT THAT BECAUSE HE WAS LOOKING AT THE HOOD'S FOREMOST --- (sic) WAITING FOR AN EXECUTIVE SIGNAL --- HE SAW VERY LITTLE).

PETTY OFFICER ARTHUR BROKENSHIRE, J 110880, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

329. Are you Petty Officer Arthur Brokenshire, J 110880, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

330. Where were you and what were you doing?

I was in the port after H. /L. director as control rating.

331. Can you remember clearly what you saw then.

Yes.

332. Give us a description of what you actually saw of the "Hood".

I was watching the "Hood" all the time with a naked eye and was on the opposite side to the actual firing. I saw a salvo of three fall on the port side of the "Hood" and at the same time I saw a fire occur just abaft the centre of the ship. The fire was there for about 5 minutes. The suddenly the after guns --- I could not say whether "X" or "Y" guns --- opened fire and about 5 second after them opening fire the explosion occurred. She seemed to break in two about the mainmast. With the explosion there was a huge flame lasting about 5 seconds, and then smoke took the place of the flame. It was then she seemed to break in two and her bows appeared to come straight up into the air.

333. Could you see the position of the flame of the explosion.

Yes. It was abaft the mainmast and seemed to be in the same position as the fire, between the mainmast and "X" turret.

334. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes, plenty.

335. You said you saw the ship break near the mainmast. Did you see the after end of the ship break after that.

No.

336. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

No, that was the funny part of it.

337. What was the colour of the flame of the explosion.

Witness indicated "3" on exhibit 2.

338. What was the colour of the smoke.

Very black.

339. Did you notice if the armoured doors over the torpedo tubes on the starboard side of "Hood" were open or closed.

I did not notice.

340. Did you see anything that looked like a hit on the "Hood's" side.

No, not on the actual side. The hit I saw was actually on the deck.

341. Did you see anything that would be likely to cause this explosion.

Only the site that I can think of.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(QUITE A CLEAR WITNESS).

COMMANDER HAROLD FERGUSSON LAWSON, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

342. Are you Commander Harold Fergusson Lawson, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

343. Will you tell us as concisely as possible what you know of the debris from the "Hood" that fell aboard the "Prince of Wales"?

My attention was drawn to a large nut in the waste. At first I thought it was a holding down nut of the starboard crane which had been hit, but on subsequent consideration I came to the conclusion it was some bit from the "Hood". Had the "Hood" a 6" gun I would have said it was a holding down nut of a 6" gun mounting. I was subsequently shown a piece of metal which had been found on the upper deck --- again I think in the waste --- which was discussed among various people and after consideration I came to the conclusion it was probably a portion of a 15" recoil cylinder. As far as I can remember it had a portion of a square base, a portion of a cylinder, internal threads, and might have had an internal diameter of 12" to 18". The sides of the cylinder portion were between 1 and 2 inches thick, the square portion at the base about 1.5".

344. What material was this piece of metal?

It was a ferrous metal polished similar to the interior of a cylinder.

345. Was it rusty?

It had neither rust or paint on it. The internal surface was certainly clean. It was obviously a working surface.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

PETTY OFFICER HAROLD PICKARD, J 108011, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

346. Are you Petty Officer Harold Pickard, J 108011, Royal Navy of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

347. Where were you and what were you doing?

I was in the port forward H. Director.

348. Are your impressions clear of what you saw then?

Yes.

349. Describe what you saw of the "Hood".

The "Hood" was roughly on Red 45 and the first fall of shot fell forward of her. The second fell astern; the third fell about 100 yards short; the fourth fell either just across her stern or in the wake; the fifth was spread right along the ship's side, the splashes only about six yards away from the ship's side; at the sixth salvo there was a flash between "X" gun and the mainmast amidships. An immediate fire came from that flash. I could not see anything about any more salvos as the fire became fiercer and there was a lot of smoke. The "Hood" was still firing with all turrets when a peculiar thing happened, it seemed to me. It appeared as if "B" gun had opened her air blast. Flames came out of the muzzle and instead of stopping like an ordinary air blast they carried on. This fire amidships was getting bigger all the time. There was more smoke and more flame, and the last thing that I remember was "Y" gun firing, and she just disappeared.

350. Could you tell where the explosion came from?

No.

351. Did you see any debris?

Yes.

352. Describe what you saw?

There was just big pieces of the ship floating through the air. There was a big column of smoke about 2,000 feet high, I should say.

353. Did you notice whether the armoured doors were open or shut?

I did not notice.

354. Did you see any flash from the explosion?

There did not seem to be any definite flash. The smoke just shot up.

355. Did you hear anything?

Nothing extra loud.

356. What did you see of the "Hood" after the explosion?

A piece of the bow from the stem to just abaft the forward breakwater. The after end of this piece was in the water, and the bow was standing up to about 45 deg.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOTHING MUCH HERE EXCEPTING THE POSSIBLY AS REGARDS THE FALL OF SHOT).

LEADING SEAMAN WILLIAM CHARLES HENRY WONNACOTT, JX 139781, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

357. Are you Leading Seaman William Charles Henry Wonnacott, JX 139781, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

358. Where were you at the time "Hood" blew up?

In the upper conning tower.

359. What was your duty?

L.T.O.

360. Were you actually watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with a naked eye.

361. Will you tell us what you saw of the "Hood" from the time she opened fire?

I saw the "Hood" when she opened fire first, just prior to our ship opening fire, and after the "Hood" had fired two salvos from all her guns I saw smoke coming from somewhere aft round about "Y" turret. Then my glance left "Hood" to the fall of "Bismarck's" shots and it seemed as if they were well ahead of the "Prince of Wales" and in between the two ships. The next salvo of the "Bismarck's" was much closer to the "Hood" and about the same line, and then I saw a salvo fall alongside the starboard side of the "Hood". I then saw a terrific explosion in line with the bridge. The shell which caused the damage seemed to go in line with the bridge and just below the focsle deck.

362. Describe what you saw of shell hitting the ship's side.

I would not say shell actually hit the side but the point where the explosion appeared mostly to me was just where the side meets the focsle deck just abreast the bridge. I just saw a flame which was not very high and a pall of smoke. Then the "Hood" was obscured by the smoke, and at the time the smoke was clearing she was just abaft our beam. Then my attention was distracted for a period. The next thing I saw was the bows of the "Hood" just sticking up out of the water.

363. Did you see any damage to the part of the "Hood" abaft the bridge at any time?

No, apart from the smoke I told you about at the beginning.

364. Did this flame you saw come up abreast the bridge last a long time?

It was a very sharp flash.

365. What was the colour of the smoke?

Grey, but almost black.

366. What was the colour of the flash?

"7" on exhibit 2.

367. Did you hear anything?

No.

368. Did you see any debris come down from the "Hood"?

I am rather vague about this but something seemed to fly off one of the turrets.

369. Was it before the flash or after?

Very shortly after.

370. Did you notice if the torpedo doors on the "Hood" were shut or open?

I did not notice.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(A VERY CONFUSED ACCOUNT).

LEADING SEAMAN THOMAS EVANS, JX 142848, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

371. Are you leading seaman Thomas Evans, JX 142 848, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

372. Where were you when the "Hood" blew up?

In the port forward H. director.

373. Were you looking at the "Hood" when she opened fire?

When the "Hood" opened fire we trained round to a green bearing to look at the "Bismarck".

374. Were you looking at the "Hood" when she blew up?

Yes.

375. Were you looking through glasses?

No.

376. Will you tell us what you saw?

We trained round to a green bearing and the German ships opened fire. After a casual glimpse at the "Bismarck" we trained round on to the "Hood" and remained there. According to the fall of shot from the German ships, one seemed to work for a line and one for range. After that my own opinion was that the "Hood" was being hit pretty regularly. A small fire started by the mainmast. That increased and brownish smoke appeared. That was burning for a bout 5 minutes. There was a terrific explosion and that was the last I saw of the "Hood".

377. Did you see where that explosion came from?

It seemed to come from all over the ship.

378. Could you see if any damage was done to "Hood" apart from the fire?

I could not see damage, but could see shells hit the ship.

379. Was there much smoke with this terrific explosion?

Yes, black smoke.

380. How much of the "Hood" could you see after the explosion.

A part of the bow; the keel.

381. Did you see any of the after part of the "Hood"?

No.

382. Did you see any debris in the air?

No.

383. Did you see where any of the shells hit the "Hood"?

I saw one which seemed to hit on the "Hood's" boat-deck, between the after funnel and the mainmast, where I saw the flash. The fire commenced there.

384. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

Yes.

385. What did it sound like?

A terrific crash; more of a rumble.

386. Are you sure it was the noise of the explosion you heard?

It was quite different from the gunfire.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(VERY LITTLE VALUE IN THIS).

ABLE SEAMAN CORNELIUS O'DRISCOLL, SSX 16573, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. HOOD". Called and cautioned.

387. Are you Able seaman Cornelius O'Driscoll, SSX 16573, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

388. Where were you and what was your duty?

I was in the port after H. director as trainer.

389. Were you watching "Hood" through glasses or not?

No, with the naked eye.

390. tell us what you saw.

I saw the first salvo from "Bismarck" fall 50 yards short ahead of the "Hood". The second salvo fell astern, the 3rd and the 4th salvos were straddles. I saw smoke coming from the port after end of the boat deck abaft the mainmast. Shortly after I saw her explode.

391. Can you describe the explosion?

I saw her burning about one minute and all I could see was and explosion take place from the foremost to right aft.

392. Can you describe the explosion (sic)?

All I could see was the flames going up and a cloud of smoke extending from the foremost to right aft.

393. Can you describe the colour of the flame?

"5" on exhibit 2.

394. Did you see anything of the "Hood" after this flame and smoke went up?

I saw part of her focsle which I thought was on its side listing away from me.

395. Could you see if the armoured doors upon the torpedo tubes on the "Hood's" starboard side were open or shut?

I did not see.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOT MUCH VALUE)

LIEUTENANT RICHARD CHICHESTER BECKWITH, ROYAL NAVY, H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

396. Are you Lieutenant Richard Chichester Beckwith, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

397. What did you see?

When I heard somebody say '"Hood" has gone up' I looked towards where the "Hood" should have been and saw a dense cloud of yellow smoke completely enveloping the ship. A feature I noticed was that the smoke which was yellow appeared to be coming in wreaths from under the water.

398. What sort of yellow.

Dark thick yellow which I associated with cordite. The same as you see at the muzzle of a gun after discharge.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

PETTY OFFICER WILLIAM GEORGE BRAY. J 23325. ROYAL NAVY. "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

399. Are you Petty Officer William George Bray, J 23325, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

400. Where were you and what was your duty?

On the flag deck at the moment and my duty was maintenance of sperry lamps.

401. Were you watching the "Hood" closely?

In-between-times as much as I could.

402. Were you looking through glasses or not?

No.

403. Did you see "Hood" blow up?

Yes.

404. Will you tell us what you saw from the time "Hood" opened fire until she blew up?

A few minutes after she opened fire I noticed a small fire in the vicinity of the mainmast and a short while after that I saw the explosion.

405. Can you describe the explosion more fully?

I saw just a flash and a lot of debris in the air.

406. No smoke?

No, I cannot say I noticed any.

407. Did the flash seem to come from any particular part of the ship?

It seemed to me to come right from the centre of the ship round about the after funnel.

408. What sort of debris did you see?

It looked to me like burning woodwork.

409. Very large pieces or not?

One piece, yes; might have been a large plank.

410. What was te colour of the flame of the explosion?

"3" on exhibit 2.

411. Did you notice if the torpedo doors in "Hood" were open or shut?

I did not notice.

412. At the time you saw the first fire could you see any signs of other damage to the "Hood"?

No, I had not glasses.

413. Did you see anything of the after part of the ship after the explosion.

No.

414. Was the flame of the explosion a flash or a flame which lasted for some time.

No, it was a huge flash which did not last very long.

415. Did you hear anything?

No.

416. How much of the forward end of the "Hood" did you see after the explosion?

Just a part before "A" turret, I should say, which was sticking up out of the water.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(--ONLY A VERY GENERAL IDEA OF WHAT HAPPENED--)

LEADING SIGNALMAN HUBERT ERNEST EDMUND FACKRELL, D/JX 140789, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES" Called and cautioned.

417. Are you Leading signalman Hubert Ernest Edmund Fackrell, D/JX 140789, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

418. Did you see the "Hood" blow up?

Yes, I was in communication with her by box light.

419. tell us what you saw.

"Hood" was slightly on our port bow. She opened fire first and we followed immediately afterwards. The first shells from the "Bismarck" appeared to be slightly ahead of the "Hood", and either the 2nd or the 3rd hit her about "X" turret. There was a fire with bright flame - it was blue flame - and I got the impression at the time it was a cordite fire. (Witness indicated the position of the fire as being very near the mainmast, just abaft it). The flames were very fierce and high, and following that a heavy salvo from the "Bismarck" came down in the water near her starboard side. I should think it was the 4th or 5th salvo which blew the "Hood" up.

420. Describe her blowing up.

She went up in one terrific explosion in clouds of flame and black smoke. One minute she was there and the next minute she was gone. It left a large area of burning oil and wreckage over the surface of the water and part of her bow was still floating. It was just a wreck, I could not recognise it.

421. What was the colour of the flame of the explosion?

Light red.

422. Can you say where the centre of the explosion was?

Right amidships. (Witness indicated abreast the after funnel).

423. Could you see if there was any damage to the after part of the "Hood!" before the explosion?

I am quite certain there was no other damage except the one hitt she appeared to have which resulted in the bright blue flame.

424. Did you hear anything?

No.

425. Did you see anything of the after end of the "Hood" after the explosion?

Nothing at all, only the bow.

426. At that speed could you see the "Hood's" quarterdeck at all that morning?

Before the action we ran into a patch of calm water and it was quite clear.

427. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes, bits of debris high in the air. I saw the barrel of a 15" gun in the air.

428. Did you look along the whole length of the "Hood" just before?

Yes, I was watching her quite intently.

429. Do you know where the armoured doors over the torpedo tubes were in the "Hood"?

I know where they were in the side. I think they were about abreast the mainmast.

430. Did you notice if they were closed or open?

I did not notice.

WITNESS WITHDREW

(A GOOD WITNESS)

SIGNALMAN ALAN GEORGE CUTLER, LDX 4441, D/JX 140789, ROYAL NAVAL VOLUNTEER RESERVE, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES" Called and cautioned.

431. Are you Signalman Alan George Cutler, LDX 4441, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

432. Where were you?

On the flag deck port side aft.

433. Did you have your attention on the "Hood" the whole time she was in action?

No.

434. Were you watching her through glasses at all?

No.

435. tell us what you saw.

The first time "Bismarck" opened fire I saw the first salvo land astern of "Hood" and one shell alongside the quarterdeck. The next I remember was a fire on the port side of "X" turret on the "Hood". (Witness indicated a position abreast "X" turret on the quarterdeck). The fire was smokeless with a very pale yellow flame. The next I remember was the explosion and then the yeoman of the watch took us round the other side of the ship to avoid shrapnel.

436. What did you see of the explosion?

A vivid flash as far forward as the bridge from further aft, but I do not remember how much further aft.

437. Any smoke?

I do not remember any.

438.  Did you get an impression of the shape of the fire of the explosion?

Not a clear one.

439. Did you see any of the after part of the "Hood" after the explosion?

No.

440. Did you hear anything?

No.

441. Did you see any debris in the air?

No.

442. Did you see any more of the "Hood" after that?

No sign at all. From the time she went up I was on the starboard side.

443. Did you know that the "Hood" had doors on the side covering torpedo tubes?

No.

444. Did you see any openings on the starboard side?

No.

  WITNESS WITHDREW.
(WITNESS WITH A GOOD GENERAL IDEA). 

PETTY OFFICE CYRIL HENRY COATES, DJ 106924, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

445. Are you Petty Officer Cyril Henry Coates, DJ 106924, Royal Navy, of H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

446. Where were you?

On the catapult control platform on the foremost side of the after funnel.

447. Were you watching the "Hood" closely?

Fairly closely.

448. Through glasses?

No.

449. Tell us what you saw?

I saw the "Hood" on our port bow and I saw several salvoes fall astern, just over and ahead. Then one salvo appeared to strike right amidships. I got the impression of a shower of sparks on the boat-deck not far abaft the after funnel about mid-ships. It was followed then by one roll of flame from the after screen which enveloped the after turrets. After that I did not see very much of the subsequent explosion because we had had a hit on the starboard crane which knocked me down. As I got up the "Hood" had disappeared from sight. I do not mean she was sunk, but was obscured by our superstructure. I did not see the explosion. All I saw was the reflection on our own ship. I saw the "Hood" again. I came down off the catapult control platform and we carried on steaming ahead of the "Hood", and all I recognised was the bows forepart. They appeared to be turned completely round.

450. Did you see whether the doors were opened or closed on the torpedo tubes on the "Hood"?

I did not notice.

451. Did you hear anything?

No.

452. Are you quite definite the flames were beneath the boat-deck and came through the after screen on to the quarterdeck?

It gave me the impression the screen doors were blown off and an oily-looking flame came through on to the quarterdeck. The colour of the flame was "7" on exhibit 2.

453. Did you see either of the after turrets firing after that?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(A VERY GOOD WITNESS).

 

ABLE SEAMAN KEVIN JOHN BOYLE, SSX 20217, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

454. Are you Able Seaman John Kevin Boyle, SSX 20217, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes

455. Where were you?

In P.2. gunhouse, as C.L. of the left gun.

456. Did you watch the "Hood" for most of the action?

Yes.

457. Through glasses?

Through a periscope.

458. tell us what you saw.

The first time I looked I saw a fall of shot just off out port bow, and then I saw a fire on the quarterdeck of the "Hood" amidships just before "X" turret.

459. Describe that fire.

It seemed to be taking up all the superstructure.

460. What was the colour?

Bright red. "7" on exhibit 2. I then moved away from the periscope and the next time I looked through there was only oil on top of the water alight.

461. Did you see a fire on top of the superstructure as well as on the quarterdeck?

I could not say.

462. Can you explain what you mean when you say the fire seemed to be taking up all the superstructure?

Flames were coming up both sides of it.

463. Where do you think the seat of this fire was?

I should say below the quarterdeck.

464. You said you saw at the finish oil burning on the water. Are you sure it was oil?

No, but I think it was oil.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(AVERAGE UNTRAINED WITNESS WHO STOPPED LOOKING BEFORE THE EXPLOSION.)

DAVID WILSON BOYD, Ply/X 3052, ROYAL MARINES, "H.M.S. Prince of Wales". Called and cautioned.

465. Are you David Wilson Boyd, Ply/X 3052, Royal Marines, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

466. What was your psition?

On the port bridge range finder.

467. Were you looking through glasses?

No I was watching with a naked eye.

468. What did you see?

The first salvo from the "Bismarck" fell just astern of the "Hood" and then the next thing I saw was a small fire just after amidships. (Witness indicated around the mainmast. He could not say which side). She went up with more of a rumble than a bang.

469. Describe her blowing up.

It appeared to be just one mass of black smoke and part of her bows went up into the air and slid back into the water. It was a very small part of her bows. As we went past the spot where she had gone I noticed what seemed to be little pieces of wood burning in the water.

470. Can you say the colour of the flame of the original fire?

It was like a piece of wood burning, and there was very little smoke. (Witness indicated "3" on exhibit 2).

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

No, I could not say.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

ABLE SEAMAN PHILIP SMALLEY, JX 190211, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

472. Are you Able seaman Philip Smalley, JX 190211, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

473. Where were you?

On P1 Pom-Poms.

474. Were you watching "Hood" intently?

Yes, from the beginning with a naked eye.

475. tell us what you saw.

I saw the three first salvos all fall astern of "Hood" and the salvo which hit the "Hood" I saw fall on the port side. I could tell that because I noticed the fall of shot was seven shells, and I saw three spouts of flame aft of "Y" turret and I could see four more spouts of flame, just further forward behind "X" and "Y". I noticed the difference in the flame. Some of the spouts seemed bright red and others a whiter colour. I did not actually see her go up but I heard a deafening roar and then she was mushroomed by yellow smoke and through bits of debris flying in the air. Debris was still falling when the bows slewed away to port and that brought the stern round. As the stern was coming round the after end appeared above the water at an angle of about 60 deg. and I noticed that the guns of "A" and "B" turrets were bent down. Forward of that the focsle seemed to buckle up.

479. Was the yellow smoke over the ship at the time you observed the quarterdeck and focsle?

Yes, the smoke must have blown away from the focsle.

480. Could you see the whole of the "Hood" after the smoke had cleared away?

No, I could only see one portion at a time.

481. Did you see the after end of the "Hood" after the explosion?

Yes.

482. Can you say whether "X" and "Y" turrets were damaged?

I cannot say.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(AN IMAGINATIVE WITNESS).

E.R. (3rd.) JOHN ARTHUR FARNELL, MX 55899, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

483. Are you E.R. (3rd.) John Arthur Farnell, KX 55899, Royal Navy, of H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

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

On the Catapult deck bringing out the aircraft.

485. Were you watching the "Hood" closely?

No. I kept catching a glance at her from time to time with the naked eye.

486. tell us what you saw.

First I saw four shell drop in the water amidships between "Prince of Wales" and the "Hood" and the next salvo seemed to fall in the wake of the "Hood", one shell seemed to hit the quarterdeck. (Witness indicated the starboard side just before "X" turret.)

487. Are you quite definite about that?

Yes. The next thing I saw after about a minute was that the "Hood" was ablaze on the Quarter-deck and seemed to be enveloped in flames.

488. Are you sure the fire was on the quarterdeck?

At the time when I saw it it was. Then I had to go below and I saw no more.

489. Did you form any opinion as to what was burning on the quarterdeck?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW

(NOTHING OF WALUE)

AIR MECHANIC (1st class) ROBERT LAW, FX 76244, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

490. Are you Air Mechanic (1st class) Robert Law, FX 76244, Royal Navy of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

491. Where were you and what were you doing?

At first I was on top of the aircraft and the "Bismarck" was firing and I heard a lot of noise coming from the "Hood's" direction. I looked up and I saw the "Hood" was on fire. I did not actually see the explosion. (Witness indicated the flames were round the mainmast and covering the after end of the boat-deck.) After that I did not see any more until I got down from the aircraft and I saw nothing for about two or three minutes. I was walking backwards towards P.2. turret and I saw one end of the "Hood" in the air and the rest submerged. I cannot remember whether it was the bows or the stern.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOTHING OF VALUE)

LEADING AIR FITTER RAYMOND ARTHUR MITCHELL DYER. FX 75566 ROYAL NAVY. "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES" Called and questioned

492. Are you Leading Air Fitter Raymond Arthur Mitchell Dyer. FX 75566 Royal Navy. "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

493. Will you tell us where you were and all that you saw?

I was on top of the "Walrus" and I turned round and saw four splashes astern of the "Hood" and that's all I definitely remember seeing.

WITNESS WITHDREW

(NOTHING OF VALUE)

ORDINARY SEAMAN ALFRED LOUIS ELLIS. M/OX 3125. ROYAL NAVY. "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned

494. Are you Ordinary Seaman Alfred Louis Ellis. M/OX 3125. Royal Navy. "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

495. Where were you?

On the catapult-deck.

496. What did you see?

I only saw a cloud of smoke.

497. What colour?

Every colour. Red, Black, and very high.

498. You saw nothing of the "Hood"?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW

(NOTHING OF VALUE)

A.B. RICHARD THOMAS KNOTT, DJX 27571, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales".

499. Are you A.B. Richard Thomas Knott, DJX 27571, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

500. Where were you?

I was working on the aircraft and I saw the first burst of shot fall close to the "Hood" on the starboard side. The second burst of shot went the same way. The I saw the reflections of an explosion on the foremost part of our superstructure. I next saw the bows of the "Hood" sticking, not as far aft as the guns of "A" turret. She appeared to list to starboard and then disappear.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(WE CANNOT PLACE MUCH RELIANCE ON THIS STORY).

LEADING AIR FITTER BERNARD JOHN HENRY SRODZINSKI, FX 75651, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

501. Are you Leading Air Fitter Bernard John Henry Srodzinski, FX 75651, Royal Navy, "H.M.S.Prince Of Wales".

Yes.

502. Where were you and what were you doing?

I was on the catapult-deck working on the aircraft.

503. Did you keep the "Hood" in view most of the time?

For a good part but not all the time.

504. What did you see?

I saw the first shells fall short of the "Hood" Later I saw a shell fall just aft of the after funnel. I saw a big red flame shoot up. (Witness indicated a position on the fore end of "X" turret.) Then a big fire started. I then saw the "Hood's" forward guns firing. My attention was then distracted but the next thing I knew was the red flame came amidships and there was a big explosion at the same time.

505. Where was this big red flame.

Roughly amidships. There was a lot of debris in the air but I could not distinguish what it was, and later I saw some objects floating in the water.

506. Did you see any smoke?

Yes, a moderate quantity of grey smoke.

507. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

I felt it rather than heard it.

508. What did you feel?

It felt just like a shudder.

WITNESS WITHDREW

(AVERAGE OBSERVATION OF AN INTELLIGENT UNTRAINED WITNESS).

AIR ARTIFICER DAVID FERRIER, FX 75949, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned

509. Are you Air Artificer David Ferrier, FX 75949, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

510. Where were you and What did you see?

I was in the port-waste just abaft the catapult. I saw a fall of shot from one salvo and three shots fell in the wake of the "Hood". At the same time I saw one hit the "Hood". (Witness indicated a position just abaft the after funnel). A fire broke out and the flames were licking as high as the funnel. Then I had to turn away as I was working on the aircraft and when I heard the roar of the explosion I looked round and saw a reddish yellow flame and black smoke and large pieces of debris in the air. At the same time her forward turret was firing.

511. You say you heard the roar of the explosion. What did it sound like?

A deep dull roar.

512. Was it louder than the gunfire or not?

No, I could not hear it when the guns fired.

513. Could you say where the flame from this explosion came from in the ship?

No. It was not the centre. But I did not see the beginning of the explosion.

514. Did you see at any time any flames or hits on the quarter-deck?

No.

515. Could you give any rough idea how long the roar lasted?

A very few seconds.

516. You could not recognise any of the debris you saw in the air?

No, I could not recognise what they were.

517. Was the noise you heard any different from the noise the "Hood's" guns made?

No, I could not distinguish between the two.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(INTELLIGENT BUT UNTRAINED AND NOT WATCHING VERY CLOSELY.)

A.B. HARRY GORDON BARTLETT, DSSX 18353, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

518. Are you A.B. Harry Gordon Bartlett, DSSX 18353, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

519. Where were you?

P.2. Pom-Pom deck.

520. Were you watching the "Hood" closely?

Yes, with the naked eye.

521. What did you see?

I saw a salvo from the "Bismarck" straddle the "Hood" and then I saw she had been hit amidships. After that I saw a fire burning on the boat-deck.

522. Can you indicate the position of the fire?

Just abaft the after funnel. A few seconds afterwards I saw a great cloud of black and white smoke going up in the air and when the smoke cleared away I saw the foremost turrets fire a salvo. After this I just saw the bows going down below the water.

523. Where did this black and white smoke appear to come from?

From amidships, but I could not exactly say where.

524. Did you see any debris in the air?

No.

525. Did you hear anything?

Nothing whatever.

526. Could you see what part of the ship the explosion came from?

It seemed to be amidships but I am not sure.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(AVERAGE OBSERVATION OF AN UNTRAINED WITNESS).

A.B. WILLIAM USHER, D/JX 153984, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

527. Are you A.B. William Usher, D/JX 153984, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

528. Where were you?

I was on P.1. Pom-Pom deck

529. Were you watching the "Hood" closely?

Yes, with the naked eye.

530. Tell us what you saw.

I saw three or four salvos land on our port beam which would be astern of the "Hood". The next salvo hit the "Hood" on the upper-deck round about the after funnel. Immediately a fire broke out all along the upper deck. I mean the deck where the 4" are. The next thing I knew was a violent explosion. All amidships seemed to lift up into the air (near the focsle). After that the ship was surrounded by yellow smoke. The smoke seemed to clear away around the focsle a litte bit and I noticed the ship seemed to be still going ahead. All along the upper deck it seemed to be bubbling up as if it was boiling. The was the focsle only, the deck of which seemed to be bubbling like an egg frying. Whilst this was going on the ship seemed to be slewing over to port. The smoke then covered the focsle. The next thing I saw was the quarter-deck come up into the air and I saw the screws. After that the quarter-deck disappeared and all I could see then was smoke. When the smoke cleared away I looked around to see if I could see any wreckage but I could see nothing.

531. Did you see "X" and "Y" turrets on the after part of the "Hood" when you sighted it just before it sank?

No. I cannot recollect.

532. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes, I saw what appeared to be pieces of funnel and other structure from about amidships.

533. What angle did you see the last of the stern?

An angle of about 45 deg.

534. Did you see the bows of the ship after the explosion sticking into the air?

No. I saw the focsle deck about "A" and "B" turrets between the two breakwaters.

535. What colour were the propellers?

I could not say.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(QUITE A CLEAR DESCRIPTION BUT WE CONSIDER THAT HE MISTOOK THE BOW FOR THE STERN.)

A.B. WILLIAM BURGESS JESSOP, D/JX 149590, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

536. Are you A.B. William Burgess Jessop, D/JX 149590, Royal Navy, "H.M.S Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

537. Where were you?

On the Admiral's Shelter Deck. Port side.

538. Were you watching the "Hood" closely?

No. I was watching with the naked eye.

539. tell us what you saw.

The first salvo was just over the port side of the "Hood" aft. The second one was a bit more to the stern and the third salvo fell about the same place as the first and immediately a fire started just before the mainmast on the port side. I passed a remark at the time that they would soon have it out and it was about two minutes after that that I saw the "Hood" blow up.

540. Can you describe that more fully?

I noticed that her forward guns were firing at the exact moment she blew up. When the smoke cleared away I could see about 150 feet of the focsle just going down at a steep angle with the keel towards "Prince of Wales".

541. Did you see anything of the stern sticking up?

No. I did not notice as she blew up there was a very large part of the ship's deck up in the air.

542. Can you say roughly where that part came from?

No.

543. Have you any idea where the centre of the explosion was placed?

I should say near the mainmast.

544. Did the flash last any appreciable time?

A few seconds.

545. Did you hear anything?

I heard a thud.

WITNESS WITHDREW

(A GOOD IMPRESSION.)

A.B. HARRY EASTWOOD, SSX 44308, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES"

546. Are you A.B. Harry Eastwood, SSX 44308, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

547. Where were you at the time?

P.2. Pom-Pom Director.

548. Were you looking at the "Hood"?

Yes. I watched everything with the naked eye.

549. Will you tell us what you saw?

The first salvo dropped ahead, the second dropped astern and the third seemed to drop on the boat deck between the funnels. A small fire started about the after funnel and it seemed to burn for about a minute and then the "Hood" blew up.

550. Can you describe the explosion more fully?

The whole ship from the after funnel right aft seemed to go up and left the bows remaining which tilted up and sank at a steep angle.

551. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes. Two 15" guns, barrels only.

552. Was there much smoke with the explosion?

Yes. A great column of light grey and black smoke.

553. Did you see anything of the ship except the bow after the explosion?

No.

554. Did you see the mainmast of the ship after the explosion?

No.

555. Could you say where the two guns came from?

I think the quarterdeck, because the forward guns fired at the instant she blew up.

556. Did you hear anything?

No, there was not much noise.

557. Are you positive you saw two guns in the air?

Yes.

558. Can you tell us the shape of the column of smoke of the explosion?

It started small at the bottom and then spread out.

559. Was there any flame with the explosion?

No.

560. Can you point out pretty closely where this column of smoke came from?

Between the after funnel and the mainmast.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(A GOOD GENERAL IMPRESSION. REFERENCE TO THE GUNS WAS INTERESTING.)

LEADING SEAMAN JOHN ALFRED WHITELAM, DJX 147835, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned

561. Are you Leading Seaman John Alfred Whitelam DJX 147835. Royal Navy. "H.M.S.Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

562. Is your memory fairly clear of what you saw?

Yes.

563. Where were you at the time?

On P.2. Pom-Pom Deck.

564. Were you watching the "Hood"?

I was, but not for the first salvo. I was watching with the naked eye.

565. Will you tell us what you saw?

The second salvo appeared to fall somewhere in the wake of the "Hood". The next thing I saw was the fire and it appeared to be abaft the mainmast on the port side of the quarterdeck. The fire appeared to be not a very large one with a reddish glow. The "Hood" fired a salvo with her forward turret and the next thing I saw was the "Hood" enveloped in black smoke.

566. Can you say where the explosion came from in the "Hood"?

The main blast seemed to be centred between the mainmast and the after funnel. I did not see any flames at all, it all seemed to be very black smoke.

567. Could you see what "X" and "Y" turrets were doing at the time?

No.

568. Could you see any debris in the air?

There seemed to be a large piece high up over the forward part of the ship.

569. What could you see of the "Hood" after the explosion?.

Only black smoke on the water.

570. Did it look more like a mast or a piece of plate?

I should say a piece of plate.

571. Did you hear anything?

A slight noise which I can best describe as a blast.

WITNESS WITHDREW

(A GOOD GENERAL IMPRESSION).

BOY ALEXANDER ROY REYNOLDS, DJX 183660, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

572. Are you Boy Alexander Roy Reynolds, DJX 183660, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

573. Where were you at the time?

On P.1. Pom-Pom Deck.

574. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

575. Now tell us what you saw.

The first thing I saw was the enemy's fall of shot between the "Hood" and us. Then I turned away and when I came back I saw that the "Hood" had been hit and I saw the fire, but I cannot remember where the fire was. I then saw the "Hood" go up. She went down by her bows and broke in half. I did not take much notice when I looked again and all I could see was her stern. She broke in half about the mainmast.

576. Did you see any debris in the air?

I could not see very well as there was a lot of thick smoke.

577. How much of the after end of the "Hood" did you see after the explosion?

From the mainmast to the stern.

578. Did you see "X" and "Y" turrets?

No.

579. Do you mean that they were not on the ship or that you did not notice them?

I did not notice them.

580. Did you see the propellers just before the after end sank?

No. I did not notice them.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(CONFUSED AND OF NO VALUE.)

BOY RALPH COOKE, DJX 180642, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

581. Are you Boy Ralph Cooke, DJX 180642, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

582. Where were you at the time?

On P.2. Pom-Pom Deck.

583. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

584. Now tell us what you saw.

The "Bismarck" opened fire and I saw the fall of shot ahead of the "Hood", and then the "Hood" returned fire. I think it was just two or three salvos she had fired when the fire appeared on the "Hood" aft on the boat deck. The "Hood" opened fire again almost immediately and then blew up.

585. Can you saw where the explosion came from?

No.

586. Can you describe the explosion?

The colour of the flame was a yellowish red and the smoke was black and grey.

587. Did you see anything of the "Hood" after the explosion?

No.

588. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes.

589. Can you describe any of it?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOT MUCH VALUE.)

A.B. ROBERT ABBOTT, SSX 22114, ROYAL NAVY,"H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

590. Are you A.B. Robert Abbott, SSX 22114, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

591. Where were you at the time?

On P.1. Pom-Pom Deck.

592. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

593. Will you tell us what you saw?

I saw four falls of shot astern of the "Hood" and then a fire broke out between the after funnel and the mainmast. There was a big flash and then everything from "A" turret right astern disappeared in smoke and I could see bits of debris flying in the air.

594. Could you say where the explosion came from?

No.

595. Could you see any flame in the explosion?

No, but I saw black blotches.

596. Can you describe any of the Debris in the air?

No.

597. Did you see anything of the "Hood" after the explosion?

I just saw her bows coming out of the smoke and she turned right over and capsized turning her bottom towards me and sank at a steep angle.

598. Did you hear anything?

A noise like squashing a match box on a bigger scale.

599. Did you feel any shock?

No.

600. Did you see any fire on the water after the smoke had cleared away?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(A GOOD GENERAL IMPRESSION, NOTHING NEW.)

A.B. ALFRED JAMES PRIDDEY, SSX 19041, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

601. Are you A.B. Alfred James Priddey, SSX 19041, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

602. Where were you at the time?

P.2. Pom-Pom Director.

603. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

604. Will you tell us what you saw?

The first salvo dropped short, between us and the "Hood", the second salvo straddled the bows, and the third salvo straddled the boat deck between the funnels. The splashes of this salvo appeared to be smaller than the first to, and two splashes of this salvo were short. The fire seemed to start on the port side just before the after funnel and it spread aft as far as the mainmast. The fourth salvo straddled the quarter-deck and there were two splashes short, the same size as the first salvo. The fifth salvo was mixed, small and large, still straddling the quarter-deck. The next thing I saw was a flash aft covering "X" and "Y" turrets and then the "Hood" started to go down by the stern. Just as the stern was under water there was another explosion, they were both bright red. It seemed to blow the stern up altogether and pieces of the ship's side and part of one of the after turrets went up into the air. One of the guns also went up.

605. Did you see any other explosion in the "Hood"?

No. All I saw after that was a cloud of black smoke covering from the foremast right aft.

606. What did you see of the "Hood" after that explosion?

Whilst the smoke was there I caught a glimpse of the foremost funnel but I could not see anything from there aft.

607. Could you see anything of the fore part?

Yes. It seemed to have slewed to starboard and as we went past her bows seemed to be tilted almost vertically. Before she tilted she fired a salvo from forward. I noticed as we went past that the ship's side had all been blackened.

608. Did you hear any noise?

Just a dull thud, as if you had hit a fan shaft with your fist.

609. Did the parts of the after turrets go up in the air before the main smoke of the explosion appeared?

Yes.

610. You said you saw a gun in the air near the mainmast. Did you see the mainmast at the same time?

No.

611. You said you saw a flash covering "X" and "Y" turrets. Can you saw where that flash came from?

No. I could not tell.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(HIS ACCOUNT SUFFERS FROM LAPSE OF THE TIME SINCE THE ACTION AND HIS IMAGINIATION MAY HAVE BEEN AT WORK.)

A.B. ALISTER PATON, DJX 151642, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

612. Are you A.B. Alister Paton, DJX 151642, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

613. Where were you at the time?

P.2. Pom-Pom Director

614. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

615. Will you tell us what you saw?

The first salvo fell just off our bows right ahead. The next salvo straddled the "Hood" and a fire started on the port side of the boat-deck between the after funnel and the mainmast. I did not take much notice of the next salvo. The fire increased in size and then there was a kind of orange flash. It was a big fan shaped flash and seemed to come from between the after funnel and the mainmast. She swung round to port, rolled over and I could see the two funnels lying on the water and I could also see a jagged part of the stern all black. It appeared to be the ship's side and was wavy, corrugated and blackened. I could also see part of the bows about 70 feet, I saw then tilt up and disappear almost vertically.

616. Could you see any debris in the air?

I could see something like a dark shape fly up.

617. Did you hear any noise?

No.

WITNESS WITHDRW.

(AN INTELLIGENT AND USEFUL ACCOUNT.)

BOY IVAN LEAN, DJX/177455, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

618. Are you Boy Ivan Lean, DJX/177455,. Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

619. Where were you at the time?

P.2. Pom-Pom Deck

620. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

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

I saw the fall of shot just short of the "Hood" and "A" and "B" turrets on the "Hood" opening fire. The next thing I noticed was a small fire right aft on the boat-deck. She fired again from "A" and "B" turrets. I did not notice the after turrets and the next thing that happened she blew up.

622. Can you say where the explosion came from?

No, I only saw clouds of black smoke.

623. What did you see after the explosion?

When the smoke cleared I just saw the bows, all blackened, slide away and sink.

624. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes, one huge piece twirling up.

625. Can you describe it?

It might have been a piece of the stern.

626. Did you see any flash from the explosion?

No.

627. Did you hear anything?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(A FAIR GENERAL IMPRESSION.)

A.B. CLIVE SUTTON, DJX 212782, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

628. Are you A.B. Clive Sutton, DJX 212782, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

629. Where were you at the time?

On the port side of the Admiral's Shelter Deck.

630. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

631. Will you tell us what you saw?

The first salvo was short of the "Hood"; the second one straddled the bows; and the third one straddled the boat-deck and she caught fire by the mainmast. The fourth salvo fell short; the fifth and sixth straddled; and the seventh was the one that hit her and blew her up.

632. Can you describe the hit?

I cannot describe the hit because as soon as she was hit she seemed to explode.

633. Did you see where the explosion came from?

Somewhere between the after funnel and "Y" turret.

634. Can you describe the explosion?

There was a big column of red smoke and steel flying all over the place.

635. Can you describe any of these bits of steel?

Yes, one of the turrets was blown well up in the air.

636. What part of the turret did you see in the air?

Guns and gunhouse.

637. Can you be sure that this was one of the after turrets or one of the foremost turrets?

It was not one of the foremost turrets because they were still firing when she went down.

638. How much of the "Hood" did you see after the explosion?

Just about from the foremost funnel to the eyes of the ship. They seemed to carry on and then it heeled to port. Then it tilted up and sank at a steep angle.

639. Did you see anything of the stern affter the explosion?

No.

640. When you saw the turret in the air did you notice the mainmast?

No.

641. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

Just a dull thud.

642. Did you see any flash of the explosion?

Just above the water was a red glow after the ship had sunk.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(PRETTY GOOD IMPRESSION.)

BOY LEONARD BURCHELL, D/JX 177445, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES" Called and cautioned.

643. Are you Boy Leonard Burchell. D/JX 177445. Royal Navy. "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

644. Where were you at the time?

On P.1. Pom-Pom Deck.

645. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

646. Will you tell us what you saw?

The "Bismarck" opened fire and the "Hood" replied. She fired about three salvos and then a fire appeared on the boat-deck abaft the mainmast; I thought it was the starboard side. I could see men with hoses trying to put out the fire. All of sudden there was a big explosion and smoke was going up very high with a reddish-yellow flame. The bows seemed to come up out of the smoke and sink.

647. Could you say where the explosion came from?

No.

648. Did you see any of the rest of the "Hood" after the explosion?

No, I only saw the focsle.

649. Did you see any flame in this big explosion?

Yes.

650. Did it go up in a broad mass or a narrow cone?

A broad mass.

651. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes, it looked like wood.

652. Can you describe any bits?

No.

653. Did you hear anything?

Yes, I heard a rumbling noise which lasted for some little time.

654. What shape were the pieces of debris you saw in the air?

Long and thin which might have been pieces of deck planking.

655. What was the colour of the flame of the explosion?

The centre of "S" in exhibit 1.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

(INTELLIGENT AND A VERY GOOD REPORT CONSIDERING HIS INEXPERIENCE)

ORDINARY SEAMAN JOHN BRODIE, JX213502, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES", Called and cautioned.

656. Are you Ordinary Seaman John Brodie, JX213502, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

657. Where were you?

I was the phone number on P. 2 . Pom-Pom deck.

658. Tell us exactly what you saw.

The two foremost turrets opened first and then I noticed a fire on the after end of the boat-deck. About three minutes later flames seemed to come from the muzzles of the foremost guns but they did not seem to fire. Everything was enveloped in a huge cloud of smoke and sparks and when everything cleared away I noticed the bows of the "Hood". It then went vertical and slid backwards.

659. Can you give more detail about the explosion?

No.

660. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes, I noticed something like the fuselage of the plane. It was a huge piece and I could see it distinctly above the cloud of smoke.

661. Were the flames from the forward turrets coming from the gunhouse or the muzzle of the guns?

The muzzles of the guns.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NO VALUE.)

A.B. WALTER MARSHALL, D/SSX 26564, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES." Called and cautioned.

662. Are you A.B. Walter Marshall. D/SSX 26564. Royal Navy of "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

663. Where were you and what were you doing?

P.1. Pom-Pom deck.

664. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

665. Now tell us what you saw.

The "Hood" opened fire and then the shots arrived from the "Bismarck" and fell astern of the "Hood". There seemed to be two salvos. The next thing I saw were flames coming from what I thought was a fan-shaft on the port side of the boat-deck between the mainmast and "X" turret. Then I saw one salvo fall ahead of the "Hood" and another astern. Then there seemed to be a big explosion on the boat-deck about where the fire was. Then there was a huge cloud of black smoke and yellow was mixed with it on it's (sic) edges. When the ship came out of the smoke I saw the length of the ship as far as about "X" turret. Most of the stern abaft this seemed to be missing. I could not see the turrets but I am not certain whether they were there or not. The ship appeared to be twisted to port abaft the after funnel. The fore-top appeared to be shattered, the focsle deck before "A" turret seemed to be all blistered and "A" turret seemed to be melting. She fired one of the forward turrets as she came out of the smoke. I next saw the bows in the air nearly vertical which then went over vertical and slipped backwards into the water. I could then see the keel.

666. Did you see any debris from the explosion?

I saw one plate which was a small one and ablaze.

667. Are there any more details you can remember of the explosion?

No.

668. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

Yes, I heard a loud thump.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(VERY CONFUSED AND WE CONSIDER IMAGINATIVE.)

A.B. ARTHUR HUTCHINSON, SSX 23084, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

669. Are you A.B. Arthur Hutchinson, SSX 23084, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

670. Where were you and what were you doing?

P.2. Pom-Pom deck. As we went into action the first salvo landed off the starboard bow and the second one was in between us and the "Hood". The third one must have hit because there was a fire on the boat-deck on the port side between the after funnel and the mainmast. Then a few minutes after the fire "Hood" fired as she went up. She seemed to blow up from amidships to aft and all that could be seen then was a part of the bow. As we passed her the stern seemed to be burning in the water.

671. Could you see where the explosion came from?

Yes, between the funnels. There was no noise of the explosion.

672. Did you see any debris?

Yes, I some debris flying in the air. Just small pieces.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(EVIDENCE NOT MUCH USE.)

A.B. GEOFFREY GIBSON, D/SSX 18614, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

673. Are you A.B. Geoffrey Gibson, D/SSX 18614, Royal Navy of "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

674. Where were you at the time?

P.2. Pom-Pom Deck

675. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

676. Tell us what you saw.

The first fall of shot landed between us and the "Hood"; the second fall of shot just alongside the "Hood's" bows; and the third fell right alongside the mainmast. The "Hood" burst into fire on the twin 4" mounting on the after end of the boat-deck. On the next salvo she seemed to blow up from the funnels aft.

677. Can you give any detail of the explosion?

No.

678. Did you see the "Hood" after the explosion?

I just saw the bows come out of the smoke as far as "A" turret.

679. Did you see any flash from the explosion?

Yes, I saw a red fan shaped flash.

680. What was the colour of the smoke you saw?

Black.

681. Did you hear anything?

I heard a noise something like a broadside fire.

682. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes, I saw what I thought was a turret and a ship's side plate.

683. Did the turret have it's guns in it?

Yes.

684. Do you mean the gunhouse or the complete part of the turret down to the shell room?

I mean the gunhouse only.

685. Do you know which turret this was?

One of the after ones.

686. Did you see anything burning on the water after the "Hood" sunk?

No.

687. Are you positive you saw a turret and gunhouse in the air?

Yes, it looked just like a gunhouse and the gun.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(RATHER A SATISFACTORY WITNESS.)

STOKER 1ST CLASS NORMAN RICHARD GREENING, DKX88680, "H.M.S.PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

688. Are you Stoker 1st Class Norman Richard Greening, DKX88680, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

689. Where were you at the time?

I was on the catapult deck.

690. What did you see?

The first thing I saw was a shell dropping ahead and astern in the "Hood's" wake. The next thing I saw was "X" and "Y" turrets appeared to be covered in flame. Then the catapult deck was illuminated by a vivid flash. I then lost sight of the "Hood" owning to our ship altering course. When the "Hood" appeared again I saw her bows sticking vertically out of the water. It was a very large piece of her bow sticking out of the water. That is all I saw.

691. Did you see any debris flying in the air?

Yes, but I could not distinguish it.

692. Did you see any smoke?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOT MUCH USE.)

BOY FRANCIS GERRARD MCELHILL, D/JX 180641, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

693. Are you Boy Francis Gerrard McElhill, D/JX 180641, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

694. Where were you at the time?

P.2. Pom-Pom deck.

695. What did you see of the action?

I saw a fire and then she blew up.

696. Where was the fire?

I do not know.

697. Could you say where the explosion came from?

No.

698. Did you see any debris in the air after the explosion?

Yes.

699. Can you describe it?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOT MUCH USE.)

BOY THOMAS FREDERICK GREEN, D/JX 180633, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned

700. Are you Boy Thomas Frederick Green, D/JX 180633, Royal Navy, "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

701. Where were you at the time?

P.2. Pom-Pom Director.

702. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

703. Now tell us what you saw.

I saw a fire on the port side of the boat-deck between "X" turret and the mainmast and she blew up after that.

704. Can you give any detail of the blowing up of the "Hood"?

No, I can give no further detail.

705. Did you see any debris in the air?

Something that appeared to be like a funnel came over our bow.

706. Did you see any flash with the explosion?

No.

707. Did you see any smoke?

Yes.

708. What sort of smoke?

It started grey and got blacker as it went up.

709. Could you point to the part of the ship the smoke came from?

Witness pointed between the after funnel and the mainmast.

710. What was the shape of the smoke?

It seemed to go up and open out at the top.

711. Did you hear anything of the explosion?

Yes, I heard a thud.

712. Did you see anything of the "Hood" after the explosion?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOTHING NEW.)

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER COLIN WILLIAM McMULLEN, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

713. Are you Lieutenant Commander Colin William McMullen, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

714. We understand that some debris which fell on board "Prince of Wales" after the "Hood" blew up was in your office for some time. Will you tell us if they were produced before the last Board and also if you were able to find out what any of them were?

They were not produced before the last Board. I do not know what they were but I can give a description. They were mistaken at first to be pieces of a 15" light case shell. But pieces of iron or steel had a flange and might have been some such article as a recoil cylinder of a big gun or any cylinder of any machine. A signal was made to the Admiralty saying we had some momentoes on board. I will try to get a copy of it.

715. Do you know if the last Board were aware of the existence of these relics?

I do not think they were.

716. What was the shape and size of the largest piece?

It was about 9" to 12" high and about 15" in diameter. The thickness was about 1.75" to 2".

717. Was the internal surface of the cylinder machined?

Yes. But the whole thing was rusty.

718. Could you produce an approximate drawing of this fragment?

Yes. I will do so.

719. Were any other bits identifyable at all?

Two or three pieces of this cylinder and what I have described as the largest bit.

720. Could you say where it was found?

It was found on the Hangar deck.

721. Are you quite sure it was not pieces of "Prince of Wales"?

The only thing it could have been was a bit of the starboard crane which was hit by a 15" shell.

722. Do you know of any other officer in the ship who could answer questions about these bits of metal.

Probably only the gunnery staff. I will consult them when I am making the drawing. I would like to add that this debris was not picked up at once but at any time from 24 hours to three days.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

LIEUTENANT MICHAEL AURIOL BUXTON, ROYAL NAVAL VOLUNTEER RESERVE, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

723. Are you Lieutenant Michael Auriol Buxton, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

724. Where were you at the time?

In the forward 14" Director.

725. What did you see?

I saw a cloud of smoke that darkened the light that was coming in through the window of the inclinometer. Later I saw small pieces of wreckage, oil, and flames on the water about 300 yards from the ship.

726. Did you hear any noise of the explosion?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

BOY ROYSTON FREDERICK ALLEN, D/JX 183693, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

727. Are you Boy Royston Frederick Allen, D/JX 183693, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

728. Where were you at the time?

P.1. Pom-Pom Deck

729. Were you watching the "Hood"?

No.

730. Note: there is no actual question 730 in the original file. Only Royston's answer to the missing question:

I saw the "Hood" open fire and then we fired. I cannot remember how many times either of our ships fired. I was behind the Pom-Pom and somebody told me there was a direct hit on the "Hood". As I was walking around to the front of the Pom-Pom I saw what appeared to be big flares which shot up into the sky just above the "Hood". Then the explosion took place and all that was left then was the bows sticking out of the water as it floated past on our port side.

731. Did you see any smoke?

I cannot remember seeing any.

732. Did you see any debris?

I saw thousands of fragments flying about in the air.

733. Did you hear a noise before your attention was drawn?

No.

734. Did you recognise any of these pieces of debris in the air?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOT MUCH VALUE.)

A.B. CYRIL ROBERT BOURNE, D/JX 135848, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES." Called and cautioned.

735. Are you A.B. Cyril Robert Bourne, D/JX 135848, Royal Navy of "H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

736. Where were you?

In the port-after H.A. Director.

737. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes, with the naked eye.

738. Will you tell us what you saw?

I saw a salvo fall astern of the "Hood", one salvo ahead of the "Hood", and one hit the "Hood" between the after funnel and the mainmast. At least I imagine it was a hit because I saw fire break out immediately afterwards. The fire was between the after funnel and the mainmast. It was a yellowish orange, with plenty of black smoke. I then took my eyes off the "Hood" and the next thing I saw was the "Hood" had slewed round to port and was in a sinking condition.

739. Can you describe the sinking condition?

She was low in the water and the fire was larger. The next thing I saw was the "Hood" sinking.

740. Did you see a lot of smoke round the "Hood" at that time?

There was a lot of black smoke.

741. Did you see any debris in the air?

Yes.

742. Can you describe it?

Not very well.

743. How much of the "Hood" did you see when she slewed to port?

I could see the whole ship.

744. Did you notice any damage to the ship?

No.

745. You say you saw her sink. How did she sink?

She went down stern first.

746. Did the hit on your own ship shake you up?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NO VALUE IN THIS.)

A.B. GEORGE ROBERT ERNEST PEGG, D/X 9503, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

747. Are you A.B. George Robert Ernest Pegg, D/X 9503, Royal Navy of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

748. Where were you?

On the turret trained of P.2. (H.A.)

749. Were you watching the "Hood"?

Yes. I was watching from the time she fired her first salvo and at various times until she had gone.

750. Were you looking through glasses?

Yes. Through a periscope.

751.tell us what you saw.

I saw the first salvo from the "Bismarck" fall astern of the "Hood". I then looked again and I saw a small fire abaft "Y" turret. Then the fire seemed to get bigger and I could not say where the explosion exactly was but it was more or less like a bright flame from an acetylene welder of a bluish colour, not red. When I next looked, the bows appeared to have slewed to port and the after part of the ship had gone. The bows as far back as the fore bridge and the fore top appeared to be intact. That is all I saw.

752. Did you see any debris in the air?

No.

753. Do you think the part of the "Hood" abaft the bridge was broken off?

Yes.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOT MUCH USE. PART OF HIS STORY IS IMPOSSIBLE.)

MARINE ERNEST DAVID HARRY, ROYAL MARINE, PL.X 3051, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

754. Are you Marine Ernest David Harry. Royal Marine. PL.X 3051, of"H.M.S. Prince Of Wales"?

Yes.

755. Where were you?

I was range taker on the starboard bridge range-finder.

756. tell us what you saw.

I saw a fire on the "Hood" between the after funnel and the mainmast on the boat-deck. After that I took my eyes away to see if I could get another range on the "Bismarck". During the time I was not looking at the "Hood" I heard somebody say she had blown up. I immediately turned round and saw small bits of the amidships part flying about, and the focsle tilted up and gradually disappeared with the bridge part.

757. How did you know these bits were coming from the amidships part of the "Hood"?

I saw that she was fairly intact as far back as the forward turret and that there seemed to be a sort of gap and I could not see anything further aft as our superstructure obscured the view.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NO VALUE.)

A.B. NORMAN CHRIMES, JX 213670, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

758. Are you A.B. Norman Chrimes, JX 213670,Royal Navy of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

759. Where were you?

In the port forward H.A. Director.

760. Were you watching the "Hood" closely?

Part of the time, not all, with the naked eye.

761. tell us what you saw.

It was very unexpected. I saw a flash and she was gone. There were flaming bits in the air.

762. Did you see any debris?

Yes.

763. Could you recognise any of those pieces?

No.

764. Did you see any flash?

I am not sure.

765. Did you see any smoke?

I could not say.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NO VALUE.)

ORDINARY SEAMAN ERNEST JAMES PEARSON, DJX 198445, ROYAL NAVY, "H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES". Called and cautioned.

766. Are you Ordinary Seaman Ernest James Pearson. DJX 198445, Royal Navy, of "H.M.S. Prince of Wales"?

Yes.

767. Where were you?

The port-after H.A. Director.

768. Were you watching the "Hood"?

I was in communication with the A.D.O. until the "Hood" blew up.

769. What was the first thing you saw of the "Hood"?

I saw smoke and the foremost part of the "Hood" floating.

770. Was there much smoke?

Yes.

771. What colour was it?

Black.

772. Did you see any debris in the air?

I did not see much, only bits flying around.

773. Could you recognise any of these pieces?

No.

774. Did you hear anything?

Only the explosion.

775. What did it sound like?

A muffled crash and a boom.

776. How much of the fore part of the ship did you see?

Back to a little bit forward of the bridge.

777. Did you see the fore part sink?

No.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(NOT MUCH USE.)

CAPTAIN JOHN LEACH, RECALLED. Witness was cautioned.

778. In answer to question 9 yesterday, you said you saw some big objects in the debris which were thrown up by the explosion. Could you identify any of these objects?

No.

779. Could you give the general shape of any of them?

The only one I noticed appeared to be a more or less oblong plate approaching the square. I could not say the size, but it appeared to be large.

780. We have found out that certain debris believed to come from "Hood" fell aboard you. Did you examine these at all?

I only examined one. I did not recognise it definitely but it appeared as if it might have been a portion of a recoil arrangement of a 15" gun.

781. Do you know if the previous board saw these exhibits?

No, I do not. But I think they were mentioned to them.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER McMULLEN, RECALLED. Witness was cautioned.

Produced official drawings of "Prince of Wales" seaplane crane and a sketch of the fragments which he had previously described (Exhibit 5) Comparison of the sketch and drawing convinced the board that the fragment did not come from the "Hood" but was part of the thrust-housing of the crane which had been damaged by enemy action on that day. (DRAWING NUMBER 6949-14A.) In addition to the general shape there were certain markings on the fragment which corresponded to the drawing. Lieutenant Commander McMullen produced a piece of debris which was 3" by 6" Channel Bar, approximately one foot long and much distorted. It was about 0.5" thick.

782. Did you hear any noise when the "Hood" blew up?

I was aware of a rumble but nothing very loud compared with our own gunfire.

783. Could you disassociate this from the noise of the "Hood's" guns?

Yes. Because I was aware of a terrific glare at the time and I knew instinctively what had happened.

784. Was the rumble of any appreciable duration?

I do not know.

WITNESS WITHDREW.

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER ROWELL, RECALLED. Witness was cautioned.

785. In answer to question 31 yesterday you said "I think it was the third salvo from the "Bismarck" which first hit the "Hood." Can you tell us how you knew the "Hood" had been hit then?

I do not remember seeing any debris thrown up on this occasion but I do remember seeing only three splashes and the almost immediate commencement of a fire on the "Hood's" boat-deck. There was no doubt in my mind at the time that the 4th gun of this salvo had made a direct hit.

786. Do you consider that this was a 15" or 8" salvo?

I consider very definitely that it was a 15" salvo. As far as I can remember no smaller splashes had been seen falling round the "Hood" before this time.

787. Could you point out to us on the plan where you consider each of these two hots, that you have described, to have been?

The first one fell in close proximity to P.3. Twin-Mounting about station 275, and the second one fell near the centre line between the after funnel and the mainmast about 225 station. (The positions were indicated by crosses on exhibit M.)

WITNESS WITHDREW.

CHIEF PETTY OFFICER FRENCH, RECALLED. Witness was cautioned.

788. In your previous evidence I think you said you saw a turret with two guns and also a single gun in the air. Could you describe the flight of this turret and guns.

As regards the turret, when I first saw it it was over the after end of the smoke. Not as high as the maintop. It rose a little and then fell gunhouse first into the water. The gun first caught my eye as the turret was falling and it had already started to fall. At first I thought it was a bit of the mainmast but it turned over and over during it's (sic) descent and I was convinced that it was a gun.

789. Could you say approximately where the turret fell into the water?

I should say approximately one third of the distance apart, from the "Hood".

790. What size splash did it make?

It made, I should say a wide splash but not high.

791. Could you say where the gun fell?

The gun fell slightly nearer our own ship.

792. Were your ideas of distance and size sufficiently clear to be able to say whether the gun was a 15" or 4" gun?

I should say definitely 15".

793. Does a similar answer apply to the turret?

Exactly.

794. How much of the turret did you clearly see?

The left-hand side of the gunhouse and the roof which appeared to be intact.

795. Did the turret come out above the smoke or not?

No, out of the side of the smoke.

WITNESS WITHDREW.
(WITNESS WAS VERY POSITIVE IN THE ABOVE STATEMENTS.)