Battlecruiser Hood was named after a famous family of British Navymen, and was the fourth ship to bear the name. Construction began in September, 1916 at John Brown & Company Ltd shipyards in Glasgow, the ship was launched in August 1919 and commissioned on March 29, 1920. From November 1923 to September 1924 she was the centerpiece of the Empire Cruise, a public relations world cruise intended to show the world who was the ruler of the seas. Nothing noteworthy happened until World War II broke out, except for the Hood being used for intimidation against Italians and Spanish Nationalists on a few occasions.

Hood spent the beginning of the war patrolling various regions of the North Atlantic, but she didn't see any significant action until she arrived in Gibraltar in June 1940. The Battle of Mers el Kebir took place in July 1940, where four French ships were sunk and approx. 1300 French sailors were killed. The British lost only a few aircraft in the battle, which has been described by witnesses as "shooting fish in a barrel". During that summer Hood participated in several operations in the Mediterranean. She left Gibraltar in August and returned to Scapa Flow, from where she performed patrolling duties and escorts for the next few months.

In April 1941 the Royal Navy became worried that the Kriegsmarine's newest ship, Bismarck, would attempt to break out into the Atlantic, and Hood was sent to Hvalfjord, Iceland to cover the surrounding areas. On May 24 Bismarck was seen in Denmark Strait along with Prinz Eugen (an Admiral Hipper-class cruiser) and Hood, accompanied by HMS Prince of Wales engaged them in the Battle of Denmark Strait. Initially, Hood's spotters mistook Prinz Eugen for Bismarck, and Hood's first shots were therefore wasted. She took hits from both German ships, but the final blow was a 15" shell from Bismarck that hit the forward magazine, causing a huge explosion. A few moments later the Hood was sunk completely, of the 1418 man crew only three survived. After taking heavy hits Prince of Wales was forced to retreat, and the German ships escaped. Prinz Eugen made it safely to Brest but Bismarck was sunk on May 27.


1941- my grandfather, John, is at sea.

On the Hood.

My grandmother's fears are slightly mollified by Grandpa's descriptions of the sheer mass of the ship, the size of it's guns, the thickness of the deck plating. My dad, Sam, is only a babe-in-arms the day she stands there and receives the news that a shell has struck the Hood's achilles heel, the thin plating covering the magazine- initial reports are that are no survivors.

Mourning in Craig Street- John, father of three, barber in the local co-op, is lost at sea.

A few weeks later; my Gran had only started to come to terms with the loss of her husband when the telegram from Grandpa arrived: had they heard- the Hood had been sunk! Good thing he was shipped to one of her support ships a few days before- they'd have got the telegram telling them about it, of course.

The telegram telling them about his trans-ship transfer arrived a week later.

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