Flashback Friday: HMS Hood 1941

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HMS Hood Image One
HMS Hood
Pennant Number 51
Image Credit: rowehistory.blogspot.com

Seventy-eight years ago, today, the last battlecruiser of the Royal Navy, the HMS Hood, was sunk during the Battle of Denmark Strait by the German Kriegsmarine battleship Bismarck.

From Wikipedia:

One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, [she was] commissioned in 1920 [and] named after 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. Despite the appearance of new and, more modern ship designs over time, Hood remained the largest and most powerful warship in the world for 20 years after her commissioning. […] her prestige was reflected in her nickname, “The Mighty Hood”. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct [some] issues but, the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 forced the ship into service without the upgrades.

In May, [she and] the battleship Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic where they were to attack convoys. When Bismarck sailed for the Atlantic […], Hood, together with […] Prince of Wales, was sent out in pursuit along with several other groups of British capital ships to intercept the German ships before they could break into the Atlantic […]. Hood was commanded by Captain Ralph Kerr and was flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Lancelot Holland. The German ships were spotted by two British heavy cruisers (Norfolk & Suffolk) on 23 May and Holland‘s ships intercepted Bismarck, and her consort, Prinz Eugen, in the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland.

Bismarck Image Two
Bismarck
Image Credit: pinterest.com

On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, less than 10 minutes after the British opened fire, a shell from Bismarck struck Hood near her aft ammunition magazines. Soon afterwards, Hood exploded and sank within three minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew. Prince of Wales continued to exchange fire with Bismarck but, suffered serious malfunctions in her main armament. The British battleship had only just been completed in late March 1941 and used new quadruple gun turrets that were unreliable. [She] soon broke off the engagement.

Due to [the] perceived invincibility of the Hood, the loss affected British morale.

From The History Channel:

On this day in 1941, Germany’s largest battleship, the Bismarck, sinks the pride of the British fleet, HMS Hood.

The Bismarck was the most modern of Germany’s battleships, a prize coveted by other nation’s navies, even while still in the blueprint stage (Hitler handed over a copy of its blueprints to Joseph Stalin as a concession during the days of the Hitler-Stalin Neutrality Pact). The HMS Hood, originally launched in 1918, was Britain’s largest battlecruiser (41,200 tons) but, also capable of achieving the relatively fast speed of 31 knots. The two met in the North Atlantic, northeast of Iceland, where two British cruisers had tracked down the Bismarck. Commanded by Admiral Gunther Lutjens, Commander-in-Chief of the German Fleet, the Bismarck sunk the Hood, resulting in the death of 1,500 of its crew. Only three Brits survived. Captain Kerr was one of the casualties.

During the engagement, the Bismarck‘s fuel tank was damaged. Lutjens tried to make for the French coast but, was sighted, again, only three days later. Torpedoed to the point of incapacity, the Bismarck was finally sunk by a ring of British war ships. Admiral Lutjens was one of the 2,300 German casualties.

Having grown up listening to Johnny Horton, one of my favorite songs of his is, of course, Sink the Bismarck, released in 1960 (a #1 single in Canada). ~Vic


 
Lyrics
In May of 1941 the war had just begun
The Germans had the biggest ship that had the biggest guns
The Bismarck was the fastest ship that ever sailed the sea
On her decks were guns as big as steers and shells as big as trees

Out of the cold and foggy night came the British ship the Hood
And every British seaman he knew and understood
They had to sink the Bismarck the terror of the sea
Stop those guns as big as steers and those shells as big as trees

We’ll find the German battleship that’s makin’ such a fuss
We gotta sink the Bismarck ’cause the world depends on us
Yeah hit the decks a runnin’ boys and spin those guns around
When we find the Bismarck we gotta cut her down

The Hood found the Bismarck and on that fatal day
The Bismarck started firing fifteen miles away
We gotta sink the Bismarck was the battle sound
But when the smoke had cleared away the mighty Hood went down

For six long days and weary nights they tried to find her trail
Churchill told the people put every ship asail
Cause somewhere on that ocean I know she’s gotta be
We gotta sink the Bismarck to the bottom of the sea

We’ll find the German battleship that’s makin’ such a fuss
We gotta sink the Bismarck ’cause the world depends on us
Yeah hit the decks a runnin’ boys and spin those guns around
When we find the Bismarck we gotta cut her down

The fog was gone the seventh day and they saw the morning sun
Ten hours away from homeland the Bismarck made its run
The Admiral of the British fleet said turn those bows around
We found that German battleship and we’re gonna cut her down

The British guns were aimed and the shells were coming fast
The first shell hit the Bismarck they knew she couldn’t last
That mighty German battleship is just a memory
Sink the Bismarck was the battle cry that shook the seven seas

We found the German battleship ’twas makin’ such a fuss
We had to sink the Bismarck cause the world depends on us
We hit the deck a runnin’ and we and spun those guns around
Yeah we found the mighty Bismarck and then we cut her down

We found the German battleship ’twas makin’ such a fuss
We had to sink the Bismarck cause the world depends on us
We hit the deck a runnin’ and we and spun those guns around
We found the mighty Bismarck and then we cut her down

16 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: HMS Hood 1941

    floatinggold said:
    May 27, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    What a majestic ship.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 27, 2019 at 8:38 pm

      Which one?

        floatinggold said:
        May 28, 2019 at 9:25 am

        The HMS Hood.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          May 28, 2019 at 12:11 pm

          Yes it was. It was The Mighty Hood for 20 years. It wasn’t prepared for WWII. It was a post WWI design. It didn’t stand a chance against the modern Bismarck.

    badfinger20 said:
    May 30, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    3 minutes…wow. I wonder if the upgrades would have helped her and her crew?
    I like Johnny Horton also. I listened to him when I was a kid…we had some of his singles.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 31, 2019 at 12:08 am

      I’ve wondered the same. The Hood was a WWI design. An upgrade, which was planned, may have saved it. But, then again, the Bismarck might have been too much either way. Hard to tell.

      My dad had Horton albums.

        badfinger20 said:
        May 31, 2019 at 12:16 am

        I love the stories of old ships. I wonder how many are resting on the bottom of the ocean.

        I guess it depended on what they were.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          May 31, 2019 at 10:10 pm

          Too many to count. There’s a-plenty off the coast of NC. Any in the Mariana Trench will never be found.

            badfinger20 said:
            May 31, 2019 at 10:13 pm

            I would love to explore… old ships, abandon houses, and old amusement parks… but I’m not a diver

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              May 31, 2019 at 10:51 pm

              I’m with ya’! I don’t dive, either but, would love to. I used to work with a guy that did a lot of diving.

              The only thing I would dislike about abandoned houses and old places would be the spiders. *freak out*

                badfinger20 said:
                May 31, 2019 at 11:01 pm

                Lol…I love going in somewhere that hasn’t been touched in a while.
                When my uncle was in his 70s he went back to an abandoned house where he grew up…He remembered something and reached up on a rafter and got his tooth he put there as a small kid wrapped in newspaper.

                  The Hinoeuma responded:
                  May 31, 2019 at 11:37 pm

                  Wow. That’s quite a memory.

                  I have a thing about roads and rail lines. I am completely fascinated when I find old roads and abandoned rail lines. There is something haunting about both and I wonder what they originally looked like or where they were going. I have no idea why…

                    badfinger20 said:
                    May 31, 2019 at 11:51 pm

                    I like railroads also. We had a train that would through our town… now the tracks are buried but the bridges are still there. It’s fascinating to think about.
                    Our greenway has an old train bridge that has been filled in with wood…

                      The Hinoeuma responded:
                      June 1, 2019 at 12:49 am

                      Yeah. See. I could wander those things all day.

                      When freeways and highways are built and, they block off the old, original roads, that fascinates me. It is physical evidence of the past. Love it.

                      badfinger20 said:
                      June 1, 2019 at 1:01 am

                      I would love to take a metal detector down some of them.

                      The Hinoeuma responded:
                      June 1, 2019 at 1:24 am

                      Oh, yeah…

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