Terrifying stories from the only three British survivors when the Nazis sank HMS Hood
Nightmare eyewitness accounts of the survivors of one of the most devastating disasters in the Royal Navy are revealed in a new book – with details about the destruction of & # 39; the world's largest ship and the tragic death of all crew members of no less than 1,418 men .
Last year marked the centenary of the launch of Great Britain & # 39; s largest warship of the 20th century and the most powerful warship in the world when it was launched.
Until the HMS Queen Elizabeth commissioned in 2009, Hood remained Britain's largest warship.
Nicknamed & # 39; The Mighty Hood & # 39 ;, the HMS Hood battle cruiser ruled the waves from 1918 until it was sunk into the cold waters of the North Atlantic by the German battleship Bismarck in 1941.
One of the greatest British naval battles of all time, author Daniel Knowles has collected incredible pictures of the crew and ship – some never before published.
New book HMS Hood: Pride Of The Royal Navy provides a fascinating and detailed account of the journey of the battle cruiser from conception to the final resting place at the foot of the Strait of Denmark.
This image comes from the Ark Royal and shows the Hood disappearing behind columns of water as bombs explode as the ship becomes a target of Italian SM.79 bombers
Captain Glennie and the Hood crew are gathered on the fore ship in what is supposed to be the last photo of the hood of the entire crew. Although many of the men captured in this photograph were to be removed from the ship the following year, it should be noted that a significant proportion of the men in this image were probably aboard the ship on 24 May 1941
The Hood on the Firth of Forth in the 1920s. Behind the hood is the Forth Bridge. The battle cruiser remained Great Britain & # 39; s largest warship until the HMS Queen Elizabeth commission in 2009
The incredible images capture the full majesty and vastness of HMS Hood, a photo of the crew including many of the men who would eventually die in a water grave and some of the ship's most powerful weapons.
Trapped in a battle where it was not designed to be inside, HMS Hood was shot at by Bismarck and one of the deadly 15-inch grenades penetrated the weakly armored deck of the Hood and blew up a supply of ammunition – a catastrophic blow to it British flagship.
More than 2000 men died when the Royal Navy destroyed the Bismarck three days after the HMS cap exploded in retaliation.
Knowles collected witness statements from the day of the fight, including Able Seaman Bob Tilburn was one of three men who defied the odds and survived the inferno.
& # 39; It shook the entire ship, the explosion and shrapnel that upset the position of the midship, but the explosion did not seem worse than the effect of firing a burst & # 39 ;, he recalled.
After he had sought shelter behind the splinter shield of a non-rotated projectile launcher, Tilburn was immediately spared death or injury. The sailors he was with were not so lucky.
A group of men cleaning one of the Hood's 15-inch guns. This photo was taken on November 11, 1933, while the Hood was on its way to Portsmouth
Taken while the Hood was on Gibraltar, her forward cannons and the tampons – or tompion (a wooden or metal plug over the muzzle) – are adorned with the ship's badge in the course of the cannons.
One of the most famous pictures taken by the Bismarck when she opened fire on the hood in May 1941. All but one of the 1,418 crew members were lost in one of Great Britain & # 39; s greatest maritime tragedies
& # 39; One sailor was simply blown away by the power of the explosion, while the other & # 39; was knocked out by a grenade flakes, "he continued.
& # 39; It opened him up as a butcher and all his entrails came out. & # 39;
Another of the three men pulled alive from the water was Midshipman William Dundas. He remembers that after the explosion a corpse crashed onto the deck near him and he was asked to identify the corpse.
After inspection, he admitted that the work was impossible & # 39; since the corpse had no face and no hands and that he could only say that the body was that of a lieutenant & # 39 ;.
The third and last man to survive was Ordinary Signalman Ted Briggs who recalled jumping into the water in the immediate aftermath of the heartbreaking explosion.
& # 39; I prevented me from being hit by the steel stanchions, but I made no progress & # 39 ;, Briggs reported.
& # 39; The suction dragged me down. The pressure on my ears increased every second and the panic returned to its worst intensity. I struggled insanely to lift myself to the surface. I got nowhere. Although it seemed like an eternity, I was under water for barely a minute.
The crew of the Hood is one of his formidable guns. The flagship barrel was trapped in a fight it was not designed to be in as HMS Hood was shot at by newer and more powerful German ship, Bismarck
The Hood started with a shooting exercise, around 1937. HMS Hood was sunk when one of Bismarck's deadly 15-inch grenades invaded the armored deck of the Hood and blew up a supply of ammunition.
& # 39; My lungs burst. I knew I just had to breathe. I opened my lips and swallowed a sip of water. My tongue was forced into the back of my throat. I was not going to reach the surface. I was going to die. As I weakened, my decision lost me.
& # 39; What was the use of wrestling? I heard it was fun to drown. I stopped trying to swim up. The water was a calm cradle. I was rocked to sleep. I couldn't help it – good night, Mom. I was ready to meet God.
& # 39; My blissful acceptance of death ended in a sudden wave beneath me, shooting me to the surface like a decanted cork in a champagne bottle. I wouldn't die. I wouldn't die. I stepped on water while gasping in large sips.
& # 39; I lived. Although my ears were singing under pressure, I could hear the sizzling sound of a hundred snakes.
& # 39; I turned away and at fifty meters in the sea I could see the bow of the Hood vertically in the sea. It was the most frightening aspect of my ordeal and a vision that would come back frighteningly in nightmares for the next fifty years. & # 39;
On the ship's deck, seeking shelter, Robert Tilburn was struck by human remains that are likely to save his life.
Taken while the Hood was in Vancouver, this image shows one of the Hood's sailors with Joey the Wallaby on deck. He was a mascot who brought the crew from Australia
The Hood, circa 1923. At the time of its launch in 1918, HMS Hood was the world's largest and most powerful warship until it was sunk in 1941 in the cold waters of the North Atlantic by the German battleship Bismarck
& # 39; Pieces of bodies fell over the deck and one hit me on the legs, & # 39; he remembered. & # 39; I thought: & # 39; I'm going to get sick & # 39 ;, so I got up and went to the side of the ship to vomit. & # 39;
Looking around as he ascended, Tilburn noticed that the bonnet at the rear seemed to go down and that she began to tilt toward the gate in an alarming corner.
Turning around to see what he thought a ammunition castle is rushing towards him, he decided to escape quickly.
Tilburn jumped in the direction of the water and started throwing away anything that might weigh him down. Tilburn managed to remove his pewter helmet, gas mask and duffel jacket before the water swept him over the edge. He was pulled out of the ocean two hours later.
Dundas was so shocked by the terrifying event that he never spoke about it again, either in public or in private.
& # 39; Eight minutes after the fire opened against the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen, the Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy for so long, was torn apart by a devastating explosion, & Knowles explained.
The Hood viewed between two of HMS Rodney's 16-inch guns while the two ships were in Scapa Flow in the fall of 1940. HMS Renown and the Repulse are behind the hood
This image shows the hood framed in lights while he was in Gibraltar on November 6, 1935. She was framed in the light to celebrate the wedding of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester
& # 39; Three minutes after the fateful blow hit the hood, the last traces of the most famous Royal Navy warship slipped under the waves and nothing but a scattering of oil, wreckage and three survivors disappeared from a crew of 1,418 men & # 39;
Until the recent commissioning of the British new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Hood remained the largest warship that Britain had ever produced. The ship was equipped with eight immense 15-inch guns and was capable of up to 32 knots.
However, it has met more than its match with the Bismarck, which was newer, more powerful and heavier armored. The boats were ten miles apart when the deadly grenade sealed the fate of more than 1,400 men.
& # 39; The Hood is one of the largest warships in history and one of the most famous ships ever to control the White Flag & # 39 ;, concluded the author of the HMS Hood.
& # 39; For more than twenty years, & # 39; & # 39; The Mighty Hood & # 39; & # 39; around the world as the largest and most powerful warship in the world. De Hood was involved in many diplomatic exercises during her career and was the pride of the Royal Netherlands Navy.
& # 39; This is the story of HMS Hood – the life and death of a legendary battle cruiser. It is a story of both peace and war, but it is not just the story of a ship, but of many men and an era. & # 39;
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