The H.M.S. Hood Association Online Archive
First Association Newsletter (circa 1975)
Updated 06-May-2014

The very first H.M.S. Hood Association newsletter (sent out in 1975).

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Dear Shipmates,

This is the first newsletter of the Hood Association, and may it long continue. It will, only if you can supply me with the material to keep it interesting - that I'm sure you will want to do and can do. I shall not leave any stones unturned to make it so.

This Newsletter is being printed and sent to you, free of all costs, as I'm paying for it myself. It is being sent on one condition only. When you receive this Newsletter you must write and let me know what you think of it, and if you can, some tit-bits of news when you were in the Hood - failure to do so and your name will be struck off the list.

I have written to about twenty members about three months ago and they haven't bothered to reply. I shall only concentrate on the members who are genuinely interested, excepting those who are ill, etc.

A few kind members have kindly loaned me photographs of the Hood which I have had copied, so we will soon have a nice collection, and any member who wants photographs get in touch and I'll get some copies taken off and send them. I'm hoping to produce a book of them so if you have any photos you can loan me I will get copies taken and return same to you within days.

Shipmate Doug Woodward of Dorchester writes - In January 1935, men were recalled from the pubs and cinemas and the Regent Dance Hall, Weymouth, and Hood left Portland in a force 8 gale at 29 knots with the whole of the mess-decks awash, and made Gibraltar in 38 and a half hours, and that this record has never been broken.

Shipmate Allen of Maiden Newton, Dorchester, also writes of the Hood doing a speed trial across Weymouth Bay, and the wash carried deck chairs and everything on the beach away.

Shipmate Ivor Smith of Weymouth writes that he was on the Hood when she was rammed off Portugal by Renown. He also states that he served in Malaya during the war but the Hood was his first ship and the happiest.

In 1965 I wrote to the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, about the possibility of the 5.5 gun taken from the Hood and mounted at Torshavn in the Faroes, being brought back to Portsmouth and mounted on Southsea Common, as this is the only relic in existence from the Hood and I felt that it should be saved and put on display, perhaps in a Museum, but alas back came the reply "We have the Victory". It seems that the two great wars do not matter, scrap everything and forget, but remember Nelson at all costs. Perhaps we can try again? I wonder how many shipmates were on the Hood in 1932 when the Hood, with the Fleet with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers onboard, fired 15" salvoes off Portland, and for 200 miles the mighty roar floated across England and was heard in Daventry.

One felt secure in South Dorset as the Hood's guns spoke for Britain and to see the foretop of her above the Hotels on Weymouth Front from the hills inland, as she lay at anchor in Weymouth Bay.And of the thousands of holiday-makers who lined Weymouth Pier and watched the thousands of bluejackets pour ashore - and it was a delight to watch the boathook drill and to note Picket boats from the Hood, Repulse, Renown and the battleships, and in the darkness the sky being criss-crossed by dozens of searchlights.

Now that Spain is very much in the news again. Shipmates of my time in the Hood may recall their crack cruiser, Almirante Cervera, and the Baleares sunk off Cartagena by a government torpedo craft, the torpedo said to have been fired by an ex R.N. torpedo rating. A Rear Admiral and over 600 men were lost while the Kempenfelt and Boreas rescued over 400.

Government forces held Barcelona and Valencia and all the east coast, also Minorca. Franco held Majorca and the west and south coats of Spain. Franco declared a blockade of all the east coast ports which was not recognised by the British Government. Franco tried to enforce it by aircraft operating from aerodromes in Majorca and his Navy from their base at Cartagena. Italian submarines sank several British ships. Hood visited British Consuls at Barcelona and Valencia - these cities were never bombed whilst Hood was there. Whatever may be said about General Franco he kept German troops out of Spain during world war two, and only strict laws which kept his people peaceful. Shall we see all the strife and bloodshed return to this turbulent race when he is gone?

I don't think any books have been written about the Spanish Navy during the Civil War - I well remember seeing women onboard their cruisers at sea. I think, with their large single funnel, they looked much nicer than our county class cruisers.

Many shipmates will remember our refit in Malta. I was one engaged on cleaning the oil slush from the double bottoms; it was good fun trailing through them with a light on the end of a wandering lead. And in the floating dock where we had a big hole drilled through the forefoot to enable chains to be roved through. Then we had a new set of Pom Poms mounted at the after end of the boat deck and I was a loading number on these. When Hood put to sea for a shoot it was no joke to be at those action stations as X turrets swung around so you were looking about four feet down those 15" barrels and seeing the black flag flying from the yardarm - then the almighty roar and you Matched those 15" shells leave the barrels on their journey towards their far target. It was always good when the Repulse did a throw off shoot at us. How we watched her on the horizon, then the flash, "she's fired" - later the rumble reached us as the shells were falling astern of us.

In all, it was a good commission. We trained hard for war with a well-liked Captain who retired as Vice Admiral Sir Francis Pridham, K.B.E. C.B. who I'm sorry to say passed away at his home at Burley in the New Forest on January 27th this year. His ashes were scattered at sea off Portland from the Frigate Jupiter. Admiral Pridham served in a previous Jupiter from 1903 to 1905 when he was a midshipman - his midshipmans journal and Admirals sword are to be kept in Jupiter. Onboard the frigate for the service was the Admirals grandson. Lieutenant Commander D. Gould.

Remember the Commander at Xmas 1937 when we were fell in, saying, as various parties had been detailed off, "Carry on scrub decks", and as an afterthought, "A Merry Xmas". Our two cats, "Ginger" and "Fishcake" - did they stay on the ship and go down with her? Can any Shipmate throw any light on what happened to the papers and part of a locker which I believe washed up on a Norwegian shore from the Hood? Last Trafalgar Day a question was put down in the Lords by Lord Clifford as to what the Government intends to do to protect the wrecks of the Repulse and Prince of Wales in view of the planned departure of the Navy from Singapore. Fears are that these wrecks, regarded as war graves, will be salvaged for valuable scrap metal once the Navy has left the area. Because of the dead onboard, the Admiralty has consistently refused to sell the salvage rights, but it is thought some clandestine operations have already taken place over the years by divers attracted by the chances of making rich hauls. Over six hundred men went down on these fine ships, sunk by Japanese air attacks off the east coast of Malaya in 1941. Grave robbers have never been tolerated, but it seems the greed for quick money outweighs many peoples respect.

We have fed our sea, for a thousand years, and she calls us, still unfed,
Though there's never a wave of all her waves. But marks our English dead.
We have strawed our best to the weeds unrest,
To the shark and the sheering gull, if blood be the price of Admiralty, Lord God, We ha' paid in full.
Rudyard Kipling, from A "Song of the English" in the seven seas.

Shipmates, the life story of the Hood, written by R.G Robertson, who himself served in the Hood appeared in the March to June editions of "Ships Monthly" - a fine monthly magazine and well worth getting.

Our reunion will take place at Weymouth next May 22nd - wives welcome. I hope to organise a fine evening with the co-operation of the Navy and the local Naval Associations. This I'm working on now. I hope that next May our reunion will be the best get together any ship can possibly have I shall not leave any stones unturned to make it so.

On Sunday the 23rd we go to Boldre to attend the annual Hood Memorial Service where we shall be welcomed by the Reverend John Hayter who works very hard for this day. The Service will be at 1100 hours. I have been in touch with Southern Television and I hope to get something about Hood in Day by Day.

Weymouth has five hospitals and the maternity hospital - Portwey - has a ward named after Hood, so when I can get an enlarged Photograph nicely framed I will present it to the ward on behalf of the Association.

Well, Shipmates, I'm looking forward to receiving your views and your stories. In the meantime, all the best.

Fred White