-H.M.S. Hood Association Online Archive-
May 2001 H.M.S. Hood Association Reunion
Updated 06-May-2014

Our own Frank Allen, Paul Bevand and John England wrote the following account of this year's events. Also, special thanks to John England, Mike Ware and Dieter Heitmann for providing many of the photos seen here.

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Sunday, 20 May 2001- Boldre Church Service
On the Sunday prior to the Annual Reunion, Association members gathered at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Boldre for a service of commemoration. The church, on a fine and sunny day, was packed with Hood Association members and their families, some senior Royal Navy officers, representatives and standard-bearers of a number of Royal British Legion (the national veterans' organization) branches around the country, and local worshippers. But Reverend Malcolm Riches had made good provision for the expected crush by setting up a spacious tent in the church grounds where about 60 people were able to follow the service on CCTV.

The Association Committee each year invites a different member to present the Hood Association's Boldre wreath to the vicar. The honour this year went to Berlin-based member John England, whose cousin, AB Leslie Glass, was lost in the sinking of Hood. The highlights of the very moving service, accompanied by the beautiful voices of the choir, were: the reading by Commander Tony Pears (RN Rtd) of a letter from Britain's First Sea Lord (Royal Navy C-in-C) Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh KCB ADC, marking the 60th anniversary of H.M.S. Hood's loss; the reading of the Lesson by Nixie Taverner, daughter of former Hood Commander Rory O'Conor; the poignant delivery of the Exhortation ("They shall not grow old...") by Ted Briggs; and the playing of the Last Post by a trumpeter from H.M.S. Victory.

With the service over, the congregation chatted on the lawns in the sunshine and enjoyed a traditional British cup of tea provided by four local lady volunteers who set up their stall at the church every year. It was a truly English garden party scene. Also on the lawn, people were able to admire fine models of Hood and Bismarck by Colin Vass, and, if they wished, sign up to join the Association. Treasurer Ken (Nobby) Clark, who also handles memberships, appeared to be doing a roaring trade. Click here to learn more about this beautiful old church and its "Hood Chapel."



Tuesday, 22 May 2001- Meeting Between Hood & Bismarck Survivors

Hood meets Bismarck aboard Belfast
(L - R): Dieter, Ted & Heinz aboard H.M.S. Belfast

Battleship Bismarck survivor Heinz Steeg and Kameradschaft "Schlachtschiff Bismarck" Chairman Dieter Heitmann were in London to attend a special event at the Imperial War Museum. Although no one from Hood attended this event, it was arranged so that members of both veterans groups could meet elsewhere afterwards.

Association President Ted Briggs, Vice-President Joanna Warrand plus members John England and Frank Allen, met Heinz and Dieter aboard the cruiser H.M.S. Belfast in London. Ted and Heinz were subsequently filmed aboard Belfast for an upcoming television documentary on Hood and Bismarck.

It was a pleasure to meet Heinz and Dieter in person and we plan on maintaining close contact with their Kameradschaft from now on.


Thursday, 24 May 2001- Bismarck Survivors Honour Hood Dead
In a gracious gesture, members of the Bismarck veterans association, Kameradschaft 'Schlachtschiff Bismarck', based in Hamburg, laid a wreath at the seaport city's British Military Cemetery on May 24 in honour of the men lost in H.M.S. Hood on that fateful date in 1941. Three days later, on Sunday, May 27 the Bismarck survivors commemorated their own shipmates who died on that day 60 years ago. In a reciprocal gesture in England that same Sunday, Reverend Ron Paterson, the H.M.S. Hood Association Chaplain, also called for prayers for the Bismarck dead at the Association's Annual Reunion service in St Georges Church. Photos of the German Hood commemoration are shown below (click to enlarge).

View of the British Military Cemetery in Hamburg   Bismarck Veterans Association wreath at the British Military Cemetery in Hamburg   Bismarck Veterans Honouring the Men of HMS Hood   Bismarck Veterans Honouring the Men of HMS Hood  

Saturday 26 May 2001- Annual General Meeting and Reunion Dinner
Members of the H.M.S. Hood Association gathered in Portsmouth, UK for the annual reunion and dinner. Approximately 80 members from the UK as well as Germany, the USA and Australia gathered at the Royal Sailors Home Club for the proceedings. The high attendance were due in large part to the fact that this year marks the 60th anniversary of Hood's loss.

At 1630 hours members gathered in Brocks Bar for the 2001 Annual General Meeting. The AGM was presided over by Ted Briggs, Dick Turner, JR Williams, Ken Clark and Jean Heys. Minutes of the previous AGM were read and various current issues were discussed. The web site staff was introduced. Though most members had previously met Paul Bevand and Mike Ware, this was everyone's first time meeting Frank Allen. After the introductions, a special set of Hood photos was presented to the Association by John Adams of Australia. Additionally, a number of notable monetary donations were acknowledged. Dates for the 2002 AGM and reunion dinner were arranged and agreed upon.

Following the AGM, Association members assembled in the ballroom. While waiting for the ceremonies to commence, people viewed a superb photo layout created by our own Paul Bevand. The layout consisted of numerous photos of Hood taken throughout her long career, as well as nearly 180 individual photos of men killed in Hood's sinking. The crew photos were particularly touching. In addition to the photos, Paul also provided a great deal of printed material for the members to read. In addition to the work done by Paul, Frank Allen displayed two rolls of honour featuring the correct names of all the casualties of Hood's loss. The Rolls of Honour in concert with the crew photos were a powerful reminder of what the Association is all about. Also included in the display was the framed letter from the First Sea Lord that was read at the Boldre church service the previous week. This letter is the first such acknowledgment we have ever received and we are most grateful to the First Sea Lord.

We had a lovely three-course dinner (roast Norfolk turkey) followed by a variety of cheeses and wine plus coffee and mints. After the dinner there followed the speeches and toasts: The Queen, the President of the USA (due to Frank Allen's presence), The Guest of Honour, the Ladies and of course, Absent Friends.

Following the toasts, Association Chairman J.R. Williams introduced our Guest of Honour, Jack Moulden. Jack has been instrumental in organising the Association raffle for many years. A great deal of time and hard work has been put into it, and the Association chose him as the Guest of Honour to acknowledge that. Following Jack's speech, the Association members were introduced to Mr David L. Mearns of Blue Water Recoveries Ltd. He spoke about the expedition to locate and film Hood, plus honour her men. He also unveiled a beautiful plaque which will be placed near the wreck. The plaque features a special sealed compact disc containing the very Rolls of Honour which were present at the reunion. Also presented was a superb scratch built model of Hood by Colin Vass.

Following David's speech, we were introduced to Dr Eric Grove. Those of us familiar with naval history needed no introduction as we were well aware of who he was! Dr Grove spoke most compellingly about the need to know what happened to Hood and outlined some of his plans. Following his speech, Association members danced, had drinks and chatted the rest of the evening away.

Of note here is that there was also a television crew from ITN Factual present filming the gathering and the various speeches.


Sunday, 27 May 2001- St. Georges Church Service
Most of us started out with a huge traditional English breakfast. Most people then gathered in the central area of the Home Club (known as the Compass Room) and chatted until it was time to gather for the march to church.

At approximately 1050 hours, members began to assemble outside the Home Club. We formed ranks and accompanied by the charming young Sea Cadet band of TS Tenacity set off on the short march to the St. George's Church. Leading the group was the band of TS Tenacity, followed by Ted Briggs and the Association group. We in the group were a diverse mixture of men and women of all ages (from the 20s to 100!). Family members and friends marched alongside former crew of Hood. We were fortunate that although it was raining, it was very, very light. As Nobby put it..."you could count the drops!" A far cry from last years march!

When we arrived at St Georges Church we were greeted by the Hood Association Chaplain, Reverend Ronald Paterson MBE and the Church's Parish Priest, Reverend Robert Orchin, SCP. This was his second service for the H.M.S. Hood Association. The Roll of Honour plaque was placed against the altar and was soon surrounded by the standards of the Royal Naval Association and the H.M.S. Hood Association. The wreath was laid by Bill Stone. Reverend Paterson blessed the plaque and then delivered his sermon.

All in all, it was a very moving service. From the beautiful singing of soloist Alexandra Stevenson to the lesson as read by Ted Briggs, it was a highly emotional but beautiful service of commemoration for those lost. Perhaps the most haunting aspect were the bugles of the Royal Marines during the retiring of the Association standard.

Up Spirits!  Relaxing after the festivities.
Up Spirits! Nobby and Young Bill getting
the others into a little trouble after the march...

Following the service, members assembled for the march back to the Home Club. Our Chairman, JR Williams was given a special escort back to the Club in a police van at the rear of the marching formation. Again, we were fortunate that it did not rain like it did the previous year!

Once our group had made it back to the area outside the Club, many people gathered to chat, take photos and perhaps share a drink...or in the case of a certain group of veterans, all three (see the photo on the right)! After a short time, many people began to make their way home.

A number of us were invited by Reverend Paterson to attend a special lunch at H.M.S. Nelson. Those of us that could attend had a wonderful lunch of lamb, potatoes, sprouts and wine. Following dessert, we gathered in the Nile Room for coffee and to talk. After this, the remaining members either went back to the Home Club or started their journeys home.

 

Additional Photos
Below are assorted photos from the reunion and memorial services. Click to enlarge.

Hood Display at the Royal Navy Museum    The top table    The Hood Plaque    Ted Briggs describing events of 24 May 1941 to Dr Grove    Marching to St Georges Church    Marching to St Georges Church
St Georges Church    Rev Paterson discussing service details with the Royal Marines    Ted Briggs reads the lesson at St Georges Church, 27 May 2001    Marching from St Georges back to the Club    Marching from St Georges back to the Club    Lunch at H.M.S. Nelson