-H.M.S. Hood Association Online Archive-
May 2004 H.M.S. Hood Association Reunion
Updated 06-May-2014

Our own Frank Allen and Paul Bevand wrote and provided the photos for the following account of this year's events.

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Saturday 22 May 2004- Annual General Meeting and 29th Reunion Dinner
This year's event was once again hosted at the lovely Royal Sailors Home Club, Queen Street, Portsmouth. A handful of members and guests gathered a day or so prior to the reunion, whereas the majority arrived on the afternoon of the reunion. At roughly 1630 hours members assembled in the Royal Sailors Home Club's Nuffield Lounge for the Annual General Meeting (AGM). As always, the meeting was highlighted by Association-related business and elections. This year's AGM did run a bit longer than anticipated.

At 1830 hours, everyone gathered in the ballroom. While waiting for the ceremonies to commence, people viewed an in-depth photo & information layout created and laid-out by the website staff. Though similar to the layout for the two previous years' reunions, the scope of this year's photo presentation was much expanded. It covered a wider spectrum of events/things from Hood's career. Most important of these photos were the 514 individual memorial photos of men lost in the sinking of Hood. These had their own corner of the ballroom.

Photos of Lost Crewmen from H.M.S. Hood

We were delighted to have our patron, Viscount Henry Hood in attendance once again this year. He was accompanied by his lovely wife, Lady Flora Hood. In addition to the Hoods, approximately 90 members and guests from all over the world were in attendance. Three Association members in particular came from considerable distances away to attend this year's events: James Warrand flew in from Australia whereas Bruce Taylor, Frank Allen and his young lad Christopher, all flew in from the USA. We also had members and guests from Germany- John England (AKA the "Foreign Secretary"), Thomas Schmid plus Frank's guests Ward Carr and his young lad David. Ward bore a special greeting from the Marinekameradschaft "Schlachtschiff Bismarck" as well as from the United States Coast Guard Cutter "Modoc" veterans association. Lastly, Ted Briggs had a special guest, Monsieur Hervé Grall of France. Hervé's father was one of the 1300+ men killed by Hood in the unfortunate action at Mers El-Kebir in July 1940.

Shipmate Frank Pavey served as Master of Ceremonies. Those of you familiar with the dinners will note that this role has normally been carried out by shipmate Dick Turner. Sadly, Dick has been in poor health of late, and was unable to be at the dinner. Dick is all our thoughts and prayers, and we look forward to having him at next year's reunion. Not to detract from Frank one bit- he did a wonderful job and demonstrated his renowned wit and sharp pipe calls on more than one occasion! He made for a pleasant evening.

Rev Patterson reads the inscription on his gift
Reverend Patterson reading the inscription on his gift.
To his left are Lord Hood and Ted Briggs.

We had the same delightful five course meal as always- salad, then roast Norfolk turkey, followed by desert, cheese and wine and of course, coffee. After the dinner there followed the speeches and toasts: The Queen, The Guest of Honour, the Ladies and Absent Friends. Following the toasts, this year's Guest of Honour, the Association's Chaplain, Reverend Ron Paterson, MBE (Hood veteran, 1933-1936), spoke.

Reverend Ron gave a long speech about his service in Hood, Neptune as well as his later commission and commands. As the Guest of Honour, he received a wonderful plaque.

We mentioned the fact that Dick Turner was unable to be present. Also notably absent was shipmate Dixie Dean. Most notably absent of all, was shipmate Ernie McConnell. "Little Mac", as he was called, passed away suddenly on 12 January of this year. This year was to be Mac's year to be Guest of Honour...and his absence was keenly felt. He was extremely kind and a very good man. He is still very much missed by all.

On the lighter side, we were once again treated to a hearty rendition of "All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor" by the truly amazing "Young Bill" Stone. Bill, the Association's senior member, is currently 103, though you wouldn't know it to look at him. He truly looks younger than men many years younger! He turns 104 this September. We have no doubt that he will be back next year to once again delight all with his singing. He is a most impressive and inspiring fellow.

Jack Mouldens excellent raffle for 2004
The excellent raffle and auction

Later in the evening came an excellent auction and raffle, run, as always, by Jack Moulden. The rest of the evening was spent in chatting and drinking. One special special addition this year was a rare colour film (on VHS video tape) of Hood taken in 1939 and 1940. The film contained footage of the ship in harbour as well as onboard scenes at sea. The crew, Association members and guests are most grateful to Dr Bruce Taylor as well as the film's copyright owner (who wishes to remain anonymous) for providing us access to this very rare gem. Note- The owner would like to stress that this film is not available for sale. Period. We cannot provide a copy, nor can we put anyone in contact with the owner. Fortunately, the owner has permitted some stills to be used in the book "H.M.S. Hood- An Illustrated Biography" by Dr Bruce Taylor. Everyone will have to be satisfied with those stills. Thanks for your understanding.

After the dinner, many people retired to Brock's Bar for a night-cap and more chatting. After the bar closed, members moved into the Compass Room - some not retiring until 0300!

Sunday, 23 May 2003- The March and the St. George's Church Service
Most of us woke up a bit tired and with a slight headache. Not sure why...could have something to do with the generous amounts of Pusser's Rum that was present the night before. Nothing a traditional English breakfast and several coffees couldn't remedy however. Following breakfast, many members gathered in the Compass Room for drinks and conversation until it was time to assemble for the march to church.

At approximately 1045 hours, members began to assemble outside the Club. We formed ranks, then accompanied by the honour guard from H.M.S. Collingwood plus the charming young Sea Cadet band of T.S. Tenacity, we set off on the short march to St. George's Church, Portsea. As always, family members and friends marched alongside former crew of Hood. The weather was absolutely beautiful...not a drop of rain in sight. Bill Stone once again took the salute. Roger Tombs carried the Association Standard, while John England carried the Hood wreath, Ted Briggs carried a wreath from the Bismarck veterans and Frank Allen carried a wreath from the US Coast Guard Cutter Modoc.

The church was once again full for this year's service. As always, it was conducted by Reverend Ron Patterson. St Georges' new vicar assisted Ron.

The H.M.S. Hood Association standard was placed atop the altar. The Hood wreath was laid by John England, the Bismarck wreath was laid by Ted Briggs and the Modoc wreath was laid jointly by Frank Allen and his guest, Mr Ward Carr (who arranged for the Bismarck and Modoc wreaths). Reverend Paterson then delivered his sermon. Ted Briggs read the lesson. Rob White and Dr Eric Grove also spoke about the impact of the 2001 expedition television programmes as well as the Association website. This year's service was especially noteworthy for the choir provided for the service. A top shelf group of singers. Also, special kudos to the young female Royal Marine who played the Last Post.

Following the service, members marched back to the Home Club (click HERE and HERE to view two short video snippets of the band). The weather remained beautiful and all enjoyed the short march back. Afterwards, a few people gathered for lunch or to chat. Most people dispersed fairly soon afterwards, but a small number remained until the evening.

Additional Photos
Below are assorted photos from the reunion weekend. Click to enlarge.

The top table during the reunion dinner    A view of the crowd at the 29th reunion dinner    A view of the top table at the 29th reunion dinner    Frank Pavey tells a quick joke    Association Chairman Peter Heys and Lady Hood
Rev. Paterson delivering his speech    Bill Stone sings!    L-R Bruce Taylor, Jim Taylor, Thomas Schmid and Frank Allen    Flagbearer Roger Tombs and Alan Plant    Ward Carr, Frank Allen and Jean Heys discussing the Modoc floral tribute
The Sea Cadets saluting Bill Stone    The flag party gathers outside St Georges Church    The Sea Cadets lead the march back    Ted Briggs leads the veterans during the march back    TS Tenacitys band leading the march back to the Home Club
L-R: Bill Stone, Robert Philpott and Nobby Clark engage in some Up spirits!    Alan Plant (left) and Eddie Goggins (right)    Rob White (right) speaking to Hervé Grall (left)    L-R: David Carr, Ted Briggs, Ward Carr and Christopher Allen