-H.M.S. Hood Association Online Archive-
May 2010 H.M.S. Hood Association Reunion
By Paul Bevand, MBE
Updated 06-May-2014

On 22 & 23 May 2010 the H.M.S. Hood Association held it's 35th annual reunion at the Royal Maritime Club and St Georges Church in Portsmouth, UK. The following is an account of the events.

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Saturday 21 May 2010 - Annual General Meeting and Reunion Dinner
Association members gathered at 1600 hours in the Royal Maritime Club's "Brock's Bar" for the Annual General Meeting. Chairman Peter Heys reported that the Association has, in the past 12 months list both its serving Vice-Presidents. Hood veteran and stalwart of Association life Ken ‘Nobby’ Clark, who had been elected as a Vice-President at the 2009 AGM, had sadly crossed the bar on 20 October 2009. He was much missed by all who had the honour of knowing him. Our other Vice-President, Joanna Warrand, had decided to retire from the position on health grounds as she felt that it was unlikely that she would be able regularly to attend Association functions in the future. We sent our thanks for Joanna for her service to the Association in the past and our best wishes for the future.

Peter Heys reported that Jean Heys, who had acted as the Association Treasurer for many years had tendered her resignation which had been accepted. There was a vote of thanks to Jean for her many years of service to the Association.

Peter Heys, who has been acting as Treasurer of the Association as well as Chairman for the past several years, presented a financial statement. Paul Bevand, Membership Secretary, was able to report that membership was holding up. The Association has around 240 members of whom 22 live overseas. We know of 12 veterans who are still alive – although some had crossed the bar since last year who or three ‘new’ ones had been discovered. The suggestion made by Stuart Tamblin at the 2009 AGM about introducing PayPal through the web site as a means of making it easier to join the Association had been taken up and introduced in December 2009. Since that time we had had 14 new memberships in that way which was very pleasing.

Paul Bevand reported that it was very much ‘business as usual’ with the web site. There had recently been a refresh of the design of the site to keep it looking fresh. A Facebook page has also been started to tap into people who use what is one of the most popular sites on the internet. Paul was particularly pleased to say that we have a new helper with the site: Steve Lovelock who lost a relative in the sinking of the ship has agreed to take on the work of adding details of men who served in the ship to the crew section of the site.

Members of the Committee were all willing to stand for re-election and were duly re-elected. The position of Treasurer has been vacant for several years and has been covered by Chairman Peter Heys. Peter had asked in recent newsletters if anyone was willing to take on the role and we were delighted that George Wronksi had taken up the offer. George was duly voted on and we are very happy to welcome him onto the Committee.

The date and time was agree for the 2011 AGM and Reunion. This will take place at the same venue on 21 May 2011. The AGM will commence at 1600 as usual with the Reunion Dinner 1830 for 1900.

The AGM closed at 1735.

Reunion Dinner

Hood Memorial Photo Display, May 2010
Memorial Photo Display
Click to enlarge.

The reunion dinner commenced at 1900 hours. This year the ball room was decorated with actual surviving Hood flags provided by John Oakley. We also had our usual display of photos of the ship, the crew and Association events provided by Paul Bevand and Commander Keith Evans. As always, the most important element of the photo display was the large display of roughly 765 photos of men lost in the sinking of Hood. These occupied the southwest corner of the ballroom along with our Roll of Honour.

There were approximately 75 people in attendance representing a wide range of connections and interests in our ship. We were delighted that our President, Rear-Admiral Philip Wilcocks, C.B., D.S.C., was able to join us despite having a family wedding on the same day! It also was good to welcome our Patron Lord Hood and his wife.

Also present this year was book author Iain Ballantyne. Iain has written a book “Killing the Bismarck” which is due for publication soon. Many members of the Association had been to the Royal Naval Museum during the afternoon where Iain and Captain Peter Hore (who writes naval obituaries for the Daily Telegraph) held a talk concerning the events related to the pursuit of the Bismarck. This proved to be a fascinating insight into the determination – both political and naval – that the loss of the Hood could only be avenged by the destruction of Bismarck. Iain’s approach was to tell the human side of the story and had several new sources from which he had drawn to achieve his aim. Peter concentrated on the more technical aspects of the battle and particularly on a controversial photograph which was originally thought to show the magazine explosion in Hood as viewed from H.M.S. Prince of Wales. Also present at the dinner as well as at the earlier talk was Antonio Bonomi who has flown in all the way from Italy to join us. Antonio is a regular on the forum on the Association web site and has built up and encyclopaedic knowledge of the battle. We were delighted to welcome him and to hear that he is working with Peter Hore to clarify further the details of the loss of Hood and the pursuit and destruction of the Bismarck.

We were also happy to welcome Patrick Wales-Smith, nephew of Vice-Admiral Holland, Andy Godfrey who has been such a help to us in filling gaps in our records of men lost with the ship, Jean Winter and her party and Duncan MacDonald-Heaney who was able to update us on the tremendous progress being made by the Battle Cruiser Hood, South east London Memorial Group.

Special mention, of course, must go to the remaining veterans who were able to join us at the dinner. Numbers were in fact up this year! We were saddened that for the first year Ken ‘Nobby’ Clark was not with us, having crossed the bar in October last year, but were delighted to welcome his two sons, John and Brian who were with us along with their wives. Commander Keith Evans and Alec Kellaway were with us. Two veterans who had not been with us last year joined us however: Fred Barrow, who had served as a seaman in Hood from February 1938 to March 1939 came with his family. Roy Foster, who served as a Midshipman in Hood from 1939 to June 1940 and now lives in Twickenham, came with his son Mike. It was wonderful to see them and we hope that they will return next May for our 70th Anniversary commemorations.

Surgeon Rear Admiral Ralph Curr holding Hood photo presented by the H.M.S. Hood Association
Surgeon Read Admiral Curr
Click to enlarge.

Our Guest of Honour this year was Surgeon-Rear Admiral Ralph Curr who has been linked with the Association for a number of years now both through his attendance at the Reunion dinners and through his links with T.S. Hood in Cornwall. We were delighted to welcome him and his wife as well as a delegation of cadets from T.S. Hood whose attendance at the Reunion over the last few years has been most welcome.

Sadly, we were unable to welcome our web master Frank Allen this year. Frank, whose work over many years has been such a boost to the Association, was planning to be with us but bad weather near his home delayed his local flight to New York, meaning he missed his trans-Atlantic connection. The ash cloud, caused by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano, had led to many cancelled flights earlier in the week which meant that no stand-by flights were available and, hence, Frank was unable to join us. He was sadly missed by all his many friends in the Association and we all look forward to welcoming him again next year – volcano permitting!

This year's dinner menu consisted of Ardennes pâté followed by roast Norfolk Turkey, chipolata bacon rolls served with roast potatoes and vegetables. Desert was hot rhubarb and ginger crumble served with ice cream. Cheese and biscuits were served, followed by coffee and mints.

After dinner, toasts were as usual made and this year we had a glass of port with which to make them! Individual toasts were made to The Queen, overseas Heads of State, our Guest of Honour and the ladies. Finally, Commander Keith Evans proposed the toast to absent friends. Those who we remembered included our Vice-President, Ken ‘Nobby’Clark, our former Chaplain Ron Paterson, former Standard Bearer Den Finden, and four other veterans:  Fred Rocky, George Donelly, George Walker, and Fred Ogilwy. We also remembered Ivy Wannerton, widow of Leading Stoker Henry Wannerton who was lost in the sinking. We believe that Ivy, who died in November 2009, aged 104, was possibly the last of the widows of men killed in the loss of the ship.

Keith also took the opportunity to congratulate our Chaplain the Venerable John Green, C.B., Q.H.C., on the award in the new year’s honours of his C.B. – a Companion of the Order of the Bath.

Following the toasts, our Guest of Honour, Surgeon Rear-Admiral Curr was introduced. Rear-Admiral Curr remembered his long and varied connection with the ship and especially an occasion early in his naval service when, after watching the film “Sink the Bismarck” he was able to turn to Ted Briggs and ask, “well, Ted, was it really like that?” He also expressed his pleasure at seeing the cadets from T.S. Hood at the dinner once more. He recalled a previous visit of veterans to T.S. Hood in Cornwall and expressed the hope that such a visit would be repeated in the near future further to cement relations between the two organisations. Afterwards he was presented with a gift - a lovely framed photo of Hood taken in the mid-late 1930s.

After the speech and presentation, the annual raffle took place. Barbara Petrie was unable to be with us this year but we were grateful to John Oakley and his wife Marilyn who agreed to run the raffle in Barbara’s absence. John maintained the usual high standard and we thank him for this important contribution to the evening as well as to Association funds.

The evening wound to a close afterwards with people chatting and having nightcaps between the ballroom and Brock's Bar. Another memorable reunion dinner had successfully come to an end.

Sunday, 23 May 2010- The St. George's Church Service
People gathered for the "parade" to church around 1115 hours. The weather was excellent as we followed the cadets of H.M.S. Collingwood, TS Tenacity and TS Hood, St Austell along Hannover, Beneficial and Butcher Streets to St George’s Portsea.

Remembrance Service at St Georges Church, May 2010
The Remembrance Service
Click to enlarge.

Our service was led by Association chaplain  and Chaplain of the Fleet, Archdeacon John Green, C.B., Q.H.C. who was assisted this year by Rev. Max Millett who was representing Canon Karina Green. Miss Tracey Dean again played piano for us.

The service opened with the handing over of Standards.

Archdeacon Green’s address this year again focused on the names of the men who gave their lives in the sinking of the ship. A miniature Roll of Honour was reproduced at the front of the church in front of which were some sand trays. At the opening of the service, we were asked to come forward, light a candle and focus on a name from the Roll of Honour, placing our candle in the sand tray next to the relevant section of the Roll of Honour. This allowed us al to focus on the individual nature of the sacrifice made by each of the 1415 men we were here to remember.

This was followed by the Bidding prayer, read by our Vice-Chairman, Commander Keith Evans. The reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, was read by Anne Davidson, daughter of William Stone. Our prayers were led by the Cadets. Standards were then returned before the Act of Commitment by Derrick Collins and the Exhortation by Peter Heys. There followed the Last Post, the Silence and Reveille. Our service concluded with the National Anthem and a Blessing from Archdeacon Green.

Following the service, the group followed the cadets back to the Royal Maritime Club. That afternoon saw everyone slowly go their separate ways.

Next Year's Reunion
Please take note that the dates originally announced for next year's reunion have been changed:The 2011 reunion dinner and AGM are now scheduled to take place at the Royal Maritime Club on Monday, 23 May 2011. The AGM will commence at 1600 hours and the dinner at 1830 for 1900 hours. The Service of Remembrance was tentatively scheduled for the following day, Tuesday, 24 May 2011. We plan to have the service at the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial on Southsea Common (the precise details are being worked out). You can keep track of the latest developments concerning the 2011 events via our Facebook page.

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

The Dinner    Another view of the dinner    The Top Table    L-R: Lord Hood and veterans Alec Kellaway and Keith Evans
Duncan MacDonald-Heaney and Mick Dickson    Hood veteran Roy Foster (left)        Hood veterans pose for a photo after the dinner
The band and escort    The standard bearers    The march to church    The 2010 memorial service