-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
Biography of Ted Briggs, M.B.E.
By Frank Allen (approved by Ted Briggs)
Updated 08-Mar-2009

Ted Briggs was the longest living survivor of the sinking of Hood and as such the most well-known of her crew. He also served for many years as the President of the H.M.S. Hood Association. He kindly approved the following brief biography in the early 2000s. Sadly, he passed away in October 2008.

Chainbar divider
Ted Briggs at the Church of St John the Baptist, Boldre, 2000. Photo by John England, 2000
Albert Edward Pryke Briggs, MBE, was born on 1st March 1923 in Redcar, North Riding of Yorkshire. He and his sister Ethel were raised by their mother in Redcar.

It was in the summer of 1935 that 12 year old Ted had the experience that would forever change his life- he first saw H.M.S. Hood. The mighty vessel was visiting Redcar. Anchored off shore, Hood was living up to her reputation as a crowd gatherer: locals and people on holiday were paying boatmen to take them on short excursions around her. Ted desperately wanted to see her up close, but his family could not afford the price the boatmen were charging. He was bitterly disappointed, but the day still had a profound effect: Hood's mighty, yet beautiful appearance mesmerized the young Ted and instilled in him a fervent desire to join the Royal Navy and hopefully Hood herself.

The following day he ran to the local Royal Navy recruitment office and tried to enlist. As he was only 12, he was politely told to be on his way, but to come back when he turned 15. Just under 3 years later, Ted did exactly that: On 7th March 1938 (a week after his 15th birthday), Ted signed up in the Royal Navy as a Boy. His training was held at H.M.S. Ganges at Shotley Gate in Ipswich. He trained there for 16 months until, to his surprise but utter delight, he was drafted to the very ship which had first inspired his naval career- H.M.S. Hood. Ted's dream had come true.

Ted joined Hood's company on 29th July 1939. Just over a month later, Britain went to war. Ted soon found he had joined the workhorse of the Royal Navy: Hood was kept extremely busy patrolling the Atlantic and escorting various ships. For the first time in her career, Hood was actually performing the work she had been intended for, and Ted was there to see it all. He was with her in Force H in the Mediterranean, to include the unfortunate action against the French Fleet at Mers el-Kebir. He was also aboard on 24th May 1941, when Hood sank during famous battle with the German battleship Bismarck. He was one of only three crew members rescued.

Ted Briggs receiving an honour from the Mayor of Redcar, Summer 1941, photo courtesy of Ted Briggs, 2001
Ted Shortly After the Loss of Hood, 1941
Ted Briggs, June 1941, courtesy of Ted Briggs, 2001
Ted on survivors leave, June 1941

In June, after his survivor's leave ended, Ted was assigned to H.M.S. Mercury. During this sleepless time he participated in the second inquiry into Hood's loss.

He soon transferred to H.M.S. Royal Arthur (shore establishment, Skegness) and then to the converted merchantman H.M.S. Hilary. The Hilary served as a Combined Operations Headquarters ship, at Sicily, Salerno and the D-Day landings. He also served aboard H.M.S. Mercury as a Fleetwork Instructor. Ted was promoted first to Leading Signalman (March 1942) then Yeoman of Signals (March 1943).

Following the war, Ted remained in the Navy, eventually reaching officer ranks. The following is a brief timeline of his assignments and promotions:

Ted Briggs, 1943 or 1944, courtesy of Ted Briggs, 2004
Ted whilst in H.M.S. Hilary (1943/44)

On 2nd February 1973, Ted retired from the Navy and settled in the south of England. A few days later he began a new career as a furnished letting manager (he would eventually retire from this career in 1988). In June 1973, Ted was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE). In 1975 he joined the newly formed H.M.S. Hood Association as its first President and one of its youngest members. The post of President was later held by Hood survivor Bob Tilburn. Ted once again assumed the Presidency of the H.M.S. Hood Association in 1995.

Ted continued to lead a very active life. He remained a sought-after guest speaker for television documentaries and radio programmes. He even visited the wreck site in July 2001, releasing the Roll of Honour plaque which memorialises his fallen shipmates and the Mighty Hood. He served as the Association's President during it's time of greatest growth.

In late September 2008, Ted was taken ill and hospitalised. He passed away peacefully on 4 October 2008. He was survived by his wife Clare and cousins in Australia. Sadly, Clare passed away the following January. Ted had no children from either of his marriages.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about Ted and his time aboard Hood, we highly recommend "Flagship Hood." This book, written by Ted and the late Alan Coles, is one of the best histories of Hood from beginning to end. It offers a very detailed and insightful look at life aboard the great ship. You can also see footage of Ted discussing Hood in a number of television documentaries.