-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
Diary/Log of L.E. Croucher
By Lambert Edwards Croucher, 1940
Updated 06-May-2014

The following was transcribed and provided by Bruce Croucher. It comes directly (including spelling/grammar and wording) from the diary of his uncle Able Seaman Bert Croucher, who was lost in the sinking of Hood in May 1941. It covers the period from May to October 1940 (one of the busiest periods in Hood's long career) and offers an insight into operations as seen from the viewpoint of a rating.
Chainbar divider

Left home May 5th 1940

Hood left Devonport May 9th for Liverpool arrives 11th.left 12th for mid Atlantic to meet convoy of liners from Halifax (Nova Scotia) Canada. Queen Mary 42000 (Emp Britain) SUNK Mauritania Aquitainia & SS Andes’,Emp Canada with15000 Canadian Troops aboard ,arrive at Greenock 16th.

            Left Greenock June 17th for Gibraltar arrived 23rd Sailed 26th to intercept the new French – Battlecruiser ‘ Richelieu’ from returning to France, later in the day signals stating that Richelieu, has altered course and is returning to Dakar, halfway down the West Coast of Africa. Ark Royal, sends off 10 recon swordfish planes to stay in the vicinity of Casa–Blanca North of Dakar. Return to Gib.

June - 27th. Proceed to sea and return the same day – terribly hot.

June – 28th       Harbour routine
June – 29th                   “

June -- 30th      Sunday, ice – Admiral Sir James (Slim) Sommerville joins the ship. Hood is now Flagship of force “H” of Western Mediterranean

July – 1st              Harbour

July -- 2nd         Proceed to sea at 0430 Secured at record speed the whole force H Twelve Destroyers Two Light Cruisers Aurthusa Enterprise, Ark Royal Battleship Valiant, Resolution Battlecruiser Hood, to prevent the French Fleet from falling into Italian or German hands at Orain, French Morocco ‘ very hot

July – 3rd At Sea
Action stations at 0430 dawn, cruising up and down in sight of Oran. Our British Captain Holland of Ark Royal late navel attache in Paris and French Admiral Consol negotiating cannot come to an agreement anxiously awaiting all day for ‘decision’ then we knew the FIVE Flag was immediately hoisted top of main mast. At 1758, Reso -- Val – Hood opened fire on French Fleet with terrific 15” Broadsides. Hell had broken loose, our British Force was heavily engaged by shore batteries and guns of all calibre by the Allied Fleet. A terrific explosion in harbour shook us our 15” projectiles had found their mark, a battleship the Provence of the Bretagne Class had completely blown-up. Our shells finding her magazine & shell rooms
Shells from the Battlecruiser Dunkerque! 13” guns falling dangerously close another explosion in the harbour the flotilla leader Mogadar blown completely in two. Difficult to see. The air: - one mass of smoke. The sea very calm, shrapnel flying everywhere. 4” H.A.Guns putting up terrific barrage of H.E. against attacking French aircraft the destroyers Foxhound under cover of Smoke Screen, Sneeks in harbour her guns play havoc on small craft & docks
Admiralty sends message if unable to escape, ram any warships and surrender, but by the skill of the Captain, With wonderful navigational efforts to his credit at 38 knots he and his brave crew slid out of harbour without any damage done. On the way she makes contact with two French subs, engages them by depth- charges and sinks them both.

The H.A Armament & close range weapons evacuate the boat-dock to armoured decks below to escape flying shrapnel but close up after 3mins, which seemed like three years. A lull in action everything very quiet except for the rushing of the water past the ships side speeding at 26 knots the sun very hot and hazy, the harbor one mass of black smoke & Orange Flame. Reports come through by the Ark Royal spotting AirCraft state that the Battlecruiser Strasberg sister ship to Dunkerque has slipped out of harbour under cover of heavy haze and smoke screen with 1 destroyer.
The Hood immediately alters course to due east revving up to 30 knots in pursuit of her with 5 destroyers and lone cruiser. We spotted the Froggy destroyer creeping along very near to the coast about nine miles off Oran steering N, E. for Toulon in Southern France. The Strasberg was already miles ahead but impossible to see her in such thick a haze, one of our after turrets Y 15” open fire but the range for such smaller guns was too great. Our 1st and 2nd salvos fell short & over the third we straddled and the fourth hit her squarly in amidships followed by a terrific explosion and leaving her completely in two,we altered course to pay more attention to our bigger Enemy the Strasberg. Although we had not sighted her through the thick haze our shells had undoubtedly found & hit the Boiler Room of the destroyer. Our speed is now 31.1/2 knots = about 38.40 mph.

Captain Glenn regrets to inform us that on receiving signals from our accompanying Destroyers the Hood could not continue the chase. As our little grey shades needed refueling and likely would not stand a long run at Top speed for nearly 600 miles to Toulon. And also to make it more disappointing our own boilers had practically gone dry. At a stage like that when a warship is travelling at high speed; in the engine room it is extremely Dangerous for all the engine room staff and men between decks.

When we had reduced speed to 20 knots we thanked God that only a very few of the Engine Department & Officers knew hoe serious the danger was in the engine-rooms.

Altering course to due west we steered to the vicinity of Oran not many miles away. We did not open fire again when nearing; the Reso and Val had continued to pound the units in harbour & shore batteries until silenced. Order cease-fire at 1807 was given. a ghastly action from the land point of view.

Reports by the Ark Royal spotting Aircraft state that result of the action was

As follows

1.         Battleship of Bretagne Class the Province was completely blown up and sank. The Bretagne itself was very heavily damaged, half sunk and burning the aircraft & Seaplane Carrier blown and completely sunk. Commandant Teste Three Cruisers heavily damaged. 1 Battle cruiser Dunkerque Badly hit and driven ashore two destroyers and two submarines sunk. Our own British Force suffered from no loss of life. Only two casualties; no damage sustained by our warships. It was a very Regretful Action taken against our Brave and Gallant Allies the French people continuing back to Gibraltar. 15” S.A.P. shells had fallen on Oran Harbour Dockyard Jetty’s from our big ships Reso-Val & Hood.
3000 dead & seriously wounded at Oran.

July - 4th
                        Force “H” arrives back at Gibraltar 1200 Refuel and Ammunition ship very hot no shore leave.

July – 5th

                        Italian aircraft bomb us three times during the day. Bombs fall in the sea, two brought down by A. A. Gun fire. At 2000 the force puts to sea to finish off the grounded French Battlecruiser Dunkerque at sea at Mere–el-kelm Oran.

July – 6th

                        Arrive in the vicinity of Oran at 0400. “Action Stations” Our Admiral commanding advises that aircraft of the Ark Royal should carry out a torpedo bombing attacks at 0800. Reports from Ark Royal aircraft on return state that 6 direct hits were obtained on the beached Dunkerque now a total wreck, the Oran harbour a complete mass of ruins & debris as the result of our previous action on the 3rd. 3500 were killed or injured. Most of them: being service men of the French Forces a very heavy toll of lives. Returning back to Gibraltar during forenoon.

July – 7th’

                        Force arrives in Harbour 0600 Refuels.

July – 8th

                        Force “H” proceeds to sea 1530.

July – 9th

                        At sea – “Very Hot” - 90 degrees. A signal stating we are out to test the Quality & Efficiency of the “Ice Cream” (The Italian Air force) was sent by our Admiral Commanding.
                        We very soon found out.
                        Our A-A> lookouts sighted 26 Italian Savoyia Bombers approaching from astern in line with our after direction, a few seconds had elapsed, when they started a high level Bombing attack on us at 12-14000 ft Hood opens fire first with her 4 twin H.A. on port side and scatters. The leading formation was five. Bombs were falling dangerously near in dead lines of 10 up to 30. The battleship Valiant putting up a simply astounding barrage with her 10 twin 5.2 H.A’s. Being astern of us she was able to use both her Starboard and Port Guns finding the bombers directly above the Hood we knew they could not possibly hit us. Then Skua Dive-bombers were up after them but they were already making a hasty retreat. The Hood and Ark Royal had only attacked 10 Enemy –planes accounted for, four by the Ships AA Fire and six the Ark Royal Skuas Fighters.
                        Also this day, units of the British Fleets have been operating at Dakar’ on the N.W. Coast of Africa. Torpedo and depth charged the French Battle cruiser Richelieu, and completely disabled it although impossible for her to put to sea all her guns had suffered no damage, but are ready for any immediate use. Good work was done by a ships 12 ton picket boat which by navigational skill & daring of the Commanding Officer a Lt Condr. His crew depth charged the screws / propellars of the Reichelieu practically blown out of the water by their concussion of charges & nearly pinned by searchlights three times they escaped. The Commander was awarded the D.S.O. Operations carried out by combined, East & West Med., Fleets highly successful. Italian Naval Submarines and Air Bases were bombed by the fleet arm.

July - 10th

                        At Sea - Returning to Gib six enemy planes sighted, opened fire and were driven off a number of bombs were dropped our patrolling aircraft ahead shot down 1 and believed a second.

July – 11th

                        At sea – an accompanying Screen Destroyer Escort was torpedoed at 0300. Two men were killed the remainder 143 officers and men were saved She remains afloat for twelve hours then sank. Later the submarine depth charged by six destroyers and sent to the bottom. 1 destroyer the Faulknor which has seven enemy subs to her credit the highest total in all the Flotillas of the British navy. Arrive in Gib at 0900. Soon afterwards the A.A. crews stationed on the Rock fire on three enemy recon-planes.

July – 12th

                        Usual ships routine in harbour.

July – 13th

                        Our Captain Irvine Glennie gives a talk and explains operations carried out by our force ‘H’ on the powerful French Fleet in Oran Harbour French Morocco. During the day the Rock fires on enemy recon-planes.

July – 14th

                        Tropical Routine - white shorts??? & singlets Sun Helmets plenty of Sport. Single aircraft fired on.

July – 15th

                        Italian wireless claim that H.M.S. Hood was in dock severely damaged and that the Ark Royal had been sunk, by their previous Bombing attack off Gagliari Island of Sardinia, the Rock fires on enemy recon-planes.

July – 16th
                        Hoods Ships Company taking the opportunity for plenty of Sport, Swimming, Cricket Water-Polo Running Boxing Ping Pong Hockey & Deck Hockey Carley Float Racing. Terribly Hot Temp 100.

July - 17th

                        The First Load of mail arrives U.K. in the South African Lines Athlens Castle she had four thousand troops for station on the Rock A.A.Guns, Shore Batteries  & the Dockyards & moles .Enemy Planes over late afternoon.

July - 18th
                        Gibraltar Raiders at 0250 terrific Air Barrage two planes dropped six heavy bombs very little damage was done but three people were killed and several injured.

July – 19th

                        Ships Company receives 1st Payday for six weeks and we certainly needed it.

July – 20th           Harbour having grand fun at
July – 21st         different sports.

July – 22nd
Air alarms Enemy recon planes fire upon The “Ark Royal” a Phantom Ship in the minds of German and Italian high Command proceeds to sea with five destroyers for Excursions in the Atlantic.

July – 23rd
Air Raid Alarms the water simply grand for swimming having some marvelous exercise our motto (Always Fit – Always we Fight).
July - 23rd Air Alarms during day.

July – 24th
Swing Ship and also the Resolution.

July – 25th  
11.15 PM. Heavy night attack of Gib by Italian Bombers. 46 bombs dropped at terrific height Control Firing by British naval units, beat the A.A. Batteries ashore for opening fire and the rat of fire. Searchlight crews quickly picked up two bombers, the Boffers open up from the top of the Rock> These two were hit and fell on the Eastern side of the Rock our searchlights followed them down until they plunged into the sea the fire was something terrific. Fragments of shells spatter along the tin roofs of warehouses & sheds on the jetty. The Hood was moored to; continuous by for nearly two hours, the length of time the raid lasted. Damage was done to a number of places, three fires put out and casualties were small.

July - 26th
Air alarms during the day at 11.45pm another night attack by Italian aircraft, again, Very heavy ‘Height Control Firing’ for ten min’s no eggs were dropped.

July - 27th
The Ark Royal arrives back in Harbour with destroyers U P accidentally goes off.

July - 28th
July - 29th
Air Alarms. Single aircraft over during the night.
July – 30th
The Aircraft carrier ‘Argus’ arrives in Gib with destroyers from U.K. with Squadrons of ‘Hurricane Fighters’ and ‘Skua Dive Bomber Fighters’ for Malta no mail comes with her.

July – 31st
Everything Quiet at Gibraltar during the afternoon the whole force puts sea to Escort t6he Argus.

At Sea - Escorting Argus so that her Aircraft will be within flying distance of Malta.

August – 2nd
                        At Sea – Our Fighters take safely off for Malta at dawn and what we had been expecting all day came about 1645 another formation of 30 Italian Bombers had been approaching the fleet by the Ark Royals Patrol of Skuas’ from astern. Just off the Past Quarter they started their High Level Bombing on Hood again no doubt they were out to get us every time. The Valiant, Reso & Cruisers open fire from astern, but they still came on. Starboard Guns open up the crews being ready for anything firing six salvos dead ahead of the Leading flight of five the whole formation sheered off on the Starboard side without continuing to fly over the Hood, two fell out of line loosing height rapidly, plunged into the sea. 1 narrowly missing one of our screening destroyers The third pane bagged by AA Gun Fire fell in the sea fifteen mile away from us four were shot down by the Skuas’ & a three engine Float Plane which had been shadowing the Force during the day from astern. 162 bombs dropped around the Hood we fired our 200 rounds, proceeding back to Gibraltar.

August – 3rd
                        At Sea - Aircraft fired on and driven off.

August – 4th
                        Arrive at Gibraltar 0600 many French Refugee Ships in from Southern France herded together like a lot of animals. Enemy aircraft fired on from the Rock. Hood put to sea again at 1915 for Scapa Flow.

August – 5th
                        At Sea – ‘Atlantic’ Fine a Great change in the weather Poor visability. Dull very much cooler.

August - 6th
                        At Sea – ‘Atlantic’ Hood carries out a practice Full Calibre firing and those off shoot.

August - 7th
                        At Sea - ‘Bay of Biscay’ Hood carries out a 15” Full Caliber night firing exercise.Fire two Broadsides.

August - 8th
                        At Sea - ‘English Channel’ The weather continuing to change cold. High winds and heavy seas.

August – 9th
                        At Sea - ‘Atlantic and North Sea’ Battle ship Valiant, with Argus & four destroyers leave us for Liverpool at 0700 Hood and Cruiser Aruthusa pick up five Triple class Destroyers the (most powerful Boats in the world) and carry onto Scapa Flow, a Shat Sunderland Flying Boat of the coastal command spots us Dives low & dips her wings in Salute to the ‘Worlds Greatest Warship’ we also pass our armed ‘Merchantiner’ on Patrol the first vessel sighted since we left Gibraltar.

August – 10th
                        Arrive at Scapa Flow 0600. Mail comes by drifter. Have four letters. Other naval units also in Scapa. Renown Repulse Rodney Nelson Barhani Furious seven cruisers and large number of destroyers.

August – 11th
                        Harbour - Terribly Cold, Rough and Dull Rain towards the evening.

August – 12th
                        Harbour – Ships Routine, Mail arrives, the Moniter Erebus arrives has twin 15”guns. No Alarms

August – 13th
                        Harbour – Air Raid Alarms for Long Periods.

August – 14th
                        Harbour – A quiet day, the weather still extremely cold & rough. One Barrage Balloon Blows down.

August – 15th
                        Harbour – Hood weighs anchor proceed through Boom Defences into the Flow for Exercises a 15” Sub Calibre Shoot at target, Britains New Aircraft Carrier Illustrious : arrives in Scarpa

August – 16th
                        0600 Hood leaves Scarpa for Rosyth no enemy Aircraft Fighters , turn into the Firth of Forth at 1530 pass under the World Famous ‘Forth Bridge’ with five destroyers a truly Magnificent Sight to see at 1930 Barrage Balloons everywhere from Towns Edinburgh ,Rayth ,Line Kiln, Dunfurline, and Lnurknitting anchor amid stream.

August – 17th
                        Hood goes through into the Basin along side Jetty many Norwegian Naval units in Rosyth. Destroyers & Coastal vessels.

August – 18th
                        Harbour – Ships Company releasing all night leave granted the first time since leaving Devonport.

August – 19th
                        Harbour – Night Alarm Five min Notice for attack 2200-2215.

August – 20th
August – 21st Harbour – Night Air Alarms
August - 22nd

August – 23rd
                        Hood leaves the Basin 0600 anchor in midstream.
August – 24th
                        Battleship Rodney arrives from Scarpa 0600 proceeds through the dock and occupies our Billet alongside. Hood weighs anchor 1750 proceed back to Scarpa.

August - 25th
                        Arrive at Scarpa 0600 at 2330 orders received by Fleet raise immediately and secure for sea at 0030. Message received to delay raise by the Whole Fleet.

August – 26th
                        Harbour – Routine.

August – 27th
                        2400. Air Raid on Scarpa & Fleet for three hours. Many Magnetic mines dropped by several Dornier Flying Boats in the Flow, but other side of boom defences, terrific AA Gun fire from Ground defences. Ashore a Dayenor move searchlight pinned two Dorniers at about 5000ft their rear gunners open fire with machine gun down the Beams of our searchlights but fail to put them out, the Hood opens up with her Port Twin AA Guns as numerous AA units ashore were out of range / two enemy aircraft brought down.

August – 28th
                        Harbour – Dance held onboard for ships company our own Nat Gonella / Glly Reese & His Rhythm Dance Band played for two hours.

August – 29th
                        Ship proceeds outside Flow with three Destroyers to carry out a 15” Sub Calibre, and 4” AA & Close Range Weapons. Firings at sleeve target return in harbour 1630. At 2330 Three Enemy Subs reported outside the flow, presumed to be trying to penetrate through the outer boom defences, 15” & Anti Sub Guns are manned. Medical Fire & Supply parties close up.

August – 30th
                        Harbour – Routine.

August – 31st
                        Draft of 10 seaman from Hood go to the New Cruiser Fife which is proceeding to Alexandria

September – 1st
                        Harbour – A Fishing Competition held. Some Splendid catches.

September – 2nd
                        Harbour – Air Raid from 2300-0045 Many Magnetic mines dropped in flow by Enemy Mine laying aircraft. Terrific AA Barrage Fire, One plane shot down. Poor Vis – Low Ceiling. Winston Churchill has said Scarpa Flow has the most powerful Air Defence Organisation in the whole of the British Empire there could not be a truer statement.

September – 3rd
September – 4th Cruiser Fife hit by torpedo
September – 5th Harbour - Routine No Casualties.

September – 6th
                        Battleship Nelson & Cruiser with destroyers (Grey Hounds) proceed to sea for exercises.

September – 7th
                        Battlecruiser – Repulse Cruisers and Fattila of Grey Hounds also put to sea for exercises yesterday. Force returns.

September – 8th
September – 9th
September – 10th Harbour routine
September – 11th Air Raid Alarms.
September – 12th

September – 13th
                        Hood proceeds to Rosyth at 0630 with Nelson &3 AA Cruisers and Flotilla of Destroyers, one enemy encountered on the way shot down by AA Cruisers. Arrive at 1930 Anchor this side of Forth Bridge Air Raid Alarm at 2200.

September – 14th Harbour – Pay-Day
September – 15th Air Raid - Aircraft in vicinity.

September – 16th
                        Harbour Route March to Fort Edgar and through town.

September – 17th (Three Air Alarms) 2200 0430 & 0045
September – 18th
September – 19th
September – 20th Harbour General Quarters
September – 21st
September – 22nd
September – 23rd Route March to “Fort Edgar”
September – 24th
September – 25th
September – 26th Harbour Routine
September – 27th
                        Air Raid alarms 0930Battleships Nelson & Rodney proceed to sea for exercises with AA Cruisers & Destroyers return late at night.

September – 28th
                        Hood proceed to sea at 24knots with AA Cruiser and four destroyers for the Norwegian Coast endeavoring to intercept a German 8 inch Cruiser and merchantman bound for ‘Stavangor’ Air and Sea Base on the West Coast. Repulse Cruiser & Destroyers also out after them from Scarpa – Speed 27 knots

September – 29th
                        At Sea
                        Two air alarms, a long distance Sunderland Flying Boat accompany us.
                        Enemy aircraft in vicinity come across a Dornier 17 in the sea, later Sunderland bombs enemy sub. Both units fail to make contact with enemy proceed back to Scarpa at 24knots arrive in 2000. Very Cold.

September – 30th
                        Moor to Buoy
October 1st
                        Furious and Destroyers go out for exercises but are back at 1900

October 2nd
                        Harbour Miserable Weather.

October 3rd
                        Ship is at 1 Hour notice for sea.

October 4th
                        Hood proceed outside the Flaw three destroyers 1 AA Cruiser for AA firing Exercises, Long range Pom Poms & 05 M.G. 250 Rounds fired in H.A. Starshell.
Low Angle & Barrage Firings to Swordfish, Torpedo Bombing Aircraft carry out dummy Torpedo attack on Hood their ‘fish’ being smoke bursts, our accompany Escort also carry out practise ‘shoots’ exercises completed return in Flow and moor to buoy at 1900 Ship is AA guard.

October 5th
                        Pay Day. Harbour Routine.

October 6th
                        Harbour. Rain Cold & Very Dull.

October 7th
                        Harbour. Air Raid Alarms. 1 Hrs notice for sea.
October 8th
October 9th
October 10th Harbour Routine
October 11th

October 12th
                        Harbour Routine Very Dull & Cold.

October 13th
                        Ship is AA Guard; Furious Cruiser Norfolk & Berwick & destroyers Punjabi & Metabar proceed to sea to operate aircraft over North Norwegian Coast

October 14th
                        0940 Air Raid Enemy planes fired on many of our fighters up.

October 15th
                        Hood puts to sea at 1500 with three destroyers Eskimo Cossack & Somali & Cruiser Adventure to cover the Furious & accompany ships whilst operating aircraft over Stavanger, Frondheim, Bergan & Oslo Air and Sea Bases.

October 16th
                        At Sea Sea Slight Dull & Cold No opposition from enemy encountered. Adventure leaves us.

October 17th
                        Sea Slight Continuous drizzle Hood passes through the Arctic Circle at 2330 C old and Foggy, 1300 course Due South 204’ x 180’ turns.

October 18th
                        At Sea.
                        A Deadly fog visibility approx 15 yds at 0810. Hood very nearly comes to ramming one of our screening destroyers Eskimo whilst changing her position for close screening missed her stern by 10feet at 1645 our course 152’ E S E
October 19th
                        At Sea. Arrived at Scarpa 1330, ship carried out a 4” Low Angle shoot at towing target during the fore-noon vis to poor for high angle.