-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
The Memories of Fred White
by Fred White (circa 1975)
Updated 06-May-2014

Fred was the Secretary of the H.M.S. Hood Association when it was first formed in 1975. It therefore fell to Fred to draft, publish and circulate the early Association newsletters. Fred was keen for the newsletter to be used by Hood veterans to recall their days in the ship - be they good or bad. It would also ensure the newsletters would never be short on substance.

In the first newsletter he issued a challenge to Association members to send in their stories. He even went so far as to threaten to strike off the circulation list anyone who failed to send something in! Not to be outdone, Fred certainly got the ball rolling. This excerpt illustrates how he himself remembered Hood.

Chainbar divider

"I wonder how many shipmates were on the Hood in 1932 when the Hood, with the Fleet with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers onboard, fired 15" salvoes off Portland, and for 200 miles the mighty roar floated across England and was heard in Daventry.

One felt secure in South Dorset as the Hood's guns spoke for Britain and to see the foretop of her above the Hotels on Weymouth Front from the hills inland, as she lay at anchor in Weymouth Bay. And of the thousands of holiday-makers who lined Weymouth Pier and watched the thousands of bluejackets pour ashore - and it was a delight to watch the boat hook drill and to note Picket boats from the Hood, Repulse, Renown and the battleships, and in the darkness the sky being criss-crossed by dozens of searchlights.

Now that Spain is very much in the news again. Shipmates of my time in the Hood may recall their crack cruiser, Almirante Cervera, and the Baleares sunk off Cartagena by a government torpedo craft, the torpedo said to have been fired by an ex R.N. torpedo rating. A Rear Admiral and over 600 men were lost while the Kempenfelt and Boreas rescued over 400.

Government forces held Barcelona and Valencia and all the east coast, also Minorca. Franco held Majorca and the west and south coats of Spain. Franco declared a blockade of all the east coast ports which was not recognised by the British Government. Franco tried to enforce it by aircraft operating from aerodromes in Majorca and his Navy from their base at Cartagena. Italian submarines sank several British ships. Hood visited British Consuls at Barcelona and Valencia - these cities were never bombed whilst Hood was there. Whatever may be said about General Franco he kept German troops out of Spain during world war two, and only strict laws which kept his people peaceful. Shall we see all the strife and bloodshed return to this turbulent race when he is gone?

I don't think any books have been written about the Spanish Navy during the Civil War - I well remember seeing women onboard their cruisers at sea. I think, with their large single funnel, they looked much nicer than our County class cruisers.

Many shipmates will remember our refit in Malta. I was one engaged on cleaning the oil slush from the double bottoms; it was good fun trailing through them with a light on the end of a wandering lead. And in the floating dock where we had a big hole drilled through the forefoot to enable chains to be roved through. Then we had a new set of Pom Poms mounted at the after end of the boat deck and I was a loading number on these. When Hood put to sea for a shoot it was no joke to be at those action stations as X turrets swung around so you were looking about four feet down those 15" barrels and seeing the black flag flying from the yardarm - then the almighty roar and you matched those 15" shells leave the barrels on their journey towards their far target. It was always good when the Repulse did a throw off shoot at us. How we watched her on the horizon, then the flash, "she's fired" - later the rumble reached us as the shells were falling astern of us.

In all, it was a good commission. We trained hard for war with a well-liked Captain who retired as Vice Admiral Sir Francis Pridham, K.B.E. C.B. who I'm sorry to say passed away at his home at Burley in the New Forest on January 27th this year. His ashes were scattered at sea off Portland from the Frigate Jupiter. Admiral Pridham served in a previous Jupiter from 1903 to 1905 when he was a midshipman - his midshipman's journal and Admiral's sword are to be kept in Jupiter. Onboard the frigate for the service was the Admiral's grandson. Lieutenant Commander D. Gould.

Remember the Commander at Xmas 1937 when we were fell in, saying, as various parties had been detailed off, "Carry on scrub decks", and as an afterthought, "A Merry Xmas".