-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
The Memories of Windy Breeze
by Windy Breeze (1976)
Updated 06-May-2014

This article come from issue 4 of the H.M.S. Hood Association Newsletter. It was written by "Windy" Breeze.

Chainbar divider

Early days aboard the "Mighty Hood" by a "Blue Marine"
We were at Eastney, training at Fort Cumberland and the Gunnery school, and some of us were given an extra course and sent to H.M.S. Glorious where we trained on a single 15" gun turret which was the nearest to the 15" Class C guns aboard the Hood, in March 1920. We were selected for a very important task, and would be drafted to the Hood.

It was in April 1920 that the Sergeant Major came into the barrack room and said Gunner Breeze you are on draft to the Hood. Ever after that I was known as Windy.

On the morning of the 12th April, we left Eastney for Rosyth via London. As we had to cross London I volunteered to go with the baggage lorry across the big city - my first sight of London. From Euston we went direct to Rosyth.

The Hood was in the King George V dock, the only dock that could take her 872' even then they had to take about 6' off the dock. The tonnage then was 42,000 tons - sometime later they added further protection and increased her tonnage to 44,000 tons. She stood there like a Queen and certainly we were very proud to have been chosen to serve in such a magnificent ship. Our duties consisted of mainly sentry and painting until we were prepared to sail on May 13th.

I well remember the Union Jack was lowered to pass under the Forth Bridge.

We were on our way to Devonport for the first time - the sea was as calm as a pond - different to what we would experience later. After a short time at Devonport we set sail on the most interesting trip I have ever experienced, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes as Flag Officer commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron, to Norway, Sweden and Denmark. We were the first British ships to visit these countries after the war and what a welcome we got. The first stop was Christiana (now Oslo) up the fiord, the long narrow inlet, with many near stops to negotiate the bends, and finally into a wide open basin - with the town built all round a most splendid sight, the land of the midnight sun.

We had many ceremonial guards of honour etc. King Haakon and Queen Maud came aboard; the Queen was a sister of our King George V. Free parties ashore and entertainment aboard - one whole round of festivities. Next on to Kaimar for the visit to Stockholm: we had to anchor as only the destroyers could get to Stockholm, and we went by train with a wood-fired engine with plenty of stops for fuel. Now on to Copenhagen for the final visit. Tivoli gardens was the highlight of this visit with all the free parties and entertainment, and here we had thousands of visitors coming aboard, including the King and Queen of Sweden and the King of Denmark.

The Hood was the first ship to start general messing. This was under a Paymaster Commander and instead of being in debt every month we soon had a huge surplus which was used to entertain the visitors to tea and cakes (rock cakes, stone hard). I wonder what has become of "Astria" Anderson, Siriborg and many others. The whole visit took up to three months and was one whole round of good-will and friendship. The quarter-deck was always rigged for dancing with the awning spread and the Marine band playing.

Now back to normal duties with visits to Invergordon and Cromarty, then on to Scapa Flow where the German Fleet was scuttled on 21.6.1919. The Hindenburg with only the funnels showing and the Bayern on her side with others scattered around.

We now looked forward after leave to the Spring Cruise to the Med; this took place in the Spring and with exercises just a few days out we lost the submarine K5 with 68 officers and men off Lands End; on the way to the Bay of Biscay we lost the submarine H42. We dropped anchor at Vigo. While at Vigo we had to go to the rescue of the Admiralty yacht. Surprise, with Lord Birkenhead the First Lord onboard; we poured plenty of oil on the raging sea and steamed on the weather side for many hours until the Surprise entered calmer waters.

A days work or a Sunday at Sea
At Vigo in North Western Spain,
Our Battle Cruiser lay,
When a message sent by W.T.
Came in from far away.
I'm out at Sea off Finnesterre,
It's blowing a Northwest gale,
No shelter or headway can I make,
So read the dismal tale.

Then on to Gibraltar for a rest and some sport with football, shooting and a concert by the ship's concert party ashore.

We now start our Med. exercises with visits to Malaga, Barcelona, Toulon and Palma Majorca.

We return home to Rosyth for a refit.

The 1921 coal strike is now on and we are sent on to safeguard men on duty at Thornton, Cowdenbeath and finally at Lochgelly, billetted in the school. It was a little rough until we had our band with us and we left many a Scots lass in tears.

Back at Rosyth and it was at this time the Japanese Prince came to this country. He came to Rosyth but was not allowed onboard and had to be content with a red carpet and a destroyer visit.

We went on to Devonport and it was here that we were told that we had to supply a guard of honour for the funeral of The Unknown Warrior in London on November 11th, 1920. We lined up in The Mall and represented the Royal Marines and exercised our privilege of marching through London with bayonets fixed.

After Xmas leave - again the Med. with the usual exercises but with a change of command. Admiral Sir Walter Cowan and Captain Sir Humphrey (sic) Mackworth relieving. We say goodbye to our most famous Admiral Keyes.

We now had a ship's mascot, a goat. This caused us much amusement and someone pushed him through a skylight on to the Admiral's bed.

The trip to the Med. was not so exciting this time and on our way back to U.K. off Lands End at approximately the spot the K5 went down we held a memorial service, with the whole fleet in a circle, and wreaths were cast on the waves whilst the service was on. I always think of this every time I hear the hymn. Eternal Father.

In May 1922 the "Geddes Axe" and I applied for release as at this time you had to wait for promotion; so I went back to Eastney and left the Service.

I very often think of the Captain who was very fond of asking for a half dozen Marines when work was required. I wonder what happened to the Marine who sent him a dozen tin soldiers through the post (Marines for use of at his disposal). We all had a handwriting test and leave stopped for 14 days, but the culprit was never found.

At Gibraltar with the U.S. Battleship Maryland, the Yanks referred to us as 'some fine picket boat.'

I enjoyed every minute of my stay onboard with such a happy ship and I am delighted that we now have a Hood Association of which I am sure it will live up to that famous ship.

Windy of the Hood.