-History of H.M.S. Hood-
Battle Damage Sustained by H.M.S. Prince of Wales, 24 May 1941
Updated 18-Mar-2007

Shown here is an extract of Admiralty file ADM 267/111, concerning damage received by H.M.S. Prince of Wales during the Battle of the Denmark Strait on 24 May 1941. In addition to the textual extract, a number of photos of said damage are also included. This information was acquired from The National Archives, Kew, London. It is reproduced here by kind permission of The National Archives and The Crown.

Chainbar divider


The following are assorted extracts from ADM 267/111. We've only included portions directly concerning the damaged received on 24 May 1941.

0725/X24
SECRET MESSAGE IN
Received:-
From C.S. 1, Date 24.5.41.
Time 0846.

Naval Cypher (A) by T/F.

Addressed Admiralty, C. in C. Home Fleet.
XXXXXXXX. IMMEDIATE.
Following received from H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES Addressed C.S. 1 begins.
A and B turrets in action. Y turret 2 guns in action. About 400 tons water in ship mainly abaft after bulkhead. Compartment above steering compartment flooded but steering gear in action. Estimated best speed 27 knots. T.O.O. 0720/24 Ends.


1007/24
SECRET MESSAGE IN
Received:-
From H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES Date 24.5.41.
Time 1253

Addressed Admiralty C. in C. Home Fleet C.S.1.


Main armament control undamaged 9 main armament guns in action. Secondary armament guns in action Considerable damage to bridge. Both forward high angle directors out of action. About 60 tons water in ship mainly aft from 2 or more hits about water line. Estimated maximum speed 26 knots. Oil fuel made readily available 1600 tons.


SECRET MESSAGE IN
IMPORTANT 0530/27
Received:-
From H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES Date 27.5.41.
Time 1610

Addressed Admiralty C. in C. Home Fleet
Summary of damage. Armament and controls Both forward H.A. directors disabled. Port circuit cut and pedestal canted and strained. Starboard director possibly repairable by ship's staff. After (corrupt group) office destroyed. One "Walrus" aircraft damaged and jettisoned. Both port S.L. sights destroyed. After half of compass platform severely damaged.
Hull. Following extensively damaged. Forward H.A. director supports. After funnel punctured approximately 10 new plates required. Starboard crane xxxxxxxx wrecked. Air intake to X Boiler Room severely damaged. One Boiler Room Fan Impeller and Oil Cooler damaged. M and Q coils damaged. Underwater damage follows after examination.


1318/31.
SECRET MESSAGE IN
Received:-
From PRINCE OF WALES. Date 31.5.41.
Time 1935

Addressed Admiralty Repeated C. in C. Home Fleet
My 0520/27.
Preliminary examination of underwater damage reveals three holes. One hole at 274 ¼ star four feet above lower deck two holes between 307 and 317 star immediately above turtle deck. Three brackets and boundary angle supporting turtle deck distorted. The middle deck in the vicinity of these three holes is perforated by splinters. It has not been possible yet to investigate damage 184/194 star below armour.


H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES.
Removal of unexploded shell received during engagement with BISMARCK.
_____

Noted. The damage sustained in PRINCE OF WALES in her recent action has now been examined by D.N.C's representative.
SECRET
Subject.. Unexploded Enemy Shell
From .. The Commanding Officer, H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES
Date .. 8th June, 1941 No. 001.A/1
To .. THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF, HOME FLEET.
(Copies to The Secretary of the Admiralty.
The Commander-in-Chief, Rosyth
During the early morning action on May 24th a heavy hit was felt abreast the Starboard Diesel Room. It was found that the outer air space 184-196, the outer oil fuel tank 184-206, the inner air space 184-194, the starboard diesel tank 184-206 were fill to the crown with oil and water.
2. On Friday 6th June, on pumping out the dry dock a clean hole in the side about 15" diameter was found, a foot above the bilge keel at 187 starboard.
Holes were also found in the light plating forming the sides of the outer oil fuel tank 184-206.
Heavy marking was found on the protective bulkhead but there were no signs of explosion.
3. When the ship's bottom was visible it became apparent that there was no exit hole and a search was made for the shell.
The inner air space 184-194 was pumped out and the shell was found to be lying on the bottom between two frames 190-192 nose forward.
The shell was in good condition with the fuse in place, but without a ballistic cap.
The angle of entry was 10° from forward and the angle of descent (measured from the ship's perpendicular) was from 2° to 4°.
4. Without rough treatment the removal of the shell either upwards or downwards presented difficulty. Finally it was decided to lower it through the bottom.
The shell was lifted, by [..] chain purchases, one inch clear, slung by a quick action grab. Special lifting bands supplied by the Bomb Disposal Officer from H.M.S. COCHRANE were then fitted and screwed firmly round the shell. It was then lowered, slung by the lifting bands and hoisted 5 ft. clear.
Seven sets of supporting blocks were removed from under the protective bulkhead in the dock, and a hole 4 ft. by 2 ft., was burnt under the shell. This necessitated cutting into two bottom plates.
The shell was lowered through this hole on to a rubber tyred ammunition trolley and wheeled aft, where a dockyard crane picked it up and it was then placed in a 'Bomb Disposal Boat' and removed.
5. The diameter of the shell measured just above the driving band was 14.875 inches.
(sgd.) J.C. LEACH.
CAPTAIN
Noted. The damage sustained in PRINCE OF WALES in her recent action has now been examined by D.N.C's representative.
M.09256/41. MOST SECRET.
C.O. PRINCE OF WALES 8.6.41.
D.O.D.(H)
D.T.S.D
D.N.C.
D.N.O.
C.I.N.O.
21.6.41
H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES
Removal of unexploded shell received
During engagement with BISMARCK.
_________
Noted with interest.
2. A lucky escape and it would be of interest to know exactly how the shell hit the ship. Did it strike the water first or was the ship rolling heavily.
3. It is considered that this paper should be marked to D.N.O. and D.N.C. The signals relating to the mater were eventually marked MOST SECRET and this paper has been marked similarly.
(sgd.)
for D.O.D.(H).
15.6.41
Noted with interest.
2. It is understood that the ship was not rolling heavily and that the shell traveled about [...] through water.
3. D.N.O. and C.I.N.O. have been added to the [...] markings.
(sgd.) C.W. LONGLEY COOK.
For D.T.S.D.
18.6.41


Locations of hit received by H.M.S. Prince of Wales, 24 May 1941
Above- A schematic showing the approximate location of the hits sustained by Prince of Wales. Click to enlarge.
Special thanks to José Rico and Manuel González López of the Battleship Bismarck web site for allowing us to modify the profile image and use it here. We drew the overhead image ourselves. Note- The angles of the shells are approximate.

Damage to bridge of H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- The forward starboard corner of the Compass Platform. Shown here is the entrance hole for a German 15" shell fired by Bismarck. This shell passed obliquely through the room without detonating. Although it did not detonate, it did create a storm of shrapnel that killed a number of people. The photo was taken through the shell's exit hole.

Damage to bridge of H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- The rear port corner of the Compass Platform. This is the exit hole for the 15" projectile.

Damage to bridge of H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- Another view of the 15" exit hole in the rear port corner of the Compass Platform. In this view, the camera is facing forward toward the bow.

Damage to bridge of H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- The portside bulwark/splinter shield outside and just aft of the Compass Platform. The 15" shell also passed through this light structure without detonating.

Damage to bridge of H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- Shell damage to the HACS base on the bridge superstructure. This view is looking roughly aft and to port. This hit not only severed electrical cabling thus rendering the HACS unusable and flooded the chart room (it struck a water tank), it also caused casualties/fatalities amongst crew in the nearby air defence platform.

Damage to bridge of H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- The shell exit hole in the port rear of the HACS base.

Damaged crane aboard H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- 15" shell damage to the starboard crane. One of Bismarck's shells struck the crane and then detonated against the rear or the second funnel.

Damaged crane aboard H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- Another view of the damaged starboard crane

Damage to rear funnel and boat deck of H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- Shrapnel damage to the aft side of the rear funnel. This was caused by one of Bismarck's 15" shells. Said shell also caused heavy splinter damage to the surrounding area.

Damage to rear funnel and boat deck of H.M.S. Prince of Wales
Above- Another view of the shrapnel damage to the rear funnel and surrounding area. Although not shown here, two of the ship's boats were destroyed and a number more damaged in varying degrees. A Walrus seaplane was also damaged by this detonation.