H.M.S. Hood Today
Relic of HMS Hood Ledger Container Lid
Updated 27-Nov-2018

Here we've transcribed text from a special display concerning a relic from the sinking of H.M.S. Hood. The item in question, a ledger container lid, was unveiled by Hood survivior Ted Briggs in 1981 at H.M.S. Centurion. Following the closure of Centurion in the 1990s, the location of the display was unknown to us. This changed in late 2018 when an anonymous serviceman sent us the following photos and told us that it can be found in a mess on what used to be RAF Chicksands. We'd also like to thank the late Ted Briggs for providing his own version of the story.

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Hood lid display 2018  Hood lid display 2018  Hood lid display 2018
Above/Below - Views of the display taken in late 2018 plus a letter dated August 2000 from Ted Briggs. Click to enlarge.
Hood lid display 2018  ;Hood lid display 2018  Letter from Ted Briggs

HMS HOOD was sunk in action with the German battleship BISMARCK on 24 May 1941 in 63º20’N 31º50’W.  Five destroyers arrived on the scene an hour and three-quarters later to search for survivors, only 3 of whom were recovered, all by HMS ELECTRA.  The rea was marked by a large patch of oil, balsa life-rafts, splinters, charred wood and miscellaneous wreckage.

In April 1942, a metal container was found by Norwegians, washed ashore at Bunkan (69 º09’N 17º 04’E) on the island of Sanja, some 50 miles south-west of Tromso.  The papers inside the container, the pay ledger and Service Documents, had been damaged by sea water and were taken by an elderly couple, who his them in the attic of their house at Bunkan wrapped in rags.  The container and lid were thrown back into the sea, to prevent their discovery by the German occupation forces and possible action against the finders.

The documents survived the war, remaining undiscovered by the Germans in spite of at least one search of the attic, but when the couple died their house remained vacant and fell into disrepair.  After several years it was demolished and the documents, which were in poor condition having been virtually exposed to the elements for a long period, were thrown into the sea.

The lid of the container had meanwhile re-appeared.  It was found, upstream from the mouth of a small river which flows into the sea at Bunkan, by a small boy who flung it at a passing salmon – successfully.  His feat was recorded in the Visitors’ Book of the “Gryllefjord Jeger og Fiskerforoning” and the lid was mounted on the wall of the Association’s hut as proof of the fisherman’s tale, the members being unaware of the background and origins of the lid.

In August 1969 a Trondheim journalist visited the Gryllefjord Hunters and Fishers Association hut in company with 2 local men who knew of the original discovery of the container.  Fearing that souvenir hunters might remove the lid, ,the journalist, Odd Selmer, brought it to Trondheim and advised the Association.  The latter sent 2 members to Trondheim to fetch the lid back to the area following which it was placed in the safe deposit of the local Savings Bank.

Ten years later, the members of the Association decided to authorize Mr Bandiks Normann, one of those who retrieved the lid from Trondheim, to return it via the British Embassy, Oslo.  The lid was forwarded by the Naval Attache, Oslo, to the Naval Historical Branch, arriving in February 1980.

Because all Naval pay is now dealt with in HMS CENTURION it was thought appropriate that the relic should be put on permanent display in that Establishment.

Admiral Sir Henry Leach, GCB., ADC., the First Sea Lord gave approval for this to happen.