SEVENTY years after 1,415 men were lost in the sinking of HMS Hood a service has been held in memory of their sacrifice.
The battlecruiser remains the navy’s largest-ever ship and was the pride of the Royal Navy when it was sunk by the Bismarck on May 24, 1941 – leaving only three survivors.
Sailors who served on the Hood joined family members of those who died, members of the HMS Hood Association, and a guard of honour from HMS Collingwood, at the War Memorial on Southsea Common yesterday.
Hundreds of members of the public gathered to watch as wreaths were laid against the wall where so many of the lost sailors’ names are engraved.
Leading Stoker Alec Kellaway, who served on the Hood until 1939, said: ‘She was a great ship and her loss was a huge blow to the nation.
‘The men who died must be remembered for years and years, and you can see how important these services are from how many people turn up.’
Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks is the president of the HMS Hood Association and lost his uncle when the ship was sunk.
After laying a wreath and giving a reading at the service, he said: ‘I never knew my uncle, but my father spoke of him with great pride.
‘But what happened to the Hood was an incredible tragedy. It would be like three entire regiments being killed in 15 minutes.
‘This is the only place relatives can come to remember them, and that is why services like this are so important.’
Margaret Parker, 84, of Magdalen Road, North End, lost her father Chief Stoker Charles Bishop when the Hood sank.
She said: ‘It was a lovely service. I tried not to tell my family I was coming because I didn’t want to upset them.
‘But I don’t think anybody should ever forget what these men did.’
Her daughter Pauline Jack, 60, of Grove Road South, in Southsea, added: ‘It doesn’t upset me at all. I just feel very proud of my granddad.’