Remembering their sacrifice is as important now as ever

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Even today the loss of more than 1,400 people from a single vessel resonates as a particularly staggering and tragic event.

That is why we are making sure we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Hood with the coverage it deserves.

Today we have republished the first-hand account by The News’s special correspondent, JR Nixon, as he watched the horror unfold from the deck of one of the navy’s other ships.

The power of his writing is entirely undiminished by the passing of the decades – which is exactly as it should be. His words paint a vivid picture of the terrible, gripping, spectacle as the climax of the cat and mouse chase between HMS Hood and the Bismarck unfolded in front of him.

It should never be allowed to become trite or clichéd to say ‘We will remember them,’ each Remembrance Day. There is good reason for those four simple words as we remember not only their sacrifices, but also the reason they were fighting in the first place.

Wars now can often seem remote and something that happens ‘over there’ and loss of life for British forces is never less tragic, but thankfully we have not seen anything of the magnitude of May 24, 1941 for a very long time.

That does not mean we should lose focus on man’s ability to do evil in the fight for a warped doctrine.

There are still regimes out there today that commit atrocities on a daily basis. We should never forget how lucky we are by mere accident of birth that we live in a mature democracy where we are free to have political debate without fear of being imprisoned or killed for it.

It may be eight years since Ted Briggs, the last of the Hood’s three survivors, died, but we should never allow the events of that horrible day 75 years ago to be clouded over by history.