THIS WEEK IN 1999: Hood reunion hopes are dashed

HMS Hood was downed by the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941, early into the Battle of the Denmark Strait
HMS Hood was downed by the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941, early into the Battle of the Denmark Strait

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A Fareham old sailor’s hopes of meeting a German who helped sink his battleship were dashed by illness.

HMS Hood survivor Ted Briggs hoped to share memories about that fateful Mayday in 1941 with Josef Statz.

Mr Briggs, from Fareham, was the sole British survivor of the duel which saw his battlecruiser sent to the bottom by the German battleship Bismarck.

Mr Statz was one of a handful of Bismarck men plucked from the sea days later when their ship was sunk. He had hoped to make history by attending the annual service commemorating the loss of Hood, pictured. But he was too ill to travel which meant there would be no representatives of the Bismarck at the service, although there would be other German sailors.

Commander Eddie Grenfell, who helped arrange a series of commemorations for Hood and HMS Barham – torpedoed by a German submarine in 1941 – said cancer treatment was preventing the German from travelling.

But representatives from the German navy – ex-servicemen in the Marinekameradschaft (MK), the equivalent of the Royal Naval Association – would still be making their first appearance at the tribute service.

Cdr Grenfell, 79, of Oaklands Road, Havant, said: ‘Mr Statz is disappointed, but he has sent a signed copy of his book on the Bismarck to Mr Briggs.’