As we know, the battle cruiser HMS Hood was sunk by a salvo fired from the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941. She went down with the loss of 1,415 men and boys.
What is rarely mentioned is that, along with other ships lost in war, the canteen staff comprised civilian Naafi workers.
The canteen manager was William Trevarthen. His assistants were Kenneth Algate, Frank Ayling, Geoffrey Jordan, Cecil Lansdowne, Jack Ovenden and Jack Titheridge. They lived and messed on the upper deck to port of ‘A’ turret.
The canteen crews made up an important part of a sailor’s life, selling cigarettes, postcards, writing pads and envelopes, tinned fruit and toiletries. During action stations the Naafi men would be required as first aid/medical assistants and for ammunition supply, fighting in the ship alongside their naval comrades.
Each died bravely and with courage at their designated station alongside fellow sailors and marines when Hood sank.
Although most of the men named lived in distant areas, one came from Gosport. He was Jack Titheridge who was 21.
He and all the other men mentioned are remembered at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial along with 24 other Naafi members.
If you have knowledge of Jack or any other unmentioned Naafi employees lost at sea, please let me know.