Today and forever, we have a duty to remember

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FOR those who live to recall the tragedy, it can hardly seem possible that 70 years have elapsed since the mighty HMS Hood went to the bottom of the Denmark Strait, taking with her all but three of her 1,418-strong crew.

For Portsmouth, it was another devastating blow in a war that had already seen the sinking of HMS Royal Oak and so many other ships based in the city, proud to be the home of the Royal Navy.

Most of those directly affected by the tragedy have themselves now passed on, but still there remain some widows and many pensioners who were children when they heard that father would not be coming home.

Jean Winter was one of those and she speaks movingly on this anniversary day of the terrible way in which she and her family learned of Petty Officer Fred Ward’s death.

Jean was celebrating her sixth birthday at a cinema when she discovered what had happened.

Donald Stevens, who was 10 when his father, Stoker Petty Officer Arthur Stevens died, tells of the loss to his family – and also to the whole community of this great naval city.

‘It was a shock for everyone, the entire city was stunned’ he said.

The tragedy gave rise to the rallying cry ‘Remember the Hood!’ and soon the Bismarck was also sent to the bottom and gradually the Allies gained supremacy in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Seventy years on, it is vital that we remember the men of HMS Hood and the many thousands more who perished in a campaign that was wholly crucial to this country’s triumph against the Nazi aggressors.

Today we publish the full list of those who died in this shocking disaster.

Those names are inscribed on the naval war memorial that dominates our seafront.

As the inscription on that monument says, their names liveth for evermore.

We must never forget their sacrifice.

It is a day on which to reflect that, behind each name we publish today, there is a story of personal tragedy, of loved ones left behind, of lives forever altered.