Wish of HMS Hood survivor Ted Briggs becomes reality after his death

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HIS greatest wish was to see the bell of HMS Hood recovered from the sea bed.

And today it has become a reality as the bell is to be restored and placed on display at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Where thousands had been killed, Ted Briggs was one of three survivors from the ‘Mighty Hood’, which was sunk during the Battle of Denmark Strait, May 24 1941.

Friends paid tribute to the last surviving crew member of the ill-fated Second World War battlecruiser HMS Hood, who died in October 2008.

Born in Redcar, North Yorkshire, he first saw HMS Hood in 1935 when it visited his home town.

Mr Briggs attempted to sign up to the Royal Navy the next day but was turned down because of his age. But this wasn’t going to stop him and he went back a week after his 15th birthday.

He trained at HMS Ganges at Shotley Gate in Ipswich for 16 months until, to his surprise, he was drafted to the ship which had first inspired him, HMS Hood.

Mr Briggs was an 18-year-old signalman when the fifth salvo from the German battleship Bismarck hit Hood’s magazine resulting in a catastrophic explosion. The ship was torn in half and sank in less than three minutes.

He was one of only three members of the 1,418 crew to survive the Hood’s sinking during the Battle of the Denmark Strait.

After three hours in the freezing sea they were picked up, close to death, by the destroyer HMS Electra.

Following the war Mr Briggs remained in the navy, seeing out his career at HMS Excellent on Whale Island, Portsmouth, as Officer in Charge of the Leading Rates Leadership School.

He left on February 2, 1973, to start a new career as an estate agent.

In June that year he was made an MBE.

Two years later he joined the newly formed HMS Hood Association as its first president.

Although he retired in 1988, Mr Briggs continued to lead an active life. He remained a sought-after guest speaker for television documentaries and radio programmes.

In 2001 the wreck of the HMS Hood was discovered and Mr Briggs took part in a television programme where he released a plaque on to the wreck two miles under the waves in memory of those who died.

Mr Briggs, from Fareham, had been the last remaining survivor since the death, in 1995, of able seaman Bob Tilburn died.

Midshipman William Dundass had passed away in 1965.

Close friend Peter Heys, chairman of the HMS Hood Association, said: ‘He was such a quiet person and was actually quite shy, but he always came over very well in public. He really was the perfect gentleman.

‘He will obviously be missed, not just as the last survivor from HMS Hood, but also as a good friend.

‘And as a very good friend it has been distressing.’