Princess Anne rings HMS Hood bell for first time in 75 years

It was the first time the bell has been rung for 75 years '“ and its chimes echoed across the decades, back to the moment when HMS Hood sank with horrific loss of life.

Wednesday, 25th May 2016, 6:02 am
HRH Princess Royal Princess Anne, Patron of The National Museum of the Royal Navy sounds HMS Hood's bell for the first time since its recovery and restoration Picture: Sarah Standing (160737-888)

Her Royal Highness Princess Anne had the honour of sounding the restored bell, as veterans, dignitaries and members of the public gathered to hear the Mighty Hood’s bell, which was recovered from the Denmark Strait where the ship sank.

Yesterday marked 75 years since the battlecruiser was hit by German battleship Bismarck during the Second World War.

As part of the anniversary, Princess Anne visited Portsmouth to unveil the ship’s bell and officially open its new home in the Battle of Jutland exhibition at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

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The bell is brought in Picture: Shaun Jones (160737-952)

With the sun shining and crowds gathered, Princess Anne pulled back a union flag revealing the gold bell underneath.

She then struck the bell three times with chimes filling the air outside HMS Victory. A minute’s silence then followed to remember the 1,415 men who died on HMS Hood.

A bunch of flowers and a poppy wreath were laid on the ground in front of the bell after it was rung.

During the service Princess Anne said: ‘The sinking of HMS Hood 75 years ago was one of the defining moments of the Second World War.

The bell is brought in Picture: Shaun Jones (160737-952)

‘One thousand, four hundred and 15 people died, each with a family and friends. Many of the descendents of the men who died are here today and they should be proud.’

As well as veterans and dignitaries, the ceremony was attended by the Royal Marines Band and the Guard of Honour.

They led the crowds to the Battle of Jutland exhibition which is at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

With people watching on, general director of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Dominic Tweddle, invited Princess Anne to cut the ribbon and officially open the new attraction.

Once it was open, the band started playing and red paper petals were shot into the air.

Veterans and their families were then given a first look around the exhibition 36 Hours – Jutland 1916 The Battle That Won The War which tells the story of the battle. The bell was placed among the other 350 artefacts that have been donated from the Imperial War Museum and from families who had relatives in the war.

The bell is in the Jutland exhibition as it was presented to HMS Hood in 1918 by the widow of Sir Horace Hood who died in 1916 during the Battle of Jutland on HMS Invincible. He was one of 1,026 people who died on May 31. HMS Hood was named after Sir Horace’s great-great-grandfather Sir Samuel Hood.

Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor David Fuller, said: ‘The service was very good in paying tribute to the people who lost their lives.

‘It was very moving and touching and quite solemn.’

He adds: ‘It was an honour to have Princess Anne here in Portsmouth.

‘For us as a naval port and her with her history, it is great.

‘It was also great for the veterans, some of whom I spoke to before the service. They felt it was a real honour to have the ceremony and the visit from Princess Anne.’