Edinburgh locals urged to mark 80th anniversary of HMS Hood sinking

Edinburgh locals are being asked to take part in a day of remembrance to mark the 80th anniversary of one of the worst naval tragedies in living memory.

No British military vessel would surpass HMS Hood in size until the launch of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in 2014.
No British military vessel would surpass HMS Hood in size until the launch of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in 2014.

A plea has been put out to Capital residents to join people from across the UK in paying tribute to the crew of the HMS Hood battleship, whose sinking by German naval forces on May 24, 1941 resulted in the loss of all but three of the 1,418 men on board.

Led by members of the HMS Hood Association, the Shine a Light initiative is asking people to choose a crewman who served that fateful day and light a candle in their memory.

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The public is being urged to take a photograph of their memorial and send it to the HMS Hood Association on the day of the anniversary of the tragedy.

Efforts are also being made to increase the available information concerning each crewman, with the aim of sourcing images of the 411 victims whose photos are missing.

Launched from John Brown shipyard in Clydebank in 1918 and later fitted out at Rosyth, HMS Hood was the prize battlecruiser of the Royal Navy, and revered as the world’s most powerful warship until her sinking, earning her the moniker “The Mighty Hood”.

As famous as any ship of her era, no British naval vessel would surpass HMS Hood in size until the launch of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in 2014.

But she would meet her in end in the Second World War in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, sinking to the depths of the North Atlantic within just three minutes after being hit by the German battleship Bismarck. Just three of the crew would survive.

Britain would be swift in enacting revenge for the tragedy, sending a fleet of warships out to track the Bismarck, which was destroyed three days later with the loss of more than 2,000 lives.

Several of HMS Hood’s final crew hailed from the Capital home, and, sadly, all perished in the disaster. Their names are recorded on the ship’s roll of honour, and include: David Finlayson, William Bell, John Roderick Down, William Johnston, John Laing, Hugh Whitelaw, Philip MacLean, Jackie Maskell and Robert Pinkerton.

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Earlier this week, Alex Ray, Committee Member at the HMS Hood Association, issued an online plea to Edinburgh residents to pay tribute to the city’s fallen.

He said: “The name of HMS Hood is one that is unique amongst warships: her reputation and fame exceed any other ship from her time, and her catastrophic loss was a devastating blow for Britain and her Allies. But her loss was felt especially by the families of those who were lost in the sinking, for whom it was a tragedy.

"Our aim is to highlight and to mark the sacrifice of those men, each one an individual whose loss was sorely felt.”

Following a failed attempt to raise it from the seabed in 2012, the ship’s bell was recovered in August 2015 and is now on display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.

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