When HMS Hood sank on 24 May 1941, only three of her crew survived. 1,415 officers, men and boys were killed. The loss of such a well-known symbol of British Naval power had a profound effect on many people, and perhaps heralded the beginning of the end of British supremacy of the world’s oceans.
Although officially classed as a Battlecruiser for political reasons, in size and firepower she was effectively a large and powerful Battleship. The only ship in her class, she was launched just after the first world war and spent the inter-war period as the pride of the Royal Navy, flying the flag around the world.
HMS Hood and the new Battleship HMS Prince of Wales had sailed to intercept the new German Battleship the Bismarck, who along with her partner ship the Prinz Eugen was threatening to break out into the Atlantic and raid convoys crossing the Atlantic.
When the ships met in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood was hit by a salvo from the Bismarck, which penetrated her weak deck armour – which had been sacrificed for speed – and detonated a massive explosion in the magazine. However Prince of Wales had managed to damage the Bismarck, and the German battleship was sunk days later.
Of the men onboard the Hood, many were Portsmouth sailors, as the Hood was crewed from Portsmouth. Two of them were even brothers, serving on the same ship. Petty Officer Stoker Herbert Buck, 29, and Mechanician Second Class Arthur Buck, 35, came from Portsmouth.
They have no known grave other than the sea, and are commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, on Southsea Common.