Bell of HMS Hood Recovered after 74 years

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HMS Hood was the pride of the Royal Navy, known as “The Mighty Hood”, and also the largest Royal Navy vessel to have been sunk. She was named after Admiral 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. Her sinking on May 24, 1941 during the Battle for Denmark Strait by the German Battleship Bismarck caused the largest loss of life suffered by any single British warship. HMS Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded and sank, carrying a total of 1415 seamen down with her.

Only 3 seamen would survive: Ordinary Signalman Ted Briggs, Able Seaman Robert Tilburn, and Midshipman William John Dundas. Now 74 years later on August 7, 2015, Paul Allen’s team operating from his yacht M/Y Octopus recovered her bell, using a remotely operated vehicle and working with the shipwreck search company Blue Water Recoveries.

Microsoft founder Paul Allen made a first attempt in 2012 to recover the bell but was hampered by poor weather conditions and technical difficulties. The bell was discovered and photographed in July, 2001, it was found lying on a seabed well away from the HMS Hood’ hull. Although the bell is in good condition, it will require years of restoration and conservation effort after lying 7 decades in deep seawater.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of World War II, and this effort commemorates the hundreds of brave sailors who were lost at sea,” said Allen. “It is a true honour to undertake the expedition to recover the bell from ‘The Mighty Hood’.

Recovery of the HMS Hood Bell. You can make out the writing on the bottom of the bell. (Credits: Paul Allen)

Recovery of the HMS Hood Bell. You can make out the writing on the bottom of the bell. (Credits: Paul Allen)

Before the bell was brought up, it was secured away from the wreck of HMS Hood. (Credits: Paul Allen)

Before the bell was brought up, it was secured away from the wreck of HMS Hood. (Credits: Paul Allen)

The HMS Hood bell’s recovery is fully supported by the HMS Hood Association. Also the British Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy are grateful for Mr. Allen’s generosity in recovering the bell at no cost. After the conservation of the bell is complete, it will be put on display by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN).

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General NMRN, said in a statement on Facebook: “It will be an honour and privilege to display the bell from HMS Hood. Our new galleries recall and commemorate the heroism, duty and sacrifice of the people of the Royal Navy in the 20th and 21st centuries. HMS Hood’s bell encapsulates the whole of that story as no other single object could.

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Argunners Magazine is an independent online historian and collector's magazine, dedicated to the militaria and history of both Axis and Allied powers during the World War 1 & 2. Argunners is a central resource offering the latest militaria and war history news, journals, articles and press releases related to these themes.

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