The Loss of HMS Hood
by William J. Jurens
Introduction:MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY ago, the British battlecruiser HMS Hood and the German battleship Bismarck fought what was arguably one of the most famous surface engagements of the Second World War. In an instant on the morning of the 24th of May, 1941, the Royal Navy lost the symbolic flagship of its fleet and the battleship Bismarck, which would have otherwise had an interesting but unremarkable history, was transformed into one of the most well-known ships of the war. In much the same way that the loss of the Hindenburg brought a spectacular end to the era of the airship as a credible flying machine, the loss of the Hood marked the end of the battlecruiser as a credible fighting machine.
Since then, the story of Hood's loss and the subsequent hunt for the Bismarck has spawned at least one popular song, a major motion picture, more than a dozen books, and innumerable accounts in the popular literature. In spite of this, however, no complete post-war technical analysis of the loss of Hood has ever reached print. It is the purpose of this paper to attempt to redress this omission.
Anyone approaching this event from a distance of sixty years is possessed of both advantages and disadvantages compared to those who have gone before. Unlike the original investigators, postwar research can provide him with comprehensive and accurate information on the ballistics and armor penetration capabilities of German guns of the period. Unlike the original investigators, he can take advantage of the observations of witnesses from both sides of the battle. Free of the pressure of events and internal politics, he has the luxury of attempting a more exhaustive and objective survey than the members of the original boards could hope to provide.
Of course there are disadvantages to this situation as well. To begin with, he is more than fifty years distant from the events of the 24th of May 1941. He cannot call new witnesses, or, with remarkable exceptions, recall old ones. Perhaps, most significantly, he has no "walking on" experience with the ship herself. To the members of the original boards of inquiry, Hood was not a collection of old photographs, musty engineering drawings and abstruse equations, but a concrete entity, as familiar to them as our homes and workplaces are to us.
For a variety of reasons, the exact
mechanism of the loss of Hood will probably never be known with
certainty. The event occurred with remarkable suddenness, and was to most
observers completely unexpected. No cameras were clearly trained on Hood
as she exploded and no "black box" counted down her final, fatal,
seconds. There were almost no survivors and there remained virtually no
wreckage on which post-mortem might be performed. The results of past
investigations - and this one - must be judged with that in mind. Those
charged with inquiring into more modern disasters are by comparison usually
virtually awash in a sea of data.
Chronology:The design of HMS Hood dated back to the middle of World War I. Although the Royal Navy was secure in the knowledge that its superiority in battleships was unassailable, the Admiralty remained concerned about possible German superiority in battlecruisers, which if tactically well employed could exert an influence all out of proportion to their numbers. Thus it was that Hood and her three proposed sisters were specifically designed to counter the three fifteen-inch gunned battlecruisers which Germany laid down in 1915 and the four more which she laid down the following year. Ironically, Hood began her life as a fortunate survivor. Once Germany became aware of the British intent to match her battlecruiser buildup, she abandoned battlecruiser construction to concentrate on the production of submarines and the Admiralty correspondingly cancelled its ships as well, leaving Hood the sole survivor of an unlucky group that would once have totaled eleven. At 41,200 tons and 860 ft 7 in [262.31 meters] overall length, Hood was for many years the largest and most prestigious warship in the world.
The original design for Hood
was approved on 7 April, 1916 and the ship laid down on 31 May. On that
very day, in what was to become the penultimate naval engagement of the First
World War, three British battlecruisers, the Indefatigable, Queen Mary
and Invincible blew up under German fire at the Battle of Jutland.
"Something seems to be wrong with our bloody ships today . . .",
commented a shaken British admiral, and in fact a thorough investigation into
the apparent fiasco was ordered immediately after the battle was over. The
investigators (probably incorrectly) concluded that the loss of the three
battlecruisers was the result of propellant fires reaching the magazines rather
than penetrations of deck or belt armor and thus changes to new designs and
existing construction centered around improved anti-flash protection rather than
the provision of additional armor. Nonetheless, perceived deficiencies in
the design of Hood were considered serious enough to justify suspending
work to allow a rather substantial redesign, including a reworked armor scheme
and work was not resumed until 1 September. Table I below shows the
changes made between the original and final designs. A midship section of Hood
from the text book "Practical Construction of Warships" by R.N. Newton
(1939) showing her armor layout as completed is reproduced here: Midsection
(Large file - 101KB).
The addition of extra armor in
the final design represented a significant improvement; without it, the immunity
zone1 against German 380mm shells would
actually have been negative. Despite the addition of some 3,450 tons of
additional armor and protective plating, however, Hood was still
considered vulnerable to long range fire. Although several schemes were
put forward to update her over the years, none were ever carried out.
Although as late as 1940, Jane's Fighting
Ships was stating that ". . . the general scheme of protection is most
comprehensive," in Admiralty circles her actual protection was always
considered marginal. In 1920, trials with built up targets representing Hood
were conducted and showed that her magazines could be reached by a 15-in shell
penetrating the 7-in [178mm] belt. In a number of almost incredibly
prophetic diagrams, the Admiralty sketched the path of the shells and showed how
the addition of 3-in [76mm] of additional deck armor could have prevented
Two of these sketches are reproduced below.
Hood's final voyage began at 0050
on Thursday, 22 May, 1941,3 as she passed
Hoxa gate of Scapa Flow in company with battleship Prince of Wales and
six destroyers. Shortly thereafter, word was received that the group would
proceed to Hvals Fjord in Iceland to prevent Bismarck from attacking
convoys. As the situation developed, the group remained at sea instead,
less destroyers Anthony and Antelope, which were detached at 1400
Probably one of the last photographs ever taken of H.M.S. Hood. A photogrammetric analysis of this photo shows Hood is bearing about 341 degrees from Prince of Wales, range 975 meters (1,070 yards). "A" turret guns of the Prince of Wales are trained on the port quarter. HU 50190.
In what was apparently a misguided attempt to close the range rapidly, or perhaps an attempt to follow poorly conceived battle instructions, Hood and Prince of Wales gave away whatever tactical advantage they had at initial contact by holding to their original course for far too long a time, and thereby allowing the Germans to pass ahead.8 Having thus snookered themselves at the outset, the British ships were forced into following a long pursuit curve while tracking the Germans, instead of maneuvering to cut them off. As a perfect pursuit curve would require Hood and Prince of Wales to follow a continuously curving course, and would always keep both German ships directly over the bow, in order to make maneuvering easier and to increase their effective firepower, Holland therefore apparently ordered the curve to be made in a series of straight segments, so arranged as to keep the arcs of their after turrets open. It was, to say the least, far from an ideal solution.9 Even though the British were changing course frequently, which should have greatly hampered German fire control, their rate of bearing drift was small and the Germans' major problem would have been compensating for changes in range.
Prince of Wales' verbatim narrative of the ensuing action reads as follows:10
"During the approach 'Hood' made 'G.I.C.' - followed by - 'G.O.B.I.' - just before opening fire at 0552. Range approx 25,000 yards. 'Prince of Wales' opened fire at 0553. 'Bismarck' replied with extreme accuracy on 'Hood.' 2nd or 3rd salvo straddled and fire broke out in 'Hood' in the vicinity of the port after 4-in gun mounting. Lighter ship engaged 'Prince of Wales.' 'Prince of Wales' opening salvo was observed over, 6th was seen to straddle. At this time 'Prince of Wales' had five 14-in guns in action. 'Y' turret would not bear. Fire in 'Hood' spread rapidly to the mainmast. A turn of 2 blue [indicating a course change of 20º to port] at 0555 opened 'A' arcs at 'Prince of Wales' ninth salvo.11 'Hood' had a further 2 blue flying when, at 0600, just after 'Bismarck's fifth salvo, a huge explosion occurred12 between 'Hood's' after funnel and mainmast and she sank in three or four minutes. 'Hood' had fired five or six salvos, but fall of shot was not seen, possibly because this coincided with firing of 'Prince of Wales' guns."
Fourteen hundred fifteen officers and men of H.M.S. Hood were killed in the explosion, or died in the water shortly thereafter.
Hundreds of eyes watched as Hood approached her end. German eyes watched her through telescopes and periscopes aboard the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. British eyes watched from the cruisers many miles away. Prince of Wales' helmsman and commanders were watching her to ensure that proper position was maintained. And because she was flag, the signalmen aboard Prince of Wales were watching her intently. Most importantly, the entire population of the port side of Prince of Wales, on the disengaged side and no doubt feeling a little cheated at missing the "real action," had little else to do but watch the giant battlecruiser perform. Here, reproduced as much as possible in the words of the witnesses themselves, is what they saw.
Bismarck fired four-gun salvos throughout. Her first salvo undoubtedly fell forward and slightly to starboard of the Hood. On Hood's bridge, Midshipman Dundas saw it come down close off the starboard bow. Petty Officer Blockley in the port foremost H.A. Director of Prince of Wales watched it fall ". . . ahead of the Hood" and ". . . absolutely correct for range," whilst aboard Bismarck, Burkhard Von Müllinheim-Rechberg in her after gunnery control station heard Korvettenkapitän Adalbert Schneider, controlling Bismarck's salvos call it "short." Observers aboard Prince of Wales watched as Hood steamed majestically through the resultant splashes. Schneider ordered a 400 meter bracket, recording the long salvo as an "over" and judging the short salvo to be a straddle. Sub-Lieutenant John Wormersley, control officer of Prince of Wales' port forward H.A. director saw the long salvo fall ". . . on the port quarter of 'Hood' and over by 200 yards."13 "After this," he said, "a fire appeared on the 'Hood's' boat deck."
Curiously, the fire had nothing to do with Bismarck's gunnery - instead it had almost certainly been caused by a hit from Prinz Eugen who was also firing at the leading British target. Like many other British observers, Wormersley had accidentally confused the fall of shot from Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. From the German cruiser's bridge, her captain watched through binoculars with Commander Busch, a German journalist, as Prinz Eugen's second salvo struck home, and listened as Commander Jasper, the gunnery officer confirmed it. Within two minutes of opening fire, Prinz Eugen's gunners had drawn blood.
Observer's impressions of the hit that caused the fire are mixed. From the port side of Prince of Wales Admiral's shelter deck P.O. Lawrence Sutton observed ". . . a salvo of H.E. fall more or less in line amidships of the 'Hood' also short. This was of smaller caliber than the other two."14 The second salvo from Bismarck ". . . appeared to go over," he said, "and at the same time there was a flash just before the mainmast of the 'Hood' and there was a volume of black smoke which afterwards turned into grey . . ."15 Lt. Cdr. Rowell, navigating officer of Prince of Wales, saw three splashes and saw the fourth shell hit. Later, he marked the position of the hit clearly on the ship's plans - close to the P.3 Twin 4-in Mounting about 275 station.16 Chief Petty Officer William Mockridge, who had done equipment trials of the 4-in guns and supply arrangements in 1940, saw the fire break out and was sure it was based in the 4-in ready use lockers, many of which were distributed in the vicinity. "I saw a very vivid flash," he said. "It was so bright, like a magnesium flare." Although Mockridge shifted his periscope forward and thus missed the actual explosion itself, the flame burned for at least ten seconds, he said, and ". . . was still burning when I shifted my periscope."
The fire on the boat deck continued to burn from the time of the hit until Hood was destroyed. Its effects evidently did not penetrate deep into the ship, as Hood's engine rooms were apparently unaffected, and her speed remained unaltered to the end. It was, nonetheless, a substantial blaze. Sergeant Terence Charles Brooks of the Royal Marines observed the scene through his periscope in P1 turret of Prince of Wales: "The second salvo from 'Bismarck' arrived and landed two on the starboard side and one inboard on the 4-in gun deck. The remainder I did not see. Immediately afterwards there was an enormous flash of flame on the 4-in gun deck starboard side aft. Just before this I had seen the 4-in guns crews clustered round the guardrail on the starboard side of the 4-in gun deck of the 'Hood.' After the shell landed all that I could see was a mass of flame as high as the mainmast. I could see nothing then of the 4-in gun crews . . ."17 Boy Leonard Burchell on the P.1 Pom Pom deck, however, could see men on the boat deck - each of whom was living the last few minutes of his life - trying to put out the fire with hoses.18 Lt. Cdr. Cecil Lawson, who watched through the periscope in Prince of Wales' "A" turret emergency conning position was ". . . much impressed, . . . that dense volumes of smoke were pouring out of the superstructure, the entire length of the boat deck."19
Leading seaman Hubert Fackrell, in communication with Hood by box light, saw it as ". . . a fire with bright flame - it was a blue flame - and I got the impression at the time that it was a cordite fire. The flames were very fierce and very high . . ."20 Petty Officer Cyril Coates got the impression of ". . . a shower of sparks on the boat deck not far abaft the after funnel about amidships, followed by one roll of flame from the after screen which enveloped the after turrets." He watched as ". . . the screen doors were blown off and an oily looking flame came through onto the quarterdeck."21 Able Seaman John Boyle looked through the periscope of P.2 gunhouse as the fire seemed to take up all the superstructure, with flames coming up both sides of it,22 while A.B. Walter Marshall, also on the Pom Pom deck, saw it as ". . . flames coming from what I thought was a fan-shaft on the port side of the boat deck between the mainmast and 'X' turret."23
Aboard Hood, A.B. Robert E. Tilburn was lying down - the safest position for unoccupied personnel during action - on the boat deck on the port side just before Hood's port forward U.P. mounting and just abreast the forward funnel. He saw the projectile hit - just one, he was certain - on the extreme port side just at the forward edge of the aftermost U.P. mounting. "That hit us somewhere . . . ," he heard a shipmate say. The shell was, he testified ". . . a small one, because I don't think the deck was very thick and I think a big one would have gone through."24 "Could you say whether this shell penetrated the deck or not?" inquired the Investigative Board. He could not. He was, however, fairly certain that the resultant fire was of cordite. Although he didn't know whether the petrol for the boats ". . . two or three ten gallon drums and a big drum on a slipway," had been dumped, he thought the fire was too far forward to have been petrol in any case. An order was given to put the fire out, he recalled, but almost immediately countermanded because of the exploding ammunition. The explosions were fairly small, he said, ". . . like Chinese crackers," and didn't seem to cause the fire to spread very much, at least not in his direction. "Was the hatch for the 4-in ammunition hoist abreast the after funnel open or closed?" asked the court. "It was shut," he said, "I had asked the officer for orders and he had told me to leave it shut."
Ordinary Signalman Albert Edward Briggs recalled the events from Hood's compass platform, and was able to give a word-for-word of the conversations that he heard there.25 As the first shell hit, the Squadron Gunnery Officer said "She has hit us on the boat deck and there is a fire in the ready use lockers." 'Leave it until the ammunition has gone,"26 the Admiral replied. After that, he recalled that contact to the spotting top had been lost as well. Although he never actually saw the hit, to Briggs the hit seemed to be on the starboard side, ". . . because we all tended to fall over to starboard." On the upper bridge, Midshipman W.J. Dundas recalled the torpedo officer, who was at the starboard after end of the bridge, report a cordite fire on the starboard side of the boat deck.27
Fifteen miles away, in H.M.S. Norfolk, Rear Admiral Wake-Walker, watched as the fire ". . . spread forward until its length was greater than its height" and then begin to die down. "As it died down," he said, "I saw her two fore turrets fire and the thought 'they may be able to get it under,' came into my mind."28 All around the scene of the action, other observers recalled thinking exactly the same thing.
Just then, Hood exploded.
Aboard Prince of Wales, Captain Leach had been anticipating trouble. He had just watched clinically as a salvo ". . . appeared to cross the ship somewhere about the mainmast. In that salvo were, I think, two shots short and one over, but it may have been the other way round. But I formed the impression at the time that something had arrived on board 'Hood' in a position just before the main-mast and slightly to starboard. . . . I in fact wondered what the result was going to be, and between one and two seconds after I formed that impression an explosion took place in the 'Hood' which appeared to me to come from very much the same position in the ship."29 Commander George William Rowell, also on Prince of Wales' bridge, thought two shells had hit in the fatal salvo instead of one. Although he discussed it at length with Leach, they eventually agreed to disagree.
To most observers the explosion was an awe-inspiring event. It temporarily blinded Sergeant Brooks, watching through his periscope. On board Prince of Wales, Signalman Alan Cutler remembered the yeoman of the watch taking him around to the other side of the flag deck to avoid shrapnel - a needless precaution it transpired, as evidently none arrived aboard.30
To others it was surprisingly unspectacular. To Lt. Peter Slade and A.B. Richard Scott, who were on the catapult deck of Prince of Wales preparing to fly off the aircraft, the explosion revealed itself as a silent red glow reflected from the surrounding bulkheads.31 The impressions of many others were nearly the same. Almost everyone agreed it was essentially noiseless, or at least sufficiently quiet that it was drowned out by the sound of Prince of Wales' own guns and machinery. Esmond Knight, in the air defense station above Prince of Wales' bridge, and who was to lose his sight in the next few minutes of action, was later to recall ". . . I remember listening for it and thinking it would be a most tremendous explosion, but I don't remember hearing an explosion at all."32 David Wilson Boyd of Prince of Wales recalled that "She went up with more of a rumble than a bang." Others described the explosion as ". . . a deep, dull, roar," "a noise like squashing a match box on a bigger scale," or as similar to the sound one might make by hitting a vent duct with a fist. Band Master 2nd Class Percy Cooper in Prince of Wales' Port Forward H.A.C.P. below the waterline clearly recalled hearing Hood's gunfire before the explosion, but strangely never heard the explosion itself, or felt any shock.33 Horace Jarret, a commissioned engineer who had experienced depth charges only a few days before, was in Prince of Wales' 'B' boiler room and also felt nothing significant. "Even now, looking back, I can think of no effect," he would later tell the court.34
To Able Seaman Tilburn, still lying down on Hood's boat deck, the explosion was almost unbelievably innocuous. "Did you feel any particular blast yourself?" the court questioned. "No, Sir," he replied. The noise ". . . was just as if the guns had fired, ". . . there was dead silence after the explosion." As he floated in the water afterward, he noticed ". . . a lot of long steel tubes, sealed at both ends. . . . Roughly 15 ft long and 1 ft diameter" floating about him, evidently crushing tubes from the ship's side protection system. "Could you describe the color of these tubes?" inquired the court. "Rusty," he replied.
On Hood's bridge, Signalman Briggs recalled "There was not a terrific explosion, but the officer of the watch said to the Admiral that the Compass had gone and the Admiral said move over to the after control." Hood initially ". . . listed 6-7° to starboard and shortly after that the Admiral said she listed right over to port." "I was just flung forward on my face," he would testify, with others ". . . falling in all directions." Briggs, Dundas and Tilburn were the only survivors from a crew that totaled fourteen hundred eighteen.
Aboard Prince of Wales, Captain Leach saw the explosion as ". . . a very fierce upward rush of flame the shape of a funnel, rather a thin funnel, and almost instantaneously the ship was enveloped in smoke from one end to the other." To Rowell, the explosion was ". . . very definitely a vertical sheet of flame . . . I might say egg-shaped." Leading Seaman Winston Littlewood, O.N., the trainer of Suffolk's Port H.A. Director saw it as ". . . a huge orange pillar of sparks going in the air and clouds of black smoke. It was a narrow pillar," he recalled, ". . . going up very high . . . When it reached to the top it fell over on both sides." The explosion, he said, ". . . scintillated like stars . . . like a type of firework."35 To Petty Officer Lawrence Sutton ". . . the starting of it was a thin column of flame because it attracted my attention the way it shot into the air abaft the mainmast and before 'X' turret." Then ". . . a huge flash came up all around 'Y' turret," he said, accompanied by ". . . a tremendous roar, mingled with the noise of 'Y' turret firing."
Terence Brooks saw the fatal salvo arrive through the periscope of Prince of Wales' P.1 gun turret. "It seemed to me that one shell went into the ship by the after funnel, and one also seemed to enter the ship by the barbette of 'X' turret. There was an enormous flash which blinded me for a few moments. . . . When I looked through my periscope again I was in time to see a black ball of smoke out of which I distinctly saw a 15-in gun thrown through the air followed by what appeared to be the roof of a turret."36 William Westlake saw spurts of smoke coming out of five or six places just as the explosion began. Petty Officer Frederick Albert French saw the explosion begin as a bulge in the boat deck, between the after funnel and the mainmast. ". . . the boat deck appeared to raise in the middle [and] all what I term cordite fumes came from underneath the ship from aft and about abreast the after funnel," he testified. It looked, ". . . like the crown of a cap being pushed up from below." There followed a tremendous explosion. Hood's stern simply ceased to exist. Her bow reared up - ". . . like the spire of a giant cathedral," a German observer would note - and within three minutes she was gone.
2 The trials are described in C.B. 1561 "Progress in Gunnery Materiel - 1920," ADM 186/244 X/LO 1045 pp.82 et. seq. Progress in Gunnery Materiel - 1920 pp. 82 specifically states ". . . This addition to the main deck of H.M.S. Hood has been made, the extra weight being balanced by the removal of the torpedo control tower, four of the 5.5-inch guns, and all the above water torpedo tubes," but the author was obviously speaking before the fact. The tone of the statement shows how far the planning had progressed, however.
5 The "blue pendant" refers to the signal flag that was used in association with other flags in order to transmit course change information. The color of the flag indicated the degree of change while the order of flags on the halyard indicated the direction. When the flags were lowered, the course change was executed by all ships simultaneously.
6 It is difficult to understand how he can have expected so early a contact as, according to Grenfell, the rate of relative approach at this time was under 35 knots. Kennedy, however, states the relative rate of closure was almost twice this figure. As the ships maneuvered, the relative rates were changing almost minute by minute.
7 In British service, one cable was nominally considered to be equal to 100 Fathoms or 600 feet. It follows therefore that 4 cables would equal slightly over 730 meters. Some reference books give a British cable as 608 feet instead, but the difference is entirely negligible.
8 Grenfell discusses a number of alternative explanations for the seemingly poor British tactics. One is that Holland was following the informal instructions of his superior Sir John Tovey, who, observing that deflection errors were more common than range errors in target practice, suggested to many officers in his command that an end on approach was best when closing the range rapidly was of paramount importance and when "A" arcs would be closed in any case. A more likely explanation is that Holland was simply following the precepts of the Royal Navy's Fighting instructions taught at the Admiralty Tactical School between the wars, which apparently suggested just such an approach. See The Bismarck Episode, pp. 61-64.
9 Hood's intercept course at 0553, provided the Germans did not maneuver to avoid, would have been c. 270°, with intercept about 0628, and would have given both the Germans and the British identical target angles and problems with 'A' arcs. Had the Germans turned away before intercept the battle would have turned into a duel of broadsides on parallel courses. Had they turned toward Hood and Prince of Wales could have neatly crossed their 'T.' At the time of initial contact, 0535, Hood's intercept course would have been about 268° with theoretical "collision" at 0633. Ironically, this would have closed the range at about 870 meters per minute, whereas the actual range rate in practice was only about 690 meters per minute, only a 25% improvement. Assuming Hood's supposed zone of excessive deck vulnerability to be 5,000 meters wide, this means that the extra traverse time would have only been about two minutes, roughly enough time for only two extra salvos to have been exchanged. Of course, as subsequent events were to make clear, it would take only one well placed salvo to kill.
10 The footnote references and the explanatory material in square brackets have been added. The times were approximate. The board received a number of track charts of the action, but as Captain George Rowell, the navigating officer of Prince of Wales was to note with remarkable understatement, they:
". . . were compiled on the following day from the information available. Unfortunately, the plot where the narrative was being kept was thrown into some confusion by a large amount of blood that was pouring down from the compass platform onto the track chart."11 "A" arcs were said to be "open" when all main battery guns could bear on a single target forward of the beam, else "closed."
14 These were almost certainly 203mm shells from Prinz Eugen's first salvo. Other observers made similar remarks, and particularly noted a salvo which appeared to fall roughly midway between the two British ships.
16 ADM 116/4351 pp. 261. Hood's frames stations in British terminology were spaced about 640mm (25.32 in) apart on average, so this point was about 175m (580 ft) aft of the bow, i.e., just aft of the after fire control tower. Although Rowell was sure that it was a 15-in salvo which caused the damage, he was almost certainly in error. As can be seen on board Exhibit "M" (see next page), in order to have hit where Rowell indicated, the shell would have had to have passed through the fire control tower on its way, which almost certainly would have come to the attention of those on the bridge. Rowell's location for the hit is therefore probably in error as well.
23 Presumably this was flame exiting from one of the large engine room exhausts located on the boat deck between the after control tower and the break of the superstructure. There were several skylights and ladderways in the area as well, but both of the ammunition hoists in this location would have presumably been screened from his view. A complete deck plan of Hood's boat deck showing all relevant detail is given in a number of places throughout the minutes of the various boards as Exhibit M (see next page).
24 Tilburn's testimony is at ADM 116/4351 et. seq. A.B. Alfred James Priddy, in partial confirmation, stated that "The splashes of this salvo appeared to be smaller than the first two, and two splashes of this salvo were short," but Lt. Cdr. Rowell of Prince of Wales considered ". . . very definitely that it was a 15-in salvo." Although the court decided to side with Lt. Cdr. Rowell, the first hit on the boat deck was almost certainly scored by Prinz Eugen.
30 Several accounts purport to describe various pieces of Hood which landed on Prince of Wales after the explosion. Upon close examination, all were proven to be parts of Prince of Wales herself, thrown about in various ways from shells that arrived aboard later in the action.
4351 pp. 218 et. seq. Brooks also testified "When the second hit was
obtained on the 'Hood' the after funnel seemed to crumple over and fall away to
the port-side and I saw a yellow flash come at the same time from the barbette
of 'X' ". He indicated the source of this flash as being directly
under the chase of 'X' guns at the position at which they were trained.