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Princess Anne opens two war exhibits in Portsmouth

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the HMS Hood in the Strait of Denmark where 1,415 men perished; only three members of its crew survived. The sinking of the ship by the German battleship Bismarck was one of the most tragic naval events of World War II. Three days after its sinking, the Bismarck suffered the same fate. From that tragedy comes light when the Princess Royal visited the National Museum of the Royal Navy to unveil the newly conserved bell of the HMS Hood which went on display in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.

The eighteen-inch-high bell was recovered from the ocean floor on August 7th last year with the help of philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Paul G. Allen. It was hoisted from the Strait of Denmark between Greenland and Iceland.

The restoration took a year since the bell had been under water for so long. The Mighty Hood’s bell was discovered and photographed in 2001; eleven years later, bad weather and technical difficulties hampered Mr. Allen’s efforts to retrieve it.

Prof Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the museum, said last year: “It will be an honour and privilege to display the bell from HMS Hood.”

Mr. Allen said of his expedition: “This effort commemorates the hundreds of brave sailors who were lost at sea. It is a true honour to undertake the expedition to recover the bell from ‘The Mighty Hood’.”

President of the HMS Hood Association, Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks, said: ‘The service was just right for those who died 75 years ago. It was the right way to remember their sacrifices for us. The bell can act as a memorial to remember those people.’

Princess Anne is patron of the Museum Historic Dockyard. Whilst there, she also opened the Battle of Jutland exhibition. This 36-hour battle was the decisive factor which won the first World War for the allied forces.

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