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Winston S. Churchill and Ted Briggs Liveblog World War II: May 21, 1941


The Grand Alliance - Google Books-11.png

The Grand Alliance - Google Books-12.png


H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - Remembering Hood - Excerpt from "Flagship Hood, The Fate of Britain's Mightiest Warship": It was my job to collect messages for the flag lieutenant and take them to his cabin after members of the wardroom had dined. At 8 p.m. on 21 May I looked at a signal addressed to Admiral Holland from Admiral Sir John Tovey, the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet. It seemed routine and read: 'Flying your flag in Hood and taking Prince of Wales, Acates, Antelope, Anthony, Echo, lcarus and Electra under your orders sail at 0001 on May 22 and proceed with moderate despatch to Hvalfjord.' I knew that it was only a confirmatory message and placed little importance on it. We had received dozens of similar signals in the last year, and generally they led to freezing watches at sea in northerly waters. 'Oh God, another cold, late night,' I thought.

The Hood was at scapa Flow, and it was obvious to harbour-watchers that soon we would not be there. In the early evening there had been an abnormal amount of comings and goings between the Hood and the King George V, Tovey's flagship. Soon after, ominous, blacker streams of smoke began to emerge from the funnels of the fleet, signifying the usual controlled urgency of wartime preparation for sea. Later that evening I was hurrying to Lieutenant-Commander Wyldbore-smith's cabin again with a confidential signal from the C-in-C. This urged: 'Raise steam with all despatch and be prepared to leave harbour 0001 on May 22...