St Benedict’s commemorates the 75th anniversary of the loss of HMS Hood
On Tuesday 24th May some 150 pupils, former pupils, staff, parents and guests of St Benedict’s School in Ealing gathered for a lecture by one of the foremost experts on HMS Hood, Mr Rob White, an award-winning producer, broadcaster and documentary maker. The occasion marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the loss of the Hood. Mr White, Vice-President of the HMS Hood Association, delivered a powerful and moving account of Hood’s career and of the discoveries which have been made about her loss as a result of inspection of the wreck. On display was a superb metre-long model of HMS Hood, constructed by Mr Colin Vass, a member of the HMS Hood Association.
Seventy-five years ago to the day, on Saturday 24th May 1941, at around 6.00am, shells from the German battleship Bismarck destroyed the pride of the Royal Navy, HMS Hood, in the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland. Of Hood’s crew of 1418, only three survived. Two of those killed were former pupils of St Benedict’s: Midshipman Basil Patrick ‘Paddy’ Stevenson and Lieutenant (Engineering) Michael Stephen Humphrey, quite a remarkable coincidence for the small school which St Benedict’s was in the 1930s.
Mr White was a member of the expedition which located the wreck in 2001, resulting in a memorable series of documentaries – one of the most expensive (and risky) projects ever financed by Channel 4 Television. In his lecture he also described the horrific experiences of one of the three survivors, Ted Briggs, whom in 2001 he took to lay a plaque on his ship-mates’ final resting place, bringing closure to sixty years of trauma.
After the lecture, and a vote of thanks by Sam Lythgoe (a Sea Cadet) there was a short act of remembrance in front of the School’s war memorial. Prayers were led by Abbot Martin Shipperlee and Headmaster Mr Chris Cleugh proposed a toast to the Fallen, which in naval fashion was drunk in a tot of rum.
The proceeds from this lecture will go towards the school’s War Memorial Fund. Captain Shaun Hullis, St Benedict’s School CCF Contingent Commander, commented: “In November 2014 we launched the War Memorial Fund to replace the memorial, re-locate it, and correct all errors and omissions, to provide a more enduring and fitting tribute to our Fallen; the aim is to unveil the new memorial on November 11th 2018. After this evening, we are nearly half-way to our goal of £15,000.”Published: May 27 2016