80th anniversary events to mark HMS Hood’s ill-fated mission from Scapa Flow in Orkney against Bismarck announced

The 80th anniversary of HMS Hood's ill-fated mission from Scapa Flow to intercept Germany’s largest battleship Bismarck is be marked with series of online events this month, organiser Another Orkney Production has announced.

The talks and films will be streamed via the Orkney International Science Festival’s YouTube channel on 21-22 May to coincide with the date of the ship’s departure from the islands’ naval base in 1941.

Three days later, HMS Hood sunk in minutes after being hit by German ships in the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland with the loss of all but three of her 1,418-strong crew.

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The battlecruiser, built in 1918, was one of the Royal Navy’s largest and most famous – and her sinking the Royal Navy’s single largest loss of life in the Second World War.

HMS Hood before her departure from Scapa Flow, taken from HMS Prince of Wales. Picture: Orkney Library and Archive

Accompanied by newly-commissioned battleship HMS Prince of Wales and six destroyers, she had been sent to try to prevent Bismarck reaching the North Atlantic from Norway because of her threat to Allied shipping.

The event will include talks on the ship’s construction in Clydebank, her visit to Australia as part of a world tour in the 1920s which drew huge crowds, and the lead up to her departure from Scapa Flow.

A documentary by Rob White, For Years Unseen, will be screened about the recovery of the ship’s bell.

The two-day event will be introduced by Captain Chris Smith, the Royal Navy’s commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Historians and authors taking part include Ian Johnston, Graeme Lunn and Commander David Hobbs.

Commander William Sutherland, chairman of the HMS Hood Association, will talk about the organisation established in 1975 by former crew.

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