Firstly, I am a member of the Hood Association. Secondly, I wondered what I could do here on my own website without 'treading on the toes' [as it were] of the Association, and thirdly, the most important 'ly', I didn't [and won't] want to do anything which would use the names of those who died in her on that tragic day in May 1941. Their names belong to the Association website; to the Southsea Common Portsmouth Naval Memorial Cenotaph; to the hearts and minds of their loved ones, and to the Nation in whose name they fought and died with honour.

However, on this page I will be using some of their branch ranks and rates and this will focus upon the communications branch.

The Hood was a truly mighty warship and if you yourself served in any of the Royal Navy's battleships [Hood was a battlecruiser] you will know what 40-odd thousand tons of grey coloured steel looks like, but if you didn't, you can still see that spectacle in the U.S.A., where several of her battleships of around this tonnage are parked as museums. I recently visited the USS Alabama in Mobile. Unlike today's frigates for example, which are all, give or take, the same in size [and displacement] not all battlecruisers were mighty beasts like the Hood, and a good example of another well known battlecruiser was the Repulse which had a displacement of only 26500 tons - nearly half the displacement of Hood. In size only, can you imagine a frigate proper and a MCMV [minesweeper] both being called frigates?

Electricity is something we all understand and need. In a warship, whatever our branch, we all use electrical equipment to earn our crust of bread and without it the ships is impotent. Onboard, we get it from our stokers and mechanical engineers who keep the engines going, but they get a lot of it back to run the massive electrical fans which provide air [in and out] for the engine rooms and the boiler rooms: the chef requires the potato peeler the kneading machine the knife sharpener and many other electrical kitchen tools, while the laundry turns out our shirts and trousers pressed with an electric iron. The 'brain' of the ship, the OPS ROOM, devours electricity in a multitude of machines and gadgets and when it passes the 'brain processes' to its upper deck armaments, the turrets the hoists  the directors and the guns respond with electrical power and go BANG!

So what follows should be of interest to all of you for it is the COMPLETE electrical fit of HMS HOOD covering every conceivable motor, turbine, lamp, pump, ventilator, hoist, kitchen gear, wireless office gear, etc etc. Click here [and when your Adobe Reader opens click on VIEW toolbar, choose ROTATE and CLOCKWISE] to view  HMS HOOD's 'electrical organs' and imagine all the connecting cables and wires which formed her 'electrical veins' and 'electrical arteries', running parallel with 'veins/arteries' of fresh water, steam, fire main, fuel, hydraulics etc.

Now let us move on to her full RADIO COMMUNICATION FIT, and with that, her Communications Branch.

 When you have finished look at this page which tells one all about the Kelvite Sounding Machine which was part of the Hood's fit THE KELVITE.htm

You may be surprised to see that her fit was sparse and not that you would expect, by our modern standards, the fit of a ship which carried the FLAG almost continuously. Communicators of those days looking at our modern radio communications equipment set up would be amazed, not just with the modernity of electronics, but with the sheer number of radio circuits a 2005 capital ship [any of our three carriers for example] can actually provide for many users. In the pre WW2 days, morse code was king with very few, and those low powered only, capable of voice transmission.  Today in 2005, all communications, whether they be domestic commercial civilian or military top secret, are rapid, ubiquitous and saturated with information. Before WW2 communications, again military and commercial, were slow, infrequent and cumbersome so that the data loads were absolutely basic.  Traffic loads, even in capital warships would have been relative low, and although I am talking about pre war, when the war started, radio silence INCREASED incoming traffic and REDUCED outgoing traffic. Even though the traffic loads were light, everything was coded by hand, in and out, and that took a lot of people especially when speed of decoding was the speed of execution of orders, and thus the difference between success and failure of an operation against the enemy. Therefore, whilst you might find just a few transmitters and receivers, you will find lots of personnel to man these relatively few circuits. In peacetime, selective drafting on a fair rotating basis is the norm, but a luxury when compared with the 'fill these billets at all costs' pressure brought on by a war. Hence what you are about to see is a Communications Department which is nearly 25% Senior Rates with just one leading telegraphist. It is also clear as to the importance of the signalman in those days when a good percent of the signals exchanged would have been by visual signalling. Here is HMS Hood's Communication Department at the time of her sinking.

HMS Hoods tragic loss was subject to a Boards of Inquiry.  The outcome of those Boards are covered by the National Archive files ADM  116/4351 and 4352.

Admiral Commanding Battlecruisers - Vice Admiral
Commanding Officer of HMS HOOD - Captain Royal Navy
Ships Communications Officer - Lieutenant Commander Royal Navy
Radio Communicators No of Visual Communicators No of Coders 'S' No of
Commissioned Warrant Officer Telegraphist 1 Warrant Officer Signal Bosun 1 - CODERís were ratings who were either CODER 'E' [in which case they worked with the Senior Instructor Officer on education matters, an Instructor Commander in Hood] or they were CODER 'S' who were employed by the Communications Branch on signal codes and ciphers.  The list of those who perished does not differentiate between CODER E or S and lists them simply as CODERS.  Therefore, it is possible that the list here would be increased by CODERS employed on S duties.
Chief Petty Officer Telegraphist 1 Chief Yeoman of Signals 1 - -
Petty Officer Telegraphist 10 Yeoman of Signals 7 - -
Leading Telegraphist 1 Leading Signalman 4 - -
Telegraphist 9 Signalman 11 - -
Ordinary Telegraphist 14 Ordinary Signalman 24 - -
Boy Telegraphist 3 Boy Signalman 4 - -
TOTAL COMMUNICATIONS EACH SUB BRANCH 39 - 52 - -
TOTAL COMMUNICATIONS STAFF 92 [with the SCO] but would be increased with the Coder branch personnel. Only 1 did not perish.

The equipment fitted comes next. In the PDF file, I have added other big ships [capital ships] as a comparison. The dates shown are the PROGRAMME dates [not build or commissioning etc] but budget in each year for costing purposes. BARHAM and HOOD  were elderly ladies whereas the NELSON and RODNEY were middle aged and KG5 was a young girl. What you see here are the fits in early 1939 and therefore the fits they had when war was declared.  Almost certainly so early on in the war, HOOD would have had this fit at the time of her sinking.

Ship
Voltage
Programme

TRANSMITTING

RECEIVING

Aerial
Exchange & Wavemeter
Outfit

D/F

Wa/T & A.C. Outfit

Miscellaneous

Remarks

No 1 T.R. or Main Office

No 2 T.R. or Second Office

Aux Office

C.R.R.

Second Office

Aux Office

King George V.
220
1936

59D
57D
60D/2

CAB

 

59D

57D

60D/2

CAB

 

CAB/5

CAD/2

H/S[T]

H/S[R]

 

 

EF

G1

GJ/2

G2

FC2

406

60E

52ERT

53

75D

 

Barham

220

1912

36M

43Y

50X

43A

75

CN/4

CO

CQ/3

CN

CSC

CG

CP

ED

GB

G2

SGX

405

DL

DHD

53

Separated

Aerials

Hood

220

1916

36S

49

52FHW

75

73X

CN/3

CO

CQ

Q9

CN

CQ

CSC

CQ

CSC

EA

1492B

G7

G8

GB

FH2

LM1

405

DL

DG

DRB

DHB

53

Separated

Aerial &

Control

System

Nelson

220

1922

36M

43Y

43X

37M

52FHW/2

75

73X

 

CAB/3

CAD

CN

CQ

CP

H/S[R]

CJ

CP

CSD

CQ/2

Q9

 

EF

GH

G7

G2

 

FH2

LM1

DL

DRB

DHB

53

As above

Rodney

220

1922

36S

43Y

37M

71

 

43A

45

73X

75

CN/4

CO

CQ

H/S[R]

C1

CP

CH

CP

Q9

ED

GD

G2

G6

SD

401

DRB

DHB

53

Separated

Aerial. SD fitted in Aux Office.

 

To decode the outfits above there are three PDF files, one for Transmitters, one for Receivers and one for Miscellaneous, the latter including Aerial Outfits, Aerial Exchanges, Battery Outfits, AC Supply outfits, Wavemeters and Warning Telephones. 

Radio transmitters fitted in HM ships pre WW2.pdf

Radio receivers and DF sets fitted in HM ships pre WW2.pdf

Miscellaneous communications equipment fitted in HM ships pre WW2.pdf

Finally, here's to the memory of H.M.S. Hood and her crew and all that she stood for. In this year 1936, the complement of HMS Hood was, throughout most of the year, 810 officers and men. See this Admiralty document for more details The health of the navy in 1936.  Her wartime complement was increased to 1200 but after her refit and new armaments fitted, her 1941 complement had increased to a massive 1418 {of which 1415 were lost in the sinking} with only three survivors, an uptake of 75.06%, making what may have been 'comfortable accommodation' into a vastly over-crowded environment.