An iconic piece of maritime history has been recovered

Thanks and congratulations to Paul Allen and his team for recovering the ship’s bell of HMS Hood, sunk by the German battleship Bismarck in 1941 during the Battle of the Denmark Strait.  The Telegraph reports:

An American billionaire philanthropist has recovered the missing bell from a British battlecruiser that was sunk with nearly all hands, completing the final wish of one of the ship’s few survivors.

Ted Briggs was one of only three survivors from a crew of 1,418 on board HMS Hood when it was sunk by the Bismark in the North Atlantic more than 74 years ago.

Before he died he had often hoped the mighty ship’s bell could be salvaged from the seabed as a fitting memorial to those killed in the Royal Navy’s worst loss of life from a single ship during the Second World War.

His wish was finally fulfilled last week, seven years after his death, when the bell was recovered by research a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The bell was brought up from the shattered wreck lying in the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland at a depth of more than 9,000 feet. The bell will now spend a year undergoing restoration before being placed in the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.

There’s more at the link.

Here’s a video clip of the recovery.

The Admiralty probably would not have allowed the wreck to be disturbed to recover the bell, as the ship is registered as a war grave.  However, because it was blown clear by the explosion that sank HMS Hood, it was lying at some distance from the ship itself, making its salvage possible without disturbing human remains.

(BTW, it’s worth reading the obituary of Ted Briggs.  He outlived the other two survivors of the ship, and became president of the HMS Hood Association.  He wrote half of a book about the vessel, which you can read online here.  It’s a fascinating piece of history.)



  1. Given the current state of popular action in Britain, not unlike that in the U.S., of late, I hope Allen maintains some enforceable interest in the bell so that its fate is not up to the whim of whomever happens to be occupying No. 10.

  2. Pretty sure the word "Bismark" is spelled incorectly in this story. If the ship was named for Otto Von Bismarck, your missing a 'c'.

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