The bells of sunken warships are on display in Portsmouth 80 years after the tragedy


Bells recovered from two Royal Navy warships sunk during World War II have been on display to mark the 80th anniversary of the deaths of the 842 sailors on board.

Both HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were attacked and sunk by Imperial Japanese Navy planes on December 10, 1941, just days after Pearl Harbor.

The sinking of the two ships is considered one of the Navy’s worst disasters, with 330 lost crew members from HMS Prince of Wales and 512 lost from HMS Repulse.

The bells were recovered from the wrecks in 2002 (Andrew Matthews / PA)

The bells of both ships are now on display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which is near the pier at Portsmouth Naval Base which houses the aircraft carrier which inherited the name HMS Prince From Wales.

A spokeswoman for the museum said: “This was the first time that battleships at sea had been sunk only by an air attack and marked the end of the battleship as the predominant type of ship, replaced by the aircraft carrier.

“The ships had led the British naval squadron Force Z tasked with deterring Japanese expansion.

“Their sinking weakened the geographically important city of Singapore and contributed to its surrender on February 15, 1942, a humiliating defeat for Allied forces. “

Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill recalled in his post-war memoirs: “Throughout the war I never received a more direct shock.

Both warships were sunk by Japanese planes on December 10, 1941 (Andrew Matthews / PA)

“As I turned and squirmed in my bed, all the horror of the news washed over me.

“There were no British or American ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific, except the American survivors of Pearl Harbor, who were rushing back to California. Across this vast expanse of waters, Japan was supreme, and we were everywhere weak and naked.

Victoria Ingles, Senior Curator of the NMRN, said: “We hope our visitors take a moment to reflect on the enormity of the loss.

“The ship’s bells are held with great affection by the crew and it was so important that both were recovered, with permission, from the wreckage sites in 2002. Their display is a fitting tribute to the many lives lost . ”


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