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Sinking of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Unit/ Formation: HM Ships

Location: Malaysia

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1941

Date/s: 10 December 1941

Force Z went to sea without air cover and when the two ships were discovered by Japanese bombers and torpedo planes they came under a relentless attack.

“I thought they were heroes,” an able seaman later commented, “because they fought non-stop and there were shell cartridges lying all over. They were kicking these over the side into the sea… they never stopped firing right up to the end.”

When the end came, aboard HMS Prince of Wales, turret captain Sgt Terry Brooks, the youngest sergeant in the Corps, ordered his men to remove their boots, inflate their rubber life jackets and jump into the sea. After going below to the ship’s magazine to bring out three more of his men, Sgt Brooks too plunged overboard. The escorting destroyers picked up survivors and returned them to Singapore.

HMS ‘Repulse,’ at bottom right, and HMS ‘Prince of Wales’ under Japanese air attack on Dec. 10, 1941. Photo via the National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Cecil Brown was a journalist on board HMS Repulse:

Men are running all along the deck of the ship to get further astern. The ship is lower in the water at the stern and their jump therefore will be shorter. Twelve Royal Marines run back too far, jump into the water and are sucked into the propeller. The screws of the Repulse are still turning. There are five or six hundred heads bobbing in the water. The men are being swept astern because the Repulse is still making way and there’s a strong tide here, too.

Over 60 Royal Marines were killed during this action (approx: POW 24/ Repluse 38), many of the survivors were killed during the evacuation of Singapore or died as Prisoners of War.

All hands on deck. Prepare to abandon ship.” There is a pause for just an instant, then: “God be with you. Captain Tennant, HMS Repulse

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Sally Marble
Sally Marble
Feb 12, 2023

The third season of the PBS series of “All Creaters Great and small” (Feb. 2023) features the son of Mrs H the house keeper. He had just joined the British Navy and assigned to the HMS Repulse Before Briton went to war. A clue to his future?


john BIrley page a much loved husband an father

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