Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Sunday, 5 October 2008 17:58 UK

Last veteran of Hood sinking dies

Ted Briggs (Chris Ridley/Channel Four handout/PA Wire)
Ted Briggs was only 18 years old during the Battle of Denmark Strait

The last remaining survivor of the sinking of WWII battle cruiser HMS Hood in May 1941 has died at the age of 85, his naval association has said.

Ted Briggs, from Hampshire, was one of just three survivors out of more than 1,400 crew after an exchange of fire with the German battleship Bismarck.

When asked about the sinking he said: "I was not a hero, I just survived."

Mr Briggs once said a sighting of HMS Hood as a boy had inspired him to join the Royal Navy as a signalman.

The teenager was assigned to HMS Hood, the Royal Navy's flagship, in 1939.

When Bismarck was spotted in the Denmark Strait in May 1941, HMS Hood was sent in pursuit.

During the Battle of Denmark Strait it was bombarded with shells, one of which caused a huge explosion that ripped through the ship, sinking it in less than three minutes.

In 2001, the wreck of HMS Hood was found 3,000m below the surface of the sea between Greenland and Iceland.

Mr Briggs, who was 18 at the time of the sinking, said he had survived because he was caught in an underwater air pocket.

After a short period of leave following the loss of the ship, Mr Briggs was assigned to another vessel to continue his naval career.

He served for another 30 years before retiring, later becoming president of HMS Hood Association and an MBE.

HMS Hood
The Royal Navy's flagship was sent in pursuit of the Bismarck

Mr Briggs died at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth on Saturday, his friend and the chairman of HMS Hood Association, Peter Heys, said.

Mr Heys described him as a "perfect gentleman".

He added: "He was a humorous man but he did not like to be reminded of the sinking as he had to be pulled out of the freezing water."

Mr Briggs is survived by his wife Clare.

Midshipman William Dundas, who died in 1965, and able seaman Bob Tilburn, who died in 1995, were the other survivors of the sinking.

Wreck of HMS Hood found
24 Jul 01 |  UK News


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