Benefice of Boldre & South Baddesley

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H.M.S. Hood

The battle cruiser HMS HOOD was laid down in 1916, launched in 1918 and commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1920 as flagship of the Atlantic Fleet.  Her service throughout the 1920s and early 1930s was similar to that of any other major warship of her time, if rather more glamorous.  Her duties comprised annual Spring Cruises to Scandinavia, Spain, the Mediterranean, Brazil and West Indies combined with routine naval service operating from Scottish and south coast naval bases; and once a year she would return to her home port (either Devonport or Portsmouth) for an annual refit. Perhaps the ultimate in 'showing the flag' cruises was her famous World Cruise between November 1923 and October 1924 when, accompanied by the battleship HMS Repulse and 5 cruisers, she sailed around the world calling at various Empire countries as well as Canada, USA and elsewhere and logging over 38,000 miles.  In 1929, she entered a major refit in Portsmouth emerging two years later in March 1931 to join the Atlantic Fleet to return to the familiar routine of Spring Cruises and operational service.  She was part of the assembled fleet at the Spithead reviews for King George V's Silver Jubilee in 1935 and King George VI's Coronation in 1937.  Throughout these decades she was regularly visited by British and foreign royalty, political and other dignitaries, as well as by ordinary members of the public.  Her sheer size, power, beauty and ability to dominate every harbour and anchorage throughout the world, meant that Hood became the embodiment of British naval supremacy and an inspiration to young men to join the navy.  It is little wonder that she acquired the sobriquet the 'Mighty Hood'.

From 1936 to 1938, Hood served in the Mediterranean Fleet based in Gibraltar, during which time she formed part of the Spanish Patrol supporting British cargo ships which were vulnerable to Franco's warships.  As war clouds loomed she returned to Portsmouth for a 6 months refit, rejoining the Home Fleet in June 1939 based in Scapa Flow.  Her duties at this time were to patrol the waters between Scotland, Iceland and Norway to prevent German warships breaking out to into shipping lanes in N Atlantic.  In mid 1940 she joined Force H in the Mediterranean where she participated in the shelling of the French fleet at Mers el Kebir in Algeria following the French armistice with Germany on 25 June.  In August, she returned to Scapa Flow to resume her previous duties.

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