Prince of Wales, Repulse Remembered

The preserved bells of the backbone of Force Z, the battlewagons HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse – sunk on 10 December 1941 – have been put side-by-side on display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth to mark the 80th anniversary of the tragedy.

The bells had spent six decades at the bottom of the Pacific.

(MoD Crown Copyright)

At least 842 men of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines died when the two capital ships were lost to the Japanese air attack off Malaysia – just three days after the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Some 330 men went down with Prince of Wales, 512 with the Repulse.

The bells were recovered 20 years ago by Royal Navy divers – with the full support of survivors – as the wrecks were being plundered by unscrupulous salvagers and souvenir hunters.

“We hope our visitors take a moment to reflect on the enormity of the loss,” said Victoria Ingles, senior curator at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. “Ship’s bells are held in great affection by the crew and it was so important that both were retrieved, with permission, from the wreck sites in 2002. Their display is a fitting tribute to the many lives lost.”

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