Due to uncertainty around changing COVID regulations and the potential impact of sickness within our teams; NMRN may be required to adjust opening hours or close sites at short notice. Whilst all efforts will be made to avoid this and to contact ticket holders ahead of visits we do ask you to check our Facebook and Twitter accounts for details of closures. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your understanding. 

Pre-booking is advised, and visitors must wear masks for their safety and the safety of others, unless exempt.

HMS Caroline remains temporarily closed. Find The Latest COVID-19 Updates Here.
 

 

80th Anniversary of ships bells

Display of ships bells mark 80th anniversary of one of the worst disasters in British naval history

The bells retrieved from HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse on display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Overview

• In a sombre commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse on 10 December 1941, the two bells retrieved from the Second World War battleships have been put on display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as a memorial to the crew lost.

• Their sinking, one of the worst British naval disasters and the first at sea solely by aircraft, marked a significant step change in the war at sea, as aircraft carriers became pre-eminent.

• The display in the galleries of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, is in the shadow of the Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier class, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth, both of which are currently in their home port (subject to operational requirements.)

History of the HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales bells

80 years ago, on 10 December 1941, the Royal Navy ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were attacked and sunk by aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy, with the loss of 842 men.

In what was one of the worst disasters in British naval history, 330 crew were lost from HMS Prince of Wales and 512 crew from HMS Repulse.
 
Their sinking sent shock waves through the country and occurred just days after Pearl Harbour. As 1941 drew to a close, the navy’s fortunes reached their lowest ebb.

The loss of four capital ships in eight months shocked the nation and forced the navy to re-evaluate how they had fought for centuries.

Now air power was the key to projecting maritime power and today, the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group is a legacy of this shift in focus.

This was the first time that battleships at sea had been sunk solely by air attack, and marked the end of the battleship as the pre-eminent ship type to replaced by the aircraft carrier.

The ships had led the British naval squadron Force Z tasked with deterring Japanese expansion. Their sinking left the geographically important city Singapore weakened and contributed to its surrender on 15 February 1942, a humiliating defeat for the Allied Forces.

Winston Churchill recalls

Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously recalled in his post-war memoirs:

“In all the war, I never received a more direct shock... As I turned over and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me.

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

Ships bells now on display

Victoria Ingles, senior curator at the National Museum of the Royal Navy said:

 “We hope our visitors take a moment to reflect on the enormity of the loss. 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.”

The bells are on display in the HMS (Hear My Story) gallery in the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Visit the dockyard

The Ultimate Explorer Ticket is the best value option for 12-month entry to all the attractions at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard including the galleries and exhibitions of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, HMS M33, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Gosport, Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, Gosport and Harbour Tours and starts from £39 per adult and £29 per child. It is valid for multiple entries throughout the year, with family tickets available.

Book online at www.historicdockyard.co.uk Entry onto the 12-acre historic area of the Dockyard is free with a Historic Quarter Pass, which is issued at the Visitor Centre between 10am and 4.30pm. 



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