The Crew of HMS Hood American Servicemen Remembered in the New Forest

On the last Monday in May the crew of HMS Hood was remembered with a service in Boldre church, Hampshire, where the HMS Hood memorial is maintained.HMS Hood blew up on 25th May 1941 when a shell from the flagship of the German navy, the battleship Bismarck, hit her magazine. Of the 1,418 men on board, only three survived. No trace of the remaining 1,415 men was ever found.

The battle cruiser Hood was an old ship, but deeply loved by the Royal Navy. Her loss was a huge blow to Britain and the RN. Winston Churchill ordered the navy to track down and sink the Bismarck, and this they did, just two days later on the 27th, with the loss of 2,090 German sailors.

On the same bank holiday Monday at the New Forest Airfields Memorial a few miles away at Holmsley, the American flag was flown at half-mast until noon. It flew to honour the U.S. airmen who were killed in action from among the 30,000 Americans who were based in the New Forest between 1942 and 1944 prior to the run up to D-Day on the 6th June 1944. Afterwards a bugler played "Taps" the U.

S. military bugle call traditionally sounded at military funerals.During the war years, the New Forest was used as a vast military training ground. It had a density of USAAF and RAF airfields unlike anywhere else and was pivotal in the build up to the D-Day campaign. The Forest was also used as a vast storage area. Snaking columns of camouflaged tanks and equipment were a common sight throughout the forest, parked up on the roadside, as they waited for that fateful day before they could begin liberating Western Europe.

There is no dwindling of interest in remembering these important anniversaries. On the contrary, the gatherings attending such services seem to increase with each passing year. The eldest veteran attending the commemorations this year was a gentleman aged 106 years old.

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By: David Carter

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