British Battleship HMS Hood sunk by German Ship Bismark – Royal Marine from Thorney amongst the crew killed at sea
Robert Henry Lock : Royal Marine, PO/X4804 HMS Hood
Robert Lock lived in Willow Cottage, Thorney, Somerset with his parents Walter and Beatrice and siblings Gladys, Ruby and Alfred. This is Willow Cottage in the early 20th century.
Walter was an agricultural labourer and Beatrice a withy worker. Withies, a type of willow, were grown on Westmoor, just across the road from their house. Men, women and children were all employed as withy workers. Women and children very often would strip the withies using withy brakes, which stripped off the bark. This photograph shows a group of withy workers at the beginning of the 20th century – from the collection of Elaine and Brian Heathman.
In 1941 Robert Henry Lock was in the Royal Marines on board the HMS Hood, a battleship in the British fleet in the North Atlantic, protecting British convoys carrying vital supplies.
On the evening of the Sunday 18th May, the German battleships the Bismarck and Prinz Eugene set sail from the Polish Port of Gdynia. They had been ordered to cause as much damage and disruption as possible to the British convoys.
In the early hours of 24th May the British fleet led by HMS Hood and the Prince of Wales, were ordered to intercept the German battleships. British and German ships engaged in a battle. It lasted 20 minutes. Thirteen miles apart, the ships fired one-ton shells that, travelling at 1,600 miles per hour, took almost a minute to reach their target.
A shell from the Bismark hit HMS Hood on its upper deck, tore through the ship and penetrated its ammunition room, causing a massive explosion. HMS Hood was sliced in two, its front end lifting out of the water. Within five minutes, HMS Hood had sunk. Of its crew of 1,421 men, all except three were killed. Robert was one of those killed, aged 19.
They are commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
Robert’s name is inscribed on Panel 59, Column 1 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
He is also remembered on the War Memorial in St.Martin’s Church, Kingsbury Episcopi.