HMS Prince of Wales (53)

Prince of Wales arrives at Singapore on 4 December, 1941, just days before she was sunk. Note the camouflage pattern on the hull. Photo in the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down
1937
Launched
1939
Commissioned
1941
AD/BC
AD
History

The second King George V-class battleship, HMS Prince of Wales (53) was commissioned in January, 1941, but not completed until March. By the end of May, she still had yard workers aboard, finishing the last of the adjustments to the ship, when she was deployed against the Bismarck. Sailing with HMS Hood, Prince of Wales was heavily damaged by Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in the Battle of the Denmark Strait on 24 May, 1941, and spent the next two months under repair. In August, she transported Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Newfoundland to meet with President Franklin Roosevelt, where the two of them would sign the Atlantic Charter. After spending September in the Mediterranean, Prince of Wales was sent to the Far East on 25 October, as tensions between Japan and the UK escalated. Arriving at the end of November, she joined battlecruiser HMS Repulse as Force Z, operating out of Singapore. Upon the start of hostilities, Force Z sortied to look for Japanese troop convoys reported off Malaya, but was attacked by several waves of Japanese shore-based bombers on 10 December. Prince of Wales was first hit by a torpedo that disabled one propeller shaft, and disabled electrical power that was needed for her heavy AA guns. Prince of Wales was hit by a total of four torpedoes and one bomb, going down that afternoon with 327 of her crew.

Bonus Information

Sad Fact: The wreck of Prince of Wales is supposed to be protected as a war grave, but is in shallow water, and has been heavily scavenged by scrap metal dealers.