Lieutenant (S), Robert Harold Percy BROWNE
Aged 23

Royal Navy, H.M.S. Hood
Killed in Action on Saturday 24th May 1941

Born in Q1-1918 [Pancras 1b:31] in St Pancras, London to the Venerable Thomas Robert BROWNE and Ellen Gertrude BROWNE (née FOWLER). His father was Archdeacon of Ipswich and one time Vicar of All Saints Church, Newmarket.
He attended Framlingham College, Suffolk from 1931 to 1935 and joined the Navy as a cadet on 1st January 1936.

None have been identified in the 1939 register.

Commissioned on 1st January 1939, Robert was on the signals staff and was mentioned in despatches. Promoted Paymaster Lieutenant on 1st September 1940. He was on HMS Renown at Narvik in June 1940. He lost his life along with 1,415 others when the HMS Hood was sunk by Bismarck, only 3 survived.

HMS Hood was 44,600 tons, had a crew of 1,418 and was faster than the Bismarck with a maximum speed of 32 knots. The Hood had been launched in 1918 and was armed with 8 x 15 inch guns, 12 x 5.5 inch guns, 8 x 4 inch AA guns, 24 x 2 pound guns and 4 x 21 inch torpedoes. However, the Hood suffered from one major flaw - she did not have the same amount of armour as the Bismarck. The fact that the Hood was faster than the Bismarck by 3 knots was as a result of her lack of sufficient armour for a naval battle fought in World War Two. What had been considered sufficient armour in 1918 when Hood was built, was to prove a fatal flaw in 1941.

The "Bismark" and "Prinz Eugen" broke out into the Atlantic where they would have created havoc amongst Allied shipping. The Royal Navy pursued them with "Hood" and "Prince of Wales" but lost them for a time at night and in fog, but the cruiser "Suffolk" re established contact early on the 24th May 1941.
"Prinz Eugen" hit the "Hood" from about 22 Km and ignited some anti aircraft shells on deck, not a great problem, but then the "Hood" was hit by a salvo of high trajectory shells from "Bismark". One is believed to have pierced the deck armour, exploding one of the magazines. This tore the "Hood" in half and she sunk within 2 minutes taking 1,415 men with her, just three men survived.

"Prince of Wales" was forced to disengage due to damage but not before hitting "Bismark" three time, which damage caused the Bismark to turn to return to safety in occupied France. Before she could do that she was intercepted by aircraft from "Ark Royal" who damaged her sufficiently for the "Rodney" and "King George V" to catch up and sink her.

The Bury Free Press of 31st May 1941 reported:-


No known grave - Robert is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial - Ref; panel 45. column 3

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details