back Report by Lieutenant Commander A. G. Skipwith, R. N. next


Singapore 12th December, 1941.
1. I have the honour to submit, in accordance with Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet signal 0946GH/11th December, the following brief narrative of events leading to the loss of H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES.
2. At the time of the first air attack the squadron was returning to Singapore under the orders of Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet.
3. At 1113 on 10th December fire was opened on eight twin engined high level bombers which attacked REPULSE in close formation.
4. At 1141.5 fire was opened on nine torpedo bombers which attacked H.M S. PRINCE OF WALES from the port side. The ship was hit by a torpedo at 1144 in a position, approximately abreast P 3 and P4 turrets. The damage caused by this hit was as follows and the result apparent before the next attack developed.
(a) The ship assumed a list of 11.5 to port and increased her trim by the stern, the port side of the quarterdeck being awash by 1220. (6) "B" Engine Room, "Y" Boiler Room, the port Diesel Room and "Y" Action Machinery Room flooded.
(c) Both propeller shafts stopped. 8
(d) Steering gear was affected and the ship was never again under complete control, N.U.C. Balls* being hoisted at 1210
(e) The warning telephone system failed.
(f) Power failed at both after groups of 5.25 inch guns and P1 turret jammed in training: power failed at P.2.
5. A further torpedo bomber attack developed on the starboard side at 1220. Three minutes later the ship was hit by two torpedoes, one at the stem and the other in the after part of the ship, starboard side. At 1224.5 the ship was hit by a torpedo abreast B turret on the star- board side. Amongst other results "A" propeller shaft became jammed, the list was gradually reduced, and the ship settled appreciably.
6. At 1241 fire was opened with remaining 5.25 inch guns, namely S1., S.2 and P.1, and pom-poms, at a high level bombing formation of eight aircraft. Three minutes later the ship was straddled and a hit sustained on the catapult deck. The armoured deck was not pierced. Near misses may have caused further damage.
7. Soon after this attack H.M.S. EXPRESS closed and came alongside the starboard side of the quarterdeck. Orders were given by the Captain to disembark wounded and those not required to fight the ship. Finally, the order to abandon ship was passed.
8. As much detailed evidence as possible is being taken.
9. I wish to record that H.M.S. EXPRESS was magnificently handled, remaining alongside until the last possible moment.
10. The officers and ratings whom I saw displayed great courage and steadiness.
11. H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES heeled over quickly to port and sank at about 1320.

(Signed) A. G. Skipwith,
Lieutenant Commander, R.N.
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