Which was a bigger blow to the British navy: the sinking of HMS Hood (WW2) or the sinking of HMS Sheffield (Falklands War)?

Bigger British Naval loss?

  • Sinking of HMS Hood

    Votes: 20 76.9%
  • Sinking of HMS Sheffield

    Votes: 6 23.1%

  • Total voters
    26

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,751
Australia
Although the loss of Hood was a shock, the RN and the British public in general were geared up for a long fight with Germany. They had fought the Germans before and knew it would be hard work and casualties could be expected. So losses were not unexpected, even though it was the RNs arguably most famous ship. The Falklands on the other hand came almost out of nowhere and Argentina was not anywhere on the radar as a likely enemy. Even though the Northern Irish Troubles had made the public used to a steady trickle of casualties among the armed forces there had not been a conventional sea fight since WWII and the scale of the thing was something new.
So I would say the 'shock' of the Sheffield sinking was greater than that of Hood, although each made the British more determined.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,777
Cornwall
I remember the announcement of the loss of HMS Sheffield, as delivered in gloomy slow motion (which might have been designed to induce a sinking feeling) by the extraordinary spokesman as the Ministry of Defence:


It would have been more serious if more ships had been sunk, the margin was very tight.



Ah the late Ian Macdonald. "Total..............................................Exclusion..........................................................Zone" - who can forget?

I think it's a very good question.

I remember the 2nd and my parents were obviously around for the first

The Hood was a the pride of the British navy for 2 decades. Nobody (public) knew anything about the weakness of battlecruisers and the ship had toured the world in the inter-war years. Suddenly losing your (in theory) best ship, exploding with nearly all hands, POW damaged and Bizmarck sailing off into the distance must have been a major shock

But another level - the Falklands War was a completely unknown factor. Would they all sink? Would it be a walk in the park. I guess it ended up a cross between the 2

Give or take Britain hadn't seen any wartime action really since Korea and suddenly having a ship taken out was a major shock to us all. As was the battle during the landings at San Carlos. Sheffield having it's radar off wasn't a great help and having all your Chinooks in one ship (Atlantic Conveyor) was one of those incompetences that war throws up after decades of bureaucrats running military matters and no war. On a similar theme I remember there was a fair old fuss at the time about why the Welsh Guards were left on those ships all day at Bluff Cove, which seems to have been forgotten since.

Anyway it has to be the Hood doesn't it? pretty epic and don't forget the country's future was at stake
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,471
Wirral
The Falklands was a one sided steam roll, and the loss of the Sheffield had very little effect on its course. It didn’t sink immediately... it took 5-6 days to sink, the British having time to evacuate survivors and salvage equipment...
I think it was Middlebrook’s The Falklands War that I read a while ago and from reading that it seems it was closer than one might think. For example from memory, several ships were struck by bombs that failed to explode.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,214
Welsh Marches
Yes, that's definitely what I've been told by people in the military, that it could easily have turned out very badly if the Argentinian air force had achieved more successes that were well within its capability; it was only when the British troops were established on shore with sufficient equipment that it could be described in any way as a one sided steam roll. It helped then that many of the Argentinian troops were conscripts who don't always seem to have been treated too well by their officers.
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,471
Wirral
It was something like the presence of the Harriers forced the Argentine aircraft to come in very very low, rather than just low, and the fusing of their bombs didn’t take that into account.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,367
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Yes, that's definitely what I've been told by people in the military, that it could easily have turned out very badly if the Argentinian air force had achieved more successes that were well within its capability; it was only when the British troops were established on shore with sufficient equipment that it could be described in any way as a one sided steam roll. It helped then that many of the Argentinian troops were conscripts who don't always seem to have been treated too well by their officers.
What was it Sandy Woodward said - six better fuzes and the Argentines would have won?
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,367
T'Republic of Yorkshire
It was something like the presence of the Harriers forced the Argentine aircraft to come in very very low, rather than just low, and the fusing of their bombs didn’t take that into account.
I think they were coming in low to avoid radar detection, not necessarily the Harriers.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,214
Welsh Marches
It was something like the presence of the Harriers forced the Argentine aircraft to come in very very low, rather than just low, and the fusing of their bombs didn’t take that into account.
That's interesting, because quite a lot certainly failed to explode. Can't have been much fun sitting in those confined waters with an unexploded bomb in your hold.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,214
Welsh Marches
What was it Sandy Woodward said - six better fuzes and the Argentines would have won?
Good quote, I found this (it was apparently Air Marshal Craig):

"Speaking later of the failure of Argentine bombs to detonate, Lord Craig, retired Marshal of the Royal Air Force, remarked that “six better fuses and we would have lost”. As it transpired however, the fault was not in the fuse but in the way they were deployed. To avoid the high concentration of British air defences, Argentine pilots were releasing their bombs from very low altitudes, giving the fuses too little time to arm before impact. The BBC reportedly broadcast this information and was severely criticised by the task force Commander, Admiral Woodward, who blamed them for alerting the Argentines to the supposed fault. Interestingly, Colonel H.Jones, commanding the Paras on Falkland, had also accused the BBC of giving information to the enemy when reporting on the capture of Goose Green before it actually happened and had threatened to bring charges of treason against the Board of Governors. Sadly he was killed at Goose Green before he could pursue the charge.

For whatever reason, the Argentine air force, shortly after, modified the bombs to detonate at low level. In total thirteen bombs had struck the task force without exploding and twenty two planes had been lost in the attempt."

from: Page 2 | Six Better Fuses | Falklands War | British & Irish History | Articles
 
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