HMS Prince of Wales (1941)

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HMS Prince of Wales was a Royal Navy battleship of the King George V-class, whose entire operational life was less than the year 1941.


She was a 35,000 post-treaty ship, with a main battery of 14" guns.


In May 1941, she was sent out, shipyard workmen still on board, to hunt the German battleship KMS Bismarck, in company with the battlecruiser HMS Hood, along with two cruisers. On encoutering Bismarck and KMS Prinz Eugen, she was damaged and Hood sunk.

HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse under final air attack

After repairs, she carried Prime Minister Winston Churchill "across the Atlantic to Newfoundland. There, on 9-12 August, Churchill joined U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Atlantic Charter conference, the first meeting between the two English-speaking leaders of what was emerging as the "Grand Alliance" against the Axis powers.[1]

After that conference, she was sent to the Mediterranean, where she successfully engaged Italian planes off Malta in late September, and then to Pacific waters to deal with the increasing Japanese threat.

On 10 December 1941, steaming in the Pacific with the battlecruiser HMS Repulse both were sunk by Japanese aircraft. They were the first capital ships to be sunk, while underway, by aircraft. Lost with her were the task force commander of British forces in the Far East, Admiral "Tom Thumb" Phillips. Winston Churchill wrote of losing the two ships,

In all the war, I never received a more direct shock...As I turned over and over in bed, the full horror of the news sank in upon me.


The second aircraft carrier of the Queen Elizabeth (carrier)-class, to be operational in 2018, will bear the name HMS Prince of Wales.


  1. HMS Prince of Wales, battleship, 1941-1941, U.S. Naval Historical Society