The Sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound (1877–1943).
First Sea Lord or C-in-C Royal Navy–June 1939 September 1943.
Painting by Oswald Hornby Joseph Birley. Oil on canvas.
From the collection of the Britannia Royal Naval College
Said Admiral Dudley Pound:
“Prime Minister, I have to report to you that the Prince of Wales and the Repulse have both been sunk by the Japanese….”
“In all the war I never received a more direct shock.” Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Wrote Churchill in his memoirs: “… the telephone at my bedside rang. It was the First Sea Lord [the C-in-C of the Royal Navy, Admiral Sir Dudley Pound]. His voice sounded odd… at first I could not hear quite clearly. ‘Prime Minister, I have to report to you that the Prince of Wales and the Repulse have both been sunk by the Japanese—we think by aircraft. [Vice Admiral] Tom Phillips is drowned.’ ‘Are you sure it’s true?’ ‘There is no doubt at all.’ So I put the telephone down. I was thankful to be alone.
In all the war I never received a more direct shock. As I turned over and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me. There were no British or American capital ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbour, who were hastening back to California. Over all this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme, and we everywhere were weak and naked.”