The Prince of Wales joined HMS Hood in stalking and attacking the German battleship Bismarck and the accompanying heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. On 24 May, she and the Hood fought the two German warships at the battle of the Denmark Strait. Following the sinking of the Hood, the Prince of Wales disengaged under a smokescreen after receiving 7 large-caliber hits and with most of her weaponry out of action. During the brief battle she had struck three descisive direct hits on the Bismarck, one of which hit a forward fuel tank causing extensive damage. This forced the Bismarck to change plans and head to France for repairs. A day later The Prince of Wales joined up with the cruisers HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk that had been shadowing the Bismarck since before the Denmark Strait. Gunfire was exchanged with the Bismarck briefly at 01:31hrs on 25 May. Twelve hours later, Prince Of Wales broke off pursuit due to her fuel running low.
Admiral Tom Phillips was given command of the Eastern Fleet and sent to defend Allied forces in Singapore. Admiral Phillips, on board the Prince of Wales decided to launch an offensive on reported Japanese landings at Kuantan. On 10th December 1941, the Prince of Wales and Repulse were attacked by 27 bombers of the Japanese Air Force. Twenty minutes later the first torpedo bombers arrived. Without air cover the two ships had little chance of surviving. The Repulse was sunk at 12:33 am and the Prince of Wales went down at 1:20 am. A total of 840 British sailors were killed in the disaster. Her loss to Japanese land-based bombers in the Far East in 1941 is one of the events that led to the end of the battleship being considered the predominant class in naval warfare.
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This page was last updated Feb 20th 2007.