H.M.S. Hood Crew Information
Sport and Athletics Aboard H.M.S. Hood
Updated 05-Oct-2017

This article covers a sampling of the key sports and events the men of H.M.S. Hood were involved in. It is by no means a complete listing of everything the crew were involved in. The information was derived from the H.M.S. Hood Association archives. If you have any additional photos or information concerning any of Hood's sports teams, please contact our staff.

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H.M.S. Hood, Cock of the Fleet
The spirit of athletic competition has always been strong in the Royal Navy. It was especially so in H.M.S. Hood. During her career she boasted many fine athletes who, in turn, won her many championships and trophies. Her athletes excelled at a variety of sports to include rowing, sailing, boxing, football (soccer), cricket, track and field, swimming, hockey and gunnery (rifles and small field artillery) just to name a few. This article addresses some of their larger/more famous athletic victories and defeats.

-1920-

Men from Hood won the Battle Cruiser Squadron Regatta at Lamlash. The Regattas (each Fleet had it's own Regattas) were annual boating competitions.

A Royal Marine cutter team from Hood won the 1920 Rodman Cup. The team and their boat, "Dipping Lug" were recently additions to Hood at the time. In fact, the lot had been deliberately transferred together from H.M.S. Lion. . .the previous year's Rodman Cup winner. This would become a trend for Hood- the best athletes were very frequently drafted (others may say "stolen") by Hood. The idea was that the Royal Navy's biggest and best ship should also have the best showing athletically.


-1922-

While at Malaga, Spain, Hood's Royal Marine rowing team competed for, and won (once again), the Rodman Cup. In September, Hood traveled to Rio de Janeiro. While there, the crew participated in a mini "Goodwill Olympics" with members of the Brazilian, Japanese and United States' navies. The events included tug of war, sailing, and boxing (just to name a few). When all was said and done, Hood's teams had won 8 out of 15 events.

Unfortunately, although winning over half of the events, the men had only managed to tie with the Americans point wise. The tiebreaker was to be a boxing match between the American champion and the Royal Navy's champion Stoker PO Spillar. Sadly, the American sailor is reputed to have cheated by knocking- out Spillar with a combination of "sucker" punches before the bout actually started. The match was declared null and void.


-1923 & 1924-

Hood did not enter the annual Regatta, but did have teams compete in other sporting events. As usual, one of her boxing teams (Midshipman team) was victorious.

During the Empire Cruise, Hood's men competed in a variety of sporting exhibitions. Key sports included boxing (of course), tennis, cricket and football (soccer). The most significant of these events were a cricket loss to an American team at Pearl Harbour, and a football/soccer loss to a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Mounties) team in British Columbia.

Hoods Trophies
Hood's trophies upon completion of the Empire Cruise in 1924


-1925-

In January 1925, both Hood and Repulse visited Lisbon for the Vasco De Gama celebrations. On 27 January 1925, a combined football team from both ships defeated SL Benfica 2-1. This information is courtesy of Brian Evans.


 

 

 

-1929-

Hood's Lieutenant-Commanders competed in a cutter rowing race against other Lieutenant-Commanders. Naturally, Hood's officers won hands down. Later in the year, Hood went in for a 2 year refit.


-1933-

Hood's youngest officers, the lads from the gunroom, won pulling races during both regattas. The photo below shows the winning team members. Among them are future Admirals Wainright and LeBailly.

1933 Gunroom Pulling Team
1933 Gunroom Pulling Team (click to enlarge)


-1935-

The Fleet HA Trophy
Hood was the first recipient of the
"Fleet High Angle Trophy"

Under the guidance of Commander Rory O'Conor (shown holding the telescope in the photo on the right), one of Hood's all time most popular officers, Hood overwhelmingly won the Home Fleet Regatta at Rosyth. The ship, encouraged by its mascot the "Chuffosaurus" and fictitious crewman "George", won back the vaunted "Cock," or "Silver Cockerell" trophy. This trophy, shaped like a large rooster, is shown the photo of the 1935 Signals Whaler Team to the right. Hood would now be known as "cock of the fleet. "

Due to a change in leadership and in philosophies, sports would take on less importance. It was felt that not enough time was being devoted to the proper upkeep of the ship and to seamanship, so the sporting program was scaled back. The O'Conor-era victories would be the last strong showing for a few years.

1935 Signals Whaler Team
Photo courtesy of Keith Howell.
Click to enlarge.

 


-1938-

In October, Hood's football (soccer) team defeated a team from the German pocket battleship (panzerschiff) Deutschland at Gibraltar. Below is a photo showing members from both teams. The Hood men are in the dark shirts and the Germans are in white.

Hoods 1938 Football Team

Hood also had an excellent boxing team in 1938. They won the Mediterranean Fleet championship by defeating teams from the likes of H.M.S. Glorious, Warspite, Penelope and Devonshire. This team is shown in the photo below (courtesy of Les Atkins).

1938 Boxing Team
1938 Boxing Team. Click to enlarge.

Hood also had another championship team- the Stokers' Darts Team led by Henry Wannerton. They are shown in the photo below (courtesy of Harry Wannerton).

Hoods championship Stokers Dart Team
Click to enlarge.

Sporting events continued, but with the start of World War 2 in September 1939, more time and resources had to be focused elsewhere. There are photos of Hood's men in competition during the wartime years, however, there is not much information on actual victories or defeats.

Additional Photos
Below are photos of sports teams from various points in Hood's career.

Mid 1930s shooting team
One of Hood's shooting teams in the 1930s

Boxing on the quarterdeck
Boxing practice, mid 1930s

Bayonet practice on the quarterdeck
The bayonet team circa 1934

 

 

Physical training on the quarterdeck
Calisthenics on the quarterdeck, mid 1930s.

Mid 1930s Rowing Team
1930s rowing team. Click to enlarge.

Photo of 1935 football team, courtesy of Victor Walton
Football team circa 1935. Jack Fraser is the man at rear/right. Commander Rory O'Conor is seated centre/left holding the telescope.