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Prince of Wales file photo [1674]

Prince of Wales

CountryUnited Kingdom
Ship ClassKing George V (1939)-class Battleship
Commissioned31 Mar 1941
Sunk10 Dec 1941
Displacement35,000 tons standard


ww2dbaseHMS Prince of Wales, a 35,000-ton King George V class battleship built Birkenhead, England, was completed in March 1941. In late May, while still not fully operational, she was sent into action with the German battleship Bismarck and received significant damage from heavy gunfire. Following repairs, Prince of Wales 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.

ww2dbaseFollowing her return to British waters, Prince of Wales went to the Mediterranean, where she successfully engaged Italian planes off Malta in late September. Sent to the Far East with the battlecruiser HMS Repulse to counter the swiftly developing Japanese threat in the region, she arrived on 2 December 1941. On 8 December, the day of the Pearl Harbor Raid on the other side of the International Date Line, the Japanese landed in northern Malaya. Prince of Wales, Repulse and four destroyers were sent to attack the invasion force. After finding no targets, the British ships were returning to Singapore when, late in the morning of 10 December, they were attacked by a strong force of Japanese high-level bombers and torpedo planes. With no friendly planes to protect them, both heavy ships were hit several times. Repulse sank at about 1230. Prince of Wales capsized and followed her to the bottom less than an hour later. The first capital ships to be sunk by air attack while operating on the high seas, their loss further shocked a naval world already stunned by the events at Pearl Harbor only a few days earlier.

ww2dbaseSource: Naval Historical Center

Last Major Revision: Jan 2005

Battleship Prince of Wales Interactive Map


Prince of Wales, 1941, some time before her 24 May engagement with Bismarck; note Supermarine Walrus aircraft being lowered on her sidePainting by J. C. Schmitz-Westerholt depicting Hood
See all 21 photographs of Battleship Prince of Wales

Prince of Wales Operational Timeline

31 Mar 1941 Prince of Wales was commissioned into service.
2 Dec 1941 HMS Prince of Wales arrived at Singapore.
10 Dec 1941 Japanese submarine I-58 spotted British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse off British Malaya, launched five torpedoes, but all of them missed; beginning at 1117 hours, Japanese aircraft began to attack. Overwhelmed, HMS Repulse was sunk at 1233 hours (513 killed), followed by HMS Prince of Wales at 1318 hours (327 killed); destroyers HMS Electra, HMS Express, and HMS Vampire rescued 1,862 survivors. On land, the British commanders dispatched the 1st Battalion of the 14th Punjab Regiment and the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Gurkha Rifles regiment to Changlun and Asun in northern British Malaya to counter the Japanese advance; contact was made at Changlun at 2100 hours, where two Japanese tanks were destroyed before the Punjabi troops fell back toward Asun.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anne Thompson (nee) Sheldon says:
25 May 2010 05:35:46 AM

My father Arthur Sheldon was on the Prince of Wales when it sunk.He was one of the survivors as he floated on his back for 16hrs before he was picked up by an Australian Ship and was taken to an hospital in Adelaide. I was 1yrs old at the time. I vividly remember my Mother getting down on her knees after hearing the BBC News of the sinking of the Prince of Wales. He was missing presumed dead but she recieved a telegram sometime after to say he was in Adelaide. He was brought home to the Naval Hospital in Plymouth. I can still recall the awful mightmares he had when he finally came home to Leeds. It was not a subject of discussion as he could still hear the young men screaming in his nightmares. I have a video of the film Weston Approaches which he appeared in briefly.
2. The Bicycling Guitarist says:
14 Aug 2010 03:20:12 PM

After four decades studying the history of the World Wars, I've posted an essay about Alexander P. de Seversky's popular 1942 book "Victory Through Air Power" at http://www.TheBicyclingGuitarist.net/studies/VTAP.htm The sinking of HMS Prince of Wales caused quite a reaction as shown in Seversky's book, and I address that in my essay with examples.
3. degsy says:
20 Nov 2012 02:02:06 PM

looks a very site i like to see more
4. Michael higginbotham says:
27 Mar 2016 05:20:56 PM

My grandfather was a marine on the Prince of Wales, unfortunately he never came home, but my father was about 2months old.
5. Anonymous says:
8 Jun 2016 03:04:32 AM

i have reason to believe that a relative may have been on Prince of Wales at the battle of the Denmark Straight.He was a civilian shipyard worker does anyone know I can check this
6. AnonymousBryan Richard Howard says:
16 Nov 2018 01:14:28 AM

My cousin, Herbert 'Bertie'. T. Howard.Died at the battle of Denmark Straight. I grew up thinking he went down with the Hood, but found no mention of him in the list of casualties. Any help tracing him would be appreciated.
7. David Lang says:
23 Jun 2019 03:19:34 AM

My great uncle was a stoker on the Prince of Wales. He was lost with the ship.

LANG, Joseph P, Stoker 2c, D/KX 115852, MPK
8. Verna Shepherd says:
9 Nov 2019 06:30:59 PM

David Lang we must be related my great uncle was Joseph P Lang (stoker )his older brother Alex was my grandfather
9. Martin says:
22 Jun 2021 05:15:13 AM

Just found out my great uncle was killed on HMS Prince of Wales age 23, leading Stoker John Charles Winstanley
10. Phil says:
22 Nov 2021 12:05:11 PM

Can you you give me any information re : Walter Morton
My uncle, serving in the Royal Navy captured by the Japanese 1941 POW Osaka Japan.
What ship was he on when captured, can you help with this please.
Any help would be grateful.
You h
11. Helen Morris says:
2 Feb 2022 12:08:24 AM

My uncle was Charlie stocks, I would be greatful for any information anyone has on him
12. Rebecca box says:
23 May 2022 02:11:28 PM

Looking for information on my grandad Sidney smart
13. Philip McBride says:
29 Aug 2022 01:28:45 PM

I was hoping to find more information about my grandfather Petty officer George Noble. I believe he was on the Prince of Wales when it sunk. He was captured and spent significant time in Japanese concentration. He was born in Bolton, Lancashire.
14. Rich Zweig says:
11 Nov 2022 03:54:14 PM

I was hoping to find more information about my adopted grandfather Louis Harold Topp. I believe he was on the Prince of Wales when it sunk and that he spent time in a Japanese POW camp. He was lived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I have searched the web but cannot find a crew list to confirm. I have very fond memories of him especially on Nov 11. Hoping you can assist with thanks. RZ
15. Anonymous says:
5 Jan 2023 09:17:49 AM

My father also served on The Prince of Wales. He was below deck, I believe, as he was sending out the SOS's. He wrote quite a lot about it and had it published somewhere. It has been handed down I think, now with my slightly older brother.
16. Anonymous says:
23 Apr 2023 03:57:23 AM

I would like to find out more information about my Grandfather Harry Cecil Dalton who was on HMS Prince of Wales who was lost at sea in the South China Sea 1941

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More on Prince of Wales
» Phillips, Thomas

Event(s) Participated:
» Battle of Denmark Strait
» Atlantic Charter Conference
» Invasion of Malaya and Singapore

Battleship Prince of Wales Photo Gallery
Prince of Wales, 1941, some time before her 24 May engagement with Bismarck; note Supermarine Walrus aircraft being lowered on her sidePainting by J. C. Schmitz-Westerholt depicting Hood
See all 21 photographs of Battleship Prince of Wales

Famous WW2 Quote
"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us... they can't get away this time."

Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal

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