Dictionary of National Biography, 1927 supplement/Hood, Horace Lambert Alexander

4180658Dictionary of National Biography, 1927 supplement — Hood, Horace Lambert Alexander1927Herbert William Richmond

HOOD, Sir HORACE LAMBERT ALEXANDER (1870–1916), rear-admiral (posthumous K.C.B.), the third son of the fourth Viscount Hood, by his wife, Edith, daughter of Arthur W. Ward, of Tunbridge Wells, was born at 40 South Street, London, 2 October 1870. He was a lineal descendant of Samuel, first Viscount Hood [q.v.], whose younger brother was Alexander Hood, first Viscount Bridport [q.v.]—names famous in British naval history. He joined the Britannia as a naval cadet at the age of twelve, and left her, after the customary two years' training, with the highest classes obtainable in all subjects. He served in the Temeraire, of the Mediterranean squadron, from September 1885 to June 1886, then in the Minotaur till January 1887, when he joined the Calliope, and in her was present at Samoa in the hurricane of 16 March 1889. After promotion to lieutenant (1890), in the examinations for which rank he obtained remarkable successes, he had a year's service in the Trafalgar (June 1891–September 1892), and then spent three years ashore studying gunnery and acting as a staff officer; he next served successively in the Royal Sovereign, Wildfire, Sanspareil, and Cambrian. In June 1897 he was lent to the Egyptian government for the Nile campaign, where he had his first experience of active service in command of a river gunboat. He was present at the battles of the Atbara and Omdurman, and at the end of the campaign was promoted to commander (1898). On the outbreak of the Boer War he was employed for three months on transport duties. After serving as commander (1900–1903) of the Ramillies, flagship of Lord Charles Beresford, second in command in the Mediterranean, he was promoted captain, and in July 1903 was appointed to the Hyacinth, flagship of Rear-Admiral G. L. Atkinson-Willes in the East Indies. He led the force sent against the Dervishes at Illig, Somaliland, in April 1904, when 627 officers and men of the Hyacinth, Fox, and Mohawk, with a detachment of 127 men of the Hampshire regiment, dislodged the Dervishes after landing in a heavy surf in the dark. He took a prominent part in the hand-to-hand fighting and received the D.S.O. for his services. Hood next commanded the Berwick (1906–1907) and, after serving one year as naval attaché at Washington, the Commonwealth (1908–1909). After commanding the naval college at Osborne from October 1910 to January 1913, he was promoted to rear-admiral (May 1913) and hoisted his flag on board the Centurion for three months. In June 1914 he became naval secretary to the first lord of the Admiralty, Mr. Winston Churchill.

The threatening and rapid movement of the German army towards the Channel ports in October 1914 created a need for naval co-operation with the British and Belgian armies. A flotilla, based upon Dover, composed of vessels of the smaller and oldest types, was formed for this work, and Hood was placed in command. Here his energy, good judgement, and courage found a free scope, and in the critical days between the 21st and 30th of October 1914 this small force contributed in a high degree to stemming the German advance. In May 1915 Hood was placed in command of the third battle-cruiser squadron of the grand fleet, with his flag on board the Invincible.

On 30 May 1916 Hood's squadron sailed with the main body of the fleet from Scapa Flow, and on the 31st, during the approach period of the action of Jutland, was stationed twenty-five miles ahead of the battle fleet. When news arrived at 3.40 p.m. that Admiral Beatty's cruiser squadron was engaged, Hood was detached to the east-south-eastward at full speed to support. Two hours later he came into action in support of the Chester, light cruiser, which, hard pressed by Rear-Admiral Boedicker's second scouting group (light cruisers), was retiring under heavy fire to the westward. Hood, hearing the gun-fire to the north-west, turned toward it. His unexpected appearance was disconcerting to Boedicker, who, abandoning chase of the Chester, gave his commander-in-chief, Admiral Scheer, information by wireless that the British main body was to the north-eastward. At the same time, Vice-Admiral Hipper, with the German battle cruisers, believing himself headed by the whole British fleet, turned southwest to rejoin his own battleships, firing torpedoes, which were avoided, at Hood's squadron. Hood followed to the westward, and so soon as he sighted Beatty's squadron, steered to place himself in its van, making an admirable turn into his station. Within a few minutes he was closely engaged with Hipper's battle-cruisers, now coming up again from the southward.

Standing by his flag-captain, Arthur Cay, on the bridge of the Invincible, ressing her into action at her highest speed, and pouring in his fire, Hood was assuredly in his element. After about ten minutes of hot fire, in which the flagship had been hit several times, Hood hailed the foretop with: ‘Your firing is very good. Keep at it as quickly as you can; every shot is telling.’ Five minutes later (6.34 p.m.) a shell from the Derfflinger burst in the Invincible's ‘Q’ turret. The flash went down to the magazine, which immediately exploded, and the ship, breaking in half, sank in a cloud of smoke, leaving her bow and stern standing out of the water to mark where she lay. Hood, and all his ship's company save six, perished.

In Hood the navy lost an officer of exceptional merit. To great natural capacity he added, from his earliest days, remarkable powers of application. He had an intense sense of duty and moral courage of the highest order. He took responsibility readily, and never hesitated to follow a course of action that might be unpopular or prejudicial to his personal interests. To this courage he joined a love of active pursuits and an acute and hearty sense of humour. He married in 1910 Ellen, daughter of A. E. Touzalin and widow of George Nickerson, of Dedham, Massachusetts, and had two sons.

A portrait of Hood is included in Sir A. S. Cope's picture ‘Some Sea Officers of the Great War’, painted in 1921, in the National Portrait Gallery.

Admiralty records; personal knowledge. See also Sir J. S. Corbett: (Official) History of the Great War. Naval Operations. vol. iii 1923.]

H. W. R.