Guy Griffiths - Sinking of HMS Repulse

Running time
4 min 18 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We were sighted on the 9th. It was an overcast day, rather like the one out there at the moment. Nevertheless, we were sighted by a submarine, and later in the afternoon, sighted by aircraft from a cruiser force on the north.

The admiral decided, because we didn't have air protection, that we would retire back to Singapore. But, en route, we went in to investigate, there had been a report that there was Japanese activity on Kuantan, off Kuantan, on the east coast of Malaya, as it was then. So, we went in to investigate and there was nothing there. But, we didn't sort of put on full power and head back to Singapore. We tended to stay in the area for a while.

I have no idea what thoughts went on in those days. Nevertheless, at about 10:30, we were sighted by the enemy aircraft. Eleven o'clock was the first bombing attack. We were hit by a bomb. It was a first class, high level bombing, but it didn't interrupt our tactical manoeuvring, still full power and so on. But, then the attacks occurred again and so on.

It wasn't long before the Prince of Wales was hit by a torpedo, which put her out of action. Then, we were attacked. Our captain avoided many torpedoes, in fact, some 19. He was a great fellow and he maneuvered Repulse like a destroyer. So, it wasn't long until after that, around about after twelve o'clock, we were hit by a torpedo on the starboard side, which once again, didn't affect our manoeuvrability. It didn't damage the ship except open up the starboard side a little bit.

Then, followed by intense, there were some 85 aircraft altogether, and the Japanese attacking in force, torpedo bombers, which were based near Saigon. So, they concentrated their attacks, and eventually we were hit by another four torpedoes and I think it was about 12:23 or something like that. Four torpedoes in fairly quick succession. Abandon ship was ordered at about 12:25, 26 something. Then, the dear old ship, you could feel her going down like standing in the bath with the plug out as the water came in. So, abandon ship was given.

People got off, those who could, and destroyers picked up the people swimming, those who could. That was sort of the end. The ship sank at 12:33, virtually within 10 minutes of the beginning of the attack. It was a sad, sad day because we lost over 500 officers and sailors from a ship's company of about 1300.

A total of 39 per cent of them went down. That was sort of the end of the action for us. Prince of Wales sank a little while later. Picked up the survivors and we were taken back to Singapore.


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