HMS Prince of Wales was one of Britains newest battleships, or Capital ships, at the beginning of WW2. Indeed so new was she, that that was not ready to see action when war was declared in 1939. Instead she was in her slip in Liverpool fitting out and testing, a lengthy process on such a large ship.
In August 1940 during a bombing raid she was badly damaged below the waterline by a relatively small aircraft bomb and floodly badly, so badly infact, she had to return to dock to be pumped out by the local fire brigade, her flooding control equipment not having been fully fitted.
It was decided to move her to Rosyth to enable her fitting to be completed away from the bul of the threat the Luftwaffe posed. She arrived at Rosyth on 30th January with half her crew on board and a contingent of Scousers from Camell Laird's who were vital to the commissioning of the ship. After two months she cruised to Scapa Flow where she was declared fit to join the fleet in early April. In reality she was no where near ready, her guns had not even been tested in anger, however the Bismark sat in Norwegian waters and the Tirpitz lurked in France. These massive warships were a huge threat to shiping and every ship capable of taking them on was desperately required.
On the 21st of May 1941 she sailed from Scapa into the Denmark Strait, aboard her 80% of the crew were civvies on hostilities only service, and 100 Vickers Armstrong employees to fix her recurring armament problems. On the 24th of May the mighty Hood, pride of the Royal Navy and Prince of Wales engaged the Bismark and the Prince Eugen. To the shock of the whole battlegroup Bismark hit Hood with a salvo, she sank in minutes with all hands bar three. Despite the crews inexperience they managed to hit the Bismark causing her to lose lots of fuel oil but no casualties, in return they were hit a number of times cauing no great damage but killing 10 of the crew. Eventually lack of fuel forced the POW back to Roysth, the Bismark was hunted down and lost with great loss of life by the remainder of the fleet. Back at Roysth an unexploded shell was removed, had it gone off, it is possible that both the Hood and the Prince of Wales could have been sunk by a single shell.
Following her refit the Prince of Wales famously conveyed Churchill to America to hold vital talks with President Roosevelt.
In November of 1941 the Prince of Wales was dispatched to the Far East to fly flag against growing Japanese agression in the area on the 30th she joined forces with Repuse and tlhe rest of the Task Force. On the 10th of December,1941 two days after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour without warning, Repulse and Prince of Wales were located and attacked by Japanese bombers around midday with torpedoes and bombs. Repulse sank around an hour and a half later. The Prince of Wales beset with technical problems and lacking electricty, fought on until the evening when she was abandoned to sink.
HMS Repulse casualties were 327 men killed.
On the HMS Prince of Wales, out of her crew of 1612 men; 20 officers, 280 sailors and 27 marines were lost.
Among the dead was Ordinary Seaman Thomas Curran Moffat from Newtongrange.
He is commemorated on the war memorial in Newtongrange Welfare Park.