Re: The Impact On The Public Was Terrible
This is what you get when you make a ship "The Pride of the Royal Navy". The ship was almost a celebrity in it's own right, appearing in naval reviews, news reels, tea and cigarette cards, encyclopaedias, and 'Boys Own...' type books between the war. The same could be said about HMS Ark Royal, as well.
It is clear that when HMS Hood entered service in the early 1920's, she was one of the most modern ships afloat, with her sheer size, speed and beauty, for a warship, making her easily recognisable.
Unfortunately, she inherited the worst design characteristics of British battle cruisers from the first world war, and rapidly fell behind contemporary capital warship design between the wars.
In the mid 1930s, she was supposed to have had a major refit, strengthening the deck armour and changing the shell supply system, and having 'modern' fire control and aircraft detection radar and defence fitted. But the uncertainty of when hostilities with Germany would start, and the emergency capital shipbuilding program that was in progress meant that this never happened, and when the war started, she was in a very poor condition. She should not really have been sent against an adversary such as Bismark, especially not with HMS Prince of Wales, which had not actually been accepted into service, so was not ready for combat.
But such was the desperate need for capital ships, there was no alternative, and the rest is, as is said, history. There was an element of (bad) luck involved, but the outcome of that battle was almost a foregone conclusion. Hood would never have returned from the encounter in a good condition, and in hindsight, the outcome, although tragic, was actually about as good as could have been expected. This is because sufficient damage was done to Bismark to make it so that rather than continuing on to the Atlantic, she turned and headed for Breast for repairs, which gave Force 'H' the chance to find and damage her further, leading to her eventual demise.
If Bismark had turned back, and remained a potent force until Tirpitz was completed, the Royal Navy would have had to keep significantly more ships in home waters, and escorting convoys.
Imagine how difficult a force consisting of Bismark, Tirpitz, Scharnholst and Gneisenau, together with the Hipper class criusers would have been to cope with. It would have been really difficult for the Home Fleet to stand up against it, even though the Royal Navy would technically outnumber them.
The spin off from that would have changed the outcome of the war in the Mediterranean and the Far East. It is often easy to overlook the value that the British carriers gave in the Indian sea and Western Pacific while the US was so woefully short of carriers after the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, and the Med. was critical for North Africa.
So the loss was tragic, as is most war, but it served a purpose.