HMS Prince of Wales crest

Welcome to the website of 

Force 'Z' Survivors
incorporating the
HMS "Prince of Wales" and HMS "Repulse"
Survivors Association (POWRSA)

HMS Repulse crest

poppy Remember remember, please don't forget, the eleventh of November to honour our debt


HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Repulse


This website is written for the members of the Survivors Association, their families and friends. Its purpose is to inform, educate and help people to understand, the events of December 10th, 1941, and hopefully also serves to act as a tribute to the fallen men who went down with their ships on that fateful day.

It is not only dedicated to the Prince of Wales and Repulse Survivors Association, it also aims to incorporate the histories of the destroyers Electra, Tenedos, Express and HMAS Vampire, all of which combined with the capital ships to form Force Z. I have pertinent reasons for naming the site in this way. The 2081 survivors from Prince of Wales and Repulse owed their lives to these destroyer crews. Without their sterling rescue work, the South China Sea would have claimed many more lives that day. Consequently, I extend an invitation to anyone that has any connection whatsoever with any of these ships. Feel free to contact us and offer information or photographs for use on the site.

None the less, there is no-denying the sinking of the capital ships is one of the least discussed episodes within the annals of British naval history. Perhaps, not surprisingly there is an in-depth study of all factors surrounding the loss of the ships within this site. This will also incorporate details of an interrogation of a Japanese pilot that led one of the attacking squadrons that fateful day. This site will also cover many other issues surrounding the fall of Singapore; including one of the major intelligence disasters of WW11. This occurred when the British merchant ship SS Automedon was intercepted by the German 'Raider' Atlantis, whilst en-route to Singapore. 

As for contemporary issues, there has been much publicity in the press in recent years, regarding sports divers and war graves. Many will be aware that in 2001 the Prince of Wales and Repulse Survivors Association applied for these vessels to be afforded protection under the 1986 Protection of Military Remains Act. This has become such a contentious issue that we have decided to open a dedicated forum on this subject for means of clarifying our aims and allowing all to air their views. 

Note: Just prior to the 60th Anniversary (which was on the 10th December 2001), the ships were granted Status as 'Protected Places' under the 1986 Protection of Military Remains Act. Click here to read the MOD webpage about this.

Above all else, its not my intention for this site to be restricted in its composition, all are welcome to offer contributions in a joint effort to protect our world-wide historical legacy.

Alan Matthews.

 

Statement made in September 2006:

I am the current secretary for the Association, having taken over the role when my father, Kenneth Byrne passed away. My father served on HMS Prince of Wales, and was 17 years and one month when the Prince of Wales was sunk; his friend was the same age but did not survive the sinking and still lies with his ship. This is something my father never forgot.

Some people have suggested that most survivors do not own a computer or have access to the Internet. They are wrong. My father had his first computer at the age of 75, Internet ready. Most survivors have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who own computers and are able to simply type in HMS Repulse to a search engine. It is surprising what turns up. Some of the items on websites are very distressing as they contain images of human remains.

I had the pleasure of meeting the late Shirley Ward. Her father Frank served on HMS Repulse, she was a baby when her father died. His final resting place is HMS Repulse. Shirley was one of the first persons to inform the association of the activity of divers on the wrecks. When I see a photo, clip of a film on the Internet, for all I know I could be looking at the remains of Shirley’s father, for that matter a father or grandfather of another member of the Association. When you have met these people personally you see a different picture.

What should the Association do, keep quiet or to work to try and protect the final resting places of hero’s who died fighting for their country, some of whom were only boys?

I have a duty to report to members anything that is brought to my attention. The matter was again on the agenda for the AGM this year. Again the members voted for the Association to continue to campaign for changes in the law to stop divers entering the ships. This is what we shall do.

Please don’t get me wrong, we do not want to stop divers visiting the ships. But please do not enter. Please do not disturb the final resting place of these men.

We don’t just want this for HMS Repulse or HMS Prince of Wales, we would like this for all maritime war graves, whatever their nationality. If the law is not changed and international agreements set in place, one-day divers will be in HMS Hood and the Bismarck. The Association wants protection for every war grave whether on land or at sea.

Yours sincerely
Hannah Rickard, Association Secretary. (Daughter of Ken L Byrne, former crew member of HMS Prince of Wales).