The sinking of the ships Repulse and Prince of Wales killed 840 British sailors and neutralized the British Navy in the Pacific Ocean.
Following the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, the United States of America lost an important part of its naval fleet, as the Japanese managed to sink and sabotage about 8 American warships, in addition to many other cruisers and destroyers that were stationed at the naval base.
With the navy incurring these heavy losses, Britain became the only hope left for East Asian countries, where everyone believed at the time in the ability of its navy to battle the Japanese navy.
On the other hand, only 3 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, these dreams were shattered, as on December 10, 1941, the British Navy received a painful blow after the sinking of the cruiser HMS Repulse and the battleship Prince of Wales, Prince of Wales Wales).
Painting depicting the sinking of the two British ships
High quality warships
In addition, on December 2, 1941, the two warships Repulse, which was armed with 381 mm guns, and the Prince of Wales, armed with 360 mm cannons, arrived in Singapore to reinforce British defenses on orders from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who ordered With the formation of the Marine Division increased (Z) to counter the growing Japanese threat in the region.
These ships were received warmly in Singapore and were very well received by the British military leadership in the region.
Painting of the British ship Prince of Wales
During the previous months, the Prince of Wales became one of the most important British naval vessels thanks to its participation, with the cruiser HMS Hood, in the pursuit and sabotage of the famous German battleship Bismarck.
The end of British domination of the seas
Repulse and two destroyers set out for the Port Darwin area on December 5, to study the possibility of establishing a naval base there.
During the next day, these ships were urgently called back after information was received about the presence of a Japanese military force near Indochina.
While British naval officials insisted that the Marine Division should join the American ships, Winston Churchill demanded that they remain in Singapore and remain silent in order not to attract the attention of the Japanese.
Picture of the Prince of Wales ship
In the midst of this dispute between British officials, the world was shaken on December 7, 1941, by the attack on Pearl Harbor, which killed more than two thousand American soldiers.
In addition, British Admiral Tom Phillips learned of the beginning of a Japanese military landing in Kuantan, Malaysia. Hoping to counter this landing, Tom Phillips directed the Marine Corps Zad north to confront the Japanese landing forces.
Instead of using air support to protect his ships, Admiral Tom Phillips made a fatal mistake, as the latter abandoned the planes, not to attract the attention of the Japanese, preferring to approach stealthily to surprise the Japanese landing teams and deal a fatal blow to them.
Meanwhile, the Japanese managed to locate this British division. At about eleven in the morning on December 10, 1941, warplanes began targeting the two warships, Repulse and Prince of Wales, with a barrage of “torpedoes”.
Two hours of bombing
After waves of bombardment that lasted for about two hours, these two ships sank, dragging with them about 840 British sailors to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
On the other hand, the rescue efforts, led by some nearby British ships later, were able to rescue about 1,500 soldiers from the crew of Repulse and Prince of Wales.
Following the sinking of Repulse and the Prince of Wales by the Japanese, the British Navy lost the dominance of the seas and the prestige it had gained thanks to Admiral Horatio Nelson after the Battle of Trafalgar against the French Navy in 1805. Moreover, this military victory opened the way for the Japanese. To extend their control over large areas of East Asia.