The War Illustrated, No. 245, Vol. 10, November 6th 1946

fire gong attached to the director and passed out to the rear, just grazing the trainer’s wrist on the Byway. 9.20 the Bismarck, having been repeatedly hit, began to blow ofi' steam, and a strong fire started amidships. Both her forward turrets appeared to be out o faction, and the other two were firing intermittently and erratically. She had a heavy list to port, v>hich at 9.25 became most noticeable. As the range decreased, the 5-25-inch batteries o f the King George V were ordered to open fire, with devastating effect on the super­structure and upper deck o f the enemy battleship. In both the King George V and Rodney the noise o f gunfire was no longer noticed. Occasionally, when the turrets fired on .extreme bearings, incir blast rattled round the superstruc­ture, causing discom­fort to the personnel and minor damage. At 9.45 the Bismarck, which was yawing con­siderably, exposed her starboard side to view for the first time. Observers noticed at least three large fires amidships, and a gaping hole in the bows near the waterline. The few guns left intact w.'re firing spasmodi­cally. The range was now closed to 3.000 yards, and three hits in one salvo were clearly scn. Two entered the deck at the base o f the superstructure, and ting- the remarkable progress made in naval design between 1916 and 1936. When addressed by their commanding officer before the action, the ship’s company o f the Bismarck were assured that the Luftwaffe would becoming to their aid from French airfields. All that was seen o fit was a single F ocke-W ulf brought down by the King George V’s 5'25-inch guns shortly before 4 p.m. on May 26. Still, the Luft­waffe arrived on the following day, a trifle late. As the destroyers Mashona and Tartar were on their way towards their base on the morning o f May 28, they were attacked again and again by German aircraft, which con­tinued to overcome in waves until nearly midnight. H.M .S. Mashona was sunk with Great Stories of the War Retold NAZI NAVAL PRIDE reached its zenith in the battleship Bismarck which was launched, like her sister ship the Tirpitz, in the spring of 1939. Bismarck sank H.M.S. Hood and damaged H.M.S. Prince of Wales before being brought to bay and destroyed on May 27,1941, after a six-day chase of 1,750 miles, from Bergen to Iceland and across theN. Atlantic. one appeared'to tear off the whole o f the back from“ B ”turret, which was quickly enveloped in an enormous sheet o f flame. Men were now seen jumping off the quarterdeck into the sea to escape from the intolerable heat. The whole ship had become a blazing wreck, so “Cease fire” was ordered at 10.21. There were no casualties or damage in the British ships, due to the skilful taclics o f the com­ mander-in-chief and the heavy fire poured into the enemy throughout the action. Turned Turtle and Disappeared Torpedoes were fired at the Bismarck by the Rodney (one o f which hit, probably the only instance in history o f one capital ship torpedoing another) in the closing stage o f the action, and at 10.36 she sank with colours still flying after further torpedoes had been directed at her by H .M.S. Dorsetshire. She went down in about two minutes, turning turtle and then disappearing, the bows being the last part to submerge. The position as recorded at the time was Lat. 48.10 N., Long. 16.12 W., depth about 2,500 fathoms. More than 100 officers and men were rescued and made prisoners o f war, among them Licut.-Commander Freiherr von Mullen- heim, second gunnery officer, who had been Assistant Naval Attache in London before the War. Submarines being reported in the vicinity, it was impossible to institute a thorough search for survivors. Two days later the Spanish cruiser Canarias, which was passing through the area, picked up a number o f bodies which were later landed for burial. How many torpedoes were absorbed by the Bismarck is uncertain, but it can hardly have been less than nine three from naval air­craft, two or more from the destroyers, one from the Rodney and at least three from the Dorsetshire. It will be recalled that some six months later the Prince o f Wales, a smaller ship, required a similar number to sink her. Being much better protected by armour than the Hood, the Bismarck's magazines re­mained intact throughout the action, iliustra- thc loss o fan officer and 35 ratings. This loss might well have been heavier but for the energy with which the Tartar set about the work o f rescue. One stout fellow, a range- taker in theM ashona. overtook a corre­sponding post in the Tartar and continued at his action station for the next 12 hours. When relieved he apologized for’ being tired out—yet he had been bombed, swum to safety and withstood furiher attacks during that time !From German accounts it was learned that the Bismarck wore the flag o f Vice-Admiral Luetjens, who perished with Her. His last signal is said to have reported the ship to be incapable o f manoeuvring, and avowed his intention o f fighting to the finish. The destruction o f this fine ship, with an excep­tionally full complement (there are said to have been nearly 2,000 on board) must have been a bitter blow to the Germans, to whom she had been lauded as “unsinkable.” VV/’hat was the object o f sending the Bfs- marck out into the Atlantic with nothing but the Prinz Eugen to support her? It was certainly not a sound move from the strateg­ical standpoint. Everything points to the fact that Hitler, impatient at the failure o f his U -boats to maintain the orate f destruc­tion achieved in the second half o f i940, sought to supplement it by surface raiding, even though an earlier effort with the “pocket battleship” Admiral G raf Spec had ended in her defeat by three British cruisers in the Battle o f the River Piate. Her sister ship, the Admiral Scheer, when operating in the Atlantic between October, 1940, and April, 194!, had been fortunate in encounter­ing nothing more formidable than the heroic Jervis Bay, and in the five months that she was at sea her total "bag ”numbered only i6 ships. This tended further to depreciate the value o f the “pocket battleship” for raiding purposes, so recourse was had to the faster and more powerful Scharnhorst and G neisenau. These being immured in Brest PAGE 452 a substitute was provided in the Bismarck, v.hich it was fondly hoped by the Germans would prove faster than any ship able to standup to her, and powerful enough to overwhelm all other opponents. Lengthy List of Decorations H onours and awards to those concerned in the hunting down and destruction o f the Bismarck included :Admiral Sir John Tovey (now Admiral o f the Fleet Lord Tovey), the K .B.E .Captain (now Vice- Admiral Sir Frederick) Dalrym ple-H am ilton o f the Rodney and Captain (now Vice- Admiral) Patterson o f the King George V, the C.B. Rear-Admiral (the late Admiral Sir Frederic) W ak e-W alker Commodore (now Vice-Admiral Sir Patrick) B rind ,Admiral T ovey’s Chief o f Staff Captain (now Rear-Admiral) Bovell o f the Victorious and Captain (now Rear-Admiral) Maund o f the Ark Royal, each the C.B.E. Six officers received the O.B.E., and a petty officer in the Ark Royal was given the British Em­pire Medal. Captain (now Vice-Admiral Sir Philip) Vian obtained a second bar to his .S.OD .,while those who were awarded l he .S.OD .included Com­mander Rotherham of the Sparrowhawk, Lieut.-Com im ndcr (A) Esm onde o f the Vic­torious, Lieut.-Com -m ander P.T. Coodc of the Ark Royal, the commanding officers of H .M.S. Sheffield, Prince o f Wales, Dor­ setshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and the engineer officers o f H .M.S. Rodney, Prince of Wales, Cossack. Suffolk, Norfolk and King George AV. bar to the D .S.C. was conferred on Commander (now Captain) 11. T. Arm­strong o f H .M.S. Maori, and the decoration itself on the commanding officers o f the Zulu and Sikh and 27 other officers. To 32 ratings the Distinguished Service Medal was awarded. The officers in charge o f the Cata­lina aircraft which re-located the Bismarck on May 25,.and o f a Sunderland which -shadowed the Bismarck on the night o f May 23, each received the Distinguished Flying Cross. For the guidance o f readers who may not have the information at hand, the principal particulars o f the various ships mentioned are given in the panel below. Photo, Associated 'Press H.M. Ships King George V i 1939) Prince o 'Wales (1939)— ——Rodney (1925) —Hood (1918) ——Victorious (193?. —Ark Royal (1937 i — Dcrsetshire (1923) Norfolk (1928) —Suffolk (1926)— —Sheffield (1936) —Maori Ma^hona Co:sack Tartar Zulu Sikh (1537) Folich Ship Piorun (1940) Germ.™ Ship. Eismarck (1939)— Gnciser.au (1936) Scharnhorst (I93S) Prinz Eugen (1930) Adm. Schccr (!932) Adrn. Graf Spe: (1933)- ——Tons 10,0009,1001,8701.7604170032.000324210023.00022.0009.9259.92535.00033.00033,900 COO 15.00012.00012.000 Knots 3231-5322823313130-532 G::ns Ten 14-in. Ten 14-in. Nine 16-in. Ei-ht 15-in. Sixteen 4-5-in. Sixteen 4-5-in. Eight 8-in Eight 8-in. Eight Sin. T/vclve 6-:n. S j-J h 4-7-in. Six 4-7-in. Eight 15-in. Nme I I-in. Mine 11-in. Eight 8-ip. Six I l-in. Six I l-in.
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