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The End of the 'Bismarck'

Discussion in 'Britain at Sea!' started by Dave War44, Oct 22, 2006.

  1. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    Two photos of one of the two Lough Erne based Catalina's involved in the finding of Bismarck, two of 12 "Cats" which FDR had given to the RAF along with some USN officers to convert and instruct RAF aircrew in the use and flying / operational characteristics of the "PBY". "Tuck" Smith and Lt. Johnston both became closely involved in this chase. (By the end of May 1941 two of these twelve aircraft had been lost operating from Lough Erne, one remains in the Lough, not far from Castle Archdale as a war grave.)
    Lt.Wagner another of the USN officers who came ( secretly) to Lough Erne, congress knew nothing about the officers nor the aircraft.
    P/240 Squadron, the Catalina which is a Wargrave and a memorial set up at the marina at Castle Archdale to remember the crew.
    On the left Hirst who is named on the memorial and on the left John Iverach who took the photographs, a Canadian navigator who took an extensive range of photos in his time at Lough Erne.
    Gaynor Williams pilot of the second Catalina involved in shadowing Bismarck, I am presently waiting for a copy of his book "The Wartime Journals of a Prarie Kid". ( Published in 2010). Williams was initially disappointed not to have been sent to Iceland with other aircrews to search for Bismarck but it would be he as part of two composite crews which would find the battleship.

    I have been searching for some aircrew logbook copies directly related to Bismarck will try and do better tomorrow.
    In the meantime her rudder. From "battleship Bismarck A design and Operational History". catalina 1942.jpg Catalina-Flying-boat-at-Lough-Erne.jpg IMG_8002.JPG IMG_8004.JPG IMG_8071.JPG Iverach%20%20and%20Hirst%20L%20240%20Feb%201941.JPG Save0001.JPG IMG_9131.JPG IMG_9133.JPG IMG_9132.JPG
     
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  2. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    Attached from Ballard's book on Bismarck, I met Tuck Smith when he visited Ireland in 1991, he signed this image in the book for me. A very nice and unassuming man.

    This interview with Esmonde Knight is so very very good, please take time to listen to this splendid piece of history.


    In recent months I have been rather humbled to have come into possession of a short letter from Esmonde Knight along with that of Ludovic Kennedy who wrote and narrated a wonderful documentary "Battleship Bismarck" for the BBC in 1970. I so wish it would be shown again for it was so very much better than anything on the subject before or since.
    Knight was a trained actor and was blinded in the action with Bismarck, he was retired and returned to acting - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0460874/ TSMITH.PNG EK.JPG
     
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  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Member

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  4. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    As Ludovic Kennedy said of her in this fine documentary, "She was a floating town, with a difference". It is telling that more recently made commentaries on the ship and the chase take the interviews from Kenney's work and interlace it with (IMO) rather low-quality computer images- which simply lack the authority of his work.
    Interviewed by him are all the surviving / then still alive key officers and men from the ships involved.
    Mulhemheim -Rechberg stated in an interview that when they saw the Swedish cruiser in the Baltic Belts they knew that soon the British would know they were on the move and that "we knew that the secrecy of our operation was no longer absolute".
    An exchange of signals was quoted between Tovey's new KGV and the older Rodney which had been ordered to increase speed to 25 knots ( I think it was) and the older ships Captain signalled to say " Your 25 knots is a little faster than mine as she slipped behind".
    A later signal as she drew level was " When the old girl lifts up her skirt she can go".
    Wolfarth said, " I watched the Ark Royal accompanied by two battlecruisers move across in front of my periscope and I watched her aircraft taking off to attack the Bismarck and I could do absolutely nothing".
    Kennedy was a junior officer in a destroyer he said: " What I remembered most was the brilliant colours of the gun flashes against the grey of the ships, sea and sky".
    He said of Bismarcks last night " The midship under training who would never make another voyage, the prize crews who would never take a prize, the bandsmen, their instruments lying silent in their lockers, in the morning they all knew they were going to die".
    From Hood, he interviewed AbleSeaman Tillburn one of her (then) two surviving sailors he described how he saw a friend eviscerated in front of him and how he fell dead "his insides coming out and I thought I'm going to be sick".... "then I looked down and saw the sea much closer than it should be"
    I have searched the internet for this programme and sadly it is not to be got I had it on VHS for years but sent it to a friend in Australia.
     
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  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Member

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    If I get time - ha ha - I will try to see if I can contact the BBC archives to see if they have access to it etc - but I guess with the current situation they will be running o#a skeleton staff if any staff at all

    TD
     
  6. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    I do wish the "Beeb" would put some of their excellent documentaries out as downloads, "The Secret War" , Ludovic Kennedy's work for them on Bismarck, Scharnhorst and Tirpitz" , this is his Scharnhorst documentary.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Member

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    Have asked the question - will await their reply

    Thanks for getting in touch!
    This is an automated email confirming that we’ve received your enquiry. We regret that at present we have reduced staff numbers because of the coronavirus pandemic, and hope you will understand if we are unable to respond as quickly as we’d hope to normally, but we will reply as soon as we can.
    Regards,
    BBC Enquiries Team


    TD
     
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  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Barring a disaster like Hood, it was rare for a capital ship to be sunk entirely by gunfire. It was fairly common for a hopelessly crippled ship to be finished off by torpedos, either by the enemy or her own side.

    Scuttling one's own ship would seem to be the most complete acknowledgement by her crew that she was totally defeated, comparable to striking the colors in older times.
     
  9. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    There are some writings which suggest that the surviving officers believed or at least took into consideration that an attempt might be made to board her and this was the source of the scuttling orders. Commander Lehmann apparently ordered Lt. Commander Junack to set off his timed charges "Measure V", this he did shortly before 10.00 am, leaving the watertight doors open behind him.
    It would seem from 9.30 her main guns were silent and she was from then on sustaining damage at an increasing rate, she was listing increasingly to the port, waves broke on her decks and she was certainly taking in water from this and she was settling by the stern, Bismarck was sinking.
    The time from the scuttling charges being set and going off ( approx. 10.00 am) could not have in itself have been the agent which sank her this was already well underway.
    At.09.55 an FW-200 was spotted aft of the battle scene, the Luftwaffe was arriving, too late and not in numbers but soon others would come. KGV had closed to 2,700 yards and poured fire on the still floating Bismarck and her shells did not bounce off.
    The scenes on deck must have been simply a butcher's shop and the order to cease fire and withdraw left a Bismarck sinking to the cruisers who would finish the task.. Attached tables of information from "Battleship Bismarck - A Design and Operational History" (Garzke, Dulinand Jurens. Seaforth Publishing. 2019).
    Sometimes when you buy a secondhand book you inherit a little from and of the previous owner.
    IMG_9168.JPG IMG_9169.JPG IMG_9170.JPG IMG_9171.JPG IMG_9153.JPG IMG_9151.JPG
     
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  10. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    I will post this here for sake of continuity, the book I had been waiting on from Canada "The War-Time Journals of a Prairie Kid" by Gaynor Williams.
    The book is based on events significant to Mr. Williams covering his wartime service as a Canadian in the RAF, for me his time at Lough Erne in 1941-42 is the real interest. The book itself is already read an easy uncomplicated read part " as I remember it" ( which I have no problem at all with) and part from his notes taken at the time.
    In part, you have in relation to Bismarck shift fact from memory but this is typical of how we remember and it is not in any way anything else.
    I have copied these few pages here if you look at the book cover memory again is illustrated here two ships firing at the aircraft and the thought that Prinz Eugen might be near and may have been seen, the memory that sees an Arado floatplane having been launched and assured impression of " the black crosses on the wings", that close and the "German" would have been firing on them. ( Lindermann did consider launching an aircraft but the sea state and potential recovery process killed the idea, I often wonder that had the damage to the compressed air system been found might it have been repaired? They probably did not know the two German ships had parted company and probably only belated discovered ( later on return to base) that the smaller ship was British).
    The young pilot was disappointed to have been left at LE when the bulk of the Squadron went on an emergency deployment to Iceland "rank hath its privileges" and a Squadron Leader went with his crew. ( Iverach, his friend whilst on patrol saw Hodd and prince of Wales heading for the Denmark Strait, he also recorded in his diary hearing the gun battle clearly from Reykjavik.)

    The author later records flights to Murmansk (which 240 made going North to the Shetlands before heading for Russia, On one occasion they flew Stafford Cribbs to Russia and brought Molotov back with them, although they then did not know who he was).
    He records that his skipper on the Bismarck flight was later killed with all but one of his crew when their Catalina crashed at Sullom Voe in January 1942. (This is 100% correct).
    The copy of the telegram was that which I have but could not find on my spare HD, the paper copy is in storage - with Cyril Newtwons logbook copies. Cyril ended up with the telegram as his souvenir of the trip, that and the memory of cooking steak whilst under fire from Bismarck. At 19 or 20 years of age, you have to admire these young men. How would we have done in their shoes IMG_9210.JPG IMG_9211.JPG IMG_9215.JPG IMG_9214.JPG IMG_9213.JPG IMG_9212.JPG IMG_9216.JPG IMG_9217.JPG ?
     
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  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The RN was clearly after Bismarck but before the final battle the battleship being founded by the later Catalina, she made a 180° turn and the battleship was again gone in the mist. The Catalina found her and the RN could attack its target. However German subs were sent that Direction the R'N had to watch their Backs as well and fuel.
     
  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Member

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    I have chased the BBC around various departments, regarding obtaining a copy of Ludovic Kennedys documentary mentioned earlier in this thread - unfortunately the final response I have received is:

    Sorry but we can only forward your e-mail to DVD sales in the hope they think there is a sizeable DVD market to justify BBC Studios to invest and acquire rights from BBC Public Service. We would then need to pay for clearances, author, encode and manufacture stock to release in the UK. I think it is highly unlikely that this will happen but will of course forward your suggestion to our sales and marketing teams.


    So perhaps a wait, see and keep an eye on things although knowing the BBC they are not going to rush at something like this - but at least we tried

    TD
     
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  13. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Remembered this classic hit by Johnny Horton back in 1960..use to sing it as a kid...have a 1/350th scale Master Series of the Bismark under a nice display case.

     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2020
  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Sink the Bismarck...featuring the Hood.
     

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