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The Last Battle Of The Bismarck

1759 words - 8 pages

The last battle of the Bismarck changed the tides during World War II. The Bismarck was Germany’s most famous battleship during World War Two, and was sunk on May 27, 1941. The Bismarck had already sunk the battleship HMS Hood before being sunk herself. For many, the end of the Hood and Bismarck symbolized the end of the time when battleships were the dominant force in naval warfare, to be replaced by submarines and aircraft carriers and the advantages these ships gave to naval commanders.
The Bismarck weighed over 50,000 tons and about half of this weight was armor. This amount of armor gave the Bismarck many advantages in protection but it did not slow her down. It was able to go a speed ...view middle of the document...

He intended for the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen to operate in the Atlantic fully supported with supply and reconnaissance ships. With a force this size, no allied convoy would be safe no matter how many ships they had protecting them. However, Raeder’s plan, which he code-named “Exercise Rhine”, was severely hindered from the beginning when the Gneisenau, a large battle-cruiser, was hit by bombs while in Brest and the Scharnhorst, also a battle-cruiser, needed repairs. However, this took much longer than Raeder had thought. Regardless of this, Raeder ordered the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen to continue as planned. The ships sailed on May 18th. On May 20th, they were located by the Swedish cruiser Gotland off the Swedish coast. Admiral Lutjens, who was in command of both ships, knew that the information would be sent to London before the day was over. He was right. Both ships were docked at Kors Fjord and the Prinz Eugen had to refuel. That night both ships managed to leave, and not long after the area around Kors Fjord was bombed by England. On their way to the Atlantic, the two ships had to pass north of Scapa Flow which was one of Britain’s largest naval bases. Stationed at the base was King George V, the battle cruiser HMS Hood, the new battleship Prince of Wales, and the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious’. Accompanied with these ships were nine destroyers and four cruisers. At sea in the area were the cruisers Norfolk, Mancheste, Suffolk,Birmingham and the battleship Rodney was also in the Atlantic.
After hearing that the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had left Bergen, Admiral Sir John Tovey, who was the Commander in Chief of the home fleet, ordered the ‘Hood’ and the ‘Prince of Wales’ to sail with six destroyers. They left Scapa Flow on May 22nd. On the same day, German reconnaissance for Lutjens, informed him that all the ships that should have been in Scapa Flow were still there. This was not true. The Hood and Prince of Wales had already sailed. He was also told that the weather would be on his side as fog hid many areas to the west of the Norwegian coast. Lutjens became satisfied that he could get into the Atlantic unseen. To speed up the fleet, Tovey ordered the Victorious to sail on the 22nd of May and the day after, the battle cruiser HMS Repulse sailed.
On May 23rd, the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen entered the Denmark Strait. Here, Lutjens had difficulties. The fog didn’t cover his fleet as he expected and his ships had to sail between the Greenland ice field and to the northwest tip of Iceland itself. Lutjens was aware that the British had mined the area and he had to choose his course carefully. On May 23rd, the cruiser Suffolk sighted the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. The Suffolk reported the sighting and later the same day, the Norfolk spotted both German ships. The Suffolk’s sighting had also reached Admiral Holland, who was on the Hood. He knew there was a good distance between his ship and the Bismarck. Holland ordered the Hood’ to...

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