Skip to comments.BRITISH FLEET ENGAGES BISMARCK, HIT IN CHASE BY AERIAL TORPEDO (5/27/41)
Posted on 05/27/2011 5:30:35 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
British sink the Bismark
Tuesday, May 27, 1941 www.onwar.com
In the North Atlantic... Rodney and King George V come up and in a gun battle lasting less than two hours, the Bismark is reduced to a hulk. She is finished off with torpedoes from the cruisers Dorsetshire and Norfolk.
In the Mediterranean... On Crete, German forces take Canea and Suda. The Allied forces are now largely split up and moving in a disorganized manner in the direction of Sfakia to be evacuated. The evacuation is authorized by Wavell after he has consulted with London. The battleship Barham is damaged by air attack.
In North Africa... Rommel has reinforced his troops on the Egyptian border and his two panzer regiments retake Halfaya Pass in a converging attack. The Germans begin work to fortify their new position, especially by digging in their 88mm guns.
In Iraq... British forces begin to advance from their positions around Habbaniyah and Fallujah toward the capital, Baghdad.
May 27th, 1941
UNITED KINGDOM: The first catapult equipped merchantman, the steamship ‘Michael E’ puts to sea, with its complement of two Hurricanes. It is later sunk by torpedo.
FRANCE: Paris: The Vichy vice-premier, Admiral darlan, signs the “Paris Protocols”, giving Germany access to Syrian and Lebanese military facilities and naval bases at Tunis and Dakar.
GREECE: CRETE: The Allied commander General Freyberg receives orders to evacuate the island.
The town of Chania falls.
As HMS Barham covers a supply mission, she is damaged by air attack to the northwest of Alexandria. Canea and Suda fall to the Germans.
EGYPT: Rommel recaptures the Halfaya Pass from British troops who have held the Pass for the last two weeks. He sent in three battle groups. The Coldstream Guards lost 100 men.
U.S.A.: Washington: Roosevelt today warned America of Nazi designs on the Americas. He promised to extend US patrols in the Atlantic to protect the sea-lanes to Britain, and announced that he had proclaimed an “unlimited national emergency.” requiring that its military, naval, air and civilian defenses be put on the basis of readiness to repel any and all acts or threats of aggression directed toward any part of the Western Hemisphere. the US was rearming only for self-defence, he said.
He also declares that labour and capital must defer to government mediation processes “without stoppage of work.”
Joseph Grew, US Ambassador to Japan, writes Hull to advise that war was inevitable if the diplomatic talks between the US and Japan broke down. (Marc Small)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: The Bismarck is sunk by ships and planes of the Royal Navy with the loss of some 2300 lives and 110 survivors. The loss of this ship will be debated. The Germans maintain the scuttled, the British of course maintain the BISMARK was sunk. (Ray Cresswell)
King George V, Rodney and BISMARK all open fire around 08.45. Only the German ship is hit and by 10.15 she is a blazing wreck, after being pounded with 16-inch and 14-inch guns from ever-decreasing range. BISMARK still remained afloat thanks to her honeycomb pattern of watertight compartments which her designers claimed made her unsinkable. The big ships were running out of fuel and were ordered home. Heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire, having left convoy SL74 the previous day, fires torpedoes to finish her off, but the BISMARK’s captain has already ordered her to be scuttled. BISMARK sinks at 10.35 to the southwest of Ireland, the 2,200 men who died included Admiral Lutjens and her captain, Ernst Lindemann. HMS Norfolk is there at the end. The Dorsetshire and other British ships stood by to pick up survivors - but made off when told a U-boat was in the vicinity. 110 of the BISMARK’s crew survived.
HMCS St Clair (ex USS Williams) and HMS Mashona attacked by 5 German bombers, west of Galway Bay, Ireland. Mashona capsized and sunk, survivors picked up by St Clair. (Tom Carlson)
At 0101, the Colonial, dispersed from Convoy OB-318, was hit by one torpedo from U-107 and sank after a coup de grâce at 0146 about 200 miles WNW of Freetown. The master, the convoy commodore (Rear Admiral W.B. Mackenzie RN), 88 crewmembers, six naval staff members and four gunners were picked up by target ship (ex-battleship) HMS Centurion and landed at Freetown. (DS)
Day 635 May 27, 1941
British battleships HMS King George V & HMS Rodney approach German battleship Bismarck from the Northwest and begin firing at 8.47 AM. Bismarck is an easy target, almost stationary & illuminated by the sun rising behind her. Loss of steering & a port list render her firing inaccurate. Bismarck is hit several times putting her guns out of action, without registering any hits on the British. King George V & Rodney plus heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk & HMS Dorsetshire close in, firing 2876 rounds including 719 14-inch & 16-inch shells. About 400 shells hit Bismarck, turning her into a burning hulk but she does not sink until the crew blow scuttling charges in the boiler rooms (she is also hit by torpedoes from HMS Dorsetshire). Bismarck sinks at 10.39 AM. Dorsetshire & destroyer HMS Maori begin rescue 110 survivors but then leave on a false sighting of a U-boat. German weather ship Sachsenwald picks up 5 survivors next day. In all, 2091 German sailors are killed.
Pivotal turn here...cant wait for next fews days seeing their reporting of what happened to the Bismarck...
I’m on the edge of my seat wondering whats going to happen to the Bismarck
abb won’t be joining us this morning to update the day-by-day story of Bismarck vs. the Royal Navy (some lame excuse about work or something - nothing really important like bass fishing.) But he was kind enough to drop off a couple links to sites with the current state of research into the wrecks of the two main characters. If someone wants to check them out and post some juicy tidbits on this thread it would be appreciated. Or from the other sites that abb and others have linked to over the last several days. I would try but I have my own work-related issues to attend to.
Hanson Baldwin’s analysis of torpedo tactics & damage was detailed and (as it turns out) prophetic.
The Swordfish biplane had a very good war, and one of its high points was the hunt of the Bismarck.
Bismarck had already been reduced to 20 knots by damage to its reserve fuel supply during the Battle of the Denmark strait (where Hood was sunk). A successful torpedo strike on the 24th May led to another 4 knot reduction in speed.
The decisive torpedo hit was on the 26th, which jammed rudder and steering and made the Bismarck effectively unfightable. On the 27th of May: Rodney and King George V, along with heavy cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire sank the Bismarck.
An excellent blow-by-blow account of the full chase is available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_battleship_Bismarck
As Admiral Tovey recorded in his memoirs: “The Bismarck had put up a most gallant fight against impossible odds, worthy of the old days of the Imperial German Navy, and she went down with her colours flying”
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Duh, spell check error, facilitating=fascinating.
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While BISMARCK wasn’t going anywhere, his guns were out of action, his crew was abandoning ship, and he was aflame from stem to stern, the British didn’t sink him. The crew scuttled the ship.
Yep. That’s the 2nd time in two days in these old papers where I’ve read “gay” being used as it should.
Bismarck withstood an incredible pounding without sinking.
Yes, its internal compartmentalization made it very hard to sink.
I think another reason was that Rodney closed to short range, and her shells were being fired into the ship more or less horizontally, so they didn’t poke holes in Bismarck below the water line. Vertical plunging fire from long range might have been more effective in sinking her, but was certainly less accurate.
Even so, he took an incredible pounding.
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