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Bismarck Sinking


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#1 David Seymour

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 10:26 AM

Please can anyone help with full details of the members of the crew of the Catalina captained by Dennis Briggs which sighted BISMARCK?
Grateful for any help, as always.
David
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#2 spidge

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 03:52 PM

Originally posted by David Seymour@Sep 29 2005, 08:26 PM
Please can anyone help with full details of the members of the crew of the Catalina captained by Dennis Briggs which sighted BISMARCK?
Grateful for any help, as always.
David

Quoted post

Can assist with one!

U.S. Navy Lt. J. G. "Tuck" Smith was co-pilot.

That only leaves another 5 or 7 to go.
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Spidge,


My project is the collection of over 11,400+ RAAF Headstone/Memorial photos located in 70 countries during WW2 and the 360+ from WW1. Can you assist? Do you know someone that can?
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My Avatar is my dad, Gunner Frederick Edwin Swallow "C" Company, 2/8th Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division AIF. Critically wounded on the first attack on Tobruk, January 21st 1941.



 


#3 David Seymour

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 05:03 PM

Thanks, Spidge.
I am also aware that the pilot was Dennis Briggs. Anything on him, anyone?
Many thanks,
David
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#4 Arthur

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Posted 01 October 2005 - 05:55 PM

David,
I can only move back a month rather than forward with additional information on Dennis Briggs.

Ross McNeill's R. A. F. Coastal Command Losses Vol, 1. 1939-41:

On the 17th April 1941 he was stationed at Leuchars, Fife with No. 107 Squadron.

On this date he took off at 18:45 hours for convoy escort in a Blenheim Mk IV Seriel No. 5516 [OM-?].
At 21:15 hours when coming in to land he overshot the runway and crashed down the river bank. Crew were safe.

Crew:
Sqn/Ldr. D. R. Briggs.
P/Officer P. E. L. Halls.
Sgt. G. Johnson.

Regards
Arthur
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#5 David Seymour

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Posted 02 October 2005 - 10:33 AM

Arthur,
Many thanks for that. There must have been two of them as I think I’m looking for Flying Officer Dennis Briggs. I have just found a photo of him at http://www.bismarck-...discovered.html
With best wishes,
David
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#6 Arthur

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 08:22 PM

David,
A bit of a coincidence! However, the rank should have sounded the alarm bells.

Dennis Brigg did survive a crash, but it was in the Catalina. Ludovic Kennedy's "Pursuit, The Sinking of the Bismarck" page I42 states: " The captain was Flying Officer Dennis Briggs, who had recently flown in the first Catalina to take part in the Battle of the Atlantic, even survived a crash in it."

It was through this excerpt that I found the information that I gave.

Regards
Arthur
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#7 David Seymour

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 08:35 PM

Arthur,
Does your copy of Kennedy's book name any others of that Catalina's crew?
Best wishes,
David
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#8 Arthur

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 07:51 AM

Hi David,

Ensign Leonard [Tuck] Smith was the only other crew member mentioned by name and it has already been passed on to you from Spidge.

The only information Ludovic Kennedy's "Pursuit, The Sinking of the Bismarck" gave about the crew was on page I42. It states: "Smiths fellow crewmen in Z/209 came from all over England: Sussex, Newcastle, New Barnet, Liverpool."

However, there are some other avenues you might like to try regarding the crew:

[1] http://www.rafweb.org/Help_Wanted.

[2] Royal Air Forces Register of Associations: 209 Squadron: Peter Collyer, 20 Fairfield Road, Broadstairs, Kent CT10 2JY. [INT SPR99]

[3] http://www.raf209.net.

Regards
Arthur
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#9 David Seymour

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 04:37 PM

Arthur,
Many thanks. I will pursue your suggested routes.
Best wishes,
David
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#10 Arthur

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 06:34 PM

David,
The complement of the Catalina! Norman Franks’s book “Search Find and Kill” give the following examples of crew members:

[1]
Catalina ‘M’ No. 210 Squadron.
Pilot
2nd Pilot
Navigator
2nd Navigator
Engineer
Flight Mechanical Engineer
1st Wireless Operator
2nd Wireless Operator
Wireless Operator Mechanic/Air Gunner
Rigger.

[2]
Catalina IV‘X’ No. 210 Squadron.
Pilot
2nd Pilot
3rd Pilot
Navigator
Engineer
Flight Mechanical Engineer/ Air Gunner
1st Wireless Operator
2nd Wireless Operator
Wireless Operator Mechanic/Air Gunner
Rigger.

[3]
Catalina IVA‘C’ JV933 No. 333 Norwegian Squadron.
Pilot
2nd Pilot
Engineer
Observer/Navigator
Wireless Operator /Air Gunner
Wireless Operator /Air Gunner
Wireless Operator Mechanic/Air Gunner
Flight Mechanical Engineer/ Air Gunner
F.M.A?/ Air Gunner

Sorry, I have no idea what the abbreviation F.M.A. stand for. However,I hope this will help you with the number of crew that you are looking for!

Regards
Arthur
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#11 David Seymour

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Posted 06 October 2005 - 05:37 PM

Arthur,
Thank you for your help on this.
With best wishes,
David
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#12 Wicky

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 09:16 PM

Catalina PBY-5 / Mk1 AH545 / WQ-Z 209 sqn Entered service April 1941
Flew from Lough Erne, Northern Ireland till July 1941. Iceland in August for 2 months before returning to the UK at RAF Pembroke Dock. Attacked U-81 on 30 Oct 1941 before the Catalina was lost on patrol on July 15 1942.

At some point possibly in October? 1941 it was equipped at the MAEE (Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, Scotland) with ASV MkII and trials Leigh Light.

Might have had a diversion ... "In August 1941 three Catalinas arrived (at RAF Invergordon, Scotland) from Lough Erne on a secret mission, but packing cases marked S N S O Archangel gave away their destination. Their mission was to transport hurricane spares and key personnel to Grasna near Murmansk after one of the aircraft had taken 21½ hours for the trip due to an electrical storms. Returning with other passengers one Catalina had to force land at Whallsey in the Shetlands.""

May 26 1941 crew that located and tracked the Bismark:

RAF P/O Dennis Briggs (Capt)
RAF P/O Otter
RAF F/O Lowe
RAF Sgt Edmonds
RAF Sgt Burton
RAF Sgt Leigh
RAF Sgt Dunning
RAF Sgt Stenning
RAF LAC Martin
USN Ensign Leonard "Tucker" Smith (Co-Pilot)

REPORT OF THE SCOUTING AND SEARCH FOR BISMARCK BY
ENSIGN SMITH


Which contradicts "A Radar History of World War II: Technical and Military Imperatives"By Louis Brown. Page 127

"A sighting through the swirling clouds over a rough sea by a Catalina flying boat equipped with ASV mark II established the Bismarck's position ..."

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AH545 / WQ-Z
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#13 General Mayhem

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 01:50 AM

I'm a real fan of all things Bismark and was wondring about the controversy primarily in Britain regarding it's sinking. When Rob Ballard discovered the wreck he stated that the ship had obviously been scuttled by it's crew. At the time this resulted i a bit of a flap in Britain.
Ballard's statement that the wreck showed all thesigns of a deliberate scuttling was unacceptable to the British public. I guess I couldn't "fathom" all the hullaballoo. After all even if the German's sank their own ship as they did the Graf Spee, they did so because the British navy forced them too. Right? I mean i's not like the German's just said "ohh bugger this the damn thing's going in circles lets call it a day and open the seacocks." Wasn't it more like "Gott im Himmel were getting pounded into scrap iron and the bloody thing won't keel over! Open the seacocks!"
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#14 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 04:48 AM

Two points:
Bismarck was thoroughly wrecked from end to end by gunfire. Her main belt, as well as the secondary upper one was pierced more than once. All four turrets and their barbettes show signs of penetrations. There is obvious evidence of at least one boiler explosion (the large hole amidships to port). She was hit by several torpedoes as well. All this damage was inflicted by the British.

Second, the Bismarck sank due to flooding and or progressive flooding. Whether the Germans or British were the cause is debatable. That Bismarck was wrecked and then sunk is not.
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#15 General Mayhem

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 02:11 PM

Two points:
Bismarck was thoroughly wrecked from end to end by gunfire. Her main belt, as well as the secondary upper one was pierced more than once. All four turrets and their barbettes show signs of penetrations. There is obvious evidence of at least one boiler explosion (the large hole amidships to port). She was hit by several torpedoes as well. All this damage was inflicted by the British.

Second, the Bismarck sank due to flooding and or progressive flooding. Whether the Germans or British were the cause is debatable. That Bismarck was wrecked and then sunk is not.

Yes, my point exactly. The Royal Navy caused the destruction of the Bismark, regardless of whether the German's were simultaneously trying to scuttle her. On a separate tack I've heard that Jim Cameron has made a documentary about the Bismark. Does anyone know what it is called?
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#16 James S

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 02:07 PM

The flight to Russia which Wicky mentions - it was to take Stafford Cribbs to Russia - the names of the other passangers I have but will have to look them up.
A small detachment of RAF Cats were in Russia at the time , this aircraft was one of those sent up to take supplies to them.

P/O Lowe is "Fats Lowe" a South African , as far asI can recall he was decorated for an attack he made on a submarine contact.

The first operational use of Catalinas was made from Lough Erne on 22nd March 1941 - two aircraft came over the night before from Scotland and were to fly early the next morning - searching for Scharnhorst and Gneisenau - in the event one experienced engine trouble and crashed near Kinlough , Eire - there were no survivors and all on board were killed.
( All but one is buried in Irvinestown Co. Fermanagh)

Surprised to see the Catalina photo - I got this same one from an instructor at 131 OTU , even down to the writing !
( See the living history thread in Wehrmacht awards - Neglected flyingboat base thread).

The Captain of the 240 Squadron crew who re established contact with Bismarck was a gent called Gaynor Williams a canadian - when a number of 240 Squadron aircraft left on detachment in Iceland he thought that he was not going to play a part in the Bismarck episode - as it was he took a composite crew to search for her oin the approaches / her likely approach to the Biscay ports.
One member of his crew told me how he is probably the only person to have cooked streak whilst being taken under fire by a German battleship.
(Mr Cyril Newtown, who was a rigger / AG).

Edited by James S, 10 October 2008 - 06:29 PM.

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#17 Gerard

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 02:20 PM

Whatever about who sank her, she was still a beautiful ship - Bismarck & Tirpitz as was her sister, the Tirpitz.
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#18 James S

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 06:44 PM

Bismarck's place in history is assured owing to her action against Hood and Prince of Wales.
Holland so almost got it just right , to intercept and cross their "T" , his turn to bring his guns to bear was almost complete when Hood was hit by that fatal shot.

German naval rules forbade a cruiser to engage a battleship - the damage to Bismrack's forward radar arrary place Prinz Eugen in the lead and as a consequence the Hood fired on her in the belief that she was Bismarck.
Leach in Prince of Wales did not make that mistake.

Had Lindermann's desire to destroy the badly damaged Prince of Wales been heeded it is almost certain that she would have sank both capital ships.

The fatal radio message (repeated) , the fatal hit on her rudders and what put her there to begin with - having sailed from Norway without topping up her tanks - why Lutjens did this will never be known.
The hit from Prince of Wales compouned this and created a real fuel shortage on the battleship , down by the bows she was seriously damaged and was in trouble.


Bismarck set her final course for France short of fuel and sailing some 8-10 knots below her maxium speed - due to a shortage of fuel , a few hundred gallons more would have put her beyond reach .
The map reading error on board Tovey's flagship would have presented a case of role reversal - it could well have been it which tipped the balance in favour of Bismarck.

The Torpedo hit on Bismarck was very lucky had she steered straight the damage would not have most likely have done her no serious damage.

Edited by James S, 08 December 2008 - 02:56 PM.

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#19 Smudger Jnr

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 07:05 PM

Going from memory after reading a Naval book many years ago the crew of the Bismark manned their guns to the bitter end. It is said thet when the Bismark sank there was not celebration, but a sombre atmosphere by those who witnessed it.

I believe that the bravery of the Bismark crew was officially whitewashed over for fear of morale purposes.

Regards

Tom
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#20 James S

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 06:16 PM

The info comes from the log of a 240 Squadron Rigger/AG called Mr Cyril Newtown.
The crew was that of Gaynor Williams , it was a composite crew made up of whoever could be found.


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The enemy aircraft were swordfish sent out to try and locate and observe the crippled battleship.

The location of Bismarck was as a result of observation and a degree of luck - radar did not play a part in the contact being made.

Wicky makes mention of the "Secret Mission" to Russia.
This comes from the logbook of the late Sgt J. Iverack , it details the flight and times.
240 Squadron CO Jack Sumner was at Archangel at the time stuck there waiting for spare parts to be flown out.
JI wrote a book post war called "The Chronicles of a Nervous navigator" which tells of his wartime experiences.
The flight is told in that book - his widow Peggy had it published after his death.
Sadly Mrs Iverach passed away a few years ago.

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Iverach tells how they were "buzzed" by a Russian fighter which broke off one of their aerials .
The pilot of the aircraft was shot for endangering the Catalina and its passangers.


Gotthard Heinrici
Whatever about who sank her, she was still a beautiful ship - Bismarck & Tirpitz as was her sister, the Tirpitz.


I agree for her size she looked very graceful - when viewed from the stern her size is really apparent - she was a heavyweight.

Goping back to Bismark.
The copy below again from John Iverach notes their contact with Hood and prince of Wales seen moving towards the Denmark Strait.
A few hours later back in Iceland they could actually hear the action between the four heavy units.

Posted Image



U-boat Archive - Bismarck - Interrogation Report
An Admiralty report on the interrogation of the survivors from Bismarck , some interesting conclusions and observations are made.

Edited by James S, 17 November 2008 - 11:18 PM.

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#21 Drew5233

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 12:09 AM

Some pictures of the Bismarck firing on HMS Hood


1.
Posted Image
Battle ship Bismarck and heavy cruiser prince Eugen in combat with SMS Hood and SMS Prince OF Wales, battle ship Bismarck firing.

2.
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Description: Teleaufnahme of the explosion of the largest warship of the world, Hood. A tank high-explosive shell Bismarck had brought figure eight to ammunition chamber to the explosion. 300 m the explosion wall, an uncanny Aschgrau, which was torn apart by glow-red and sulfur-yellow lightnings, was high. 1338 men found in this inferno death Specially information: " Enterprise Rheinübung" , Battle ship Bismarck and heavy cruiser prince Eugen in combat with SMS Hood and SMS Prince OF Wales, smoke clouds on the horizon

3.
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Sea-combat of the battle ship " Bismarck" under Iceland. Now battle ship Bismarck directs its whole firepower toward the withdrawing battle ship " Prince OF Wales". <I wonder at this point if the Hood had been sunk?>
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#22 James S

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 12:02 PM

If P.of W. was withdrawing , yes - she was hit on the bridge which killed or wounded all present another shell landed in a munition handling room but failed to explode.
At one time she only had perhaps two of her main armament in action and sailed with maintance men on board trying to remedy faults in her gun turrets.
She was not really in order to face Bismarck but had to go and perhaps with another senior officer in charge of the German squadon Prince of Wales would probably have been sunk or at least much more heavily damaged than she was.
Its no secret that Lindemann was beside himself that the opportunity was allow to slip away.
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#23 James S

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 10:18 AM

The change in position of the two ships should be noted , Priz Eugen entered the battle in the lead as Bismarks radar array was out of action and this lead to Admiral Holland in mistakenly engaging Prinz E. as his primary target - Captain Leach in Prince of Wales did not make the same mistake .
The German ships have shifted position as the engagement progressed.

Edited by James S, 03 May 2009 - 10:39 PM.

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#24 James S

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 12:56 AM

Bismarck left the engagement down at the bows , , a nine degree list to port, taking water , a major quantity of her fuel supply contaminated, and a boiler room out of action.

She had not lefte Norway with full tanks and had declined the opportunity to fuel from a supply ship in the Arctic - taking advantage of weather and surprise to hed for the Atlantic.
The missed and declined opportuities now became critical to her chances of survival as she headed for France , running well below maxium speed with the Home Fleet behind her , heavy units leaving convoys to join the chase and force H moving in to block her passage to Biscay.
The contaminated fuel loss was making a critical influence on her chances for survival.
Attached from "The Loss of The Bismarck- An Avoidable Disaster" by Graham Rhys-Jones.( Cassell. 2000).

The cordite clouds are very impressive when she is seen moving at speed , the clouds from her just fired rounds marking where she was , can you imagine her firing her guns in the Gulf war ?
(She of her generation did so).

America's battleships never raided against Japanese commerce , they engaged their own kind and later became support for the landings which leapfrogged towards Japan , fine ship as she was her construction illustrated a dated naval thinking perhaps one evene more behind that of the British , Americans and Japanese.

The operational orders for "Rhine Exercise" taken from "Battleship Bismarck- A Survivor's Story" by Burkard Baron von Mullenheim-Rechberg. ( Arms and Armour Press 1991).
They mae interesting reading, along with Ludovik Kennedy's classic "Pursuit - The Sinking of the Bismarck" , these are amongest the best accounts of the ill fated maiden voyage of Bismarck.

The BBC documentery made in 1971 is long overdue for a showing , history channel should ask BBc for it and others made at the same time - they are really quite remarkable comments on the naval war.

Attached Files


Edited by James S, 04 May 2009 - 09:57 AM.

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#25 Drew5233

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 02:32 PM

I've just watched a interesting programme about her on the Nat Geographic.

Some Aussie chap hired a Russian survey ship and took some of the Bismarcks crew to where she sunk and went down in a submersable with the crew.

It was quite a emotional moment for them and they laid a big steel plaque on her deck listing the crew that were killed.

They reckon she suffered over 2,800 hits from shells and torpedoes before she sunk although some of the crew claimed she was scuttled by them rather that sunk outright by the Royal Navy.

A really good programme and a must for anyone with a interest of the sea.

'Return to the Bismarck'

Regards
Andy
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#26 James S

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 05:25 PM

I would wonder about the "2,800" Andy when you think of them as hits , how many rounds fired that missed , the Home fleet cpould not have carried ammuntion in that quantity.

The programme I though was a little weak in terms of historical information , the highlight for me was seeing the German sailors returning to the scene of the action.

The footage previously shot of the Hood and Bismarck by David Mearns was amongest the very best shown to date.

Channel 4 - Hood v Bismarck - Home

YouTube - Bismarck vs Hood

Poor Ted Briggs has since died , the last voice from HMS Hood is now gone.

(Andy the photo you posted above is one of the outstanding images of the Bismarck - a ship with beautiful lines.)

Edited by James S, 13 May 2009 - 09:21 PM.

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#27 mikebatzel

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 08:08 PM

The change in position of the two ships should be noted , Priz Eugen entered the battle in the lead as Bismarks radar array was out of action and this lead to Admiral Holland in mistakenly engaging Prinz E. as his primary target - Captain Leach in Prince of Wales did not make the same mistake .
The German ships have shifted position as the engagement progressed.

I believe she knocked out her own radar when she fired a few salvo's towards the shadowing cruisers when they got too close the day before.

I also enjoy the side story that begins with the sinking of the Bismark.
Unsinkable Sam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edited by mikebatzel, 13 May 2009 - 08:19 PM.

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Anyone who clings to the historically untrue--and thoroughly immoral--doctrine that 'violence never solves anything' I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The Ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more disputes in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms.-Robert Heinlein

#28 James S

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 09:07 AM

mikebatzel
I also enjoy the side story that begins with the sinking of the Bismark.
Unsinkable Sam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bismarck's cat - died in Belfast - I have seen a photo of him somewhere on the internet - its a great story of a lucky cat who jumped ship and switched sides.
I'd say he had an eventful but good life , spoilt by all.

The Unbelievable Story of Cat Oscar « War and Game

Cat Oscar

Purr-n-Fur UK: Cats in Wartime 2 - At Sea (Ship's Cats)

Edited by James S, 14 May 2009 - 09:22 AM.

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#29 Drew5233

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 12:58 PM

Too good a video not to post:
British Pathe - AFTER THE BISMARK

I can just see the crowd cheering in the cinema
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#30 James S

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:14 PM

When you look back with what we know now about the chase and the huge elements of luck enjoyed by both sides the propaganda message does not really hold up.

Always a learning experience to see how the establishment presented the news.

(The binoculars the rating is holding - Carl Zeiss !)

Edited by James S, 20 July 2009 - 01:30 PM.

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