Battleship Warspite bombards Walcheren in 1944
BISMARCK UNDER SWORDFISH ATTACK

The engagement between the Bismarck, the Prinz Eugen and the two British warships, on May 24 1941, not only saw the total destruction of HMS Hood, but significant damage to the German battleship from hits received from the Prince of Wales. Bismarck's forward fuel tanks were leaking and the ship was down at the bow. Lutjens ordered the cruiser Prinz Eugen to proceed independently and set his own ship on a course for St. Nazaire. In the early hours of May 25 the Bismarck disappeared from the radar screen of the tracking cruiser Suffolk. A radio transmission by Lutjens to his base alerted the hunting ships of Force H that he was making for the west coast of France. A searching American Catalina, flying with RAF Coastal Command from Northern Ireland, spotted the Bismarck about 10 am on the 26th. The light cruise HMS Sheffield began to shadow the battleship while Force H, with battleships, cruisers, destroyers and the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, closed in on the Bismarck. An intial wave of torpedo carrying Swordfish from Ark Royal mistakenly attacked the Sheffield, but luckily the torpedoes were all faulty and failed to function properly. A second wave of Swordfish from Ark Royal, launched just before dusk and in bad weather, succeeded in finding the Bismarck and scored a hit on her stern.
With her rudder jammed, the Bismarck's fate was sealed.

 


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