A very brief timeline of the last 9 days of the Bismarck.
May 19, 1941 – Hitler’s new battleship the Bismarck along with the German cruiser Prinz Eugen left Nazi occupied Norway on a secret mission codenamed Operation Rheinübung. Their assignment was to reach the Atlantic Ocean avoiding detection under cover of darkness and attack allied shipping therefore cutting supplies heading into Britain.
May 21, 1941 – A Spitfire on a reconnaissance mission spots both German ships.
May 23, 1941 – HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk locate the 2 German ships in the Denmark Straits, the Bismarck fires upon the British ships but ends up damaging its own radar antenna. HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Hood are on their way to the scene.
May 24, 1941 – The Bismarck hits Hood and destroys it, killing all but three of the 1,418 crew members on board. The Prince of Wales hits the Bismarck causing it to loose fuel. Admiral Lutjens heads for the nearest Nazi occupied port, which was in France. The British followed but they were running out of time – the Bismarck would soon have air support! The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was Britians last chance, British Swordfish Torpedo bombers flew low towards the Bismarck and fired their torpedoes, one hit the rudder, causing the Bismarck to lose its ability to steer. Remarkably none of the Swordfish bombers were destroyed!
May 27, 1941 – The final assault on the Mighty German battleship took place, as the ship sunk German service men jumped into the sea to try and save their lives. HMS Dorsetshire attempted to rescue the men, but a Nazi U-boat approached, forcing the Dorsetshire to leave. Just over 100 men were saved, most of them by the Dorsetshire.
To this day it’s still a mystery if the Bismarck was sunk by the British or it was scuttled by the Germans…
Source – National Geographic – Nazi Supership – link
In 1989, an expedition led by Robert Ballard discovered the wreck of the Bismarck, Ballard is also credited for discovering several other wrecks including RMS Titanic.
For more infomation on the Bismarck visit kbismarck.com
Both photographs link back to the site I found them.