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C.B.  4051 (24)
Interrogation of Survivors
August, 1941



          This book is the property of His Majesty's Government.  
          It is intended for the use of the recipients only, and for communication to such Officers under them (not below the rank of Commissioned Officer) who may require to be acquainted with its contents in the course of their duties.  The Officers exercising this power will be held responsible that such information is imparted with due care and caution.  


C.B.  4051 (24)
Interrogation of Survivors
August, 1941
  N.I.D. 08409/43.  


          The following report is compiled from information derived from prisoners of war.  The statements made cannot always be verified; they should therefore not be accepted as facts unless they are definitely stated to be confirmed by information from other sources.  


  Introductory Remarks
  Officers and Ship's Company
Admiral Lütjens and Staff
  Early History and Trials
  First and Last Cruise of "Bismarck"
  Preliminary Movements
  Action with H.M.S. "Hood"
  Pursuit of "Bismarck"
  Sinking of "Bismarck"
  Details of "Bismarck"
  Armour and Protection
  (A)  Main Engines
  (B)  Boiler Rooms
  (C)  Other Auxiliary Machinery
  (D)  Shock Absorption
  Electrical Equipment
  (A)  Primary Armament
  (B)  Secondary Armament
  (C)  A.A. Weapons
          (a)  Long Range A.A. Guns
          (b)  Close Range A.A. Guns
  Fire Control
  (A)  Primary and Secondary Armament
  (B)  A.A. Fire Control, Long Range Weapons
  (C)  A.A. Fire Control, Close Range Weapons
  (D)  General
  Damage Control Organisation
  Fire Appliances
  Anti-Gas Protection
  Magazine Cooling, Flooding, Spraying, Ventilation and Fire Arrangements
  Ventilation System
  Anti-Maine Devices
  Steering Gear and Compasses
  Smoke Screen Apparatus
  Oil Fuel
  Messing (Canteens, Galleys and Refrigeration)
  Medical Arrangements
  "Bismarck's" Supply Ships
  Other German Main Units
  U-Boats and Other Vessels
  Naval Bases
Appendix I.  Officers known to have been on board "Bismarck" when sunk
Appendix II.  List of Survivors of "Bismarck"
Appendix III.  Translation of a Diary belonging to Maschinenmaat Willi Graf
Appendix IV.  Translation of a Diary belonging to another survivor of "Bismarck"
Frontispiece"Bismarck" and end of "Bismarck."
Plate 1  Plan of "Bismarck."
Plate 2  Track Chart of "Bismarck."
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        "BISMARCK," SUNK AT 1037 ON TUESDAY, 27th MAY, 1941,
          IN POSITION 48 ° 09' N., AND 16° 07' W.  
          Out of a total of between 2,300 and 2,400 officers and men believed to have been on board "Bismarck" when sunk, only 110, including 4 officers, survived, and of these 75 were selected for interrogation.  
          The inexperience and youth of the majority of the survivors, many of whom were under twenty, precluded much reliable information being obtained.  Most of the survivors had only knowledge of their own part of the ship and prisoners emphasised that neither officers nor men received more information than was required for the performance of their own particular duties.  It was evident, from interrogations, that much information had been purposely withheld from the ship's company, the very extensive sub-division of the ship into watertight compartments hindering an exchange of information which might otherwise have become common knowledge.  
          Prisoners admitted that they had, from time to time, received instruction on security and they had been carefully prompted as to what their attitude should be as prisoners of war.  The effect of this instruction wa more apparent in the case of the senior ratings who were naturally possessed of more detailed knowledge.  All prisoners were most reticent about matters which they considered, or had been told to consider, as secret.  
          Prisoners, through their propaganda, had been given to understand that they would be fired at helpless in the water after abandoning ship and they were accordingly much impressed when they found this was not the case and, in fact, they were afforded every consideration in the rescuing ships.  
          Considering their exceptionally severe experience it is remarkable how well the survivors withstood their ordeal.  
          In the ensuing narrative, leading up to the destruction of "Bismarck," incidents in the enemy ship have, as far as possible, been associated with those occurring, at the time, in British units engaged, as recorded in Official Reports.  
          It seems probable, from prisoner's statements, that the normal complement of "Bismarck" was between 2,100 and 2,200 officers and men, and it was suggested that this relatively large complement was due to the elaborate sub-division of the ship into watertight compartments.  
          In addition to the Admiral and staff, probably numbering 75, a prize crew (Prisenkommando) of one officer and 80 men had been embarked.  The total number on board was given as between 2,300 and 2,400 and it was stated that more than 100 officers were included.  A list of some 50 officers, known to have been on board, is given in Appendix I.  
          The Commanding Officer, Kapitan z. See (Captain) Ernst Lindemann was born on the 28th March, 1894, and entered the Imperial German Navy in April, 1913.  
          During the 1914-1918 war this officer had served as Sub-Lieutenant in the Battleship "Bayern" and, after the war, was promoted to Lieutenant in 1920 and Lieut-Commander in 1925.  In April, 1932, he was promoted to Commander and served as instructor at the "Ship's Gunnery School," Kiel, and, following his promotion to Fregattenkapitän (Senior Commander), in October, 1936, he served in the Operation Section of the Admiralty, under Rear-Admiral Guse.  
          In March, 1938, he was promoted to Captain and became head of the Training Division at the Admiralty.  Captain Lindemann was known to have  
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  been in command of the battleship "Deutschland" in July, 1939, but it is not known when he was appointed to "Bismarck," and it is thought that he assumed command when commissioning on the 24th August, 1940.  
          Kapitänleutnant (Lieut.-Commander) Freiherr von Müllenheim-Rechberg, the senior surviving Executive Officer, had joined the Reich Navy in 1929 and underwent midshipman's training in the battleship "Hessen."  In 1935 he was promoted to Lieutenant, served in the 1st Destroyer Division and qualified in gunnery.  In 1937 he was second-in-command in the destroyer "Richard Beitzen," 1st Destroyer Division, under Commander Gadow.  In July, 1938, Attache to the German Embassy in London.  
          On the outbreak of war von Müllenheim-Rechberg served as 1st Lieutenant in the 1,625-ton destroyer "Erich Giese," which ship took part in both battles of Narvik, being finally sunk.  
          It has been stated that this officer was not on board for either action, as he was acting as Adjutant ashore to the German Commanding Officer and later some blame was attributed to von Müllenheim-Rechberg for the failure of the shore defences.  During interrogation, however, this prisoner insisted that he was on board his ship during the second action, and was obliged to swim ashore when the "Erich Giese" was sunk.  
          From conversations it was ascertained that von Müllenheim-Rechberg had acted as Staff Officer to the Commanding Officer of "Bismarck" from December, 1940, to March, 1941, and the impression was given that he was more interested in social activities than in technical matters.  During his service at the Embassy he had acquired a good knowledge of English and had a number of acquaintances in England.  
          Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) (Lieutenant-Commander) (E.)) Junack, the only surviving Engineer Officer, was a turbine specialist; having been previously employed by the Gestapo, he was found to be extremely reticent and warned survivors, even whilst in the water, to "Keep their mouths shut!"  
          Two other officers survived, Nautischeassistent (Lieutenant) L. Blazer, the junior Meteorological Officer, and Fähnrich (Ing.) (Midshipman (E.)) H. G. Stiegler, the latter being a young electrician promoted from the lower deck.  
          Prisoners criticised their officers, stating that some of them were "peculiar" and others lazy, the Divisional Officers taking little interest in their men; it was even said that one officer was an idiot.  
          The ship's company, with the exception of those who had been standing by the ship, had joined on the commissioning day and were split up into twelve divisions, each containing 150 to 200 men as follows:  
  Division I. Seaman's division - provided crews for primary and secondary armaments.
  Division II. Seaman's division - provided crews for primary and secondary armaments.
  Division III. Seaman's division - provided crews for primary and secondary armaments.
  Division IV. Seaman's division - provided crews for primary and secondary armaments.
  Division V. Close range A/A (Leichte Flak)   "Flak" divisions together numbered
  Division VI. Long range A/A (Schwere Flak)   360 men.
  Division VII. Daymen's division (Funktionäre) - included cooks, canteen staffs and 28 bandsmen.
  Division VIII. Gunnery Artificers - included gunner's mates, etc.
  Division IX. "Navigational division - included helmsmen, telegraphists and signalmen (Steuerei, Funker und Signalgäste).
  Division X. "Technical" division - included turbine and boiler room ratings.
  Division XI. "Technical" division - included turbine and boiler room ratings.
  Division XII. "Technical" division - included turbine and boiler room ratings.


          Each division was split up into two or more watches ("Züge") which were again detailed into "Korporalschaften" of 10-12 men, each in charge of a Petty Officer.  
          From time to time a number of cadets, undergoing training, had joined to study seamanship (Schiffskunde), but these had been disembarked before "Bismarck" sailed from Gotenhafen.  
          It was generally agreed, by prisoners, that the "Bismarck" had an exceptionally young and inexperienced ship's company.  For many of the men "Bismarck" was their first ship, which they had joined after doing a few months' naval training.  Prisoners, on the whole, disliked serving in a battleship, stating that they would have felt more independent in a smaller ship.  Many had been in the "Hitlerjugend" (Hitler Youth Organisation) and had then had civil occupations such as: miner, farm labourer, clerk, barber, plumber, cook, electrician, mechanic and so on and had been drawn from all parts of Germany and some Austria and Czechoslovakia.  
          The Petty Officers were of a good type physically and of good intelligence but the younger men were poorly developed both mentally and physically, and those who had been stationed below decks appeared to have suffered from lack of fresh air.  Prisoners stated that there was noticeable friction between petty officers and men, which resulted in a lack of harmony which, in part, may also have been due to the activities of Party Agents.  
          Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) Junack stated that it would be of importance for him and von Müllenheim-Rechberg to return to Germany in order to report their experiences, not on account of any breakdown due to faulty construction, but to stress the failures resulting from lack of training and experience of the ship's company.  This officer estimated that at least 300 men had been killed on board in addition to many who had become imprisoned below decks when the ship went down.  
          It was established that "Bismarck" carried a large party from the Ministry of Propaganda, including journalists, cameramen, wireless commentators, and necessary technicians, charges with obtaining a full record of "Bismarck's" exploits.  None of this staff survived and attempts to despatch films and material by aircraft and submarine are believed to have failed.  
          A list of survivors is given in Appendix II, from which it will be observed that the majority were stationed below decks, particularly in magazines.  
          Admiral Günther Lütjens was born on the 25th May, 1899, in Wiesbaden, entered the Imperial German Navy in April, 1907, and was promoted to Sub Lieutenant in 1910.   
          After having undergone torpedo training he commanded various torpedo boats during the 1914-1918 war, and in February, 1916, commanded in the "A 40," a torpedo-boat flotilla, based in Flanders.  
          In May, 1917, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander.  
          After the 1914-1918 war, Lütjens was retained in the Reich Navy and filled various appointments ashore, being promoted to Commander in 1926 and to Captain in July, 1933.  
          In 1934 he commanded the cruiser "Karlsruhe" on an eight months' training cruise overseas and later was in turn Chief-of-Staff, North Sea Naval Station, Head of the Naval Personnel Office in Berlin, and Chief of the German Torpedo Arm.  
          On 2st October, 1937, Lütjens was promoted to Rear Admiral Commanding Destroyer Flotillas and flew his flag in the Flotilla Leader "Lebrecht Maas," being at that time based on Swinemünde.  
          At the outbreak of the present war Lütjens assumed command of all destroyer, torpedo-boat and E-boat flotillas.  
          At the beginning of the Polish campaign, he personally played a prominent part in his flotilla leader "Lebrecht Maas" and later distinguished himself in mining operations off the British East Coast.  
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          On 1st January, 1940, he was promoted to Vice-Admiral.  Under Admiral Carls he became responsible for naval operations in Norwegian waters as "Commander of Scouting Forces."  On the conclusion of the Norwegian campaign, Hitler, in an order of the day, said: "I express my appreciation and thanks to Admiral Carls and to Vice-Admiral Lütjens for preparing and leading the Navy into action," and for his services he was awarded, in June, 1940, the Knight Insignia of the Iron Cross.  
          On 1st September, 1940, Lütjens was promoted to Admiral and given Command of all Scouting Forces.  
          In March, 1941, Admiral Lütjens, flying his flag in the Battlecruiser "Gneisenau," commanded the squadron which, during a raid into the Atlantic, succeeded in destroying 22 merchant vessels totalling 116,000 tons.  It was on this occasion that the armed merchant cruiser "Jervis Bay" was sunk.  
          Prisoners stated that, in November, 1940, Admiral Lütjens and his staff (Flottenkommando) had been established at Trouville in the Hotel de Paris.  Just before Christmas, 1940, the "Flottenkommando" moved from Trouville to Kiel, where they embarked in the "Hela," the newly completed Commander-in-Chief's despatch vessel.  
          It was mentioned that Trouville, and also at Kiel, Fregattenkapitän (Captain) Kaiser was Chief-of-Staff, but there is no information as to whether Captain Kaiser later embarked in "Bismarck" with the Admiral, nor is there any information regarding the Staff Officers.  It is, however, known that Marineoberkriegsgerichtsrat (Deputy Judge Advocate) lange was on the Admiral's staff on board "Bismarck."  
          One prisoner, who belonged to the "Unterstab" (Staff Personnel) stated that there were 45 men in his unit, so that it seems probable that the entire Admiral's staff, officers and men, numbered 75, which figure was confirmed by other prisoners.  
          Early in May the Admiral and staff took passage from Kiel to Gotenhafen in the despatch vessel "Hela," and took part in Hitler's inspection of "Bismarck," now ready for sea.  It is believed that the Admiral and staff remained in the "Hela" until a few hours before "Bismarck" finally sailed at 0200/19th May.  
          Although Lütjens had achieved considerable success in the Polish and Norwegian campaigns and later in commerce raiding, his reputation on the lower deck was by no means envious.  His command in "Gneisenau" was marked by a chain of misfortunes and the superstitious had come to regard him as a "Jonah."  This reputation had followed him to "Bismarck" producing, in consequence, a depressing atmosphere.  
          Furthermore the Admiral was possessed of an overriding temperament, which later exemplified itself in open arguments with the Captain, tending to undermine morale.  
          The events leading up to the destruction of "Bismarck," and the lack of support by U-Boats, aircraft or other units, suggest a weakness in the co-operation between the Admiral and shore commands, which may be partially attributed to faulty staff work.  
          Prisoners who spoke disparagingly of Admiral Lütjens also criticised Grossadmiral (Admiral of the Fleet) Heinrich Raeder.  It was stated that Raeder was not popular in the Navy, and stood in the way of worthy officers' promotion.  It was added that he was a "turncoat," prepared to serve under any political leadership.  
          "Bismarck" was laid down on 1st July, 1936, at the Blohm & Voss Yards, Hamburg.  She was launched on 14th February, 1939, in the presence of Hitler and a large concourse of high German Naval, Army and Air Force officers and leading personalities of the Reich.  She was named by Frau Dorothee von Loewenfeld, grand-daughter of the Iron Chancellor.  On his way to Hamburg on the previous day, Hitler had stopped his special train at the Bismarck Estate at Friederichsruhe, to place a wreath on the grave of the man who founded the Empire of the Hohenzollerns in 1871.  Here he lunched with Prinz Otto von Bismarck, a grand-son of the statesman, who was formerly Chancellor of the  


  German Embassy in London.  When the yacht carrying Hitler steamed down the Elbe towards the launching slip at noon the next day, salutes were fired by the pocket battleship "Admiral Scheer," the cruiser "Nürnberg" and three destroyers.  Delivering a short address, Hitler said that his rearmament programme would enable the nation's leaders to put forward their justified interests with success.  Referring to the Anglo-German Naval Treaty, he added that "Bismarck" was the first giant of a new squadron to be built under the limitations of the Treaty.  
          When Frau von Loewenfeld broke a bottle of German sparkling wine on the bows of the ship, "Bismarck" did not move, and there was an anxious pause for three or four minutes before the ship slowly slid away from the launching platform.  It was a current joke in Hamburg at the time that Field-Marshal Goering was forced to push her before she could move.  
          There had previously been no ship named "Bismarck" in the German Navy.  Another notable ship of this name, a liner, was launched by the Kaiser in 1914 and was handed over by Germany to Great Britain at the order of the Reparations Commission.  As the "Majestic," she was fifteen years on Transatlantic service, and then became H.M.S. "Caledonia," training ship for boys.  
          The battleship "Bismarck," the largest warship ever built in Germany, completed during August, 1940.  
          A nucleus of 65 officers and ratings stood by the ship from April, 1940, and a further 60 men, mostly gunnery ratings, were drafted to the ship in June, 1940.  During this period the ratings were accommodated in either the "Ozeana" or the "Adiga."  During February the turrets were being shipped and also engines and boilers.  
          At this time great care was taken to prevent espionage.  It was mentioned that during an official visit of friendly Naval Attaches, the Japanese representative was detected taking photographs with a miniature camera.  There were also stories current of several imposters being arrested, one of whom was stated to have worn German Air Force uniform and decorations to which he was not entitled.  
          "Bismarck" was commissioned, according to prisoners, on 24th August, 1940, and she sailed from Hamburg in the middle of September, arriving in Kiel after negotiating the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal.  She remained 14 days in Kiel before proceeding to Gotenhafen.  
          Using Gotenhafen as her base, "Bismarck" now began her first period of trials.  Both steam and gunnery trials were carried out, the latter during daytime and at dawn and dusk, but not at night.  It was mentioned that firing was practised both with and against the sun.  
          The first trials being completed, "Bismarck" was returned, during the first week in December, to Hamburg, where her engines and machinery were overhauled.  
          "Bismarck" sailed again on or about 9th March, 1941, for Kiel, where she remained approximately 10-12 days in the floating dock at the Marinewerft.  This dock was stated to be 300 metres (984 ft.) long and 42 metres (138 ft.) wide.  While docked, the ship's bottom was cleaned and painted, and propellers and underwater fittings overhauled.  "Bismarck" now proceeded again to Gotenhafen, where she was joined by the 10,000-ton "Hipper" class cruiser "Prinz Eugen," who accompanied her on her second period of trials.  
          "Prinz Eugen" had been completed during 1940, but had experienced some difficulties with her turbines.  
          It may be noted that this cruiser was named after the French-born Prince Eugéne, brother-in-arms of the great Duke of Marlborough.  At his death in 1722 the Duke bequeathed his sword to Eugene, who, when receiving it, flourished it, saying" "Voila l'epée que j'ai suivie par toute cette longue guerre."  
          According to prisoners, "Bismarck" and "Prinz Eugen" put to sea together at least three, possibly four, times, between the end of March and early May, for exercises in the Baltic.  The principal joint exercises were firing practice at targets and manoeuvres in formation.  During the gun trials, it was stated, only one full broadside (from main and secondary armament) was fired at 15,000 metres (16,404 yards).  Sub-calibre and A/A firing was also carried out.  According to  
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  prisoners both "Bismarck" and "Prinz Eugen" frequently exercised fueling at sea from tankers.  It is possible that on one or two occasions "Bismarck" put to sea alone during this period.  
          Prisoners stated that "Prinz Eugen" had to visit a yard, probably Kiel, for minor adjustments, but returned to Gotenhafen on 14th or 15th May.  
          Early in May, "Bismarck" completed with ammunition, store and fuel, of which she is believed to have been 2,000 tons short of her full stowage capacity, and prisoners stated that she was stored for three months.  Admiral Lütjens and his staff now arrived and shortly afterwards an inspection by Hitler, accompanied by Admiral Raeder, took place.  This inspection was made the occasion of a highly important ceremonial function.  After inspecting the ship and crew, Hitler addressed the ship's company, saying: "You are the pride of the Navy, and in your skill, your courage and your determination lies the key to victory.  I know that you will do what I and every German expect you to do, and, therefore, final victory is with you."  Replying Admiral Raeder stated: "We shall defeat the Englishmen wherever we find them."  
          A meal of pea soup and sausage was now served in the ward room, during which Hitler became expansive and stated that he did not think America would enter the war.  Admiral Raeder capped this remark by saying that America would first enter when the war was over.  Officer prisoners, who were present, state that Hitler looked extremely grave and attributed this to the Rudolf Hess incident, which had just occurred.  
          From prisoners' statements it appeared evident that "Bismarck" should have sailed almost at once following Hitler's inspection.  This was not the case.  The ship actually proceeded to sea on several occasions and returned again to her anchorage in the roads.  No doubt delay in sailing was partially due to "Prinz Eugen" having to effect minor repairs.  It seems likely, however, that for security reasons, various false starts were made and it is possible that the Russian situation had some influence on "Bismarck's" departure date.  Admiral Lütjens and his staff finally embarked on the afternoon of 18th May.  There was short shore leave for all men not on watch on this day and no one, except possibly a small number of senior officers, appears to have known that the ship was to sail on the morrow.  
  (1)  Preliminary Movements  
          On Monday, 19th May, 1941, at 0200, "Bismarck" weighed and proceeded on a westerly course at 27 knots.  The night of 18th-19th May appears to have been filled by the ship's company with speculation as to the course, purpose and destination of the cruise.  No definite information was vouchsafed by Kapitan z. S. Lindemann at this time but there seems to have been a general impression on the lower deck that the cruise was to last between two and three months, that its objective was commerce raiding, and that the first port of call would probably be a harbour on the western coast of France, possibly Brest, but more probably a port further south and towards the Spanish frontier.  There is good reason to believe a report that during the period of the cruise "Bismarck" was to be refuelled south of Greenland, by a tanker, which it had been arranged would leave Brest, in company with other tankers, for this purpose.  This arrangement did not materalise as "Bismarck" was prevented by early contact with British forces from making her rendezvous.  
          As additional protective clothing, duffel coats lined with sheep's wool were distributed on board, but there was no issue of tropical gear, suggesting that it was not intended that "Bismarck" should operate in the South Atlantic.  
          Prisoners state that no soldiers were on board "Bismarck" and it is, therefore, unlikely that an attempted landing on Iceland or in Greenland was planned.  Some cadets under training from battleship "Tirpitz," who had participated in the Baltic trials of "Bismarck" had been disembarked and had returned to their own ship before "Bismarck" sailed.  Of the probable 2,400 men on board, as estimated by prisoners, 80 were included as prize crews.  
          From what appear to be reliable diaries, kept by survivors (see Appendices).  "Bismarck" proceeding on her westerly course from Gotenhafen, passed to the north-west of the Danish island of Bornholm at 0930/19th May.  She was here  


  sighted by the Swedish cruiser "Gotland," who ran for two hours on a parallel course.  It was strongly suspected by a surviving officer that "Bismarck's" presence was, at this stage, reported by British agents in Sweden.  At 1130 "Bismarck" entered Kiel Bay, having previously reduced speed to 10 knots.  
          At noon Admiral Lütjens summoned the ship's company and delivered the following address:  "The day that we have longed for so eagerly has at last arrived; the moment when we can lead our proud ship towards the enemy.  Our objective is commerce raiding (Handelskrieg) in the Atlantic, imperiling England's existence.  Let us hope we are mightily successful.  I know it is, has been and will remain the crew's sincerest with to participate successfully in Germany's final victory.  I give you the hunter's toast, 'good hunting and a good bag!'"  This speech was relayed by loud speakers throughout the ship, to enable those forced to remain on watch to participate.  
          At Kiel the following ships had now assembled:  "Bismarck," "Prinz Eugen," the destroyers "Friedrich Eckholdt" and "Hans Lody" and two mine-bumpers.  The squadron, having formed, sailed from Kiel Bay the same evening and at 2100 the lightship "Fehmarn Belt" was abeam.  From this point course was steered to the Great Belt.  The Great Belt was negotiated during the night of 19th/20th May, and by morning the Kattegat had been reached.  Here the two mine-bumpers parted company and the squadron was joined by a destroyer from the "Narvik" flotilla.  Course was continued at 17 knots through the Kattegat to Skagen where three mine sweepers preceded the squadron.  During this day air protection was afforded by relays of between four and six Messerschmidt 109's.  
          At 1345 three drifting mines were sunk by gunfire by the mine sweepers, and the order "Close watertight doors!" was given on board "Bismarck."  After this incident the mine sweepers parted company, the three destroyers forming a screen for the two heavier ships.  War watches were set at 2030 and at 2050 the squadron passed Christiansand, the three destroyers preceding, followed by "Bismarck" and "Prinz Eugen" in line ahead.  According to the diaries, mentioned above, the last minefield was passed at 2242 and here, when apparently off Bergen, the first British reconnaissance aircraft are alleged to have been sighted.  There was little rest on board "Bismarck" this night, for at 0230 an air raid alarm was sounded and the ship's company went to action stations, the Captain expecting an air attack at dawn.  Watertight doors were closed.  It is alleged in one diary that German fighter aircraft, while attempting to protect the ship from attack from the air, opened fire in the early morning hours of the morning on British machines above the "Bismarck."  This alarm lasted until 0830.  
          At about 1115 on this morning, 21st May, "Bismarck" entered a fjord to the south of Bergen and anchored at a distance of 600-700 yards from the shore.  There were high, rocky, cliffs on either side of the fjord.  As a precaution against submarines as one prisoner stated.  German freighters were ordered to lie on either side of the battleship.  
          At noon there was again an air raid alarm, which lasted from 1330 to 1345.  The weather during this afternoon was warm and sunny and, after the alarm, the crew was able to lie about on the forecastle in sports gear.  
          At 1830 this evening the squadron again prepared for sea and sailed at 1945.  One hour later, while off the entrance to the Sogne Fjord, the pilot was dropped and the squadron proceeded at 24 knots.  
          At this juncture, states the official Admiralty communiqué (No. 427, of 27.5.41) air reconnaissance by Coastal Command aircraft revealed that a German battleship and cruiser, which they had previously located off Bergen, had sailed.  Certain dispositions were, therefore, ordered, and as a result H.M.S. "Norfolk" (Captain A. J. L. Phillips, R.N.), wearing the flag of Rear-Admiral W. F. Wake-Walker, C.B., O.B.E., and H.M.S. "Suffolk" (Captain R. M. Ellis, R.N.) were ordered to take up a position in the Denmark Strait.  
          Meanwhile the German squadron, fully aware it had been perceived, was proceeding on a northerly course.  At 0300 on the morning of May 22nd, the three destroyers parted company and "Bismarck" and "Prinz Eugen" sailed on alone.  At 0700 Trondheim was passed and at 0800 the two ships, according to one diary, passed the latitude of 64° North, and were proceeding through the passage between Norway and the Shetland Islands.  It was stated that there was some discussion  
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  amongst the staff as to whether the course should be set to pass between the Faroes and Iceland or through the Denmark Strait.  It was decided that the Denmark Strait afforded the best chance of eluding the enemy, although it was appreciated that the seasonal progress of ice to the south had narrowed the passage to an approximate width of 60 miles.  
          At 1130 a drifting mine, identified as British, was sighted.  At 1200 the course, which had so far been 0°, was altered to 324°.  Half an hour later a submarine alarm was sounded, a periscope having been sighted.  The ships, however, passed on unchallenged.  At 2100 the position of the ship, as given by a diary, was 68° North and 2° West.  Speed throughout the day had been 24 knots.  
          Course was again altered at 0100/23rd May, to 226, which was calculated to bring the two ships into position to pass through the Denmark Strait.  At 0400 the speed had been increased to 27 knots, the position being then roughly, according to one diary, 180 miles north-east of Iceland.  At 1030, when the position of the two ships was stated to have been 68° North and 15° 30' West, they commenced the passage of the Denmark Strait.  At 1240 (ship's time - the clock having been put back one hour), course had again been altered to 250°, the speed being 24 knots.  
          At 1705 the first alarm was sounded and repeated at 1822.  
          Of the ensuing contact, the official Admiralty communiqué (No. 427, 27.5.41) states that on the evening of 23rd May, Admiral Wake-Walker reported sighting a main force of one battleship and one cruiser proceeding at high speed to the south-westward.  Visibility in the Denmark Strait was, at this time, bad and extremely variable.  The range of the enemy was only six miles when sighted, storms of snow sleet and patches of mist at times reducing visibility to one mile.  Despite the difficulties of visibility "Norfolk" and "Suffolk" shadowed the enemy successfully throughout the night.  Meanwhile other British units were taking up dispositions at high speed with a view to intercepting the enemy and bringing him to action with our heavy forces.  
          The German account of these preliminary contacts, according to the diaries and prisoners' statements, is that at 1900 "Bismarck" cleared ship for action, a cruiser of the "London" class having been sighted.  This cruiser was proceeding on a parallel course at an estimated 24 knots.  "Bismarck" proceeded to overhaul the cruiser and at 1928 the gunnery officer received permission to open fire.  Three salvoes were fired from her primary armament.  The cruiser then disappeared out of sight, but later four cruisers (some of which prisoners suggested may have been icebergs) were reported in the vicinity and it was observed that two cruisers had opened fire on each other.  Later the cruisers fell astern and a periscope was sighted.  The submarine and the cruisers then disappeared from view.  
          The cessation of this phase of the action at 2215 was apparently received with relief and some elation in "Bismarck."  The general feeling was that a trap had been set and had been evaded.  The remark of one prisoner in his diary was:  "The British must have noticed what we wanted to do.  They had laid a trap for us, into which we would have fallen had not our ship had such high speed; it would have fared ill with us."  
          But at 0415/24th May a message in morse was flashed from the "Prinz Eugen" to the "Bismarck" that wisps of smoke had been sighted to port.  The alarm was sounded immediately and "action stations" ordered.  Thus opened the action with H.M.S. "Hood."  
  (2)  Action with H.M.S. "Hood"  
          H.M.S. "Hood" (Captain R. Kerr, C.B.E., R.N.), wearing the flag of Vice-Admiral L. E. Holland, C.B., with H.M.S. "Prince of Wales" (Captain J. C. Leach, M.V.O., R.N.) and a screen of destroyers had been proceeding to intercept "Bismarck" ever since she was first sighted by "Norfolk" at 2032, 23rd May.  Contact was made at 0535, 24th May, in the Denmark Strait, and "Hood" and "Prince of Wales" closed to engage.  Action was joined at 0553 at a range of 25,000 yards.  "Hood," according to "Bismarck" prisoners, fired first, the salvo being over.  A second salvo from "Hood" fell short, but the third hit, and three shells in all struck "Bismarck."  


          One shell struck forward, entering the port side of Section XXI, at the height of the battery deck, above the water-line, and exploded on the starboard side, within the ship, at the level of the middle platform deck, making a hole in the ship's side 1-1/2 metres in diameter under water.  The explosion damaged bulkheads between Sections XX and XXI and Section XXI and XXII, and accordingly the three forward sections were flooded to a depth of 1 metre above the battery deck, the fore part of the ship sinking two or three metres.  Oberleutnant (Ing.) Karl Ludwig Richter, second officer attached to the damage control centre, went forward to inspect the damage and took charge of repairs.  The salvage pump room in Section XVII was flooded and so this pump could not be used.  The salvage pumps in Section XVII were not very effective and only succeeded in pumping a little water from the three forward sections after the shell entry hole had been plugged and the exit hole had had a plate welded on to it from inside under water by a diver.  All available portable salvage pumps were now carried forward and employed.  A prisoner estimated that about 3,000 tons of water entered the ship when the above-mentioned three forward sections were flooded.  There are some grounds for believing that some of the after compartments were flooded to restore trim, and also that some tons of fuel were pumped from Sections XVI-XIX to bunkers further aft.  It was also stated that the port bower anchor cable was slipped.  Trim was now partially restored, but "Bismarck's" speed was reduced to 28 knots.  There was also a potential fuel shortage as forward fuel bunkers under Sections XX-XXII could no longer be used.)  
          It had been thought this shell went right through the ship.  
          The second shell struck "Bismarck" on the port beam, below water against the ship's side outside Section XIV.  The ship's side was not penetrated but buckled and water entered.  This leak was checked by the pumps, but the same shell had caused damage in the turbo-generator room and the auxiliary boiler room, resulting in five ratings being scalded by steam from a burst pipe.  One prisoner stated that the floor plates were forced up and gauges smashed by the explosion.  Eventually the entire section became flooded and had to be evacuated.  Lights went out, but were soon repaired.  
          Some prisoners thought that this shell was fired by "Prince of Wales."  
          The third shell passed over the deck of "Bismarck" without exploding; it did, however, carry away the bows of a pinnacle stowed on the "Deckhaus Deck" abaft the funnel and next to the aeroplane catapult launching apparatus.  
          Meanwhile "Bismarck" had opened fire on "Hood" from her main armament turrets and her port secondary armament, with armour-piercing shells, firing salvoes of four guns with the 38-cm. armament.  The opening range was stated by prisoners to have been 23,000 metres (25,152 yards).  According to one prisoner, Fregattenkapitän Schneider, the 1st Gunnery Officer failed to recognise his target as "Hood," believing that he was firing at a British cruiser.   He was corrected by the 2nd Gunnery Officer, Korvettenkapitän Albrecht, who said: "Herr Schneider, observe the superstructure, you know well which ship in the British fleet has that superstructure.  That is no other than the battle-cruiser 'Hood'!"  The prisoner who recounted this incident also added:  "Who of us ever thought we should be engaged in a sea battle!  We had merely thought of commerce raiding and sunning ourselves on deck."  
          Kapitänleutnant Burkhardt von Müllenheim-Rechberg, 3rd Gunnery Officer in "Bismarck," stated during interrogation, that no officer recognised "Hood" at first, and did not do so until "Hood" turned to port, disclosing the long, low sweep of her decks.  They had not bargained with coming into contact with "Hood" and for a time they were extremely anxious about the outcome.  
          The Germans, however, fired with great accuracy, and "Norfolk," who was in a position to witness the duel, states that the first salvo was 100 yards short, but that the second salvo straddled and hit.  The third salvo again straddled and hit and a fire broke out in "Hood's" port battery, which spread rapidly to the mainmast.  At 0600, just after "Hood" and "Prince of Wales" had turned together to open "A" arcs, "Hood" was straddled again.  There was a huge explosion between the after funnel and the mainmast and the ship sank in three or four minutes.  Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg stated, when interrogated aboard H.M.S. "Dorsetshire," that "Hood" closed the range rapidly, made smoke, and was hit as she turned to port, the smoke possibly  
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  assisting ranging.  He added then that "Hood" blew up on "Bismarck's" fifth salvo and cost Germany forty shells in all.  During subsequent interrogation this officer stated that "Bismarck" hit with her second salvo and again with her third, whereupon a sheet of very vivid bright, white flame was seen on "Hood" there being no smoke at all.  The absence of smoke and the nature of the flame decided "Bismarck's" officers that petrol storage tanks, fitted for "Hood's" aircraft had been hit.  A fourth salvo from "Bismarck" also hit and there was an immense explosion in "Hood."  This prisoner stated that he could not say whether the explosion was caused by the development of the fire from the third salvo or by the direct hits of the fourth.  He was, however, now watching closely, "Hood" had broken her back, and the forward half stood out quite clearly, being free from the dense clouds of smoke completely enveloping the after half.  He stated emphatically that a further salvo was fired from"Hood's" forward turrets after she had broke her back.  It was presumed that the guns were already tilted at such an angle that the shots went hopelessly wide, for no shells were observed to fall.  "Hoods" forward half sank centre down, bow up.  The after half was completely hidden by smoke and was not observed to sink by this prisoner.  
          "Bismarck" now fired at "Prince of Wales," who they thought to be "King George V," and they believed that she was hit, not knowing for certain before she turned away.  
          Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg also stated that "Bismarck's" shells all struck "Hood" amidships.  Another prisoner stated that "Hood" was first hit by shells from Turret "A," the remaining guns then taking their ranges from this turret.  This prisoner added that the shells from the secondary armament fell short.  The explosion in "Hood" has also been described by another prisoner, who says he saw a vast flash of red flame rise many hundreds of feet into the air.  He saw the ship break her back and the forward portion sink bow up and centre down, followed by the after portion, stern up and centre down.  
          "Bismarck" now engaged "Prince of Wales," with main and secondary armament, and straddled and hit with the first salvo.  "Prince of Wales" was hit on the compass platform and aft, both 5.25-in. directors were put out of action and water was entering aft.  The Commanding Officer considered it expedient temporarily to break off the action.  'Bismarck" made no attempt to retain contact, a great mistake in the opinion of the prisoners.  
          During the course of this action "Prinz Eugen," who had been ahead of "Bismarck," took up station on the disengaged side, distant about 1,100 yards from "Bismarck."  A prisoner stated that "Prinz Eugen" fired over the "Bismarck" at the "Hood" and later, after "Hood" was sunk, according to Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet's report, this ship also engaged the "Prince of Wales."  
          The gunnery of "Hood" has been described by Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg as exceptionally good.  The opinion of other prisoners was that "Hood," having got "Bismarck's range, would have created heavy damage with her next salvo had it ever been fired.  They considered that they had a very lucky escape.  
          There was great jubilation on board "Bismarck" when the sinking of "Hood" was announced by the loud speakers, which were used in some parts of the ship for making current announcements.  Later, news was received from Germany that Hitler had conferred the Knight Insignia of the Iron Cross on Fregattenkapitän Schneider for his feat in sinking the "Hood."  On the evening of this day there was an abundant issue of sausage, chocolate and cigarettes to the ship's company to mark the occasion.  One prisoner stated that his party of ten men received 800 cigarettes.  In the ward room the sinking of the "Hood" was described as a special present for Admiral Lütjens, whose birthday fell on the following day, May 25th.  


  (3)  Pursuit of "Bismarck"  
          The chase now continued on a south-westerly course, "Prince of Wales" joining "Norfolk" and "Suffolk" in shadowing the enemy.  It was apparent that "Bismarck's" speed had been slightly reduced and a Sunderland aircraft of the Coastal Command reported she was leaving a wake of oil.  At this time there appears to have been an argument between Admiral Lütjens and Kapitan z. S. Lindemann, according to one prisoner, advised that "Bismarck" should put back to Bergen, adding that "Bismarck" was too fine a ship to be risked in further unequal engagements.  He was, however, overruled by Admiral Lütjens  "Prinz Eugen" was ordered to part company and to refuel, and at 1320/24th May "Bismarck" altered course to south and reduced speed to about 24 knots.  It had apparently been decided that the shadowers could not be shaken off by daylight.  The reduction of speed was probably dictated by the need for economy of fuel and to afford an opportunity of breaking contact by an increase of speed after dark.  
          At 1509 C.S.2 with "Victorious" and the four cruisers were detached with instructions to steer the best course to get within 100 miles of the enemy and deliver a torpedo bombing attack at about 2200, with the object of again reducing the enemy's speed.  "King George V" and "Repulse" were closing from the eastward, expecting to make contact at about 0830 on the following morning.  "Rodney," with three destroyers, was approaching from the south-east and would join about 1000.  "Ramillies" approaching from the south, steering to get to the westward of the enemy, and would make contact at about 1100.  
          Throughout the afternoon of the 24th May "Bismarck" continued on her southerly course.  She was zig-zagging for no apparent reason, her speed being 22-24 knots.  "Suffolk" was shadowing from astern and "Prince of Wales" and "Norfolk" from the port quarter.  
          At 1847 "Prince of Wales" again engaged "Bismarck" at long range for a short time.  Although "Norfolk" claims that "Bismarck" was straddled during this fresh action, no evidence has been obtained from prisoners that she was hit, and this seems unlikely.  
          Reconnaissance planes were sighted by "Bismarck" at 2200 and at 0015/25th May "Victorious" had approached within sufficient range to enable a torpedo attack to be made by seven Swordfish aircraft, carrying torpedoes and supported by five Fulmar monoplanes.  One hit was scored on the starboard beam against the armour plating protecting Section XIV.  The armour was not penetrated.  A huge column of water described as "as high as the masthead" was flung up when the torpedo exploded.  One man was killed during this attack, a petty officer, who was flung against a bulkhead and sustained a fractured skull.  This was the first death in "Bismarck."  One prisoner states that three of "Bismarck's" airmen, who were presumably watching the action, were also injured, all suffering broken legs.  
          Prisoners state that a tremendous "Flak" barrage was put up.  Guns were fired until red hot and the paint blistered.  In one case, it is alleged, a fire hose was turned on a gun to cool it.  The breech mechanism of some of the lighter guns became jammed and others required the fitting of spare parts.  According to one man up to 50,000 rounds of light and heavy "Flak" ammunition were expended.  One heavy or medium A/A gun alone is alleged to have fired 300 rounds.  All guns were used to repel this attack, including, prisoners state, the heavy armament.  It was stated that No. 1 15-cm. starboard turret shot down one aircraft, which approached 15 ft. above the water level, at a range of 150 yards.  This turret fired without orders as the aircraft came on the sights.  
          Prisoners expressed astonishment at the courage displayed by the British pilots.  It was stated that one aircraft, after being hit, endeavoured to get into position to release its torpedo, before plunging to its destruction in the sea.  
          Ridiculously extravagant claims of the number of aircraft destroyed were broadcast about the ship, again with the object of supporting morale, these tales being later capped by the broadcast of what was alleged to be an intercepted signal, that 47 of the aircraft in the action had failed to find "Victorious" on their return and had been lost in the sea.  
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          In point of fact only two Swordfish aircraft and two Fulmars were lost, the crews of the Fulmars being saved.  
          A number of prisoners appear to agree that one aircraft was forced down into the sea buy the current of wind created by one of "Bismarck's" 38-cm. shells.  This success was claimed by Turret "A."  "Bismarck's" speed during this attack has been given as 28 knots, but after the attack was reduced to 22 knots.  
          At 0136/25th May "Prince of Wales" re-engaged for a short period.  A few flashes were observed from "Bismarck" in this attack, but only one shell was seen to fall.  "Bismarck" now made a determined effort to shake off her pursuers.  Shortly after 0300 "Suffolk" who had been shadowing with great skill, lost touch.  It has since become apparent that the enemy first broke away to the westward and then worked around the stern of the shadowers to set a course back across the Atlantic for France.  
          Strong concentrations were now disposed, with the object of meeting and defeating any possible courses of action "Bismarck" might chose.  It was considered probable that the enemy would adopt one of two courses.  Either they would make for a dockyard, or for an oiler, in which case they would probably steer north-west towards the Davis Strait, which offered an excellent hiding place for an oiler, or southwards, towards where an oiler was suspected to be operating, in a position about 25° 30' N., 42° W.  If they were making for a dockyard port they could steer north-east for the North Sea or south-east for Brest, the Straits of Gibraltar or Dakar.  Each of these contingencies was prepared for.  
          According to the Commander-in-Chief's report, C.S.2, with "Victorious" and his four cruisers, was instructed to search north-west of the last known position of the enemy.  "Norfolk" and "Suffolk" after holding the enemy's last known course for some time, proceeded to the westward, thus covering a south-westerly course.  "King George V" with "Ramillies" further south, worked across to the south-west to cover a southerly course.  "Rodney" with three destroyers, reported she was maneuvering to intercept the enemy if he steered south-east.  "Repulse" had to be detached to Newfoundland to fuel, while "Prince of Wales" was instructed to join the Commander-in-Chief in "King George V."  "London" was instructed by the Admiralty to search the area round 25° 30' N., 42° W., where an enemy tanker was thought to be.  
          At 1030/25th May, a series of D/F bearings was received in "King George V."  The bearings, when plotted, showed a position too far to the northward, giving a misleading impression that the enemy was making for the North Sea.  Home Fleet forces were instructed to search accordingly.  The course of "King George V" was altered to 055°, 27 knots, to make for the Iceland-Faroes Gap.  
          Later, however, it became apparent that the enemy was making for a French port, and had a start of about 100 miles.  Course was, therefore, adjusted.  "Rodney" was in a position which gave her a reasonable chance of interception, and Force H was instructed by the Admiralty to move up into the Bay of Biscay.  
          Meanwhile, the real danger of their position had become apparent to the Officers of the "Bismarck."  According to one officer prisoner, the approximate position of all forces arrayed against then became known aboard "Bismarck" on the morning of 25th May, with the exception of the positions of "Ramillies" and "Repulse."  When news was received that further units had left Gibraltar, anxiety was increased to alarm.  At 1150 Admiral Lütjens decided to address the crew.  He stated that while it had been possible to direct the "Prinz Eugen" to safety, "Bismarck" had not been able to shake off her pursuers.  The British would be able to concentrate their forces and force an action.  It was hoped that help in the form of U-Boats and aircraft would be forthcoming, but it was to be feared that the best that could be expected, was that "Bismarck," fighting to the last, would take one or two of her opponents to the bottom with her.  It was, therefore, up to the crew to remember their oath to be true to the death to the Führer.  If the worst came to the worst, "Bismarck" must be scuttled.  Far from heartening the crew this speech seems to have taken the spirit out of them.  


          Friction had developed between the Admiral's staff and "Bismarck's" officers, probably over the initial decision to run for France and not for Norway.  The effect of this friction was also felt among the lower deck ratings, who appear to have shared the Captain's view that it would have been better to double back to the North Sea.  
          At this time fresh confusion was caused by incorrect information received from shore bases, founded on unreliable reports provided by German reconnaissance planes, aggravated by a clerical error in transmission, which resulted in "Bismarck" losing half a day on her course.  The opinion of one prisoner was that this lost half day made all the difference between disaster and safety.  
          The weather had now become an important factor for "Bismarck" but the meteorological officers on board were only able to report that mists and fog, which would have afforded the desired measure of protection, were unlikely.  
          Nevertheless, as the day wore on with no event of note and the enemy remaining out of sight, the hopes of escape revived.  According to a diary, "Bismarck" reached a U-Boat operational area at 1850 that evening, it being added:  "There is little chance of meeting with British main forces, but it is probable that German U-Boats will be encountered."  
          "Bismarck" was now heading for Cape Finisterre, hoping to creep along the French Atlantic coast to a safe harbour.  It was not until 1030/26th May, that "Bismarck" was again sighted, this time by a Catalina of the Coastal Command.  She was alone and in a position about 550 miles west of Land's End.  
          Two cross-over patrols had been established from 100/26th May by Coastal Command aircraft, across what was now considered, the probable track of the enemy.  This patrol was merely one move of many designed to locate "Bismarck" and bring her to bay.  The morning of 26th May had found the three main British forces, headed by "King George V," "Rodney" and "Renown," converging on the Bay of Biscay.  Various other ships were also approaching this locality; "Edinburgh" (C.S.18), who had been searching to the westward of the position where she had lost contact, was approaching from the north-west; "Cossack" (Captain (D), Fourth Destroyer Flotilla) with "Sikh," "Zulu," "Marori" and the Polish "Piorun," had been detached from convoy WS 8 B and were proceeding to join and screen "King George V" and "Rodney," with "Jupiter" joining from Londonderry; and "Dorsetshire," on receipt of the first enemy report on the morning of 26th May, left convoy SL.74, of which she was escort and came up from the south-west to join in.  
          Meanwhile, those forces which could not reach the most probable track of the enemy, were moving to cover alternative possible movements, particularly towards the Iceland-Faroes Passage and the Denmark Straight.  "Prince of Wales" was proceeding to Hvalfjord (Iceland) to refuel, and "Nelson" had been brought from Freetown to Gibraltar to reinforce.  
          Owing to defensive action from the ship, touch with "Bismarck" was lost by the Catalina who had first made contact at 1030, but was regained three quarters of an hour later by reconnaissance aircraft from "Ark Royal," who continued shadowing until 2230.  "Bismarck" was proceeding on a south-westerly course, it being deduced by the Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces, that she would turn east when she had reached the latitude of her destination.  "King George V" was now 130 miles to the north of her and Force H 40 miles to the north-east.  It was evident that "King George V" could not come up with her unless her speed could be further reduced or she could be deflected from her course.  The Flag Officer, Force H, had been instructed not to become engaged in "Renown" unless "Bismarck" was already heavily engaged with "King George V" or "Rodney"; the only hope lay in torpedo attacks by aircraft of "Ark Royal."  
          Shortage of fuel had now become a matter of grave anxiety in the Home Fleet battleships.  'King George V" had only 1,200 tons (32 per cent.) remaining, and "Rodney" reported she would have to part company at 0800 the next morning.  When these ships joined company later in the day, they had to share an A/S screen of three destroyers ("Somali," "Tartar" and "Mashona") and even these were due to leave that night for lack of fuel.  Several U-Boats were  
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  known to be in the area and it was safe to assume that every available destroyer and U-Boat in the ports of Western France would be ordered to sea.  The Admiralty had also indicated that heavy air attack was to be expected.  It was, therefore, essential to allow a sufficient reserve of fuel to enable the battleships to reach United Kingdom ports at a reasonably high speed.  
          It was not considered advisable to expose "King George V" unscreened at low speed to almost certain attack by U-Boats, unless there was a very good prospect of achieving a result commensurate with the risk, for the loss of the "Hood" and the damage to "Prince of Wales" had left her as the only effective capitol ship remaining in Home Waters.  It was, therefore decided that unless the enemy's speed had been reduced, "King George V" should return at 2400 to refuel.  Fuel shortage was, however, also being felt on board the "Bismarck."  According to prisoners, "Bismarck" had left Gotenhafen 2,000 tons short of her full storage capacity.  A further 1,000 tons, it was estimated, had become useless as a result of damage sustained during the "Hood" action.  It was, therefore, improbable that much more than 500 tons remained, scarcely one day's requirements at 24 knots, and barely sufficient to steam her to Brest.  Throughout this day, however, which brought no contact with heavy British forces and no aircraft, the hopes of the "Bismarck's crew were high.  Rumours, most of them optimistic, were sweeping the ship.  The arrival of a large flight of German bombers, and a swarm of U-Boats was expected hourly.  
          "Bismarck's" course was being directed from shore by Admiral Carls (Commander-in-Chief "Gruppe West"), and a number of heartening signals promising aid were received.  During the evening a signal was made by "Bismarck" to "Gruppe West," urgently requesting fuel, to which a reply was given that the tanker "Ermeland" had already sailed.  
          Prisoners complained bitterly after their capture that no support at all was vouchsafed them, and that they had been completely let down by both the German Air and U-Boat arms.  One prisoner also made a statement suggesting that information was signalled to "Bismarck" that destroyers, which it was intended to send to their relief from Brest, could not sail owing to heavy seas.  This prisoner added the comment that it was obvious that the heavy seas did not deter British destroyers.  
          "King George V" speed was reduced to 22 knots at 1705 to economise fuel and "Rodney," who had by then been overhauled, was formed astern.  The Flag Officer, Force H, had been instructed to remain in "Ark Royal"; he was maintaining his position on the beam of Bismarck" and had detached "Sheffield" to shadow.  
          At 1855, a prisoner wrote in his diary that a cruiser of the "Southhampton" class had been sighted but had turned away.  A first air striking force had been flown off "Ark Royal" at 1500, but had failed to achieve any result.  At 1850 a second force of aircraft was despatched for the attack which settled the fate of "Bismarck" and ensured her final destruction.  
          This attack was made by 15 Swordfish aircraft, armed with torpedoes set to 22 ft., and lasted from 2055 to 2125.  
          It was first reported that the aircraft had scored no hits and it seemed that the remaining chance for the British forces had gone; but at 2130 "Bismarck" suddenly turned north and soon after came the welcome news that one hit, and possibly two, had after all been scored.  
          In point of fact at least two, and possibly three hits were made.  One torpedo had struck amidships on the port side, one on the starboard quarter, and possibly a third on the port quarter.  The torpedo which struck to port amidships, according to prisoners, exploded without doing damage, against Sections VII and VIII, but that on the starboard quarter wrecked the steering gear jamming the rudders at an angle variously estimated at between 10 and 15 degrees and causing "Bismarck to turn slowly in circles to starboard.  This hit was stated by one prisoner to have been outside an unarmoured trimming compartment, below the steering motor compartment on the starboard side, and resulted in Section II being flooded to the main deck.  


          Throughout this attack a furious anti-aircraft barrage was kept up by the 400 men of the "Flak" first with the 10.5 cm., then with the 3.7 cm., and finally with the 2 cm. guns.  This fire was supported by "Bismarck's" secondary armament, but not on this occasion by the main armament.  
          This time, however, the defence of the ship proved far less effective.  The north-westerly wind had been increasing all day and was now blowing at Force 8; a considerable sea was running, with a heavy north-westerly swell, and the ship had begun to roll making gunlaying difficult.  In addition the guns crews, who had been on almost continuous watch since "Bismarck" left Bergen, were becoming exhausted.  It has been stated by one prisoner, that one gun-layer operating a 10.5 cm. A/A gun suffered a sudden nervous collapse and temporarily lost his mind.  Practically all remaining A/A ammunition was used up during this action.  
          The method of attack employed by the aircraft in approaching simultaneously from a number of points was most deadly.  Some torpedoes were avoided by turning the ship, but as a surviving officer explained, whichever way the "Bismarck" turned to evade one torpedo, she was constantly exposed to others.  Another prisoner stated that the aircraft came down to the attack at an angle of approximately 50° and darted through the barrage like flashes of lightening, and the courage displayed by the pilots in pressing home their attacks in this fashion was beyond praise.  This prisoner added ruefully: "If only Germany actually had sunk the 'Ark Royal'."  
          Extravagant claims were again made in "Bismarck" as regards the number of aircraft allegedly destroyed.  It was announced that at least seven were shot down.  In point of fact no aircraft was lost and only one pilot and one air gunner were wounded.  "Ark Royal" reported A/A fire to have been heavy and accurate and was experienced even when the aircraft were in cloud at a height of 3,000 ft.  
          As soon as this attack was over it was recognised in "Bismarck" that the plight of the ship was most desperate.  
          Frantic efforts were made to repair the damage.  Section II containing the steering motors, which had to be examined and repaired if possible, was now flooded completely to the main deck, although the ratings, who had been standing by when the torpedo struck, had escaped unharmed.  It was announced that the man who succeeded in freeing the rudders would be given the Knight Insignia of the Iron Cross.  Accordingly divers commenced operations in the damaged compartments.  After considerable effort they managed to centre one rudder, the other remaining irreparably jammed.  
          Efforts were now made to steer the ship by her engines, but it was stated that, after a short period, the ship, instead of proceeding on her intended southeasterly course, was actually north-west of her position when the attack was made.  
          There now appears to have been a dispute among the officers, and, according to one prisoner, the Captain, when asked by the Engineer Commander whether he should attempt to try and blow off the jammed rudder with an explosive charge, replied passionately: "Do what you like; I have finished with it!"  
          In the midst of this uproar, at 2250, a signal arrived from Hitler reading; "All our thoughts are with our victorious comrades."  To this signal Admiral Lütjens replied" "Ship unmaneuverable; we shall fight to the last shell."  The exaltation implied in this message was not shared by many of the officers and those of the ship's company who had knowledge of it.  One surviving officer stated that, what he called, "a stupid signal" was severely critiscised, there still being a general feeling in the ship that if Admiral Lütjens played for safety and avoided further action the ship might escape, if not to a home port, at any rate to a position where protection by aircraft and submarines operating from the shore, could be obtained.  This officer added: "I am thankful the engine room ratings did not get to hear of this message."  which remark confirmed a deterioration of morale.  
          With one rudder jammed, it now appeared that by manoeuvering her engines "Bismarck's" best speed was not more than 10-12 knots.  
          At 2230 there was a sudden order, "A/A gun's crews take cover for surface action!" and from then on A/A weapons remained virtually unmanned.  
          Meanwhile the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, in "King George V", after receiving news of "Ark Royal's" success, immediately turned towards "Bismarck," intending to engage from the eastward in the failing light, but the  
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  light conditions became most unfavorable, with a clear horizon from north-west to north-east and rain storms and poor visibility everywhere else.  The excessive advantage to the enemy was apparent, and it was decided to withdraw and engage from westward at dawn.  
          "Sheffield," upon whom "Bismarck" had fired two salvoes from her "C" turret, had lost touch soon after the enemy's turn to northward, and the Flag Officer, Force H, in "Renown" with "Ark Royal," had been instructed to withdraw southward to clear the way for the battleships to approach in the morning.  "Norfolk" had arrived in the area and was working round to the eastern side.  Captain (D), 4th Destroyer Flotilla, meanwhile, with his five destroyers, was approaching "Bismarck" having decided, according to the Commander-in-Chief's report to shadow and attack, instead of screening "King George V" and "Rodney."  He was proceeding at high speed, in spite of fuel shortage, to get in touch before dark.  Contact was made at 2330, assisted by an aircraft from "Ark Royal" acting as a visual link.  
          At 2324, destroyers had been ordered to take up stations, preparatory to attacking.  The weather having become very bad, a combination of darkness and heavy rain squalls reducing visibility to between 2-1/2 miles and 5 cables, and resulting in there being at no time more than two destroyers simultaneously in touch, it was decided to attack independently as opportunities offered.  The destroyers closed in turn and delivered their attacks, "Bismarck" replying spasmodically with main and secondary armament.  Prisoners stated that "Bismarck" fired salvoes of four guns at targets which were often invisible.  
          Captain (D.4) stated that at this time "Bismarck" frequently opened an accurate fire, presumably by R.D/F., which was stated to be more correct for elevation than direction.  Under Providence, and the use of smoke and speed, direct hits were avoided and only superficial damage was received from splinters of shells which exploded on hitting the water.  Between 0121 and 0656/27th May, at ranges between 3,000 and 9,000 yards, six attacks were delivered, in which 16 torpedoes were fired and three hits claimed, one each by "Maori," "Cossack" and "Sikh."  After the attacks made by "Maori" and "Cossack," flames were observed on "Bismarck's" forecastle, but they were quickly extinguished.  It has not been possible to obtain any definite information of the damage caused by these hits.  In an interrogation in "Maori," a survivor confirmed that "Bismarck" received three hits during the night, of which two exploded, one on the starboard bow and one amidships on the port side.  This prisoner added that in "Maori's" daylight attack, two torpedo hits occurred, both of which "rebounded"; no explosions were observed from "Maori" during this attack.  Prisoners were unaware of any constructional feature which would account for torpedoes "rebounding."  During the course of their attacks the destroyers fired, from time to time, star-shells to indicate the position of the enemy.  This was later discontinued owing to the short range of the star-shells, which necessitated the ships coming under heavy fire when performing this duty.  
          While "Bismarck" continued on her erratic course and intermittent salvoes were being fired into the gloom, an announcer speaking over the ship's loud speaker, endeavoured to bolster morale, by making such statements as:  "One destroyer hit, burning, sinking!"  "Two destroyers hit, burning, sinking!"  "A large ship hit, burning, sinking!"  
          But by night the crew had become thoroughly alarmed, and at 0145 a message, according to a diary, was passed from the Admiral to the Captain which ran: "Please inform the crew that early in the morning 81 'Junkers 87' aircraft will join us; in addition two tugs and one tanker.  The U-Boats have received orders to close with 'Bismarck'  K.I. has already arrived."  (This message has been confirmed by prisoners, but it has not been discovered to what K.I. refers.)  Whether this message contained any truth or whether it was merely intended as an encouragement has not been discovered.  In this connection the following information is of interest:  
          (a)  "Bismarck" was still well out of range of "Ju. 87" aircraft, and had this type been employed, they would never have got back to France.  "Ju. 87" might, however, merely be a misquotation for "Ju. 88."  
          (b)  A German Air Force officer, captured on 9th June, who was stationed in France, states that on the night of 26th May, they saw the bombing squadrons, which were to have gone to "Bismarck's" assistance, fly past.  They flew out to sea, but soon returned.  


          (c)  A Lieutenant of the G.A.F., captured 14th June, who actually took part in the search, states that they flew for three hours in the direction of "Bismarck," being guided by D/F signals from a U-Boat, given for five minutes every half hour.  The signals ceased half an hour before they were due to reach "Bismarck" and they failed to sight the ship.  
          (d)  A captured sergeant from the "K. Gr. 100" stated that his machine flew out to support "Bismarck" and reached a position 500 miles west of Brest, but was unable to find the ship.  On the following day they went out again and sank a destroyer (possibly "Mashona").  
          (e)  A prisoner from the supply ship "Gozenheim" (scuttled 4th June, 1941) stated:  "Ju. 88's were searching the whole night of 26th/27th May."  
          (f)  Prisoners mentioned that "Bismarck" had hoisted a blue flag as a recognition signal for submarines.  One possible U-Boat was reported by "Dorsetshire" during rescue operations and this may have been the only one in the vicinity when "Bismarck" sank, although a few hours later, from four to six U-Boats did actually arrive in the area.  
          The Admiral's broadcast message does, however, appear to have revived spirits in "Bismarck" for a short space, for at 0307 one prisoner wrote in his diary:  "Everyone is now eagerly awaiting the aircraft promised by the Fuehrer."  Reaction was soon to set in.  The strain of five days and nights with little or no sleep, during which the comparatively inexperienced ship's company had been almost continuously in action or expecting it, had reduced the crew to the point of utter exhaustion and guns' crews were stated to have fallen asleep in the turrets between salvoes.  All over the ship men were unashamedly asleep at their posts.  The scene on the bridge during the brief hours before dawn has been described by a junior officer prisoner, who stated that the 1st Gunnery Officer, 1st Navigating Officer and the Senior Meteorological Officer lay at their stations like dead men.  The helmsman was stretched beside the useless wheel.  There was no sign of Kapitan Lindemann, nor was any man of the Admiral's staff to be seen.  "The ship's company," said this prisoner, "were now past caring, for they felt there was no further use in trying to do anything."  
          In these circumstances, the fact that they were able to rally to make a very gallant last stand must be commended.  
          A prisoner suggested that a submarine was ordered to close "Bismarck" at this time, and take off the War Diary, it now being felt ashore that there was little chance of "Bismarck" making port.  At 0500 an attempt was made to launch an aeroplane, carrying the War Diary and the ship's log and other documents, as well as descriptive accounts, films and photographs of the propaganda party, who were in the ship.  It appears, however, that at the critical moment, the launching apparatus jammed owing, as the prisoner suggested, to a cartridge case having fallen and fouled the catapulting gear, and the aeroplane, on reaching the end of its travel, capsized and crashed into the sea.  
          Frequent rain squalls during the night had prevented star-shells, fired by the shadowing destroyers, being seen in "King George V."  D/F bearings were difficult to get and it became evident that the relative positions were not known with sufficient accuracy for a drawn approach to be practicable.  The visibility, too, was uncertain and Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet decided to wait for full light.  At 0500/27th May, the Polish destroyer "Piorun," who was accompanying the 7th Destroyer Division, was ordered to Plymouth to refuel.  The ship was the first destroyer to have sighted "Bismarck," at 2238, and had, with great intrepidity, closed the enemy to engage her with her 4.7 in. guns.  As daylight came the destroyers were placed in four sectors and continued shadowing until 0845/27th May, when main armament splashes were seen to rise near the enemy.  The destroyers then took up positions of advantage to watch the battle.  
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          Between 0600 and 0700 D/F bearings of a series of reports by "Maori" enabled Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, to deduce the position of the enemy with reasonable accuracy.  "Bismarck" had settled down to a course of about 330° at 10 knots.  
          The horizon to the north-eastward was clear and the light good, but south and east were rain squalls and a poor background.  The strong wind and heavy sea made it most undesirable to fight to windward.  Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, therefore, decided to approach on a bearing west-north-west and, if the enemy held his course, to deploy to the southward, engaging him on opposite course at a range of about 15,000 yards and subsequently as events might dictate.  "Rodney" was instructed to fire torpedoes if an opportunity was seen.  
          At 0735, when the enemy bore 120°, 21 miles, course was altered to 080° to close, "Rodney" being stationed on a bearing of 010° and instructed to keep station at not less than 6 cables and to adjust her own bearings.  "Norfolk" was shadowing from the north-westward, prepared to carry out flank marking for the battleships; and at 0820 she came in sight and provided a visual link.  It had been necessary to alter course on the way in to avoid rain squalls and to allow for the reported alteration of course of "Bismarck," but at 0843 the enemy came in sight, bearing 118°, about 25,000 yards distant, steering directly towards.  "Rodney" opened fire at 0847, followed one minute later by "King George V," and at 0850 by "Bismarck."  She had turned to starboard to open "A" arcs and directed her fire at "Rodney."  Her first four gun salvo fell 1,000 yards short, but the next salvo straddled, one round being only 20 yards short.  The accuracy of her fire then deteriorated, hardly a matter for surprise in view of the damage she had sustained, the strain of the past few days, the rolling of the ship and the inconsistency of her steering capabilities.  She was, however, still firing steadily at "Rodney" with main and secondary armament at 0858.  
          At 0851 "Rodney" had straddled "Bismarck" but it was not until 0857, according to prisoners, that "Bismarck" sustained her first hit.  "Bismarck," it now appears, had first intended to engage the destroyers with her main armament, but before a salvo was fired new directions were given to fire on "Rodney."  Fire was now opened, the fore and after turrets firing alternatively in salvoes of four.  Range was closing rapidly.  Fire at this time was being controlled from the upper direction tower (Vormars), but after 25 minutes this position received a direct hit and was completely wrecked.  Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg believes that this hit was scored by a shell from "Dorsetshire," who had reached the scene of action.  This officer states that he believes "Bismarck" could have held her own against "Rodney" and "King George V" had it not been for this hit, which, metaphorically speaking, "blew out 'Bismarck's' brains."  Turrets now went into local control.  No coherent account has been obtained from prisoners as to what occurred in "A" and "B" turrets, forward, but "Rodney" reported a hit on "Bismarck's" forecastle at 0902 with a 16-in. shell, which apparently put these turrets out of action.  
          At this time Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg was directing the two after turrets, "C" and "D," from the after control position.  During interrogation after capture, this officer stated that on taking charge he was instructed to direct fore on "King George V."  He fired two salvos at this ship at the same range as he had used for "Rodney," but both were over.  A third salvo fell short.  He thought he had the correct range, when there was a tremendous explosion from a direct hit just above his head on the outside of the direction tower.  This carried away the rangefinder and paralysed the control position.  All the instruments were smashed by blast or concussion and he was knocked down, thereby cutting his face.  Before he could collect his wits there were at least three further direct hits round his position, and within ten yards from where he lay.  Another prisoner states that at this stage he climbed up to the after control room position, where he found a number of dead men and Müllenheim-Rechberg.  
          Meanwhile in the after plotting room there was no further communication with the control positions or turrets, and, accordingly, the Commander in the lower tower ordered this room to be abandoned.  
          The hit on "Bismarck's" forecastle at 0902, which had apparently put her "A" and "B" turrets out of action had come two minutes after "King George V" and "Rodney" turned to 170° to open "A" arcs at a range of 20,000 yards.  The general trend of the enemy's course was towards, and the range was rapidly  


  decreasing.  By the time she was abeam, it was down to 11,500 yards.  At 0920, the course of the battle fleet was altered towards the right, round to north.  By 0930 "Bismarck" was on fire and virtually out of control.  But she was observed to be still proceeding at the same speed; her guns were still firing, and her secondary armament had now come into action.  She was making funnel smoke.  A far as can be ascertained from the available survivors, only turrets "C" and "D" were firing at this time, independently.  According to one prisoner, "C" turret fired continuously throughout the action and was the last to fire.  The turret was hit outside the gunhouse between the guns, but nothing was damaged inside the turret; however, in the last few minutes the turret would not train.  This prisoner stated that armour-piercing shells only were used.  Another prisoner stated that when "Rodney" had approached to within 3,300 yards, several of "Bismarck's" turrets were hit; guns could still be fired but turrets could no longer be trained.  
          Several prisoners state that turret "D" was disabled by a hit on the starboard gun, which burst and caused a flash back into the turret and the magazine.  The magazine did not explode but the gunhouse and the guns, so it was stated, became white hot.  
          When interrogated in "Dorsetshire," Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg volunteered the information that at one time he was in "C" (?) turret which was ordered to engage "Dorsetshire," but only fired one salvo at the ship.  By this time the personnel in the turret were becoming demoralised and began vacating the turret, remarking: "why should we stay here for target practice."  He also left the turret.  Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg has not again referred to this story, and it may be taken for granted that he was dazed and considerably shaken at the time of this interrogation.  
          Similar scenes do, however, appear to have taken place in many parts of the ship, for at this time "Bismarck" was taking severe punishment.  According to one prisoner, one officer drew his revolver and shot down some of the crew when they refused to obey him.  Another prisoner refers to officers committing suicide.  Still another prisoner mentioned that members of the crew lost their nerve and jumped overboard long before action ceased.  It is known that almost the entire 400 men of the "flak" became casualties.  No special protection had been arranged for these men during surface action, they merely being ordered to shelter behind the superstructure on the disengaged side, and, huddling together for protection, groups of forty or more men were wiped out at a time.  With the ship listing to port and rolling and seas coming inboard, there were washed over the side scores of bodies, both the killed and of the wounded, whose grasp had weakened on whatever object they had been able to clutch.  
          Hit after hit was now being registered on the upper deck, which was speedily reduced to a mass of twisted steel.  Boats and lockers had been smashed to pieces, machinery and instruments twisted and broken.  Ready use ammunition was exploding.  A direct hit on the mainmast caused it, as one prisoner described, "to spin round like a whirligig and come crashing down over the ship, creating fresh carnage."  It hung down like a "tangle of vines."  Fires had broken out amidships and aft.  The forward damage control centre had been wrecked by a direct hit.  Sheets of flame were issuing from the funnel.  The ship's aircraft were also burning, a direct hit having struck a hangar, where a large number of men sheltering there had been killed.  Smoke was pouring from holes two yards wide, which had been torn in the upper deck by shells which had penetrated below.    
          Shells, according to prisoners, penetrated through the upper deck and the battery deck to the main deck.  The majority of prisoners deny that the armour deck itself was pierced.  Only one man, an officer, has made a statement to the contrary.  He alleges this deck was penetrated in the vicinity of the W/T room and suggests that this spot was hit two or three times in succession.  Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) Junack has stated that one shell penetrated the port turbine room at about 0930.  Another entered the boiler room - Section XIII, between 0915 and 0930, starting a fire, possibly of fuel oil.  Steam pipes burst, scalding ratings.  
          Scenes below deck were indescribable.  A direct hit in the after dressing station killed the medical staff and the wounded there.  Hatches and doors in all parts of the ship had become jammed owing to distortion, resultant upon the terrific pounding the ship was receiving and also because heavy wreckage now lay across most of the hatches opening on the upper deck.  Crews in two magazines became trapped as they were unable to free exit hatches.  As rescue parties worked  
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  desperately to save trapped men, fires above were raising the temperature within the magazines to a dangerously high level.  Finally the probability of explosion became so acute that rescue work was abandoned.  Orders were given to flood and the imprisoned men were drowned.  
          In the forward canteen 200 men also became trapped under jammed hatches.  At the very moment when a hatch to the upper deck became freed, a direct hit crashed through the deck, transforming the canteen into a charnel house.  According to one prisoner, not one man of this group of 200 strong survived, and in making his own escape he was forced to pick his way between "mountains of flesh and bone."  This prisoner also described how he passed through the W/T room, where the entire staff had been blown to pieces.  
          Fires on the battery deck had now cut off the forward half of the ship.  Lights were still burning aft, but they had gone out forward, where the air was dense with smoke, fumes and the gases generated by the bursting shells.  Paint was burning off the bulkheads and many men without gas masks were suffocated.  Those companion ways and hatches which still remained clear had been stove in or buckled to such an extent that they were no longer wide enough for men to pass through wearing inflated life-saving jackets.  Each exit was now blocked by a struggling mass of men, whom officers could no longer control.  Those below crying that they were being stifled, fought desperately with those near the exit, who still cowered under cover, afraid to run the gauntlet of fire sweeping the decks above.  One prisoner who was caught in the middle of one of these blockages stated that behind him men were crying: "I am dying, I am dying."  He shouted: "If you do not want to get out yourselves, at least make room for others to pass."  The only answer he got was: "We are not going out, we are not going out!"  He then fought his way through, waited for the next shell to fall and then dashed across the deck into the sea.  Those who ran heedlessly out on a deck were nearly all blown to pieces.  Smoke lay so thickly over the deck that a number of men, groping their way to the side, fell into the interior of the ship through shell holes.  This occurred to two survivors.  "Bismarck" was now slowly heeling to port and water began to pour below through ventilators and shell holes on the port side.  
          Among the last to leave the ship were men in the fore plotting room.  Communications generally had been wrecked but one telephone was still working and by this means they had continually asked for instructions.  Each time they had been told to stay at their posts.  Finally, when water began to enter the room, they left of their own accord.  As they made their way past the armoured after part of the bridge, they saw it was on fire, the metal being red hot.  
          At 0948 "Norfolk" had stopped flank marking and had joined in the action.  "Rodney" had been given freedom of movement by the Commander-in-Chief, and the three ships now acted independently, firing at ranges which eventually came down to 3,300 yards.  
          By 1000 "Bismarck's" main armament was out of action, though her secondary armament was still firing spasmodically.  By 1010 this, too, had ceased.  According to prisoners, of "Bismarck's" entire armament only one A/A weapon still remained workable at this time.  Port secondary armament was now partially submerged, whilst the starboard 15-cm. might still be fired, but could not be trained.  
          "Bismarck" was now observed to be a wreck, without a gun firing, on fire fore and aft, and wallowing heavily.  Through she showed no immediate signs of sinking, it could be only a matter of hours.  As further gunfire would not hasten her end, Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, decided to discontinue the gun action and fire ceased at 1022.  
          All Home Fleet ships had expended their torpedoes, including "Rodney," who had scored one hit, but "Dorsetshire" had just arrived and she was ordered to close "Bismarck" and torpedo her.  Accordingly, "Dorsetshire" having hit with three torpedoes, "Bismarck" sank, with her colours flying, at 1037 in position 48° 09' N., 16° 07' W., close to where the final action had started.  
          The actual cause of sinking is still a matter of dispute among survivors.  There is, however, a considerable body of evidence to support the view that the inevitable end of the "Bismarck" was hastened by the explosion of specially prepared scuttling charges.  Several prisoners state that they received definite orders, such  


  as:  "Abandon ship.  Ship is to be sunk!"  "Clear ship for scuttling; apply explosive charges."  According to one prisoner, a special "scuttling party" then took charge and explosives, which had been placed in position earlier, were fired, some at the sea-water inlets and discharges, others in the turbine rooms, boiler rooms and auxiliary machinery rooms.  All watertight doors and flooding valves were left open and the ship sank ten minutes after the charges were fired, capsizing to port.  It was stated that all propellers still revolved.  
          It is alleged that the "abandon ship" order never reached many parts of the ship.  
          In the last rush for the side, discipline was mainly thrown to the winds, but incidents were reported of some isolated parties standing stiffly to attention, saluting and shouting the German war slogan "Sieg Heil" (Hail Victory) before jumping.  It was also stated that one officer called for three cheers for Germany and the Fuehrer, all those who heard him responding.  Of those who left the ship to windward, many were hurled back against the ship's side and smashed shapeless by the heavy seas.  A few more fortunate ones were washed back on board.  Many men were seen swarming over the ship's side as she went down.  
          Prisoners stated that Kapitänleutnant Junack, when in the water, shouted to all those near him to "keep their mouths shut" should they be picked up.  Another officer, who was without a life-belt, was seen by prisoners to shoot himself in the chest.  
          Of the end of the Admiral and Captain nothing definite is known.  Some prisoners state, however, that from the water they saw the two officers, standing side by side on the forecastle, waving to them as the ship went down.  Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg, during interrogation, stated that a seaman had reported to him that the two officers had gone down with the ship, standing on the bridge.  Another officer prisoner believes that both were killed when the bridge was hit by a shell from "Rodney."  
          Hundreds of men were now swimming in the water, their movements being greatly impeded by oil welling from the wreck and by the heavy seas.  As British ships approached many of the swimmers shouted:  "Come away! the English will shoot us!" and actually a number of men started swimming away from their would-be rescuers.  Blame for this attitude must be attributed to the false propaganda with which these men had been imbued.  When it was found that there was no shooting and, on the contrary, every effort was made to pick men up, prisoners admitted that they had been deceived.  
          Rescue work was undertaken by both "Dorsetshire" and "Maori," but at 1140, when 110 men in all, including four officers, had been hauled on board (many falling back into the sea, having insufficient strength to hold on), "Dorsetshire" sighted a suspicious object, which might have been a U-Boat, and rescue work necessarily had to be abandoned.  A further 100 survivors were picked up by a German fishing vessel, the "Sachenwald," which had been operating from Bordeaux as a weather reporting ship.  The Spanish cruiser "Canarias," having been requested by the German authorities to assist in rescue work, succeeded only in finding some hundred floating corpses.  A limited number of men may also have later been rescued by U-Boats.  
          It may be stated that "Bismarck" stood up to the punishment she received remarkably well.  All prisoners, with the exception of one junior officer, state that no shells penetrated the armour belt.  This officer said that one shell penetrated either below the bridge or a little forward of the bridge and he added that the shell exploded inside the ship.  Engines and machinery appear to have received comparatively little damage and, in the opinion of some prisoners, it might still have been possible to get the ship back to harbour at the close of the artillery action, had the final torpedoes not been fired or scuttling attempted.  
          "Rodney" reports that shortly before "Bismarck" sank, her 16-in. shells had caused indescribable devastation and the ship was an inferno.  One hit had blown the back of "Bismarck's" "B" turret into the water (this has not been confirmed by prisoners).  One straddle made four huge holes in her side and the top of her bridge structure had been blown away.  When action was broken off "Bismarck" was on an even keel, low in the water and giving out large quantities of smoke amidships.  
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          After rescuing and interrogating Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg, "Dorsetshire" signalled "Rodney": "Bismarck's" Gunnery Officer says you knocked seventeen bells out of him.  A one west country ship to another, may we say: "Well done."  
          As regards the final phase of the action, it may be of interest to note that one prisoner mentioned the fact that members of the Propaganda Kompanie had filmed the battle, remarking that if these films had ever been shown in Germany, there would have been no more volunteers for the German Navy.  
          In returning to harbour "King George V" and "Rodney," with "Cossack," "Sikh" and "Zulu," proceeded to the northward.  "Dorsetshire" and"Maori" rejoined at 1230 and the screen was augmented by "Jupiter" during the afternoon.  Nine further destroyers had joined by 1600 the following day.  Several signals were received on the 28th, indicating that air attacks on the fleet were impending, but only four enemy aircraft appeared.  One bombed the destroyer screen without effect, while another jettisoned its solitary bomb on being attacked by a Blenheim fighter.  "Mashona" and "Tartar," a hundred miles to the southward were heavily attacked, "Mashona" being sunk at noon, with a loss of one officer and 45 ratings.  
          "Rodney" screened by "Maori," "Sikh" and "Columbia" was detached to the Clyde at 1700 and "Dorsetshire" was detached to the Tyne at 2316.  The battleships were delayed by fog, but eventually anchored in Loch Ewe at 1230 on 29th May.  
          No damage or casualties were suffered in the action of 27th May by capital ships of cruisers.  A few casualties and slight damage occurred in "Cossack" and "Zulu" and one man was lost overboard from "Sikh."  
          Opinion, according to "Rodney's" report, was universally that "Bismarck" was an exceptionally fine looking ship, with very beautiful lines.  Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, added in his report: "She had put up a most gallant fight against impossible odds.  
  (1)  Construction  
          Amongst the prisoners there was a divergence of opinion as to "Bismarck's" tonnage, although the majority insisted that this was 35,000 tons.  In accordance with the Washington Treaty the standard displacement should have been 35,000 tons, excluding oil fuel and reserve feed water but with ammunition.  
          One prisoner, who had been a considerable time in the ship during building, stated that the declared tonnage of 35,000 tons was considered by the German Authorities to exclude fuel, feed water, domestic water and stores, and included only half the ammunition.  
          If this basis can be accepted it seems probable that the loaded or deep displacement was not far short of 50,000 tons.  This figure is naturally dependent on the oil fuel storage capacity (See VII, 21), regarding which there is some doubt, and which has been estimated at 8,500 tons.  Many British officers, who had taken part in operations, considered "Bismarck" to be at least 50,000 tons, and statements from some prisoners tended to confirm this figure for the deep displacement.  
          The length was stated to be 243 metres (797 ft.) and the maximum beam, 36 metres (118.1 ft.) and possibly 38 metres (124.7 ft.).  There is considerable doubt as to the draught, which was probably, when sailing from Gotenhafen, with possibly 2,000 tons of fuel short, as least 11 metres (36 ft.) and which could possibly have been 11.60 metres (38.05 ft.) when fully loaded.  
          "Bismarck" was divided into 22 main longitudinal sections, numbered from Section I, aft, to Section XXII, forward.  
          Double bottoms were built into the ship from and including Section VIII, to and including Section XIV, these double bottoms extended each side as far as the slope of the armour deck, and abaft Section VIII and before Section XIV were hold compartments, suitably dived transversely.  
          Prisoners state that "Bismarck" was almost entirely constructed by welding and that there were practically no rivets used.  
          A prisoner, commenting on the watertight complementation of the "Dorsetshire," by which he was rescued, stated that this was not nearly so elaborate as that of modern German cruisers.  


  The Deck Arrangement  
          Above the upper deck (oberdeck), on which were built the main and secondary armament turrets was the superstructure deck (aufbaudeck), on which were mounted the 10.5 cm. long range A/A guns.  
          Above the superstructure deck was constructed a "deckhaus," giving a further deck, called the "deckhaus deck," above it.  
          Part of the "Deckhaus" formed aircraft hangars with boat stowage above and the "deckhaus deck" also provided accommodation for some of the close range A/A guns.  
          Within the superstructure and "deckhaus" were the officers' quarters.  One of the officer survivors stated that a portrait of Bismarck by Laeubach was in the ward room.  
          Below the upper deck was the battery deck (batteriedeck) and below that the "Panzer deck" (armour or main deck).  The crew space was on both the battery and main decks, the ship's company messing according to their various divisions.  These two decks were linoleum covered.  
          Below the armour deck there were three platform decks, upper, middle and lower (ober-, mittler- und unterplatformdeck).  
          Below the lower platform deck were the holds (stauung) or double bottoms (doppelboden), as previously mentioned.  
          A feature of the ship was the so-called torpedo bulkheads, running fore and aft each side, at a distance of about 5-1/2 metres (18 ft.) inside the armour belt from Section III, aft, to section XIX, forward, and extending vertically from the battery deck to the ship's bottom.  In this connection a prisoner referred to "Bismarck" as being "one armoured ship within another."  Outside the longitudinal torpedo bulkheads was a double "thickness" or "layer" of compartments, the outer ones, below the slope of the armour deck, being empty and available for flooding (Flutzelle) and inner ones being used mostly for oil fuel stowage; thus the torpedo bulkheads had a substantial protection from torpedo or mine and these bulkheads also gave protection from shells which may have penetrated and exploded inside the armour belt or upper deck armour.  
          Prisoners had no knowledge of any buoyant material, such as kapoc or sponge rubber being used, nor had they knowledge of rubber being used in connection with anti-torpedo protection.  
          Bilge keels were fitted, but no bulges, anti-rolling tanks or stabilisers.  "Bismarck" rolled somewhat in heavy seas, but there was little pitching, some prisoners mentioned that difficulty had, at times, been experienced in keeping their guns on the targets.  
          No torpedo tubes were fitted and it was stated that no mines were carried.  
  (2)  Armour and Protection  
          The degree in which the ship was armoured was a subject in which prisoners had been purposely kept in almost complete ignorance and it had been especially emphasized to them that this was a very secret matter; the officer supervisors, who may have had accurate information, where particularly on their guard when any mention was made of armour.  Nevertheless, prisoners, especially those who had been some time in the ship before commissioning, had had opportunities for observing, in various parts of the ship, the thickness of armour employed and the results of interrogations are embodied in the following description, with estimates of thicknesses, which must be treated with due reserve.  
          (a)  The Main Armour Belt (Panzergurtel)  
          The main armour belt was stated, in its thickest part, to be 20 cm. (7.9 in.) and extended, fore and aft, from the bulkhead between Sections XIX and XX, forward, to the bulkhead between Sections II and III, aft.  This belt was stated to be about 5 metres (16.4 ft.) broad, extending from the height of the battery deck to about 2-1/2 metres below the horizontal portion of the armour deck, which was slightly above the water line, when the ship was loaded.  The side armour was in addition extended, in a lesser thickness, up to the upper deck and well below the water line, possibly as far down as the junction with the torpedo bulkheads; thus the under water protection was subsequently increased.  This "tapering,"  
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  above and below the main belt, was referred to as "abstufung"; it is not known in how many "tiers" this "tapering" was achieved.  It was stated that the side armour was not extended before or abaft the main belt.  
          (b)  Athwartship Armoured Bulkheads (Panzers holt)  
          The fore Armoured bulkhead was situated at the junction of Sections XIX and XX, forward, and the after armoured bulkhead at the junction of Sections II and III.  Thus the turrets, from "A" to "D," were completely enclosed within the armoured "citadel."  These bulkheads were stated to be 20 cm. (7.9 in.) thick and extended from the upper deck to the lower platform deck.  
          (c)  The Main Armour Deck (Panzerdeck)  
          The main armour deck extended aft into Section I, so as to protect the steering gear, and forward to the bows, and was stated to be 20 cm. (7.9 in.) thick.  This deck was sloped at the sides, from the point of intersection with the torpedo bulkheads, distant about 5-1/2 metres (18 ft.) from the ship's side at point of maximum beam, to the ship's side, about 2 metres (6.5 ft.) below the waterline, when ship was loaded.  
          (d)  The Upper Deck (Oberdeck)  
          The upper deck was stated to be armoured and to form part of the structure of the ship, being connected at butts and edges; the thickness of this deck was given as 12 cm. (4.7 in.)  
          (e)  Primary and Secondary Armament  
          The thickness of the fronts of the primary armament turrets was stated to be 30-35 cm. (11.8 in.-13.8 in.) and the sides 20 cm. (7.9 in.).  Thickness of these barbettes was stated to be 35 cm. (13.8 in.) and the tops of turrets 35-40 cm. (13.8 in.-15.7 in.).  A prisoner, who was stationed in a 15 cm. gunhouse, expressed the opinion that the front, top and side armour was 10 cm. (3.9 in.) thick.  
          (f)  Torpedo Bulkheads (torpedoschott)  
          The torpedo bulkheads, already mentioned in VII (1), were stated to be 5 cm. (2 in.) thick.  
          (g)  Director Towers and Conning Tower (Leitstand und Kommandoturm)  
          No information is available as to the amount used in these towers, although the conning tower was stated to be as heavily armoured as the primary armament turrets.  
          (h)  Funnel Uptakes  
          Funnel uptakes were stated to be armoured to the upper deck, but thickness is not known and they are presumed only to have been armoured against splinters; armoured gratings were fitted where the uptakes passed through the armour deck.  
          (i)  General  
          It was stated that the armour was almost entirely welded; one prisoner claimed that the armour had been manufactured by a new process, but this seems unlikely.  It was stated, with emphasis, that many of the armoured hatches, some measuring 1.20 metres by 1.00 metres (47 in. by 29 in.), on the upper deck and armour deck, could not be opened, due to the distortion of the ship, as the result of the heavy punishment she had received; this resulted in many men being imprisoned in compartments below the armour deck, when orders were given to abandon ship.  
          Some prisoners stated that vents for underwater explosion were fitted in the armour deck, other stated that this was not the case.  
          It is thought that the deck armour was rabbeted.  


  (3)  Machinery  
          Fregattenkapitän (Dipl. Ing.) (Snr. Commander E.) Lehmann was the Senior Engineer Officer.  Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) (Ing.) (Lt.-Commander (E) ) Gerhard Junack, the only surviving Engineer Officer, was extremely security conscious, and little information was obtained from this prisoner.  
          (A) Main Engines  
          "Bismarck" was propelled by three sets of geared turbines, driving three phosphor bronze three-blade propellers.  
          The starboard and port turbine rooms (forward) were in Section X and the centre turbine room (aft) was in Section VIII.  Turbines, Curtis-type, were manufactured by the builders Blohm & Voss, and each set consisted of a high, intermediate and low pressure (hoch, mittel und niederdruck) turbine, geared to the main shaft, the average ratio, it was stated, being seven to one.  The arrangement of the three turbines in each turbine room was with the HP and IP on opposite sides of the main shaft at the after end of the turbine room, with the LP turbine at the fore end, in line with the IP turbine.  The system of reverse turbines was not ascertained.  
          The centre turbine room was fitted with an electrically driven circulating pump (kuhlwasserpumpe), making 3,000 revs./min. with a consumption of 60-80 ampères.  The starboard and port turbine rooms had steam-driven circulating pumps.  
          Electrically driven airpumps (kondensatorpumpe) were fitted in each turbine room; these were rotary type, consuming 40 ampères, and pumped the condensed water to the starboard, port and centre hotwells (regelzells) in Section XII, middle platform deck.  
          In each turbine room was an electrically driven turbine oil centrifugal separator.  
          The starboard and port main thrust blocks (Drucklage) were in Section IX and the after thrust block in Section VII, sections immediately abaft the turbine rooms; each of the thrust block rooms contained electrically driven lubricating pumps.  
          A special automatic regulating system (askania anlage) was provided for regulating steam supply with the shaft revolutions.  The askania plant was operated by oil pressure on the telemotor system, one operating and one reserve electric oil pump being provided in each turbine room.  The movements of the turbine steam regulating valves (fahr ventil) were transferred, by oil pressure, to the oil fuel sprayer valves (brenner ventil) and feed water pumps, thereby adjusting the steam supply to correspond with the shaft revolutions.  
          Super-heated steam was supplied from the boilers at a pressure of 55-58 kg./sq. cm. (782-824 lb./sq. in.) and at a temperature of 450° Centigrade.  
          The maximum shaft horse-power was variously stated to be from 35,000 to 45,000 per shaft or a possible maximum total of 135,000 s.h.p.  The maximum speed obtained during trials was stated to have been 32.5 knots and the following data, which must be accepted with reserve was given:  
18 kts. (economic)
200 tons per day.
24 kts.
500 tons per day.
31 kts.
900 tons per day.
          Vibration was not excessive but was stated to be a maximum at 21 kts. and most noticeable in the after part of the ship.  Prisoners had no knowledge that revolutions were staggered.  
          One evaporating plant (frisch wasser erzeuger), employing five electric pumps, was fitted in the centre turbine room for supplying boiler feed water (speise wasser).  The feed water tanks were in the double bottoms below the starboard and port turbine rooms.  A further distilling plant, with electrically operated pumps, was fitted in the auxiliary boiler room (hifsmaschinenraum), in Section XIV.  Electrically driven bilge pumps (bilgepumpen) were fitted in each of the turbine rooms and main and auxiliary boiler rooms; these were rotary pumps using 60 ampères.  
          The shaft tunnel (wellentunnel) for the centre shaft extended from Section II, aft, to Section VI (in four compartments, 1-4), and for the wing shafts from Section III, aft, to Section VII (in four compartments, 1-4).  
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  (B)  Boiler Rooms  
          Three boiler rooms, each containing two boilers, were in Section XI (kesselraum stb. 1, mitte 1 und backbord 1) and three boiler rooms, also containing each two boilers, in Section XIII (kesselraum stb, 2 mitte, 2 und backbord 2).  In Section XII, between the main boiler rooms, were situated three compartments containing boiler auxiliary plant (Kesselhilfsmaschinenraeume).  
          The 12 main boilers, built on Le Mont system, were destroyer high pressure water tube type, employing a high degree of superheat.  Several prisoners mentioned a working pressure of about 800 lbs./sq. in. and a temperature of 450° Centigrade.  
          In action, starboard, port, and centre boilers were isolated from each other and connected to the respective turbine rooms; this arrangement being called "Gefechts Schaltung."  
          The "Action" fuel bunkers (heizölgefechts verbrauchs bunker) were those in the double bottoms below the boiler rooms.  The fuel consumption at economical speed (18 kts.) was rather less than 2/3 ton per boiler per hour, and at full speed over three tons (See also VII, 21.)  
          There were two oil fuel supply pumps for each boiler room, one steam and one electric, and three feed pumps for each boiler room (two steam and one electric).  
          Each main boiler had one oil fuel heater and two oil fuel sprayers, "Saacke" make, each with a capacity of rather over 1.5 tons/hour; these were not centrally fitted, but diagonally.  Stokeholds could be run open, at moderate speed or closed at high speed (air pressure unknown), but generally ran open.  One air blower (gebläse) was fitted in each boiler room for direct air supply to sprayers, and two fans, for forced draught, when stokeholds were closed.  Auxiliary boilers, using steam at 180 lbs./sq. in., were situated in Section XIV and were used for cooking and heating purposes.  
  (C)  Other Auxiliary Machinery  
          Two diesel driven air compressors (luftverdichter) were fitted on the main deck, one starboard, the other port; in these compartments were also situated the air reservoirs (luftsammler).  Air pressure was supplied to a ring main was was used to operate the portable salvage pumps, catapults, sirens and workshop and portable tools.  
          Electrically driven capstan motors were fitted on the main deck in the "Bugspillraum," in Section XX, the cable lockers being in Section XXI.  It was stated that "Bismarck" carried two 6 ton stockless anchors.  It should be here noted that the ship's cells (Arrestzelle) were located in the capstan motor room.  
  (D)  Shock Absorption  
          Other than the use of spring washers (federscheiben), it was not ascertained what means, if any, were taken to withstand the effects, on machinery, of explosion by mine or torpedo.  
  (4)  Electrical Equipment  
          The electrical equipment was in charge of Korvettenkapitän (Ing.) Commander (E) ) Freytag, an Electrical Officer, who had his action control station (E. gefechtsstand) in Section XIV on the upper platform deck; the reserve electrical control station was in Section IX on the port side, in switch room 2.  
          "Bismarck" was notable in comparison with other warships of similar size for the relative magnitude of her electrical installation and the large use made of electrical power.  
          Direct current was supplied at 220 volts by eight diesel and six turbogenerators, each with a maximum output of about 2,000 amperes, and therefore, capable of giving a total output of 28,000 amps.  
          Four diesel generators were fitted in "E. maschinen raum 1," on the double bottom deck in a compartment outside the centre (after) turbine room in Section VIII, to starboard, and another four in the corresponding compartment (E. maschinen raum 2) to port.  
          The diesel and motor lubricating oil storage tanks were in the same section, starboard and port, outside the torpedo bulkheads.  The switch rooms for these  


  diesel generators were situated in Section IX, on the lower platform deck, starboard and port.  The diesel generators were stated to be six cylinder, non-supercharged, manufactured by M.W.M. (Motoren Werke Mannheim), the revolutions per minute being given as 525.  
          The turbo-generators were fitted in Section XIV, in the hold and lower platform decks, three generators in the "E maschinen raum 3," to starboard and three in the "E, maschinen raum 4," to port, the auxiliary boiler room being in the centre of this section.  The turbo-generators were stated to be manufactured by Garbe Laumeyer, and to make 8,000 revs./min.  Switch rooms for the turbo-generators were in Section XV on the lower platform deck, starboard (E. Schaltraum 3) and port (E. Schaltraum 4).  (Section XIV sustained damage through a shell from "Hood.")  
          Cable passages (Kabelgänge), stated to be about 2 metres wide, ran the length of the ship, starboard and port, inside the torpedo bulkheads on the upper and lower platform decks, below the armour deck from Section III, aft (ensuring protection to the steering motor supply) to Section XVII (ensuring protection to electrical supply to "A" turret.)  
          It was stated that during action the various generators were not connected to the common ring main, but supplied units independently; switching arrangements, however, enabled any generator or group of generators to supply any of the turrets or electrical equipment in any part of the ship.  
          Emergency (reserve) cables were fitted in the cable passages.  
          A prisoner, who had been in charge of the electric pumps, gave some consumption figures as follows:  
Cranes 400-500 ampères each.
Fuel oil storage pumps 500 ampères each.
Fire pumps 80 ampères each.
Main armament turrets 2,000 ampères each.
  Alternating Current Supply (Wechselstomanlage)  
          One diesel-driven A/C generator was fitted in Section VII, on the starboard side, between the middle platform deck and double bottoms (W.E. maschinen raum 1), supplying current at 220 volts 50 cycles/sec., the other A/C generator being driven off one of the turbo-generators in Section XIV, port side (E. maschinen raum 4).  In addition there were four rotary converters details of which are unknown.  
          Alternating current was used for fire control system, R/T and gyro compasses.  It was stated that alternating current at 380 volts/3 phase was used in connection with fire control, but details of this equipment are not known.  
          In Section XV, middle platform deck, was a valve amplifying system for the main and secondary armament (vorder artillerie verstärker raum), stated to be a new system used to "boost" the fire control current.  A similar amplifying unit was fitted in Section VII on the upper platform deck, to starboard.  
          In general 40 watt Osram lamps were used.  Lighting did not fail completely during the action.  Secondary lighting was provided, being portable accumulator type, and in addition the more important ratings carried dry battery torches.  
          The lighting maintenance party was in charge of a mechanism with two assistants.  
          A battery charging room was in Section XII on the main deck (akkulader für notbeleuchtung)  
          In this section were also two further accumulator charging plants.  One for charging batteries with steel plates and a separate plant for batteries with lead plates, both kinds of battery being used in connection with the gunnery equipment.  
  Loud Speakers  
          From prisoners' statements it was understood that loud speakers were fitted on the upper, battery and main decks, which were particularly made use of for transmitting orders and informing the ship's company of the various phases of the battle.  


  (5)  Armament  
          The primary armament (schwere artillerie -- S.A.) consisted of eight 38-cm. (14.96-in.) guns, mounted in pairs in four centre line superimposed turrets, A, B, C and D (Anton, Bruno, Caesar und Dora)  
          The secondary armament (mittlere artillerie -- M.A.) comprised twelve 15-cm. (5.9-in.) guns, mounted in pairs, in turrets, three on each side on the upper deck (starboard 1, 2, and 3, and port 1, 2 and 3).  
          There were sixteen 10.5-cm. (4.13-in.) long range A.A. guns, mounted on the superstructure deck, in twin mountings, eight guns each side.  
          The close range weapons included both 3.7-cm. (1.46-in.) and 20-mm. (0.79-in.) guns, these being mounted wherever the opportunity presented itself, some on the "deckhaus deck," above the superstructure, etc.  In all there were about fifty short range weapons, the 3.7-cm. guns being mounted either singly or in pairs, and the 20-mm. singly, although there were two sets of 20-mm. in quadruple mountings (vierlinger), mounted each side below the "vormars" (fore upper director tower) and above the Admiral's bridge.  
  (A)  The Primary Armament (Schwere Artillerie)  
          Each of the 38-cm. turrets contained their own electrically driven hydraulic pump; it was possible for either of the fore pumps to operate both the fore turrets and similarly either of the after pumps could operate both the after turrets, but fore pumps could not operate after turrets or vice versa.  
          Both the training and elevation was hydraulic or electric and, if required, by hand.  
          The arc of fire was stated to be 300°, the maximum elevation 40°-45° and the maximum range 38 km. (41,558 yards).  The weight of the projectile was given as 1,760 lbs.  The propellant was given as a mixture of Nitro Glycerine and Nitro Cellulose, the latter probably a Tetra Nitro body; it was not flashless.  The charge was made up in two portions, the main charge (hauptkartusche), weighing approximately 176 lbs., was supplied in a brass cartridge case, which was protected, when in the magazine, by means of a sheet iron case.  The front charge (vorkartusche) was made up in a linen bag and was stated to weigh 90 lbs.  Both portions of the charge were rammed into the gun at the same time, a hydraulic telescopic rammer, in five sections, being employed.  
          The recoil was stated to be 1.50 metres (4.92 ft.) and the rate of fire one round (both guns) in one minute.  
          For each gun there was one hydraulic main hoist (aufzug), which transported, from below, both the projectile and charges together.  This loading cage was flash proof and there is no evidence of further anti-flash arrangements in these turrets.  An electric auxiliary hoist (reserv aufzug), was fitted for each gun, the shell being hoisted first and then the charges.  The main hoists were in the centre and to the rear of the two guns, the auxiliary hoists being further to the rear of the gunhouse.  
          The Gunhouse Crew.  The "Turmkommandant," usually a lieutenant or sub-lieutenant, was in command and under him the "Turmführer," a chief petty officer, who may have had the qualification of "Ober Stueckmeister".  The gun-laying and training were normally carried out from the left gun position and as reserve from the right gun position.  A telescopic sight was fitted to each gun.  A No. 5 operated the lock mechanism, making the gun ready for firing (entsichert) or safe (sichert).  No. 6 worked the loading cage and also removed the spent cartridge cases, which came down a shoot and fell out of the bottom and to the rear of the gunhouse.  No. 7 who had his station at the rear of the rammer (ansetze), operated both the breech (bodenstück) and rammer.  Three rangefinder numbers stationed at the back of the turret operated a 10-metre stereoscopic rangefinder.  There was telephone connection with the plotting room (rechenstelle) and the sight setters were also in telephone connection with the plotting room (control being exercised through either the fore or after plotting rooms, through change over switches).  The total number in the gunhouse was approximately    


  one officer and 25 ratings.  Signal lamps were fitted to indicate when guns were ready and fired, repeating in the plotting rooms, klaxons being used for firing.  Turrets were fired locally (turmabfeuerung) or director fired (zentralabfeuerung); in the case of guns being fired locally, "mundabfeuerung" was employed, i.e. fired by the mouth with a blow pipe system.  Sub-calibre (abkommenkanone) firing had been carried out in the Baltic, the calibre being, it was stated, 12.5-cm. (5-in.).  The tops of the turrets had first been painted grey and finally yellow, without special reason for this being given.  
          The Magazines and Shell Rooms (38-cm.).   In general the 38-cm. shell rooms (granatkammer) were on the middle platform deck and the magazines (pulverkammer), above them, on the upper platform deck; the loading chamber (beladeraum) occupying both decks below the turret.  As an example, for turret "D" there were two shell rooms, the after one in Section III and the fore one in Section V, both on the middle platform deck.  The main magazines for this turret were in Section III and Section V, abaft and before the loading chamber, on the upper platform deck; these were in use in action.  In addition there were four reserve magazines in Section IV, in compartments outside the loading chamber, two each side, one on the upper and one on the middle platform deck.  
          The magazine crew consisted of some 15 men in charge of a gunner's mate and a similar number also under a gunner's mate formed the shell room crew.  
          It seems probable that the entire turret's crew was about 70 men, as a number of artificers were required for the hydraulic and electrical equipments.  
          A prisoner stated that 120-150 rounds per gun were carried.  Both A.P. (panzersprenggranaten) and H.E. (sprenggranaten) were carried, the former being painted blue and the latter yellow (called gefechtsmunition); practice shells were painted red.  A.P. shells were fired at the heavier ships and H.E. at the smaller targets.  No tracer shells were carried.  Some prisoners denied that gas shells were carried.  Shells were fitted with nose fuses (kopfzünder) and base fuses (bodenzünder), the latter having a delay action, and were set by the gunner's mate in the shell room.  
          In a report published in the "Volkischer Beobachter" of May 30th it was stated that "Bismarck," during her action with "Hood" and "Prince of Wales," fired only 93 rounds of her "heavy ammunition."  (This presumably included 38-cm. and 15-cm. armament).  
  (B)  The Secondary Armament (Mittlere Artillerie).  
          The 15-cm. turrets were trained and elevated electrically.  The maximum elevation was stated to be 45°.  The arc of fire was stated to be 150° and 120° for the midship (No. 2) turrets, each side.  
          The weight of the projectile was given as 45 kg. (99 lbs.) and the length approximately 60 cms. (23.6-in.) and was stated to have two copper driving bands.  The charge, made up in a brass cartridge case, 90-cm. (35 in.) long, weighed 14 kg. (31 lbs.).  As in the case of the 38-cm. guns, the projectile and charge were supplied to the gunhouse in the same cage operated electrically; a reserve hoist (augzug) was operated by hand.  Prisoners had no knowledge of any special anti-flash arrangements.  
          The rate of fire was stated to be 9 seconds (both guns).  The recoil (ruckschlag) was stated to be 50-60 cm. (19.7-23.6 in.).  There was no rangefinder in the 15-cm. turrets.  It was stated that the size of the sub-calibre, when used for practice, was 5 cm. (2 in.).  
          Telescopic sights (Fernrohr) were fitted and the officer in charge used a "Peilfeldrohr" ("spotting" glasses).  Signal indicator lamps were fitted to indicate when guns were ready and fired, klaxons being used for firing.  
          Local firing was carried out, as in the case of 38-cm. guns, by "Mundabfeuerung" (blow pipe).  
          Two "Minimax" chemical hand fire-extinguishers were in each turret and a hose from the fire main on the upper deck could be introduced into the turret.  


          Gunhouse Crew (15 cm.).  The crew of the 15-cm. turrets comprised one officer and 20 ratings, which included spare numbers; some of these were stationed as follows:  
No. 1 A petty officer was the gunlayer.
No. 2 A petty officer was the trainer.
No. 3 A rating manned the telephone.
No. 4 A rating assisted with the elevation.
No. 5 A rating was the breech worker and worked the firing mechanism.
No. 6 A rating loaded the projectile.
No. 7 A rating loaded the charge.
No. 8 Ratings, ramming numbers (Ansetzer).
No. 9
No. 10 A rating disposed of the empty cartridge cases (Hulsenfanger).
          Detailed positions of sightsetters is unknown.  
          The Magazines and Shell Rooms (15 cm.).  The projectiles and charges for these turrets were stowed together in two compartments for each turret adjoining the loading chamber, as follows:  
                  For No. 1 Turret (S and P), in Section XIV on upper platform deck.  
                  No. 2 Turret (S and P), in Section XII on upper and middle platform decks.  
                  No. 3 Turret (S and P), in Section IX on upper and middle platform decks.  
          Six ratings manned the loading chamber and six ratings were stationed in the magazine, the party being in charge of a gunner's mate (Feuerwerkersmaat).  
          It was stated that 175 rounds per gun were carried.  The brass cartridge cases were protected when in the magazine by means of outer polished sheet iron cases, which were removed before the charges were hoisted.  In addition to A.P. and H.E. shells some tracer projectiles were carried for these guns.  
  (C)  A/A Weapons (Flak)  
          (a)  Long Range Guns (Schwere Flak).  The 16 twin-mounted 10.5-cm. (4.13 -in.) guns, mounted on the superstructure, were manufactured by Rheinmetall-Borsig.  Training and elevating was by hand, but could also be assisted by small motors on the mounting.  The breech (Bodenstuck) was of the sliding block type, controlled by a lever which pulled straight back.  A splinter-proof shield was fitted for all mountings.  The maximum elevation was given as 70° and the guns could be depressed 10° below the horizontal for surface targets.  The arc of fire for the forward (No. 1) mountings was stated to be 0°-130°, limited on account of fouling No. 2 mounting.  
          The recoil was stated to be 25-30 cm. (10 in.-12 in.).  The maximum range for effective firing was given as 6,500 metres (7,108 yards) and the damaging radius of burst was estimated as 50 metres (54 yards).  
          Two telescopic sights (Fernrohr) were fitted, with cross wires for alignment.  
          Fixed ammunition (Einheitsmunition) was used, the actual weight being unknown, but the overall length was given as 90 cm. (35.4 in.), of which the brass cartridge case was 65 cm. (25.7 in.) in length, the shell projecting 25 cm. (10 in.) out of the case.  The fuses used were delay action (Uhrwerkzuender) and impact (Aufschlagzuender), the latter being used for surface targets (Seeziele).  
          Service shells were painted yellow, practice shells red.  The rate of fire was given as 6 to 7 seconds.  
          The time fuse setting was graduated from 0-60, the average setting being given as 20.  For barrage fire (Zonenfeuer) it was customary for the A/A Control Officer (Flakleiter), who was stationed aloft in the "Vormars," to have previously ordered the fuse settings, dependent on the visibility, etc.; fuses were set to burst in either of two zones, Zone 1 being a close range setting and Zone 2 for a longer range, either being ordered as required.  
          Barrage firing was often referred to as "Eisen-Hagel" (iron hail) or "Splitter-Regen) (Splinter rain).  If not firing barrages the fire was controlled  


  (Geleiteschiessen).  The gun's crew for the twin mountings (excluding ammunition supply) consisted of 12 men in charge of the "Geschuessführer" (captain of the gun), who was either a "Bootsmaat" or "Oberbootsmaat" (petty officer, 2nd or 1st class) and performed the following duties:  
No. 1. Right side, the rangesetter.  The range drum (Entfernungsscheibe) is marked in "Striche" or sub-divisions.
No. 2. Right side, deflection setter.
No. 3. Right side, gunlayer (Hoehennummer).
No. 4. Left side, deflection setter.
No. 5. Left side, deflection setter.
No. 6. Left side, trainer (Richtennummer).
No. 7. Fuse setters (Einstellnummer).  Had headphones from the
No. 8. "Rechenstelle" (plotting room).
No. 9. Fuse correction setter.  (Fuses being set in a machine).
No. 10. Loaders.
No. 11.
No. 12. Firing number.
          It was stated by a member of one of the gun's crews that in the course of a series of attacks, they fired 500 rounds, and it was mentioned that a total of over 7,000 rounds were fired by these weapons alone.  
          During the various stages of the action, when not engaged with aircraft, the crews had to take protection on the disengaged side of the superstructure, which only afforded splinter protection, and they accordingly sustained very serious casualties.  
          Ammunition Supply (A/A Long Range Weapons).  Each mounting had two hoists, one electric and one hand operated, both delivering on to the superstructure deck.  The main hoist was an endless rotating dredger type, which could be operated at two speeds (Schaltungen) for rapid and slow delivery.  Two or three men were required for supply on the superstructure to each mounting.  For each gun there was a "Stellbecker" (ready use container) holding three rounds which had had fuses adjusted by the "Eienstellnummer."  
          The magazines for the 10.5 cm. guns were situated as follows:  
                  In Section VIII, upper platform deck, starboard and port.  
                  In Section XII, middle and lower platform decks, amidships.  
                  In section XIV, middle platform deck, starboard and port.  
          (b)  Close Range Guns (Leichte Flak).  Except as stated at the commencement of this section, little is known of the close range A/A guns.  It was stated that some of the 37-mm. guns, believed to total 16, were mounted in twin mountings on either side of the upper deck, but most of them were probably mounted on the Deckhaus Deck," i.e., the deck above the superstructure, abaft the funnel.  
          The 20-mm. guns seemed to have been mounted singly, wherever space permitted, and the two sets of quadruple mountings (Vierlinger), were mounted on platforms, built out below and on each side of the upper director tower on the "Vormars."  There were two magazines for the 3.7-cm. guns, one in Section XIV on the upper platform deck, amidships, and one in Section VIII on the same deck, starboard and port; there was no direct hoist from magazines to guns and it appeared necessary for supply parties on the main deck to unload hoists from the magazines and reload others, transporting the ammunition to the gun positions.  
  (6)  Fire Control  
          (A)  Primary and Secondary Armament  
          Fregattenkapitän (Senior Commander) Adalbert Schneider was the Senior Gunnery Officer (1st Artillerie Offizier -- 1.A.O.), who controlled the 38-cm. guns from the "Vormars" (fore upper director tower).  
          Korvettenkapitän (Commander) Helmuth Albrecht was the Second "Artillerie Offizier: (2.A.O.) controlling the 15-cm. guns from the "Vorderstand" (lower forward director tower).  


          Kapitänleutnant (Lt. Commander) Freiherr Burkhard von Müllenheim-Rechberg (the senior surviving Executive Officer) was the 3rd A.O. and was stationed in the after gunnery control position (Achterer Stand), available to take over the control of any of the 38- or 15-cm. guns as ordered, or if forward positions failed.  
          Plotting Rooms.  There were two plotting rooms for the 38-cm. (S.A.) and 15-cm. (M.A.) guns, the fore plotting room (Vordere Artillerie Rechenstelle) was situated in Section XV, middle platform deck, the S.A. being in charge of Oberleutnant z. S. (Lieutenant) Cardinal, and a midshipman being in charge of the M.A.  
          The after plotting room (Achtere Artillerie Rechenstelle) was situated in Section VII on the upper platform deck, Leutnant z. S. (Sub-Lieutenant) Aegeneyndt being in charge of the S.A. and Stabs Oberfeldwebel (C.P.O.) Adams in charge of the M.A.  
          Adjacent to the plotting rooms were situated the change-over switch rooms (Schaltstelle), the "Artillerie Haupt-Schaltstelle" being situated forward and the "Artillerie Reserv Schaltstelle" being aft.  
          In the same sections were located compartments containing valve amplifying units, stated to be a special equipment for "Boostiong" the fire control current; these compartments were referred to as "Verstärkerräume."  
          In each of the plotting rooms there were two officers and 23 ratings, equally divided for the S.A. and M.A. control; it was stated that the personnel in these plotting rooms changed round, sometimes manning the forward room and sometimes the after one.  The plotting instruments (Schusswertreshner), separate for S.A. and M.A. were manufactured by Siemens and consisted each of two portions, into the first of which, operated by five men, the various "Werte" were introduced from the control positions and in the second portion, manned by two men, the results were "refined" and passed to the guns.  The values "refined" in the second portion of the Siemens instrument were referred to as the "R.V., H.V. and A.V." corrections; whilst the "V" no doubt refers to "Verbesserung," meaning correction, it was not established what the "R," "H" and "A" referred to, although it was indicated that these corrections referred, at least in part, to the angle of fire, i.e. whether firing ahead, in the fore and aft line, or abeam.  Each of the sets of plotting instruments (S.A. and M.A.) were in charge of a "Bootsmaat" (P.O., 2nd Class) who had earphones to the director positions as had also the various other ratings.  
          Ranges from the 1-metre rangefinders aloft were "averaged" by the "E. Messer Mittler," ranges from the "S.A." turret rangefinders being ignored as they were considered unreliable.  
          There was one "S.A. Feuersignalgaber," who operated the firing signal switches for the 38-cm. guns; these operated the firing klaxons in the turrets and also the signal lights, which were repeated in the plotting rooms.  A white light showed in the plotting rooms and turrets when each gun was loaded and a red light when guns had fired.  
          There were also an "S.A. Gegner Gerber" and "M.A. Gegner Gerber," who reported details of the enemy (Gegner) as received from aloft.  
          The change-over switch rooms were manned by gunnery artificers, seven of whom were stationed in the after "Schaltstelle" in charge of Oberleutnant Hinz, who was also in charge of Division VIII, which included all the gunnery artificers and ammunition supply ratings.  
          It was understood that the "Havarie Schaltstelle" and "Achtere Drehstrom Schaltstelle" were used in connection with fire control and manned by gunnery artificers; the latter "Stelle" was said to use alternating current at 380 volts/3 phase.  
          Prisoners were unaware of any R.D/F. ranges being made use of in the plotting rooms.  
          In addition to the usual fire-main, each of the above-mentioned compartments had two "Minimax" fire extinguishers.  


          (B)  A/A Fire Control (Long Range Weapons - 10.5-cm.)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Lt. Commander) Gellert was stationed in the "Vormars," in a galley below the upper director tower and was in general charge of all A/A weapons, both long range and short range.  
          Kapitänleutnant Troll was also stationed here and was the Control Officer for the long range weapons (1st Flak A.O.).  
          There were four control positions (Leitstand) for the long range weapons, situated as follows:  
                  Flak Leitstand "A" (Anton), in H.A. director tower, on the superstructure deck, starboard side, forward.  
                  Flak Leitstand "B" (Bruno), in H.A. director tower, on the superstructure deck, port side.  
                  Flak Leitstand "C" (Caesar), in a control tower on the "Deckhaus Deck," abaft the mainmast, with visibility above the 10-metre rangefinder in the "Achterer Stand."  
                  Flak Leitstand "D" (Dora), in a control tower at the after-end of the "Deckhaus Deck" with visibility below the rangefinder in the "Achterer Stand."  
          It is known that Leutnant z. S. (Sub-Lieutenant) Ritter was the "Flak Leiter" in "Leitstand C."  
          Each of the above four "Leitstand" was equipped with a combined 3-metre (9.8 ft.) range-, direction- and height-finder, stated to be stabilized by gyroscopic means.  One officer and three ratings manned each control position, as follows:  
                  (1)  The "Flakleiter" (fire control officer).  
                  (2)  The range-taker.  
                  (3)  The rating controlling the vertical movement of the instrument and reading the height.  
                  (4)  The rating controlling the lateral movement of the instrument and reading the bearing.  
          Nos. (3) and (4) kept the instrument aligned on the target.  
          The "Leitstand" transmitted electrically the various values to the plotting room (Rechenstelle), where the gunlaying data was calculated, corrected, and then passed to the guns.  Alternatively fire control was carried out direct from the "Leitstand" to the guns.  
          The fore "Flak" plotting room with fore "Flak" switch room were in Section XV on the upper platform deck, and the after "Flak" plotting room and switch room in Section IX, respectively on the middle and lower platform decks.  
          Against aircraft either barrage (Zonenfeuer) or control fire (Geleitsschiessen) were employed.  Use was made both of aimed fire and of predicted concentration against individual aircraft.  Barrages were used when simultaneous attacks were made by a number of aircraft, in which case the fuse settings for Zone 1 and Zone 2 firing were predetermined, being dependent on the visibility, etc.  
          If several aircraft were engaged simultaneously the A/A weapons were divided into four sectors of 90° and controlled by the different "Flakleiter" from that various control positions, at close quarters firing barrages at the direction of the officer in charge.  Especially would this method be used against dive bombing, the practice being to put up a barrage as soon as the plane was seen tipping into the diving position, the reason given being that from that moment onwards it would no longer change its direction.  
          According to prisoners the 10.5-cm. guns did not fire at surface targets.  
          Although prisoners stated that aircraft were not engaged with blind fire while still in cloud, this is not confirmed by "Ark Royal," who reported that heavy and accurate A/A fire was experienced even when aircraft were in cloud at a height of 3,000 ft.  
          (C)  A/A Fire Control (Short Range Weapons - 3.7 cm. and 20 mm.)  
          Oberleutnant z. S. (Lieutenant) Juergen Brandes was in charge of all the close range A/A weapons, which he controlled from the control position at the foot of the mainmast (this position also acted as a reserve signal station) on the "Deckhaus Deck."  


          Oberleutnant z. S. Soltau controlled the short range A/A guns, mounted forward, from the gallery, below the upper forward director tower; here were mounted, one each side, the two quadruple-mounted (vierlinger) 20-mm. guns.  
          The control of the short range weapons was entirely independent of the 10-5-cm. guns.  At ranges shorter than 1,000 metres (1,094 yards) they relied essentially on their 3.7-cm. and 20-mm. guns.  
          The control of the short range weapons was entirely independent of the 10.5-cm. guns.  At ranges shorter than 1,000 metres (1,094 yards) they relied essentially on their 3.7-cm. and 20-mm. guns.  
          70-cm. (27.5-in.) portable rangefinders were used for the short range weapons.  
          (D)  General  
          At long ranges the 15-cm. and at one time even the 38-cm. guns were used against aircraft, but this resulted in the "Flak" weapons being blanketed by the smoke of their own secondary armament and the smoke from bursting British shells.  The 15-cm. guns, when firing barrages, used time fuses, but were stated not to have fired at aircraft, unless at night.  
          A prisoner expressed astonishment at the daring with which torpedo bombers drove home their attacks, sometimes to within 150 metres of the ship.  
  (7)  Rangefinders (Entfernungsmessgerät)  
          In a report from the Commanding Officer of "Maori," following conversation with prisoners, it was stated that "Bismarck" had 15 rangefinders, four of which were for H.A. work and one each side for secondary armament only, the remainder being in turrets; this information is substantially, although not entirely, confirmed by other prisoners.  
          The rangefinders used in connection with the primary and secondary armaments were stereoscopic, manufactured by Zeiss, had a base of 10 metres (32.8 ft.) and effective range of 25 km. (27,340 yards) with a magnification of 50.  These rangefinders were situated as follows:  
                  (1)  On the "Vormars," above the upper director tower.  
                  (2)  Above the "Vorderer Stand" (lower fore director tower).  
                  (3)  Above the "Achterer Stand" (after control tower), abaft the mainmast.  
                  (4)  Four further 10-metre rangefinders were fitted, one in each of the primary armament turrets.  
          No rangefinders appear to have been fitted in the secondary armament turrets.  
          As mentioned previously, the ranges taken in the primary armament turrets, although passed to the plotting rooms, were not seriously considered, as they were thought to be unreliable, and probably only made use of then in local control.  
          The long range "Flak" used 3-metre (9.8 ft.) rangefinders, also stereoscopic and manufactured by Zeiss, and had an effective range of 15 km. (16,404 yards) with a magnification of 25.  These instruments were combined range-, direction- and height-finders, gyroscopically stabilized and were situated, one in each of the four "Flak Leitstand" as previously described in VII. (6) (B).  
          The short range "Flak" used 70-cm. (27.5 in.) portable rangefinders; it is not known how many of these were in actual use.  
          Three range-taking ratings manned each of the 10-metre and 3-metre rangefinders, and it was stated that the ship carried 35 trained range-taking ratings, who took great pride in their instruments, which they considered superior to those of any nation; these ratings required to be specially endowed with stereoscopic vision.  No information is available as to whether ranges of "splashes" could be obtained.  
          Kapitänleutnant Knappe was the Rangefinder Officer and in charge of all rangefinders and rangetakers.  
  (8)  Aircraft  
        "Bismarck" was equipped with four Arado 196 aircraft but did not use them during this cruise owing to the rough sea, and the necessity of reducing speed to re-embark; it was also stated that the catapults had been damaged in the course of the action.


          The Arado 196 is a low wing two-seater monoplane with 760 h.p. B.M.W. radial engine, giving a cruising speed of 240 (129 knots) and maximum speed of 275 (148 knots).  The ceiling is 16,000 ft. and range 3-5 hours, according to speed.  
          Petrol tanks are in the floats, total capacity 800 litres (176 gallons).  Petrol storage was provided in Section X, starboard and port, on the lower platform deck, outside the turbine rooms and protected on the outside by empty compartments (Flutzelle).  
          The armament consisted of two machine guns and a 20-mm. cannon in each wing.  A 50-kg. bomb can be carried under each wing, which are of the folding type.  A built-in camera using 9 x 12 cm. films is fitted.  
          Two single hangars facing aft, one each side of the funnel, were fitted, and the fore part of the deck-house on the superstructure abaft the catapults formed the hangar for the other two aircraft.  Ships' boats were stowed above this deck-house.  The aircraft were run into the hangars nose first, but could only do so with the upper propeller blade vertical.  
          Aircraft could not be left on the e catapult longer than necessary, owing to the risk of damage by blast should the A/A guns have to be fired.  Four pilots and two G.A.F. Officer Observers were carried.  In addition to the two G.A.F. officers, two naval officers flew as observers.  
          The remaining personnel was six mechanics and an instruments mechanic.  Six naval ratings under a petty officer operated the catapults.  
          The two catapults, stated to be capable of being trained 30° to 40°, were fitted on the superstructure deck between the hangars; training was not used in practice, the ship being turned to enable the aircraft to take off into the wind.  The cradle supported the aircraft under the cockpit and tail.  The catapults were actuated by compressed air.  
          Electrically operated cranes (used also for the boats) were used to lift the aircraft on to the cradle.  Air pressure forced the catapult rails outboard about 8 metres (26 ft.) to project over the upper deck.  Aircraft could be catapulted when the ship was making 20 knots; it was stated that the four aircraft could be airborne within 30 minutes.  
          Aircraft, air crews and technical ground personnel are supplied to ships of the German Navy by Gruppe 196.  
          The four aircraft in "Bismarck" belonged to 5/196, which is the "Staffel" based at Cherbourg.  The crest of Gruppe 196 is a sea horse.  
          The units of the German Navy carrying aircraft were given as follows:  
"Bismarck" 4 aircraft
"Scharnhorst" 2 aircraft
"Gneisenau" 2 aircraft
"Hipper" 2 aircraft
"Prinz Eugen" 1 aircraft
"Admiral Sheer" 1 aircraft
"Luetzow" 1 aircraft
  (9)  Damage Control Organisation  
          The main damage control centre (leckwehrzentrale) was in Section XIV on the upper platform deck, next to the lower conning-tower (kommando zentrale).  Fregattenkapitän (senior commander) Oels, the Second-in-Command, was stationed in the lower conning-tower, and was in charge of the damage control parties with an engineer officer, Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) Jahreis.  
          The reserve damage control centre (leckwehrhilfzentrale) was in Section X, part of the turbine room control centre, situated below the armour deck, between the starboard and port turbine rooms.  
          There were in all six damage control parties (leckwehrgruppe), each 26 men, in charge of a chief mechanician each party being responsible for three or more of the main longitudinal sections of the ship.  
          These parties were responsible for the pumping out or flooding of any compartment, dealing with fires or gas, and also repairing leaks.  


          Each damage control party included the following sub-divisions:  
(a) "L.A." - Leck Arbeitsgruppe" (Leak Party).  One petty officer and three ratings to repair holes in ship's side or compartments.
(b) "B.A." - "Brant Abwehrgruppe" (Fire Party),  One petty officer and three ratings to deal with fires.
(c) "G.A." - Gas Abwehrgruppe" (Anti-gas Party),  One petty officer and three ratings to deal with gas.
(d) "P.-Gruppe" - "Pumpen Gruppe."  One petty officer and three ratings to undertake pumping and flooding.
(e) "B.U." - "Befelsuebermittler."  One petty officer and two ratings as messengers for transmitting orders if telephone system failed.
(f) One "Meister" (Carpenter).
(g) "Luftgruppe" (Ventilation Party).  One petty officer to deal with ventilation requirements within the sections controlled by his "Leckwehrgruppe."
(h) "Sicherungsposten" (Safety Posts).  Six ratings posted in key positions within each "Gruppe" to report damage to the "Gruppenfuehrer.
          There were ten electrically-driven fixed salvage pumps, rotary type, the motors being manufactured by Siemens, and the pumps by Blohm & Voss.  Their location and Sections they dealt with were as follows:  
Section they could pump
  1. XX Lower platform deck XX, XXI, XXII.
  2. XVII Lower platform deck (S & P) XVII-XIX, in emergency  also XX-XXII and XVI-XV.
  2. XV Lower platform deck (S & P) XV-XVII.
  2. VII Lower platform deck (S & P) VII-IV.
  2. IV Lower platform deck (S & P) V, IV, III also in emergency VII and VI.
  1. III Middle platform deck III to stern.
          The method of pumping Section XIV-VIII or the pumps used is not known, but it is presumed that the bilge pumps in the boiler rooms, turbine rooms and auxiliary machinery rooms could deal with compartments in these sections.  
          It was stated that the capacity of each of the above electric pumps was 600 cu. m./hr. (21,189 cu. ft./hr.).  A chief petty officer acted as "Pumpmeister," in general charge of the pumps, and was stationed in the damage control centre.  Flooding of "Flutzelle" (flooding compartments) of "Trimmzelle" (trimming tanks) was carried out via the sea-connections to the above pumps.  
          Air pressure was not employed to clear compartments of water.  
          Each party was connected by telephone to the centre.  The parties were stationed on the armour deck from where the suction valves and flooding could be operated.  
          In addition, the flooding and suction valves could be operated from the battery deck, shaft control being employed throughout.  
          The starters for the fixed salvage pumps were automatic and fitted at the pumps, the control switches, however, being below the armour deck and operated by shaft gearing from either above the armour deck or from the battery deck.  
          A number of transportable salvage pumps, rotary type, were available; these were operated by compressed air at a pressure of 140 lbs./sq. inch.  
  (10)  Fire Appliances  
          Six electrically-driven fire-pumps, rotary type, were fitted, their exact location being unknown.  They delivered into a fire main, supplying all compartments in all sections of the ship.  All were in use in action, but normally only two would be in use.  


          It was stated that the normal consumption was 80 amperes, giving a pressure at the pump of 128 lbs./sq. in., and a pressure of about 60 lbs./sq. in. at the highest point.  
          The motors were manufactured by Sachsen Werke, near Dresden, and the pumps by Blohm & Voss.  
          "Minimax" hand fire extinguishers, a chemical type of extinguisher, were fitted in all compartments; these were about 1-1/2 ft. long.  
          In addition foam fire extinguishers (Schaumfeuerlöscher) - four-sided containers about 2 ft. high and 1 ft. in diameter - carried on the back, were available for each of the damage control parties.  
          Hoses could be brought into the turrets from the upper deck.  
          Six fire parties (Brant Abwehrgruppe) were included in the damage control organisation (See VII, 9).  
  (11)  Anti-Gas Protection  
          The ship's company had been issued with gas masks which had been tested with tear gas more then once, the most recent instance of a test being February, 1941.  
          In addition, each man carried a tube containing "Losantin" tablets which, when moistened and applied to the skin, prevents burning as a result of contact with poison gas (Blaukreuz).  "Blaukreuz" gas was expected in either bombs or shells, in either liquid or gas form.  
          A number of petty officers had completed a six weeks' anti-gas course at Kiel, and of these some were selected to form six anti-gas parties, consisting of a petty officer and two stokers.  These parties were termed "Gas Abwer Gruppen," and were stationed on the battery deck.  They were responsible as follows:  
                  1st Party.  Stern to Section III.  
                  2nd Party.  Sections IV and V.  
                  3rd Party.  Sections VI to VIII.  
                  4th Party.  Sections IX to XIII.  
                  5th Party.  Sections XIV to XVI.  
                  6th Party.  Sections XVII to bow.  
          Gas parties were responsible through the damage control organisation to the damage control centre (Leckwehr Zentrale) in Section XIV on the upper platform deck.  
          Gas parties were supplied with rubber suits, boots, gloves and sou'westers which fitted the gas mask closely, and were also furnished with supplies of "Losantin" in powder form.  It is not known what the composition of "Losantin" was, but it was intended to be used in conjunction with water as a decontaminating agent against "Blaukreuz" gas.  
          One prisoner stated that gas was detected by a powder which discolours in the presence of gas.  
          Other gasses mentioned were "Grunkreuz" and "Weisskreuz," the latter being also termed "Reizkreuz" (tear gas); prisoners were, however, not clear how each of the gasses was to be dealt with.  In general a gassed compartment would be evacuated, exhaust and supply ventilation closed, then decontaminated, and finally ventilation put into operation again.  
          There are some grounds for believing that one or more anti-gas parties were detailed for the upper deck.  
          It was stated that gas masks issued to personnel stationed in control positions were fitted with microphone attachments (Gasmaskenmikrofon) to render orders clearly audible to the wearers.  These attachments could be connected to transmitters and receivers to facilitate communications.  
  (12)  Magazine Cooling, Flooding, Spraying, Ventilation and Fire Arrangements  
          (a)  Cooling  
          Two magazine cooling plants (Munitions Kuhlmaschinen) were fitted, one situated in Section XVII on the lower platform deck, amidships, and one on the same deck, in Section VI on the port side.  These cooling plants were electrically  


  driven, using CO2 gas and brine; cooling pipes were led into each magazine and control was from the cooling machine rooms.  It was stated that an "Aka" thermostatic regulating system for regulating the temperature, electrically operated, was used.  
          (b)  Flooding  
          Flooding valves were fitted in all magazines and could be operated either locally or from the main deck by shaft gearing; it was stated that the larger magazines could be flooded in two minutes.  
          (c)  Spraying  
          In addition to magazine flooding arrangements, a spraying system (Berieselungsanlage) was also fitted.  These sprays were fitted on the roofs of the magazines and could be operated for each magazine from the loading chamber and also by shaft gearing from the main deck; it was stated that the supply for the sprays was from the fire main.  
          (d)  Ventilation  
          The ventilation system is more generally described in VII (13).  Ventilation supply and exhaust valves were fitted to each magazine, but these could only be operated locally.  The magazine temperatures, obtained only within the magazines, were logged each watch; it was stated that the highest limit permitted was 25° Centigrade (77° Fahrenheit), but the temperature did not normally exceed 21° Centigrade (69.8° Fahrenheit).  
          (e)  Fire Arrangements  
          The normal fire main and hoses were available for each magazine and in addition a supply of "Minimax," portable fire extinguishers, was available in each loading chamber.  
  (13)  Ventilation System (Luftungsanlage)  
          Each of the 22 main longitudinal sections had its own separate ventilation system.  
          For each section two or more supply fans (Zulüfter) and two or more exhaust fans (Ablüfter) were fitted.  
          These fans were fitted on the battery deck for the ventilation of compartments on that deck, and on main deck for compartments on main deck and compartments below.  The fans were sometimes fitted in separate ventilating compartments.  
          The largest of the main supply trunks (Schächte) were stated to have a sectional area of 60 cm. x 60 cm. (23 in. x 23 in.), excluding those used in the turbine engine rooms and boiler rooms.  
          Some 200 ventilating fans were used, but the power is not known; they were manufactured and supplied by the A.E.G. (Berlin).  
          A mechanician was in charge of the ventilating system, and was kept informed of ventilation requirements by means of telephone or messenger to the ventilation workshop in Section XIII on the main deck.  It was his duty to see that the necessary fans were started and sluice valves opened.  
          A ventilation party termed "Lüftergruppe" was included in each of the six damage control parties (VII, 9).  
          Some of the living spaces and the turbine control room (Maschinen-Leitstand) in Section X could be supplied with cooled air, the coolers being supplied with water from the fire main.  
          Supply and exhaust valves to individual compartments were operated in the compartments themselves.  
          Air supply could not be heated.  Heating of living spaces was provided by steam heaters separate from the ventilation system.  
          Some of the living spaces situated before the fore turret, which in heavy weather could not use direct air supply, were fitted with circulating fans, which circulated the air through filters and purifiers.  


  (14)  R.D/F  
          It has not been possible to obtain reliable information regarding R.D/F from prisoners, as none of then was immediately concerned with this equipment and regarding which the utmost secrecy is observed.  This equipment is referred to as "D.T.," the significance of these letters being unknown; neither was any information obtained regarding wave-length employed.  Prisoners interrogated had no knowledge of any small cone-shaped transmitters being fitted in the turrets or elsewhere; several prisoners, however, referred to "mattress" types of aerial arrays being fitted aloft.  These aerials were referred to as "E. Messgerät" and were stated to be "mattress shaped, measuring 4 x 2-1/2 metres (13 x 8 ft.) with a breadth of less than 3 ft.  Two of these aerials were stated to be fitted on the foremast, one operating to starboard, one to port, and a third was fitted aft, possibly on the "Achterer Stand."  
          Prisoners stated that an officer and three specialists, to operate this equipment, came on board "Bismarck" at Gotenhafen, the day before the ship sailed, and it seems probable that this personnel was only lent to the ship and was not part of the regular complement.  
          As ranges, taken by this means, were apparently not received in the plotting rooms, it is surmised that these ranges were reported direct to the gunnery control officers, who may have used them at their own discretion.  
          It was stated that this R.D/F equipment was controlled from the conning-tower.  
          An effective range of 30 kilometers (32,809 yards) was mentioned.  
          One prisoner stated that the "D.T." equipment had been developed and improved from similar gear fitted in French ships, and that this gear had detected destroyers at a distance of 35 miles.  
  (15) W/T  
          "Bismarck" had three W/T offices, A, B and C.  
          W/T Office "A" (Funkraum "A") was in Section XV on the starboard side on the middle platform deck.  
          W/T Office "B" was in the same Section XV, but on the port side of the upper platform deck.  
          W/T Office "C" was in Section IX on the battery deck, and was used in peace time primarily for broadcasting music and news, and dealing with non-secret signals.  
  (16)  Meteorology  
          There were three meteorological specialists on board "Bismarck," the senior of which was a Dr. Externbrink (Chef Meteorologe) and the junior, Lt. (Nautischer Assistent) Lothar Balzer, who was the only survivor.  This prisoner stated that he received weather reports from "DDX" near Berlin, which he had to de-code and hand to his superiors; it is thought that this station was linked up with the "Marine Wetterdeinst," the Naval Meteorological Station at Wilhelmshafen.  Meteorological watch (Bordwetterwarte) on board, was carried out from a position in the "Vormars."  
          This organisation had to report the weather to Germany every three hours, day and night, commencing at 0300, German Summer Time.  
          This officer stated that strong winds from the north-west (strength 7-9) prevented aircraft and U-boats arriving as anticipated; he also mentioned that after the torpedo attack, delivered from "Ark Royal" at 2055/26th May, a U-boat was in the neighbourhood.  
          It was stated that a meteorological station and school was established in Brest, where 22 men formed the staff; it was understood that the Chief Meteorological Station (Haupt-Wetterdienstbüreau) in Schipol (Holland) telephoned daily to Brest, the call, however, requiring two and a half hours.  


  (17)  Anti-Mine Devices  
          (a)  "Bismarck" was degaussed, apparently by coils round the ship, but no details are known.  
          (b)  Ship was stated to be fitted with paravanes (Ottergerät) to be used both from bow and amidships.  These had not been used during the final cruise, and had been exercised only once in the Baltic.  
          (c)  A bow protection device (Bugschutzgerät) was fitted, whether for acoustic or magnetic mines is not known.  It was used in mined areas.  This device consisted of a tube about 2 ft. in diameter and length 13 ft. to 14 ft., fitted low down in a bow compartment (Bugschutzraum) in Section XXII.  This tube had to contain some kind of electrical apparatus.  
  (18)  Searchlights (Scheinwerfer)  
          Searchlights, the largest of which were stated to have a minor diameter of 1 metre (39 in.), were fitted, according to prisoners, in the following positions:  
          (a)  Three on the "Vormars," one central and one on each side.  
          (b)  On a platform abaft the funnel, one each side.  
          (c)  One each side abreast the mainmast, above the "Deckhaus Deck."  
          (d)  One further aft above the "Deckhaus."  
          The searchlights "Centre" and workshops were situated in Section VII on the main deck.  
  (19)  Steering-Gear and Compasses  
          "Bismarck" had two rudders.  The rudder-gear was fitted in Section I, below the armour deck, starboard and port.  
          The rudder motors (starboard and port), and hand-steering gear (starboard and port) were in Section II, on the upper platform deck, below the armour deck.  
          One motor could operate both rudders, but both motors were used in action.  The rudder motors were controlled electrically from the steering positions.  
          There were seven steering positions in the ship, as follows:  
                  (1)  Bridge (Friedenstand).  
                  (2)  Admiral's bridge.  
                  (3)  Upper conning tower (Vorderer Kommandostand).  
                  (4)  Lower conning tower (Kommando Zentrale).  
                  (5)  After control tower (Achterer Stand).  
                  (6)  Turret "B" (emergency action position).  
                  (7)  Hand-steering compartment.  
          It is not known whether there were magnetic compasses in positions other than (1), (2) and (7).  
          Two gyro compasses (Anschutz, Kiel) were fitted, one in Section VIII, middle platform deck, to starboard, and one next to the lower conning-tower (Kommando Zentrale) in Section XIV, upper platform deck.  Transformers gave an A/C supply at 55-65 volts.  Some 15-20 repeaters were operated.  
  (20)  Smoke Screen Apparatus (Nebelanlage)  
          Prisoners referred to a smoke screen apparatus, which was apparently fitted in a tower (Nebelturm), probably on the "Deckhaus Deck," in the after part of the ship.  No information was obtained regarding method of operation.  
          An attempt was made to use this apparatus after action with the "Hood," so as to avoid further action with "Prince of Wales" and to shake off shadowing cruisers, but owing to the mislaying of the necessary spanners this apparatus could not be brought into use.  
          A number of smoke-floats (Nebelboje) were carried; these were stated to be drum-shaped and weighed about 2 cwt. each, two men being required to handle them.  


  (21)  Oil Fuel  
          In the course of a conversation Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg mentioned that in order to sail from Gotenhafen during the night, "Bismarck" had been unable entirely complete with fuel.  He stated that they sailed with only 6,000 tons instead of approximately 8,000 tons, and that they were in fact 2,000 tons short of full stowage.  
          A prisoner, who had charge of the oil-fuel storage pumps confirmed that the ship had sailed short of fuel, but estimated this shortage as 3,000 tons and stated that the ship sailed with 9,000 tons, being 3,000 tons short of her full capacity of 12,000 tons.  
          Calculations made at the admiralty from an official sketch book, published by Blohm & Voss, the builders, and obtained from one prisoner, estimated the maximum fuel stowage as 8,500 tons, including 1,750 tons which could be stowed in reserve bunkers.  
          It seems, therefore, reasonable to assume that the ship sailed with 6,000 tons and had a total capacity of about 8,500 tons.  
          The prisoner, mentioned in paragraph two, pointed out that the apparently large capacity was due to the ship having been designed for a very large action radius,  He gave fuel consumption as follows:  
18 kts. (economical speed) 200 tons/day
24 kts. 500 tons/day
26 kts. 700 tons/day
31 kts. 900 tons/day
          If these figures can be accepted, it may be deduced that from the time of sailing from Gotenhafen at 0200/19th May, until the morning of 27th May, when sunk, she used possibly 4,500 tons.  
          It was further stated that, owing to damage received during action with "Hood," fuel bunkers in Sections XIV and XV sustained entry of water, and likewise fuel in Section XX-XXII could not be used owing to the inaccessibility of the suction valves through flooding; thus about 1,000 tons, so it was stated became unavailable.  
          Accordingly, if she sailed with 6,000 tons, it seems probable that, on the morning of 27th May, her available fuel was down to about 500 tons and barely sufficient to take her to a French port.  
          This shortage of fuel in "Bismarck" is confirmed by statements of prisoners who referred to signals made on 26th May to "Gruppe West," urgently requesting fuel (Brennstoff Ergänzung dringend) and to which a reply was made that the "Ermeland" had already sailed.  
          Fuel Stowage  
          A number of compartments in Sections I, II, III, IV, XX, XXI and XXII, which normally were intended for trimming the ship (Trimmzelle), could also be used for fuel (Reserve Heizölvorrat Bunker).  
          The normal stowage bunkers (Heizölvorrat Bunker) were in the double bottoms, and in compartments outside the torpedo longitudinal bulkheads up to the slope of the armour deck each side, the latter bunkers having empty protective compartments outside (Flutzellen).  The action bunkers (Heizölgefecht Verbrauchs Bunker), or "ready-use" bunkers, were those in the double bottoms below the boiler rooms in Sections XI and XIII.  
          Fuelling at Sea  
          Fuelling at sea from tankers had been frequently exercised in the Baltic.  
          It was stated that a number of 8,000-ton turbine-driven tankers had been completed just before the war, that they had a speed of 25 knots, and that under favorable conditions fuelling could take place at 15 knots, the tanker normally keeping station ahead of the ship being refuelled.  
          "Bismarck" had two oil fuel storage pumps (Heizölforderpumpen), one in Section VI on the lower platform deck, starboard, and one in Section XV, lower platform deck to port.  


          These were electrically-driven geared pumps, maximum revolutions 6,000 per minute, with a current consumption of 460 amps, giving a pressure of 150 lbs./sq/ in.  It was stated that an 8,000-ton tanker could be emptied in 12 hours, the tanker's pumps and those of the "Bismarck" being used simultaneously.  
          The fuel supply hoses (Übernahmeschlauch) were 5-metre (16-ft.) sections, and at each coupling was an eyelet through which a wire hawser (about 1-1/4-in. diameter) passed, which took the strain off the hose.  The diameter of the supply hose was about 6 in.  The hose was led from the stern of the tanker through "Bismarck's" hawse pipe, the length of hose used being from 150-200 metres (492 ft.-656 ft.).  The hose could take a pressure of 140 lbs./sq. in.  
          One oil fuel supply stand pipe (Ölleitung) passed through Section XXI, and another in the after part of the ship.  
  (22)  Messing (Canteens, Galleys and Refrigeration)  
          Two canteens were provided, one to serve the ship's company forward, situated on the battery deck in Section XV, and one aft in Section VIII, also on the battery deck.  
          A staff of six to eight men manned each of the canteens.  
          Beer, cigarettes, chocolate, biscuits, writing materials, etc., were sold.  A substantial quantity of beer was consumed; this was sold in 1/2-litre (0.9-pint) glasses at 30 Pfgs. (about 4d.).  
          Beer was stowed in 50-litre casks in special compartments in Sections XVII and VIII and is was indicated that some 500-1,000 casks could be carried.  The beer was specially oxygenated before consumption.  
          A portion of each canteen was reserved for petty officers' use.  
          Two galleys (combüse) were provided for the ship's company, and one for petty officers, in the same sections as the canteens,. and an officers' galley in the superstructure.  
          It was stated that 500 pig and 300 ox carcases were carried on board and it was calculated that sufficient provisions were on board to feed for one day a city of 250,000 inhabitants.  
          The ship's refrigerating plant was located in Section XV on the upper platform deck; this operated electrically with CO2 gas.  The refrigerating rooms were amidships in Section XVI on the lower platform deck, under Turret "B"; an "Aka" thermostatic system was used for controlling the temperatures in the various compartments.  
          All prisoners agreed that the food on board was a great improvement on the landlubber's diet; the actual bill of fare in the "Bismarck" for the last two days of her voyage, committed to paper by the writer who was responsible for typing them, was as follows:  
25.5.41. Breakfast:  Coffee, butter, jam.
  Lunch:  Potatoes with dumpling pudding.
  Dinner:  Tea, butter, egg, sausage.
26.5.41. Breakfast:  Coffee, dripping.
  Lunch:  Soup, potatoes, sauce, meat, lemon.
  Dinner:  Coffee, butter, cheese, sausage.
          It will be noted that the actual food is chiefly bulk (soup and potatoes), and therefore, as accounts of most German prisoners of war describe the excellent and plentiful food in Germany, this statement is significant.  
  (23)  Medical Arrangements  
          "Bismarck" carried three medical officers, the senior of which was Ober Stabs Artz (Surgeon Commander) Dr. Hans Günther Busch.  
          The sick bay was forward on the battery deck.  
          There were two action dressing stations (verwundetenlagerraum), one forward on the main deck in Section XVI, abreast Turret "B," and the other aft in Section V, on the main deck.  


          Some information regarding supply ships operating with "Bismarck" was obtained from Kapitänleutnant Wunderlich, a survivor from the "Gonzenheim."  "Gonzenheim" was included in the organisation of "Gruppe West," with headquarters in Paris; this organisation was in charge of naval operations off the French West Coast, including the operations of the "Bismarck" and "Prinz Eugen" and their supply ships.  
          "Gonzenheim," a 4,000-ton ex-Norwegian motor vessel, was manned by a mixed crew of 62, half of whom were drawn from the Merchantile Marine and the other half from the "Kriegsmarine," the latter consisting largely of naval reservists.  
          "Gonzenheim" was only lightly armed, with two machine-guns on the bridge and one 2-cm. A/A gun.  
          This ship sailed from Rotterdam on 30th April, 1941, being escorted by three minesweepers, and made the passage to La Pallice in three or four days.  About 21st May "Gonzenheim" received orders from "Gruppe West" and sailed in ballast for a rendezvous, where it was intended that any valuable cargoes from whips captured in convoy should be transferred to her, together with captured crews.  
          On 4th June "Gonzenheim" was sighted by a British auxiliary cruiser, from which she escaped owing to her superior speed, but was later stopped by "Renown," who sent a boarding party on board, but the crew had already taken steps to scuttle their ship.  "Gonzenheim" was eventually sunk by two torpedoes and gunfire from "Neptune."  
          According to Wunderlich, tankers and supply ships were allotted certain areas by "Gruppe West," and the warships concerned would rely on meeting their supply ships within the area specified on certain dates.  "Gonzenheim" had intercepted a message from "Bismarck" to "Gruppe West," requesting fuel, to which "Gruppe West" had replied that the tanker "Ermeland" had already put to sea.  It seems probable, however, that the "Ermeland" returned to port after the sinking of "Bismarck."  Wunderlich referred to a further vessel, the "Kota Pinang," which had previously sailed under Norwegian or Dutch colours.  It was stated that this ship was in command of Kapitan-leutnant Horst Heinecke, who had recently served with Wunderlich in the "Gneisenau."  The "Kota Pinang" sailed from Rotterdam for La Pallice, where Heinecke procured the papers of the "Kotanupan," which had preciously been sunk and as which ship he now masqueraded.  The "Kota Pinang" sailed from La Pallace about the same time as the "Gonzenheim" and, it was suggested, with the same mission.  
          A former fishing vessel, the "Sachsenwald," was reported by prisoners to have been operating from Bordeaux as a weather-reporting vessel and was ordered about 26th May to proceed to the scene of the action between "Bismarck" and the British naval forces to carry out rescue work.  At the same time, the Spanish cruiser "Canarias" had been requested by the German naval authorities to assist in this work.  
          "Sachsenwald" was the first to arrive on the scene and succeeded in picking up 100 survivors, whereas "Canarias," on her arrival, found only some 100 floating corpses.  
          The 10,000-ton tanker "Friedrich Breme" was reported to have arrived at St. Nazaire about the middle of April from the Atlantic, where she had oiled the battle-cruiser "Gneisenau."  After approximately a month at anchor in the mouth of the Loire, she completed with fuel (8,000 tons) and sailed for the Atlantic to oil either the "Bismarck" of "Prinz Eugen."  This ship was intercepted by "Sheffield" and sunk at 1849/12th June, 1941, in position 44° 48' N., 24° 00' W.  
  (a)  "Tirpitz"  
          According to various prisoners' statements, "Tirpitz" arrived at Gotenhafen for trials in January, 1941.  Although reported to have been in dockyard hands in April, she was again undergoing trials in May in Danzig Bay.  "Tirpitz" was seen for the last time by members of "Bismarck's" crew on or about 16th May, when both ships were underway.  From prisoners' statements it seemed unlikely that "Tirpitz" would be ready for sea until September.  


          Prisoners expressed the opinion that "Tirpitz" was identical with "Bismarck," although no doubt minor improvements would be embodied.  
          "Tirpitz" would in any case be obliged to return to Hamburg after trials in the Baltic.  
  (b)  "Graf Zeppelin"  
          Most prisoners agreed that the "Graf Zeppelin" was lying in Gotenhafen when "Bismarck" sailed on the 19th May.  No work was being done upon her and it was not intended to complete her.  
          Although the guns had previously been mounted they had since been removed.  
  (c)  "Lützow"  
          "Lützow" was reported by prisoners to have been in Kiel in February, 1941, and later to have been carrying out trials off Danzig, although her exact location when "Bismarck" sailed on 19th May is not known.  
  (d)  Cruisers  
          It was stated by prisoners that "Köln," "Leipzig," "Nurnberg," and "Emden" had not made any war cruises since April, 1940.  One prisoner of war who had served in "Köln" from July, 1940, to April, 1941, stated that this ship was in the Baltic together with the other cruisers mentioned above.  For the most part they were in Swinemünde and Kiel, and before "Bismarck" sailed, in Gotenhafen.  
          Both "Emden" and "Leipzig" were being used as training cruisers and it was stated that "Lepzig" had never properly recovered from being hit by a torpedo during the Norwegian campaign; this ship was stated to be incapable of more than 15 knots.  (N.I.D.  Note:  These two ships are considered now operationally available.)  
  (e)  "Schlesien" and "Schleswig-Holstein"  
          "Schlesien" and "Schleswig-Holstein" had been seen in Gotenhafen shortly before "Bismarck" sailed.  These ships were stated to have played some part in the Norwegian operations of April, 1940, but have since been used only as training ships.  
          It was stated that the 15-cm. guns from "Schleswig-Holstein" had been removed and mounted in merchant vessels.  
  (f)  "Seydlitz"  
          Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg stated that the next German warship to be completed would be the 10,000-ton cruiser "Seydlitz."  
  (g)  "Karlsruhe"  
          A prisoner stated that the "Karlsruhe," whilst off Christiansand on 9th April, 1940, had been hit by a torpedo from a submarine; the ship had heeled over to starboard and sunk, the crew was rescued by two torpedo-boats, only 11 men being lost.  Previous to that "Karlsruhe" had made no war cruise.  
  (h)  "Gross Deutschland"  
          The "Gross Deutschland," a larger ship than the "Bismarck," which had been laid down at Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, was, according to one prisoner, being dismantled.  
  (a)  U-Boats  
          Kapitänleutnant von Müllenheim-Rechberg stated that at present, in Germany, only U-Boats and destroyers were being built, and he emphasised the shortage of officers for the U-Boat arm, necessitating the inclusion of many older officers in this branch of the service; another officer mentioned that naval officers, previously serving with the G.A.F., were now being transferred to U-Boats.  This is known to be a fact.  


          Apart from a statement that three 500-ton U-Boats were seen at Gotenhafen prior to "Bismarck's" sailing, most of the information regarding U-Boats concerns prisoners' observations whilst in Hamburg.  It was stated that during "Bismarck's" period in Hamburg from December, 1940, to March, 1941, ten completed 300- or 500-ton boats were seen leaving the yards.  As, however, according to a prisoner, "the whole area was jealously guarded" not much reliance can be placed on these statements.  It was variously stated that 25 to 50 boats were being built at Hamburg, some of which at Blohm & Voss's yards, were, it was said, one boat was completed every week.  
          It was mentioned in respect to U-Boats building in Hamburg that the pressure hulls, motors, diesels and batteries came from inland factories by rail, the pressure hulls being transported in complete sections, entirely welded.  The batteries were stated to be "Varta" make.  
          Another prisoner stated that U-Boats were being built at 17 different yards, which were as follows:  
                  Blohm & Voss, Hamburg.  
                  Deutsche Werke, Kiel.  
                  Germania, Kiel.  
                  Kriegsmarinewerft, Kiel.  
                  Schichau, Danzig.  
                  Neptune Werke, Rostock.  
          The other U-boat building yards were at Pillau and other small Baltic yards, of which mention was made of Lübeck, where it was stated 500-ton boats were being constructed.  
          It was stated that Kriegsmarinewerft, Kiel, an amalgamation of the Marine Arsenal and Howaldt concern, only commenced building U-Boats in January, 1941.  
          At the Neptune Werke, Rostock, 15 U-Boats of 500 tons had been laid down; at this yard were employed some 2,500 workers, who in addition to U-Boat construction were turning out vessels of about 3,000 tons of unspecified type.  
          It was stated that a Dutch U-Boat was in commission and had been observed lying near the school ship "Schlageter" at Kiel.  
  (b)  Depôt Ships  
          (1)  During June, 1940, naval personnel were living on board the "Pretoria" at Danzig.  
          (2)  During June, 1940, some ratings, detailed for service in the "Bismarck," were accommodated in the "New York" at Danzig; this ship later moving to Gotenhafen and in August to Hamburg.  
          (3)  "Monte Serimento" was stated to be moored at Kiel Wik, in October, 1940, with a number of naval ratings on board.  
          (4)  The "Attikas" is known to have been at Hamburg from April to August, 1940, to accommodate ratings, awaiting draft.  
          (5)  The school ship "Schlageter" was stated to be at Kiel and being used for training officer cadets from the lower deck (Kadettenoffiziersanwärtern).  
          (6)  It was intended to sail the "Gorch Fock" to Gotenhafen as depôt ship.  
          (7)  The "Horst Wessel" was to proceed to Aalsund as training ship for "Hitlerjugend."  
  (c)  Raiders  
          The A.M.C. "Neumünster" was said to have been acting as a commerce raider.  


  (d)  Mine Sweepers (Minensuchboote)  
          It was stated that mine sweepers were being constructed in Stettin, Danzig and Lübeck, and also in Hamburg at the Deutsche Werft and Stülken Werft.  These mine sweepers were stated to be from 300-900 tons, turbine-driven, and some of them capable of 32 knots; depending on the size they had crews of 40-60 men.  A prisoner mentioned that the recently completed "Hela," Commander-in-Chief's despatch vessel, was built by Stülken Werft.  
  (e)  Destroyers (Zerstorer)  
          It was stated that a "Narvik" class destroyer was being built at Bremerhafen and other destroyers at Wilhelmshafen.  
  (a)  Kiel  
          Little information regarding Kiel was obtained from "Bismarck" survivors as the ship was almost exclusively in Hamburg or Gotenhafen, except for a short stay of about ten days in March, 1941.  
          One prisoner mentioned that a large number of Danish workmen were employed in the Kiel yards and factories.  This arrangement had by no means proved satisfactory, the Danish workmen being disinclined to work and being unpunctual.  As the German workmen were receiving only half the wages that were paid to the Danes, considerable dissatisfaction resulted.  
          It was mentioned that just before Christmas the "Flottenkommando" (Admiral Lütjens, Commander-in-Chief and Staff) moved from Trouville to Kiel.  In Trouville the Commander-in-Chief had been established at the Hotel de Paris since November, 1940.  On arrival in Kiel the Admiral and Staff embarked in the "Hela," the newly-completed Commander-in-Chief's despatch vessel; it was stated that at Trouville and also at Kiel, Fregattenkapitän (Captain) Kaiser was Chief of Staff.  
          It was stated that during one air raid several streets were destroyed and over 200 persons killed.  
  (b)  Gotenhafen  
          Prisoners explained the concentration of a large portion of Germany's naval strength in Gotenhafen as a precaution against British air attack.  In the Spring of 1941 it was decided to enforce black-out restrictions and strengthen the A/A defences of this harbour, but according to one prisoner this was not due to fear of the R.A.F., but rather to expected attack from Russia.  The concentration of troops on both sides of the Russo-German frontier had already commenced before "Bismarck" sailed, and there were even rumours, at that time, that the ship would remain in the Baltic.  
          Although the harbour has been well planned and some of the buildings converted for naval requirements, facilities for warship refits do not appear to be available at present, but it was suggested that, in the near future, the Danzig yards would be adapted for naval use.  
          One prisoner stated that there is a torpedo experimental station (Torpedoversuchsanstalt) at Gotenhafen and also a U-Boat training school, as several U-Boats were observed exercising from this base.  
  (c)  Plön  
          One petty officer prisoner had been employed in training crews for raiders at Plön; he was unable to give details, but mentioned that the crew of Raider Number 26 had been trained whilst he served in this capacity.  
  (d)  Wilhelmshafen  
          According to prisoners both the Central Post Office and police barracks had been hit in a recent air raid; it was also mentioned that British prisoners of war had been interrogated in a building close to the Jachmann Barracks.  Serious fires had occurred in the residential district of Bootsmanhausen and the wives and children of naval ratings had been very largely transferred to the interior of Germany.  


  (e)  Rostock and Neighbourhood (Aerodromes)  
          It was stated that in the neighbourhood of Rostock there were four aerodromes; two of these being testing grounds for Heinkels and one other firm.  
          At Warnemünde is situated a flying school, and there is a further aerodrome and also a base for seaplanes at this place.  
          There was stated to be a large aerodrome at Rittnitz.  
  (f)  Lorient  
          It was stated that the old ex-German cruiser "Strasbourg" was lying at the Mole in Lorient and that there was also an old French cruiser present.  
  (g)  Sabotage in Hamburg and Occupied Territories  
          Prisoners referred to acts of sabotage in both France and Holland; it was mentioned that a number of men had met with mysterious deaths and in Le Havre a great many drowned had been pulled out of the docks, etc.  
          Kapitänleutnant Junack, the surviving engineer officer of "Bismarck," who had previously been employed in the Gestapo, stated that he was unaware of a single case of sabotage in any large ship in Hamburg, but he admitted that such acts were committed in smaller ships.  


Officers known to have been on Board "Bismarck" when Sunk
Commander of the Fleet
Admiral Günther Lütjens.
Commanding Officer
Kapitän-zur-See (Captain) Ernst Lindemann.
Second in Command
Fregattenkapitän (Senior Commander) Oels.
Divisional Officers and Section Leaders
  Division I (Seaman's Division)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander Schaaf.  
  Division II (Seaman's Division)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Tils, 2nd Navigation Officer.  
          Oberleutnant-zur-See (Lieutenant) Friedrich Heuser, Section Leader.  
  Division III (Seaman's Division)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Knappe, Rangefinder Officer.  
          Oberleutnant-zur-See (Lieutenant) Lippold, a Gunnery Officer.  
Division IV (Seaman's Division)
          Oberleutnant-zur-See (Lieutenant) Hans Kühn, Aircraft Officer.  
  Division VI (Long Range A.A.)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Troll, Long Range A.A. Control Officer.  
          Leutnant-zur-See (Sub-Lieutenant) Doelker, Senior Section Leader.  
          Leutnant-zur-See (Sub-Lieutenant) Andresen, Junior Section Leader.  
  Division VII (Daymen's Division (Funktiondre)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Mihatsch.  
          Leutnant-zur-See (Sub-Lieutenant) Aengeneyndt, After Plotting Room.  
          Leutnant-zur-See (Sub-Lieutenant) Brückner, Junior Section Leader.  
  Division VIII (Gunnery Artificers)  
          Oberleutnant (W) (Lieutenant) Hinz, Technical Officer.  
  Division IX (Navigational Parties)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Krüger.  
  Division X (Technical Division)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) (Lieutenant-Commander (E)) Hasselmeyer, Boiler OFficer.  
  Division XI (Technical Division)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) (Lieutenant-Commander) (E)) Gerhard Junack, Turbine Officer.  (Prisoner of War.)  
  Division XII (Technical Division)  
          Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) (Lieutenant-Commander) (E)) Schock, Damage Control Officer (Leckoffizier).  
          Leutnant-zur-See (Ing.) (Sub-Lieutenant(E)) Leibnitz.  
Gunnery Officers
  Fregattenkapitän (Senior Commander) Adalbert Schneider, 1st Gunnery Officer, Primary Armament.  
  Korvettenkapitän (Commander) Helmut Albrecht, 2nd Gunnery Officer, Secondary Armament.  
  Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Freiherr von Müllenheim-Rechberg, 3rd Gunnery Officer, After Director Tower. (Prisoner of War.)  
  Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Gellert, in charge of all "Flak" weapons.  
  Oberleutnant-zur-See (Lieutenant) Soltau, "Flakleiter," Forward Close Range Weapons.  
  Leutnant-zur-See (Sub-Lieutenant) Ritter, "Flakleiter," After Long Range A.A.  
  Leutnant-zur-See (Sub-Lieutenant) Cardinal, Force Plotting Room.  


Engineer Officers
  Fregattenkapitän (Dipl. Ing.) (Senior Commander (E)) Lehmann, Senior Engineer Officer.  
  Korvettenkapitän (Ing.) (Commander (E)) Freytag, Electrical Officer.  
  Kapitänleutnant (Ing) (Lieutenant-Commander E)) Jahrels, 1st Damage Control Officer.  
  Oberleutnant (Ing.) (Lieutenant (E)) Karl-Ludwig Richter, 2nd Damage Control Officer.  
  Leutnant (Ing.) (Sub-Lieutenant (E)) Tormann.  
  Leutnant (Ing.) (Sub-Lieutenant (E)) Griese.  
  Leutnant (Ing.) (Sub-Lieutenant (E)) Fürle  
  Fähnrich (Ing.) (Midshipman (E)) Stieger, Electrical Workshops.  (Prisoner of War.)  
Administrative Officers and Paymasters
  Fregattenkapitän (V( (Senior Paymaster Commander) Hartkopf, Senior Accountant Officer.  
  Oberleutnant (V( (Paymaster Lieutenant) Tinschendorf, Junior Accountant Officer.  
  Marineoberkriegsgerichtsrat Lange (Deputy Judge Advocate).  
Medical Officers
  Oberstabsarzt (Surgeon Commander) Sr. Hans Günther Busch, Senior Medical Officer.  
  Stabsarzt (Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander) Dr. Krüger.  
  Stabsarzt (Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander) Thiele.  
Meteorological Officers
  Dr. Externbrink (Chef Meteorologe), Senior Meteorological Officer.  
  Dr. Marschall.  
Leutnant (Nautischer Assistent) Lothar Balzer, Junior Meteorological Officer.  (Prisoner of War)
Other Officers about whom particulars are unknown
  Korvettenkapitän (Senior Commander) Max Rollmann.  
  Leutnant-zur-See (Sub-Lieutenant) Saak.  
  Leutnant-zur-See (Sub-Lieutenant) Reiner.  


List of Survivors of "Bismarck"
Rank or Rating.
English Equivalent.
Action Station where known.
Müllenheim-Rechberg, Burkhard von. Kapitänleutnant Lieutenant-Commander After Director Tower
Junack, Gerhard Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) Lieutenant-Commander (E) After Turbine Rooms
Balzer, Lothar Lieutenant (Nautischer Assistent). Meteorological Officer Probably near Bridge
Stiegler, Hans-Georg Fähnrich (Ing.) Midshipman (E) Electrical Workshop
Other Ranks
Behnke, Helmut Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Catapult Launching Apparatus.
Beier, Wilhelm Matrosenobergefreiter Able Seaman Loading Number, Long Range A.A.
Bieder, Walter Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Ammunition Supply, Long Range A.A.
Bloedorn, Erwin Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class
Blum, Herbert Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Damage Control Party
Bornhuse, Hans Joachim Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Magazine Supply Number, 15 cms.
Brinke, Herbert Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class A.A. Supply Number
Budich, Hermann Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class
Burmester, Erich Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class
Chyla, Franz Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Ammunition Supply, Long Range A.A.
Dernbauer, Fritz Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Magazine Supply, 15 cm. No. 3 Port
Doerfer, Johannes Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Electrical Repair Party
Draheim, Willi Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class
Eich, Adolf Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class After Plotting Room
Fahrenbach, Willy Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class
Geierhofer, Aston Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class
Generotsky, Wilhelm Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class Turbine Room
Gräf, Wilhelm Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class After Turbine Room
Gran, Paul Verwaltungefreiter Supply Assistant, 2nd Class Supply
Haberditz, Alois Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Baker
Hager, Werner Matrosenobergefreiter Able Seaman Kammer Number, Secondary Armament
Halke, Franz Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Forward Plotting Room
Heinicke, Heinz Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Oil Fuel Storage Pumps
Hellwig, Johann Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class
Helms, Friedrich Bootsmannsmaat Bo'sun's Mate, 2nd Class
Hepner, Ernst Feuerwerkecsmaat Gunner's Mate, 2nd Class Magazine Supply, Turret "D"
Heuer, Bernhard Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class
Hillen, Paul Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Magazine Supply, No. 3, Starboard, 15 cm.
Hoeft, Fritz Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class ----
Jahn, Herbert Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Battery Deck Fire Party
Janzen, Guenther Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Engine Room Stores
Jucknat, Heinz Matrosenobergefreiter Able Seaman Magazine Supply, Secondary Armament
Junghans, Friedrich Matrosenobergefreiter Able Seaman Gunhouse, Turret "D"
Juricek, Johann Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Engine Room Stores
Kadow, Ernst Mechanikerobergefreiter (G.A.F.) Aircraftsman, 1st Class Ground Staff, Aircraft
Kaselitz, Wilhelm Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Magazine Supply, 15 cm., Forward
Keller, Willi Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Magazine Supply, 38 cm. Forward
Keune, Helmut Schreiberobergefreiter Writer, 1st Class Messenger
Klaes, Theodor Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Gun's Crew, 10.5 cm.
Kniep, Otto Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Refrigerating Plant
Koenig, Heinrich Obermaschinenmaat Mechanician, 1st Class Fire Party, Section VII
Klotzsche, Gerhard Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class Shaft Tunnel
Kuhn, Willi Maschinenobergefreiter Stoker, 1st Class Electrical Workshop
Kühn, Karl Matrosenobergefreiter Able Seaman Ammunition Supply, Long Range A.A.
Kuhnt, Heinrich Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class Turbine Room
Kunkel, Adolf Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Aft Plotting Room
Kunze, Walter Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Ammunition Supply, 10.5 cm.
Langer, Herbert Schreiberhauptgefreiter Leading Writer Writer and Storekeeper
Langerwisch, Kurt Matrosenhauptgefreiter Leading Seaman Gun Layer, Long Range A.A.
Lerch, Rudolf Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class Pinnacle Engines
Liebs, Kurt Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Magazine Supply, 15 cm., No. 2 Starboard
Lust, Werner Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Engine Room attending circulating pumps
Mahlberg, Josef Musikmaat Leading Bandman Ammunition Supply, Long Range A.A.
Martin, Rudolf Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Turbine Room
Mathes, Fritz Bootsmannsmaat Bo'sun's Mate 2nd Class Rangetaker, 3 meter A.A.
May, Fritz Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class A.A. Ammunition Supply Number


Rank or Rating.
English Equivalent.
Action Station where known.
Meurer, Heinz Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Damage Control Party 19
Mielke, Wilhelm Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class ---- 19
Mihsler, Walter Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class ---- 20
Mittendorf, Heinrich Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Ammunition Supply, 15 cm. 18
Müller, Peter Obermaschinenmaat Mechanician, 1st Class Light Maintenance Party 26
Ottlik, Wilhelm Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class In charge of Ventilation Systems 27
Peters, Otto Maschinenobergefreiter Stoker, 1st Class Fire Party on Battery Deck 22
Raatz, Gerhard Maschinenobergefreiter Stoker, 1st Class Electric pumps, etc. 23
Rademann, Ernst Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class First Aid Party 20
Reubold, Erich Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Gun's Crew, No. 3, Port, 15 cm. 18
Riedl, Johann Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Loading Number, Gunhouse, Turret "C" 20
Risse, Ernst Maschinenobergefreiter Stoker, 1st Class Writer 21
Robakowski, Bruno Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Secondary Armament, Ammunition Supply 20
Rohland, Wilhelm Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Engine Room Workshop 19
Römer, Rudolf Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class
Rudeck, Paul Bootsmannsmaat Bo'sun's Mate, 2nd Class After Plotting Room, Primary and Secondary Armament 24
Rühlke, Guenther Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Switch Room, Section IX, Port 18
Rzonca, Bruno Maschinenobergefreiter Stoker, 1st Class Air Compressors 23
Sander, Walter Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Fire Party 20
Schäpe, Gerhard Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class
Schäfer, Walter Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Anti-Gas Party 20
Scheidereiter, Alfred Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class
Schittke, Max Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Gunhouse, No. 3, Starboard, 15 cm. 19
Schmidt, Karl Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class
Schmidt, Wilhelm Obermaschinist Chief Mechanician, 1st Class In Charge of  Damage Control Party 31
Schmidt, Eduard Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Boiler Room 21
Scholz, Wilhelm Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class
Schreimaier, Karl Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Turbo-Generators, Section XIV 21
Schuldt, Karl-August Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Engine Room Rating 20
Seelig, Heinz Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Rangetaker 21
Seiffert, Herbert Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Turbo-Generator Room 20
Siebert, Rudi Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Anti-Gas Party 19
Sobottka, Hans Mechanikergefreiter Artificer, 2nd Class Armament Workshop 20
Springborn, Hans Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Diesels 21
Statz, Josef Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Messenger, Damage Control Centre 20
Steeg, Heinz Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class Diesel Generators 23
Teetz, Richard Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class
Treinies, Willi Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Magazine Supply Number, Secondary Armament 19
Trenkmann, Kurt-Heinz Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Ammunition Supply Number, Close Range A.A. 20
Wachholz, Hans Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Electric Light Party 20
Walter, Helmut Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class Shaft Tunnel 24
Walter, Herbert Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class
Weintz, Walter Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Damage Control Party 18
Weymann, Hermann Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class Turbine Control Centre 23
Wiesemann, Rudolf, Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Telephone Repair Party 20
Wollbrecht, Erich Matrosenhauptgefreiter Leading Seaman Ammunition Supply, Secondary Armament 23
Wurst, Heinz Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class Admiral's Staff Servant 20
Zickelbein, Bruno Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class Boiler Auxiliary Room, Section XII 19
Zimmermann, Johannes Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class Damage Control Party, Forward 20


Translation from a Diary belonging to Maschinenmaat Willi Gräf
        On Monday, 19th May, 1941, we prepared for sea at 0200 in the harbour of Gotenhafen and proceeded at 27 knots on a westerly course.
At 0930
  The ship proceeded to the northward of Bornholm (Danish).
At 1130
  We proceeded at from 9 to 12 knots into Kiel Bay.  The following ships assembled:  "Bismarck," "Prinz Eugen," two mine-bumpers, destroyers "Friedrich Eckholdt" and "Hans Lody."  The squadron passed the lightship "Fehenarm Belt" at 2100.  From this point course was steered to the Great Belt.
        On Tuesday morning, 20th May, 1941, the mine-bumpers parted company and one destroyer from the "Narvik" Flotilla joined up with us.  Course was continued at 17 knots through the Kattegat to Skagen, three minesweepers ahead of us.
At 1345
  Three drifting mines were sunk by fire and the alarm was given "close watertight doors."  After this the minesweepers parted company and the three destroyers acted as screen for the "Bismarck" and "Prinz Eugen."
At 2030
  War watches were set.
Ar 2050
  The Squadron passed Kristiansand, three destroyers ahead, then "Bismarck" and "Prinz Eugen" in line ahead.
At 2242
  The last German minefield was passed and British reconnaissance aircraft sighted in Bergen.
21.5.41   Off Bergen on the Norwegian coast.
  Clear for action.
  At about 1115 we entered a fjord to the southward of Bergen and anchored at a distance of from 500 to 600 metres from the shore.
  Alarm.  Enemy aircraft from 1330 to 1345.  The weather was perfectly fine so that we could lie on the forecastle in sports kit.  The fjord is surrounded by rocks.
  Prepared for sea again and sailed at 1945.  One hour later we were off the entrance to the Sogne Fjord, we dropped the pilot there and proceeded at 24 knots.
  The destroyers parted company.  We proceeded on a northerly course and at 0700 we came in sight of Trondheim.
  Submarine alarm.  Proceeded the whole day at 24 knots.  In the evening at 2100 we were in 68° N. and 2° W.
  Our course is 266°.  Proceeded through the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland.
  Speed 27 knots, ship's position 180 miles north-east of Iceland.
  Position 68° N., and 11° W.
  Position 68° N., and 15° 30' W.
  The clock was put back one hour.
  Course 250°, speed 24 knots.
  Clear ship for action.  One cruiser of the "London" class in sight.  She proceeded on a parallel course at 24 knots.  "Bismarck" overhauled her.  The Gunnery Officer received permission to open fire and fired three salvos.  The cruiser disappeared out of sight and later on four cruisers were in the vicinity and two cruisers opened fire on each other.  Later on the cruisers were astern of us and a periscope was sighted.  The submarine submerged and the cruisers disappeared out of sight.
  Action ceased.
  Ship's position 66° N., and 28° W.
  Alarm and at 0440 the enemy opened fire.  There were two battleships.  "Bismarck" returned the fire.  At the first salvo the "Hood" was struck and set on fire.  After the second salvo the ship blew up and sank within six minutes.  The second ship was also on fire and turned away.
  Alarm.  Enemy aircraft.  The enemy came up with 10 aircraft, and endeavoured to deceive us by firing our recognition signals, they were, however, recognised and driven off.
At 1507
  Ship's position was 59° N., and 36° W.  Course 180°.
  Course 180°.
  Position 51° N., and 36 ° W.
  Twenty torpedo aircraft, 18 torpedoes fired.


    Position of ship 56° N., 35° W.
    Ship's position 54° N., and 34° W.
  Position 52° N., and 28° W.
  52° N., and 27° W.
  On 25th May, 1941, from noon onwards the enemy was out of sight.
  Action stations.
  Enemy squadron in sight in the distance.
  Aircraft alarm.
  Six torpedo aircraft.
  Submarine surfaced and fire was opened on her, doubtful whether she was sunk.
  British aircraft report by W/T that the are being attacked by German fighters.  Position of ship 48° N., and 14° W.
  Course 120°.
Diary ends


Translation of a diary belonging to another survivor of "Bismarck"
  Left Gotenhafen.
    During the night of 19th/20th May passed through the Great Belt into the Kattegat.
    During the day of the 20th up till 0500 of the 21st May passed through the Skagerrak and off the Norwegian coast.
  Weighed anchor.  Proceeded on a northerly course.
  Passed the 64th degree of latitude.  Proceeded through the passage between Norway and the Shetland Islands.
  Passed the 66th degree of latitude.
  Passed the Arctic Circle.
  Sighted a mine.  Our course has so far been 0°.
  Altered course to 324°.
  Alarm.  Periscope.
    Aircraft alarm.
  Off Iceland in the direction of Jan Mayten Island.
  Commenced the passage through the Denmark Strait.
  Opened fire.
  (ship's time), 120 miles south of Greenland.
  Alarm.  Battle cruiser "Hood" sunk after six minutes.  Range 18,000 to 20,000.
  Sunk off Iceland 42,100 B.R.T.  Great jubilation.
  "Prinz Eugen" proceeded away to refuel.  We are alone with five enemy units.
  Action with a heavy cruiser of the "London" class, but she turns away.
  Attacked by torpedo, which passes us to starboard.
    Attacked by bombs and torpedoes.  During the course of the afternoon we shot down four enemy aircraft.
  Two bombs were dropped but without doing any appreciable damage.  Of 16 torpedoes none did any damage except two which struck the side of the ship, but without penetrating.  The ship was steered from Compartment 2.  One casualty.
  The Commander-in-Chief addressed the crew.
  "Bismarck" has reached the declared area of German U-Boats, but there is little chance of meeting with British main forces, but it is probable that German U-Boats will be encountered.
  Ship's position 53° 56' N., and 30° 27' W.
  Ship's position 52° 14' N., 27° 16' W.


  Ship's position 58° 16' N., and 23° 16' W.
  Ship's position 49° 48' N., and 22° 42' W.
  Aircraft alarm.
1040 to 1100
  Aircraft alarm.
  Aircraft alarm.
  Sighted small cruiser of the "Southampton" class, but she turned away.
  Ship's position 480 miles west of Finisterre.
  Battleships "Nelson" and "Rodney" are 240 miles astern of us, they have apparently made an error in our course.  Luck is essential.
  Aircraft alarm.
  (Note.  The next page has been torn out.)
  Hit in No. 2 Compartment.  Hand steering gear out of action.  We are steering with the engines.  The main and auxiliary armament is still functioning.  Several aircraft shot down.
  The Captain gave orders for our aircraft to start.
  Enemy aircraft have gone.
  One cruiser and several destroyers surround us.
  Sank one destroyer.
  Wireless message from the Führer to battleship "Bismarck":  "All our thoughts are with our victorious comrades."  Signed Führer and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.  We are proceeding on a zig-zag course in order to evade the enemy, three destroyers, one cruiser and "King George V."  
  From the Commander-in-Chief to the Captain, please inform the crew that early in the morning 81 "Ju. 87" will join us.  In addition two tugs and one tanker.  The U-Boats have received orders to close with "Bismarck."  K.I. has already arrived.
  One of the enemy has opened fire on us, but we do not reply.  The ship is well darkened.
  "Bismarck" fired two salvos at an unknown ship which opened fire on us.  It is now 0307.  Everyone is eagerly awaiting the aircraft promised by the Führer.  The ship is rolling heavily.
  The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, by order of the Führer, has awarded to Korvettenkapitän (Commander) Schneider, First Gunnery Officer, the Knight Insignia of the Iron Cross in recognition of his work in connection with the sinking of the battle cruiser "Hood."
  Our aircraft took off.
    One enemy unit, destroyers and cruiser in sight.
Diary ends.
  (C42092)            1438       8/41  



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