Friday, May 27, 2011
History stuff: Sink the Bismarck?
With her steering jammed and her speed slashed by torpedo attacks, the Bismarck and her crew of 2,200 were a sitting duck for the Royal Navy.
And in two hours the German battleship was a helpless wreck of twisted metal, raging fires and dead and dying crew.
But the ship’s agony was not over. After the bombardment by British battleships, she was finished off by torpedoes, slipping under the Atlantic with all but 200 of those aboard.
For the Royal Navy it was a triumph – revenge for the Bismarck’s destruction of the pride of the fleet, HMS Hood, days earlier.
But the son of one of the British sailors who saw Bismarck’s end 70 years ago today has come forward to claim that the battle might have ended very differently – because the German crew tried to surrender at the height of the bombardment.
Tommy Byers, a sailor on the British battleship Rodney, maintained until he died that the ship, which was sunk hundreds of miles off the coast of Brittany, France, hoisted a black flag – the naval sign calling for parley.
He and a second seaman also saw a Morse code flash, which they interpreted as surrender, along with a man waving semaphore flags conveying the same message.
Royal Navy officers were made aware of the signs but were determined to follow Winston Churchill’s order to ‘sink the Bismarck’. The Prime Minister wanted to avenge the Hood, on which all but three of its 1,418 crew had died.
Had the Bismarck been captured, the lives of hundreds of Germans could have been saved. The ship would also have been a prized catch, giving Navy engineers an insight into the design of Bismarck’s mighty sistership, Tirpitz.
The revelation has been unearthed by author Iain Ballantyne for a book about the Bismarck which has been published 70 years after the sinking on May 27, 1941...
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1391220/Should-sunk-Bismarck-Tormented-sailor-reveals-German-sailors-tried-surrender-ship-destroyed-costing-2-000-lives.html#ixzz1NY9sglGZ