Interesting scenarios posed by Paul also RF. Think of the carrier Glorious, quickly sunk by Scharnhorst, at maximum range too. Victorious would suffer the same fate
Resuming my story, what happened after the sinking of Hood -
An air of tension gripped our ship knowing that the Bismarck was coming. Next day we overheard bad news on the bridge, that she`d slipped away from the ship shadowing her.
Later, talk of the many Naval ships out looking for her –Battleships, Aircraft Carriers etc. Later came reports they`d found her, and of Torpedo attacks on Bismarck by Fleet Air Arm Swordfish. The part I remember well was on the night of the 26th when the Captain came on again saying; “Bismarck is closing fast on this convoy from a Northerly direction. I expect contact about dawn, 0500. Exeter will engage her with guns and torpedoes to protect the convoy. If necessary I shall ram her
!” (Obviously a suicide attack) That was in the late evening, and I was on watch until midnight. During that watch our escorting Tribal destroyers were sent off to attack Bismarck. While we went to our hammocks expecting to be woken for action stations, probably our last ever!
However we were dead tired so we slept away; then were woken for a normal watch call at 0345...relieved to know we would live a bit longer and wondering what exactly had happened. Then we heard that Bismarck had altered course during the night and therefore had missed us by a mere forty eight miles! Next morning a battle of giants raged to the East; dramatic news came, first that she was crippled; then Captain Bell told us that Bismarck was Sunk, her crew having fought to the bitter end. (Unspoken, was that they were brave seamen)
HMS Hood was avenged, and we were all very relieved.
Exeter’s crew were sure those two enemy warships came out to have ‘a go’ at WS8B. Afterwards, we were shadowed around to Durban where the convoy stayed for 3 days, then all the way up to Suez.
Here they mounted a daring night bombing attack, from Crete, on the anchored ships; the big liner Georgic was burnt out and became a total loss, Fortunately the troops had disembarked that day. I think that was at the start of July, so the voyage took under 6 weeks.
One of two Photos I possess of my time on Exeter.
She rests, like Bismarck, down in Davy Jones Locker.
To Members of this Forum - I’m pleased to put this record in the public domain.