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Summation of Battle Phase Two

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 2:10 am
by Robert J. Winklareth
Hi all,

This is the second part of my summation of the Battle of the Denmark Strait, and it deals with the actions involving primarily the engagement between Bismarck and Prince of Wales and the subsequent withdrawal of the opposing forces from the scene of battle. The evidence presented herein is based on primary source documents as well as the writings of internationally recognized naval historians and professionals who are noted for their expertise on the subject matter.

Let's first look at the narrative evidence. The most credible account of Phase II of the battle from the German side is provided in the Baron's book "Battleship Bismarck - A Survivor's Story." In that book, the Baron wrote: "When the Hood had gone, our heavy guns were ordered to shift to left target (Prince of Wales). Because our courses were converging, the range soon closed to 14,000 meters and the Prince of Wales was taking shells from both German ships."

The Baron went on to say: "The action did not last much longer. Clearly, it was telling on the Prince of Wales and she turned away to the southeast, laying down a smoke screen to cover her withdrawal. When the range increased to 22,000 meters, Lutjens gave the command to cease firing on the Prince of Wales." That was the extent of the Baron's comments regarding the latter phase of the battle.

It is obvious from the Baron's recollections that the Bismarck continued on the same course while firing at the retreating Prince of Wales after the British battleship turned away from the scene of action. The Baron also reported that "Apparently Lindemann wanted to pursue and destroy the hard-hit enemy, and Lutjens rejected the idea." If any turn at all had been contemplated at the time, it would have been to port to pursue the Prince of Wales.

The most authoritative account of the battle from the British side is that provided by Vice-Admiral B.B. Schofield in his book "Loss of the Bismarck." Admiral Schofield had access to Admiralty records on the action, and he was assisted in the preparation of his book by the staffs of the Admiralty, the Imperial War Museum, and the Royal United Service Institute. He also collaborated with the Baron in the preparation of the Baron's book "Battleship Bismarck."

Admiral Schofield wrote that after the Hood had blown up: "Captain Leach in the Prince of Wales had to swing his ship rapidly to starboard to avoid the wreck of the Hood. It was only a matter of a minute before a 15-inch shell struck the bridge structure, wrecking it and killing or wounding everyone on it except Captain Leach and his Chief Yeoman of Signals. During the next few minutes, the Prince of Wales received a further six hits, three from 15-inch and three from 8-inch shell."

Admiral Schofield went on to say: "The range was now down to 14,500 yards, and with the enemy's rate and accuracy of fire apparently unimpaired, at 0613 Captain Leach decided to break off the action and retire under cover of smoke. The Bismarck did not attempt to continue the action. Admiral Lutjens apparently decided to continue into the North Atlantic in the hope of throwing off his shadowers and then make for a port on the west coast of France, bearing in mind that only at St. Nazaire was there a dry dock large enough to take the Bismarck."

The Prinz Eugen War Diary (Logbook) entry for 24 May 1941 includes reports by the Prinz Eugen's skipper, Captain Helmut Brinkmann, First Gunnery Officer, Commander Paulus Jasper, and Second Gunnery Officer, Lt. Commander Paul Schmalenbach. For Phase II of the battle, Brinkmann reported merely: "0601. Both ships concentrate fire on King George V (actually Prince of Wales). This ship steers between us and the sinking Hood, and after swinging around Hood, makes smoke and breaks off the fight. 0620. Ceased fire."

Jasper reported on Phase II: "During the 8th salvo, the enemy (Prince of Wales) turned sharply toward us. (about 0601). I then observed a salvo from the main armament of the Bismarck, which had switched targets (from the Hood to the Prince of Wales), that covered the enemy ship. Immediately thereafter, the enemy turned hard in the opposite direction. The ship emitted black smoke and tried to obscure itself from view."

Jasper went on to say: "At the 28th salvo, the Prinz Eugen turned so far away that the target (Prince of Wales) was obscured by funnel smoke. During the battle, our own ship turned hard three times . Firing continued during these turns. Bismarck came directly into our line of fire during the third maneuver. I then received the order from the ship's command 'Do not shoot over Bismarck' and right after that 'Discontinue firing'."

According to the Prinz Eugen Battle Sketch, the three hard turns occurred between 0603 and 0606 with the last turn occurring at 0606. The broadside photograph of the Bismarck was probably taken at about 0605, but with both ships firing somewhat forward of their port beams, the Bismarck would not have been in the Prinz Eugen's line of fire until 0606. It would have taken the Bismarck another three minutes to clear the Prinz Eugen's line of fire, so the cruiser never had a chance to resume firing before the formal cease fire was declared at 0609 to end the battle.

Apparently as an afterthought Jasper added: "Firing was ceased at 0609." From Jasper's description of the battle, it is certain that the Bismarck came up on the port side of the Prinz Eugen when the cruiser continued to fire while turning and that she held her fire at about 0606. Jasper probably later added the comment "Firing was ceased at 0609" to correct the inaccurate time of 0620 cited in Captain Brinkmann's report, which had already been typed earlier.

In the Prinz Eugen War Diary, Schmalenbach described the hits that had been scored by the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen on the Prince of Wales after the German ships had switched targets from the Hood to the British battleship. Schmalenbach then stated that "I looked several times at the Bismarck, but had nothing to report." The implication of that last statement is quite profound since it in itself tells the true story.

Schmalenbach needed to turn his sights only a few degrees to the left to see the Bismarck coming up on the port side of the Prinz Eugen, and he saw that the Bismarck was firing regularly at the Prince of Wales. If the Bismarck had been on the opposite side of the Prinz Eugen, it would have been far more difficult for Schmalenbach to keep such close track of the flagship and the situation would not have been so normal as to have "nothing to report" under the circumstances.

In an article for "Warship Profile 6" published in April 1971, Paul Schmalenbach wrote: "After the Hood had been destroyed, the fire of the German ships was concentrated on the Prince of Wales, which received four hits from the Bismarck and three from the Prinz Eugen. The Prince of Wales broke off the engagement but maintained contact with the German ships, as did the Norfolk and Suffolk."

In his book "Prinz Eugen im ersten Gefecht," Lt. Commander Fritz Otto Busch, an observer aboard the Prinz Eugen during the operation, tells of the Bismarck firing at the Prince of Wales and then the British battleship "mindlessly turning away from the scene of battle under a cloud of black smoke just to escape as fast as possible the accurate fire of the Bismarck. The very severe battle lasted only for 24 minutes from 0545 until 0609 when the German ships ceased fire."

Ludovic Kennedy in his book "Pursuit" tells a story about Phase II of the battle that is similar to the Baron's account. Kennedy wrote that after the Hood had blown up: "Now the two German ships turned back, confident, assertive, weaving in and out of Prince of Wales shell splashes, dancing and side-stepping like boxers who suddenly sense victory in the blood. For after only another twelve minutes of battle, Prince of Wales had enough." Kennedy then described the hits received and damage sustained by the Prince of Wales thus far in the battle.

After rationalizing the course of action that the Prince of Wales had taken, Kennedy continues: "So after firing eighteen salvos, Prince of Wales made smoke and disengaged to the southeast. When the crews of the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were told that Prince of Wales had broken off action and turned away, there was much cheering and shouting, joy at victory and relief at survival."

The significance of the above descriptions of the battle from both sides is that there is not the slightest indication that the Bismarck ever deviated from her straight-line course of about 210 degrees throughout the entire engagement, nor did the Bismarck turn away from the Prince of Wales to avoid further damage and "live to fight another day," as some believe.

Now let us examine the graphical evidence of the case. Paul Schmalenbach prepared a diagram on the Battle of the Denmark Strait for "Warship Profile 6" on the Prinz Eugen published in 1971. In that diagram, he showed the Bismarck on the port side of the Prinz Eugen from 0601 to beyond 0609, when the Bismarck ceased fire on the Prince of Wales. While Schmalenbach later prepared other versions of the battle diagram, only this first version has stood the test of time.

The Baron adopted the original Schmalenbach diagram for use in the latest editions of his book "Battleship Bismarck - A Survivor's Story," an English version published in 1990 and a German version published in 1999. German historians, Ulrich Elfrath and Bodo Herzog, also showed the Bismarck to the port side of the Prinz Eugen from 0600 to beyond 0609 in their highly detailed battle diagram for the book "Battleship Bismarck - A Documentary in Words and Pictures."

It is now well established that the Bismarck was on the port side of the Prinz Eugen during Phase I, and specifically, she was several hundred yards off the port quarter of the Prinz Eugen at 0601.0 when Phase II began. The Bismarck was also on the port side of the Prinz Eugen after the battle, as shown in the many photographs taken of her as the Prinz Eugen passed on the starboard side of the Bismarck to again take the lead of the German squadron.

If the Bismarck had ever been on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen during the engagement, she would have had to make two crossovers with a loop in between. Schmalenbach knew that the Bismarck was on the port side of the Prinz Eugen during Phase II of the battle because he often looked at the Bismarck as she was gradually coming up on the port side of the cruiser, so he relegated the two crossovers and the intervening loop to Phase I of the battle.

Schmalenbach cited the time for the crossovers as being between 0555 and 0600 when he did not have direct sight of the Bismarck since the flagship was still astern of the Prinz Eugen. If the crossovers had occurred in Phase II, the first crossover from port to starboard would have had to be made after 0601 when the Bismarck was still several yards off the starboard quarter of the Prinz Eugen, and the second crossover from starboard back to port would have had to be made before the Prinz Eugen rejoined the Bismarck after the battle.

Other German naval historians, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke, provided a battle diagram in their book "Battleships of the Bismarck Class," which shows the Bismarck on the port side of the Prinz Eugen throughout the entire engagement. The two books by Fritz Otto Busch, "Prinz Eugen im ersten Gefecht" and "Das Geheimnis der Bismarck," have only artistic scenes of the battle that do not separate the two German ships and therefore cannot be used
for comparison purposes.

The Prinz Eugen's Battle Sketch shows that the cruiser maintained a steady course of 220 degrees throughout the engagement until 0603, when she began to turn to starboard, purportedly to avoid torpedoes fired by the British force. This reason given for this maneuver is highly questionable since the British did not fire any torpedoes, and the sound of torpedoes, being higher pitched than ship's screws, should have been readily distinguishable from other noises.

The torpedo avoidance procedures supposedly employed by the Prinz Eugen were not in accordance with the normal practice of turning toward the enemy (in this case to port) to comb the tracks of the incoming torpedoes. In fact, the turn to starboard followed shortly thereafter by a reciprocal turn to port would have continued to expose the full length of the Prinz Eugen to any incoming torpedoes.

There is a more rational explanation of the maneuvers of the Prinz Eugen after 0602. With the Bismarck coming up on the port side of the Prinz Eugen and still being under fire by the Prince of Wales, some of Prince of Wales salvos were short and others were over. The Prinz Eugen simply wanted to put more lateral distance between herself and the Bismarck to avoid from accidentally being hit by "overs" fired by the Prince of Wales at the Bismarck

This was a wise decision since at least two "overs" landed between the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen as shown by their splashes in Photos NH697728 and Bundesarchiv 68/15/12. Those photographs were probably taken at about 0606-0607 since the shells had to have been fired from the rear turret of the Prince of Wales while under local control after 0604, but before the rear turret jammed during her final turn to 160 degrees while withdrawing from the scene at 0608.

Now let's look at the photographic evidence. Photograph NH69730 was taken at 0601.0, making it the first photograph of Phase II. As described in the Phase I account, NH69730 shows the Bismarck when she was directly off the port quarter of the Prinz Eugen at 0601.0 after coming up on the port side of the cruiser. In NH69730, the turrets of the Bismarck have been calculated to be aimed 12-15 degrees forward of her port beam.

The broadside view of the Bismarck, showing the German battleship directly off the port beam of the Prinz Eugen while passing the cruiser, clearly follows Photo NH69730 in the sequence of battle photographs. The direction of fire in this photograph, about 15 degrees forward of the port beam, is consistent with that shown in NH69730. This photograph is positive proof that the Bismarck was on the port side of the Bismarck during the latter phase of the battle.

We now come to the issue of the six still photographs showing the Bismarck on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen. Twenty years ago, when I was trying to put together a slide program on the Bismarck, I was faced with a dilemma. I had four slides showing the Bismarck sailing from left to right and six slides showing the Bismarck sailing from right to left. I could arrange each set of slides chronologically by eye, but I could not merge the two sets together to form a contiguous series of views of the Bismarck during the battle.

That seemed to be impossible since the battle lasted only 13 minutes, and with 10 photographs having been taken of the Bismarck during the battle, that averaged out to nearly one picture per minute. They just had to fit. I tried arranging the slides every which way, but to no avail - they just didn't fit together in any sort of a logical sequence. Paul Schmalenbach had written a number of books and articles on the battle, but he never showed the photographs in any chronological sequence, so I had nothing to go on.

Then on a hunch, I decided to turn the last six slides backward so that the Bismarck would be sailing in the same direction, from left to right, as in the first four slides. Voila! The last six slides now matched perfectly with the first four slides and formed a contiguous series of views showing the Bismarck sailing in a straight line from far astern of the Prinz Eugen, coming up on the port side of the cruiser, passing the Prinz Eugen, and gradually advancing ahead of the flagship.

This sequence of the photographs in their proper orientation can be seen on: ... areth.html

When the slides were projected in that sequence, they were obviously a perfect fit since they showed the smooth progression of the Bismarck on the port side of the Prinz Eugen. The probability of that happening with any random set of slides is nearly zero, so they must have been reflecting the truth of the matter. It now became apparent that the six photographs had to have been printed in reverse, and every new discovery has further reinforced that point of view.

When I showed the two sets of photographs, one oriented as originally published and the other with the last six photographs reversed, to the Editorial Staff at the U.S. Naval Institute Press, they readily recognized the validity of my conclusion and suggested that I prepare an article for their magazine "Naval History" to explain my analysis. This became unnecessary with their subsequent decision to publish my book "The Bismarck Chase."

In seeking further validation of my concept of the battle, I sent a copy of my manuscript to Ludovic Kennedy, author of the Bismarck book "Pursuit." He commented: "I am sure that you are right in concluding from a look of the prints they were printed the wrong way round. There is no other explanation." Sir Ludovic Kennedy subsequently wrote: "No doubt you have been in contact with Jurgen Rohwer the German naval historian of the Second World War."

I recognized the name of Jurgen Rohwer as the source of the battle diagram in the Baron's first book on the Bismarck in English. Jurgen Rohwer was also mentioned by Vice-Admiral B.B. Schofield in his book "Loss of the Bismarck" as the source of the diagrams of the Bismarck's movements used in the Admiral's own book. After I obtained his address, I sent Jurgen Rohwer a copy of my manuscript and related material for his review.

Jurgen Rohwer was credited with the battle diagram in the original version of the Baron's book "Battleship Bismarck - A Survivor's Story," published in 1980. In that diagram, he showed the Bismarck crossing over from port to starboard at about 0603 and crossing back over from starboard to port at about 0607. This diagram was apparently based on the fact that six of the battle photographs showed the Bismarck on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen.

Prof. Dr. Jurgen Rohwer is regarded as the most knowledgeable expert on the Bismarck operation still alive. When I pointed out to him the possibility of the six photographs having been printed in reverse, he checked out my concept of the battle with the Bismarck Archives held in the Library of Contemporary History in Stuttgart It was not until six months later that he finally responded to my letter and told me that my arguments regarding the battle were well founded and that he thought that I was right about the photographs having been reversed.

Dr. Rohwer could have brushed me off as a totally unknown American without any credentials as a historian or writer who would presume to know more about the Battle of the Denmark Strait than the British and German naval experts involved. He could have regarded my unsolicited manuscript as a completely worthless document, devoid of any meaningful information concerning the battle. He could have, but he did not, probably because he instinctively knew that there was something basically wrong with the previous accounts of the battle.

Dr. Rohwer not only agreed with my findings, but he also felt that they were so important that they should be published. Putting his own professional reputation on the line, he endorsed the publication of "The Bismarck Chase" and arranged to have my manuscript reviewed by his publisher, Robert Gardiner of Chatham Publishing in London. Chatham agreed to publish the book, and the U.S. Naval Institute accepted the book for publication and distribution in the United States.

When I presented my views on the photographs to the German Office of Military History Research in Potsdam, they agreed with my interpretation that the six photographs in question showed the Bismarck firing to starboard. They stated: "You are definitely right concerning the fact that these photographs have been printed in reverse and so, as shown in several publications and documents, give a false impression of the battle between the British forces and Bismarck/Prinz Eugen."

Over the last three years, my point of view, especially in regard to the six reversed photographs, has been challenged by various sources on this and other web sites. I realized that it would be almost impossible to convince others on the validity of my analysis strictly on the basis of a visual comparison of the six starboard photographs, especially if they did not have ready access to all of the photographic evidence. The six photographs in question are basically silhouette views of the Bismarck with little detail to determine with any degree of certainty the orientation of the Bismarck.

I therefore acquired glossy prints from the U.S. Naval Historical Center of three photographs that seemed to have the best potential for resolving the issue.
Photographs NH69727 and NH69728 were disappointing since after scanning them at a high magnification, I still could not make out sufficient detail to positively establish the orientation of the Bismarck in those views. Some, however, claim that they could make out the turret faces on the forward turrets of the Bismarck in NH69727 and the gun barrels on the forward turrets of the Bismarck in NH69728.

I can only assume that those who saw the reported features on the forward turrets of the Bismarck in those two photographs were mislead by the pattern of dots inherent in published halftone photographs. No one has yet refuted my observations on the basis of glossy prints or other high resolution images, so it appears that the persons who believe that they saw those features may have had overactive imaginations.

While glossy prints of NH69727 and NH69728 did not prove to be of value, NH69726 was another matter. Similar to NH69730, this photograph also shows the Bismarck silhouetted by the flash of her guns. Also like NH69730, this photograph clearly shows the flash of the Bismarck's guns to be on the far side of the ship with the near side completely in the shadow of the flash, but in this case, the far side was the starboard side of the Bismarck. This is clear-cut proof that NH69726 had been printed in reverse.

NH69726 not only proves that the photograph had been printed in reverse, it also clearly shows the orientation of the Bismarck as sailing away from the Prinz Eugen. By comparing an enlargement of the ship with the photograph of the port quarter view of the Bismarck published in "Battleship Bismarck" by Ulrich Elfrath and Bodo Herzog, you can readily see the similarity of light patterns caused by reflection of light sources off the starboard side of the ship in both cases.

To be more specific, two sides of the tower mast of the Bismarck are shown in NH69726, the side to the left being in the shadow and the side on the right being illuminated by the flash. This phenomenon could occur only in a port quarter view which would show the rear of the tower mast illuminated on the right side only. If the Bismarck had been sailing toward the Prinz Eugen, both sides would be in the shadow of the flash, the front face to the left and the port side to the right.

All of the other patterns of reflected light from the flash of the Bismarck's guns are also consistent with only a port quarter view of the ship, not a port bow view. Those other patterns of light include the edge of the splinter shield for the upper AA position on the forward part of the tower mast, the dome-covered forward port side AA director adjacent to the port side of the tower mast, and the two identical patterns representing the center and rear 150mm (5.9-inch) gun turrets and barbettes just above the deck on the port side of the ship.

No one has yet been able to prove that the Bismarck was sailing toward the Prinz Eugen by describing the structural features that would have caused the same patterns of light to be reflected from the flash of the Bismarck's guns regardless of their orientation.

We now come to the film evidence. While Lagemann was taking the six still photographs during the last few minutes of the battle, another photographer was taking the motion picture film of the battle. It is quite obvious that the six starboard still pictures and the battle film were all taken during the same general time frame, most probably in the four-minute period from 0606 to 0609, and they are directly related to each other.

The starboard still photographs and the battle film all show the Bismarck in the same general orientation off the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen with only a slight variation in inclination among the different views of the Bismarck as the flagship moved ahead. When looking at the film being projected, one get the distinct impression that the Bismarck is several hundred yards off the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen and is sailing slightly ahead of her cruiser consort.

A comparison of the still photographs with the battle film shows a direct correlation between the two sources. Each of the still photographs is nearly identical to one of the frames from the battle film in at least four instances where such a comparison can be made. It is possible that additional frames of the battle film can be made available for further analysis, but even what we have now proved to be very enlightening.

When looking at the sequences where the flash from the Bismarck firing her guns becomes evident, one can notice that the brightness of the flash literally "burns" (overexposes) the film at first, but then it gradually subsides and seems to disappear on the far (starboard) side of the ship. It is there that the huge smoke cloud seems to form and progressively develop and grow.

The forward views of the Bismarck firing broadsides at the British ships show the huge cloud of black smoke that forms when the hot gasses producing the flash cool down and form a cloud of smoke from the products of combustion. The size of this cloud of smoke is almost 100 yards high and 200 yards outward from the muzzle of the guns, and it extends along the surface of the water for almost its entire length.

When one looks again at the side views of the Bismarck, one can imagine that huge cloud of smoke extending forward toward the Prinz Eugen and what it would obscure, especially along the waterline. Since the smoke cloud is coming toward the camera, its size would appear to be even greater than as seen in the frontal views, and it should therefore obscure much of the ship, including the waterline area.

In viewing the still photographs and the frames of the battle film, one sees no huge cloud of smoke coming toward the camera. In fact, the waterline seems to be completely free of any smoke in all of those scenes. The size of the smoke cloud is, however, consistent with the guns being fired to starboard, away from the camera, which would reduce the apparent size of the smoke cloud and leave the waterline area free of any smoke.

One must therefore conclude that this is further proof that the Bismarck was firing to starboard in all of the six still pictures in question as well as in all of the frames of the battle film. Since we know that the British ships were always to port of the German squadron, the still photographs and battle film showing the Bismarck on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen had to have been printed in reverse. This fact seems to have been lost by those holding opposing views of the battle.

Obviously, the German's did not recognize the fact that the six starboard views of the Bismarck had been printed in reverse. It must have been frustrating for Paul Schmalenbach not to be able to prepare consistent diagrams of the battle and not be able to arrange the photographs in their proper chronological sequence in the several publications that he wrote or contributed to due to the conflicting evidence.

There are also many indications of confusion among persons in authority as well as other authors and historians as a result of the conflicting evidence of the battle. One example is Vice-Admiral Schmundt's criticism of Captain Brinkmann's failure to place the lightly armored Prinz Eugen on the lee side of the Bismarck during the battle. How could Brinkmann have taken such action if Admiral Lutjens had actually taken the initiative and turned to starboard before the Prinz Eugen, placing the cruiser in the direct line of fire from the Prince of Wales.

Some still believe that the six starboard photographs and the battle film were printed in their correct orientation. They therefore had to devise some scenario that would encompass the six photographs and battle film showing the Bismarck on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen. This meant that the Bismarck, initially on the port side of the Prinz Eugen, had to cross over to the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen and later cross back over to the port side again.

With the recollection of the Bismarck coming up on the port side of the Prinz Eugen and the order not to shoot over the Bismarck, Schmalenbach had to relegate the period between the two crossovers to the initial phase of the battle between 0555 and 0600. During that period, he did not have the Bismarck in his direct view, so he included the maneuver in that time frame in his 1971 diagram for Warship Profile 6 on the Prinz Eugen.

A year later, however, Schmalenbach presented a different diagram for Warship Profile 18 on the Bismarck showing the Bismarck turn off to starboard at 0545 and back to port again at about 0610. In 1978, Schmalenbach presented a third version of the battle diagram for his book "Kreuzer Prinz Eugen Unter 3 Flaggen." In that diagram, the Bismarck is shown turning to starboard at 0603 and back to port again at 0608. This further illustrates the confusion generated by the six photographs printed in reverse.

I believe that we can all dismiss the idea that the two crossovers occurred between 0555 and 0600 because of the evidence provided by the Prince of Wales Salvo Plot and the Prinz Eugen Battle Sketch, as well as the photographic evidence. I also believe that there is general agreement that the Bismarck was off the port quarter of the Prinz Eugen at 0601 as shown in Photo NH69730. That means that, if she turned at all, the Bismarck would have had to turn to starboard at 0602 to cross over the Prinz Eugen's track at 0603.

There is precious little evidence of the Bismarck ever making such a turn. True, Admiralty Report ADM116/4352 states: "It now seems probable that the enemy turned away at the same time as Prince of Wales, and about two enemy salvos were seen short during this period. Also, The Prince of Wales Salvo Plot shows a small curve to starboard at the end of the Bismarck's projected track during the battle, but that is hardly solid evidence that the Bismarck ever made such a turn to starboard. Admiral Schofield and Ludovic Kennedy certainly did not consider such a turn to be a viable possibility.

It is also true that there was a brief comment by Prinz Eugen war artist, Lt. Julius C. Schmitz in the book "Prinz Eugen im ersten Gefecht" that the Bismarck was "in a slight starboard staggered position in relation to Prinz Eugen." Since Schmitz painted a water color from the reversed photograph NH69728, which was later published in the German military magazine "Signal," it is possible that he was also influenced by that orientation in his later recollections. No mention is made of the Bismarck being on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen by Captain Brinkmann, Jasper, Schmalenbach, or the author of the book, Fritz Otto Busch.

To be sure, the captions of certain photographs that had been printed in reverse in some publications state that they show the Bismarck on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen or turning to the starboard side of the cruiser. Those captions by the authors or editors of those publication merely reflect what is seen in the photographs and do not in themselves constitute proof that the Bismarck had actually been on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen when the photographs were taken.

Despite the massive evidence to the contrary, some still believe that the Bismarck did actually turn to starboard away from the Prince of Wales at about the same time that the Prince of Wales withdrew from the scene of battle. The basis for this turn is totally fallacious for the reasons cited below.

The German ships had the Prince of Wales at a distinct disadvantage at the time since the British battleship had to fight two modern enemy ships by herself, one a powerful new battleship with eight 15-inch guns and the other a new heavy cruiser which could fire her eight 8-inch guns at the rate of 4-5 rounds per minute. In contrast, the Prince of Wales had at the most only seven or eight operational 14-inch guns with gun crews that were not fully trained..

There was absolutely no need for the Bismarck to turn away from the scene of battle. The Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had been pounding the Prince of Wales without receiving any hits in return. The Bismarck had scored four hits on the Prince of Wales in only two minutes from 0600.5 to 0602.5. Admiral Lutjens would certainly have not turned away from the Prince of Wales under those circumstances, especially when the Prince of Wales herself was withdrawing from the scene of battle.

There was no refuge to the west, only the coast of Greenland with her foreboding icecap only a few miles away. If additional heavy Royal Navy units happened upon the scene, the Bismarck would have been hopelessly trapped. A turn to starboard at that time would have been absolutely senseless. The only recourse open to the German squadron was to get past the Prince of Wales and head south into the North Atlantic. There they could rendezvous with a German tanker and refuel before commencing raiding operations.

We know from her Battle Sketch that the Prinz Eugen did turn to starboard at 0603.0. If the Bismarck had already turned in that direction and was crossing the wake of the Prinz Eugen at that time, the Bismarck would have been on a collision course with the cruiser, which by then was only a few hundred yards away. The Prinz Eugen would certainly not have had made such a hazardous maneuver, even under the threat of enemy torpedoes approaching.

A precipitous turn to starboard would have left the Prinz Eugen exposed in the direct fire from the heavy 14-inch guns of the Prince of Wales, which was still a formidable foe. Leaving the Prinz Eugen on the exposed side of the Bismarck was contrary to German standard naval operating procedures that prescribed that lighter units, such as cruisers, be positioned on the lee (protected) side of battleships. Admiral Lutjens was not a coward, and he never would have left the Prinz Eugen in that predicament nor blatantly disobeyed naval directives.

The Baron made no mention of such a turn in his description of the battle, nor did any other Bismarck survivor. Neither did Brinkmann, Schmalenbach, Busch, nor for that matter, any other Prinz Eugen crew member, make any mention of such a turn by the Bismarck during the battle. You would think that, if the Bismarck had actually made such a significant turn away from the Prince of Wales during the height of the battle, there would have been some mention made of it.

There are no photographs showing the Bismarck in the process of any turns or crossing the wake of the Prinz Eugen, either at the beginning or the end of the period when the Bismarck was purportedly on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen. Nor are there any photographs showing the Bismarck passing to the rear of the Prinz Eugen. Surely Lagemann would have caught these dramatic scenes on film if they had actually occurred.

All of the six photographs with the Bismarck off the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen show the Bismarck already at least 500-600 yards away from the cruiser. How did the Bismarck get in that position without having been caught on film? It must have taken the Bismarck at least 5-6 minutes to reach that distance, and Lagemann was snapping pictures at the average rate of about one per minute throughout the entire battle sequence. So why no photographs?

The purported second crossover at 0608 also has some problems. Some believe that the Bismarck was directly off port beam at 0609, as shown in the broadside view of the Bismarck. Backing off 100 yards travel from 0608 to 0609, that would put the bow of the Bismarck overlapping the stern of the Prinz Eugen at 0608, which is of course ridiculous. Also, the short time indicated for the return of the Bismarck to the port side of the Prinz Eugen is not plausible.

One important aspect of the battle to remember is that the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were always traveling in the same general southwesterly direction toward their objective, even considering the few short turns by the Prinz Eugen. The relative gain by the Bismarck over the Prinz Eugen therefore remains at 100 yards per minute, except that the small turns made by the Prinz Eugen allowed the Bismarck to gain an additional 200-300 yards over the Prinz Eugen.

In an attempt to quantify to process of arranging all of the battle photographs of the Bismarck in their proper chronological sequence, I devised a time-distance analysis technique that precludes the random placement of the photographs in any improper order. No one has yet been able to arrange the photographs in any logical sequence that meets the time constraints of the battle without correcting the orientation of the six reversed photographs.

One final bit of evidence, which seems to have been disregarded by many, is the Prinz Eugen Speed Chart. That graph shows the Prinz Eugen traveling at a steady speed of 27.0 knots (900 yards per minute) throughout the engagement. At 0610.0, immediately after the cease fire, the Prinz Eugen increased her speed to 32.5 knots (1100 yards per minute) for 10 minutes until 0620.0, when she dropped her speed to 30.5 knots (1030 yards per minute).

This clearly indicates that by 0610.0 the Bismarck had gained 600 yards on the Prinz Eugen and that the cruiser needed the extra speed to catch up with the flagship and again take the lead of the German squadron. With a speed differential of 2.5 knots (80 yards per minute) over the Bismarck, which was still traveling at 30.0 knots, the Prinz Eugen closed the 600-yard gap between the two ships in 8 minutes and then moved ahead of the flagship before settling back to a speed of 30.5 knots at 0620.0.

Lagemann waited until the Prinz Eugen was abreast of the Bismarck before resuming his photography of the flagship with a series of views showing the Bismarck as the cruiser passed the flagship to move up to the lead of the German squadron again. The Bismarck was still on the port side of the Prinz Eugen where she had been continuously since the beginning of the battle.

Some have tried to place the broadside view of the Bismarck at the point where the Bismarck fired her last salvo at the Prince of Wales at 0609.0. If the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had been side-by-side at that time, there would have been no need for the Prinz Eugen to increase her speed to 32.5 knots and maintain that speed for ten full minutes as shown in the Prinz Eugen Speed Chart.

Based on all of the above evidence, I have concluded that the Prinz Eugen fired 6 salvos at the Hood from 0555.0 to 0557.0 and then fired an additional 22 salvos at the Prince of Wales from 0558.0 until 0605.0 when she had to hold her fire to avoid shooting over the Bismarck.

After the Hood blew up at 0600.0, the Bismarck also switched targets to the Prince of Wales, immediately taking the British battleship under fire at about 0600.5. For the next two minutes, both sides exchanged fire at a furious pace, but it was now the Prince of Wales which was outnumbered in firepower.

The Prince of Wales took four heavy 15-inch gun hits from the Bismarck in those two minutes as well as an additional three 8-inch gun hits from the Prinz Eugen since the cruiser opened fire. One hit by the Bismarck at 0602.0 wiped out the compass platform and killed everyone at that station except Captain Leach and a rating. This apparently caused a temporary loss of command and control of the ship as well as central fire control over her main guns.

While the other hits were significant, they did not seriously affect the fighting capability of the Prince of Wales, but under the circumstances, the Prince of Wales turned away from the action. According to the Prince of Wales Salvo Plot, the Prince of Wales sailed a meandering course to the southwest for several minutes. Three salvos were fired by the after turret of the Prince of Wales under local control, probably at about 0606-0607, after which the ship retreated from the scene to the south on a course of 160 degrees under a smoke screen,

The Bismarck maintained the course of 210 degrees as she took on the Prince of Wales after the Hood had blown up. Even as the Prince of Wales turned away, the Bismarck still maintained her position on the port side of the Prinz Eugen. At about 0605.0, the Bismarck passed the Prinz Eugen off the port beam of the cruiser, and at 0609.0, the Bismarck ceased fire on the retreating Prince of Wales. The Bismarck made no crossovers and no turns whatsoever.

After the Bismarck ceased fire at 0609.0, Admiral Lutjens ordered Prinz Eugen to move up and again take the lead of the German squadron. The Prinz Eugen's Speed Chart shows that the cruiser increased her speed from 27.0 knots to 32.5 knots at 0610.0 and maintained that speed for ten minutes until 0620.0 when she dropped her speed down to 30.5 knots after catching up to the Bismarck and again taking the lead of the German squadron.

The German squadron then headed south to break out into the North Atlantic with the Prinz Eugen at the lead to end Phase Two of the Battle. Some hours later, the Prinz Eugen was detached to begin commerce raiding on her own, and the Bismarck subsequently eluded the Royal Navy to begin her voyage to St. Nazaire in France for necessary repairs. The Bismarck was later located, crippled in an aerial torpedo attack, and sunk three days later.

Hope that this clarifies the situation.


On the other hand...

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 1:06 am
by George Elder
... there is not much evidence to support the notion that, "It is obvious from the Baron's recollections that the Bismarck continued on the same course while firing at the retreating Prince of Wales after the British battleship turned away from the scene of action." It is hard to devine this from the text itself or in the text of amny of the other sources your have cited, not that I dismiss the possibility. And this issue is, after all, at the crux of the debate between yourself and Antonio -- who has emerged as the leading light of the contrary position. It seems to me that the course heading question is still in play, my friend, although you have certainly made a good summary here.


Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:20 am
by Robert J. Winklareth
Hi George,

How can anyone devine from the Baron's text and other sources that the Bismarck did turn away from the Prince of Wales at the heigth of the battle when everything was going in favor of the Germans and the Prince of Wales herself was calling it quits?

It seems to me that this would have to be a far much harder sell under the circumstances, but I'm willing to listen if anyone else has some new evidence to offer.


George Elder

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:42 am
by George Elder
Hi Rob:

I agree that there is little textual evidence to the contrary, but the PE diary does contain some textual evidence about an ersatz torepdo sound and resultant avoidance move (turn away) shorty after the Hood went down, IIRC. As for what transpired on the Bismarck relative to the PE during this time frame, you folks are going round and round on the photo and film image issues. Currently, my mind is still open, and I respect the work that you and Antonio are trying to do.
That being said, it bothers me when catagorical claims are made on either side because getting at real proof is often more a matter of finding and using verifiable criteria than it is of subjective interpretation and claims. But there is reason to be optomistic here. As I understand it, distance judging criteria/methods are being employed, and the last I knew they spoke of an initial seperation between the the PE and Bismarck of around 2,500 yards. I have not seen the data used to make that judgment, so I cannot make any comment. However, I believe such methods are probably the best to employ because they invite subsequent direct examination by qualified experts -- which I most assuredly am not. As for post-action psychological motives and all that -- I prefer to run away from that approach.
I am sure Antonio will respond to your posting, although I hope we can avoid going over old ground. That may be impossible, at least untill we find a better means of measuring distances, speeds, and headings that are based on the existing evidence. At this stage, we are just starting to see the first steps in that direction, which is a very good thing.


DS battle

Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 4:40 pm
by Antonio Bonomi
Ciao George, Bob and all,

since George invited me to respond to this post I decided not to follow my decision taken last year to avoid spending more time talking about reversal photo theories and imaginary scenarios about Denmark Strait battle.

As many knows I have already done it way too much.

Nothing personal against Bob or anybody else that do own the right to keep their own opinion.

To me he still misses documents and eyewitnesses books and I think he needs to fill up that gap ( many already addressed to him by me ).

As several knowledgeable guys have already clearly understood and agreed with me last year there is only one valid scenario for this battle and it is the one I have re-constructed on 2003 that we are all trying now to improve.

I think that what the 3 main websites covering this battle ( by Rico, Bismarck-Class by Asmussen and by Allen ) are showing as official version of the facts is more than enough to confirm what I am saying.

My efforts and time are going only to be spent on that direction from now on.

Lately I am working on NH 69722 evaluations, on the PG original film and on addittional official evidences ( books and documents ) acquisition regarding Denmark Strait.

I have also seen personally never published photos about Denmark Strait but I doubt those are ever going to become available.
I will try anyhow.

So I take the occasion to salute the all readers community of this website and as George suggested I avoid to re-open a discussion ( by explaining all the above written wrong statements ) already made with hundreds of post about the subject that clearly explain the real facts occurrances according to available evidences and my way to put them togheter.

I am attaching a link were the interested persons can start reading the real facts as reported on documents, than the remaining details as said are contained on hundreds of dedicated post's :

Last but not least I am always available to explain and provide addittional infos and evidences ( many already well known and published ) to anybody.

Hope to have helped while providing my opinion.

Ciao Antonio :D

Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 8:23 pm
by Robert J. Winklareth
Hi George,

I readily accept the fact that the Prinz Eugen did turn to starboard at about 0603, based on both the Prinz Eugen War Diary and the Prinz Eugen Battle Sketch. I find no evidence, however, that supports the notion that the Bismarck made a turn to starboard one minute earlier at 0602, especially since her only salvation was to turn to port and head south into the North Atlantic as soon as possible.

Since the Bismarck had been traveling southwest on a straight-line course of 212 degrees, according to the Prince of Wales Salvo Plot, it should not be up to me to prove that the Bismarck continued on the same course for the remainder of the battle. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, such can be assumed. If anyone else has specific proof that the Bismarck did turn to starboard away from the Prince of Wales at any time during the battle, it is incumbent on that person to provide the details of that maneuver with a full explanation to this Forum.

I regret the need for introducing a few categorical claims of my views in my presentation of the facts, but in light of what transpired last year, I felt that I had no other recourse but to present my views on the subject in a very positive manner. As you will recall, last year the opposition repeatedly made outrageous statements proclaiming that all aspects of their case were "perfect" and were fully supported by the evidence when this was in fact not true.

If I were dealing strictly with the scientific community in these discussions, my few categorical claims would not have been necessary. Last year we had an environment on another web site where it was acceptable for the opposition to ridicule the views of others and characterize those views as "inventions," "fantasies," "imaginations," and even "lies."

The opposition often made personal attacks on those who expressed views contrary to their own, and they even threatened the webmaster with dire consequences if he did not remove those contrary views from his web site. This is all a matter of record on that web site. Despite all of their unprofessional antics, the opposition is still held in high regard by some who believe that they have a credible alternative to my concept of the battle.

I wish that I could be more optimistic about current efforts to determine the separation between the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen by photographic analysis techniques. The results to date, however, appear to be far out of line with my own analysis of the speed, time, and distance relationships between the two ships during the entire engagement, which is discussed in more detail elsewhere.

I believe that it would be extremely difficult to determine the separation between two ships on a photograph when the other ship is on the curved surface of the sea somewhere between the horizon and the ship from which the photograph was taken. Not knowing the specific characteristics of the camera and lens would seem to make the task even more difficult. I will also keep an open mind and see how this effort turns out.

I don't mind going over the same old ground again one more time when we can look at the entire wealth of evidence together as a package and not get hung up on each individual issue as we have in the past. I hope that responses will be limited to the technical aspects of the case and that personal invectives can be avoided completely. I have tried to do just that in my original posting, but the rest is up to the opposition.

Best regards.


Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 10:37 pm
by iankw

Still very much undecided here but...

You yourself posted some evidence for a turn by Bismarck, albeit slight. You posted above that Ludovic Kennedy wrote about the German ships turning back to engage PoW. Turning back? From where?

I've looked at those photos again and I still have doubts about all of them being applicable to Denmark Strait. Why would someone bother removing and replacing depth charges and refuelling rings in the middle of a battle? Surely that needs addressing before using the photographs as proof of anything. But then I am a newcomer here and maybe I missed those discussions? Although I have read as much as I could find about it.

I do agree that we should be able to discuss these issues in a spirit of cooperation, without mud slinging.


Combing the tracks

Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 12:52 pm
by Antonio Bonomi
Ciao iankw and all,

newcomers do have a special place in my heart as when I was young and unexperienced about those ships I always dreamed about a possibility to speack with somebody that could have helped me resolving my doubts and my questions, to provide me something to refer to and make up my mind about the real facts.

Long time is passed from when I started been 12 ( 32 years ago as now I am 44 ),.. well I have to stop been romantic here.

Now with internet and those forum it is available and easy, it is fantastic.

Moving to your questions ( and I do not want to steal Bob response of course, as I am curious to see his explanation as well ) if you read yourself Kennedy book you will find a description of a '' combing '' manoeuvre that the 2 German ships executed ( due to the Prinz Eugen torpedo warning issued at 06.03 ) just before their coming back.

So they came back after the turn to starboard and the ''combing '' manoeuvre as it is easy to understand and logic too ( as a combing manoeuvre is a parallel course done by 2 ships after a turn and it is a typical anti torpedo manoeuvre ).

The events sequence is easy, torpedo alarm at 06.03 by PG, turn to starboard and combing the tracks by BS and PG, than the comeback as Kennedy described on his book, just read it all.
Bismarck crossing Prinz Eugen wake 2 times and the second one is clearly visible on photo Nh 69730 full frame.

Both PoW battle maps are showing the turn and the beginning of the Bismarck run to starboard very evidently and Capt Leach ( PoW ) narrative is clear when he state that Bismarck seemed to turn away ( to straboard ) at the same time as PoW did ( at 06.03 local battle time ).
PG film and photos are just confirming the whole things as nothing can be reversed, they just show what was real.

Prinz Eugen official battle map just confirms the all things above listed in writing on her official battle map, the torpedo alarms and the turns.

But more important are the OKM ( OberKommando ) of KM ( Kriegsmarine ) official reports of May and June 1941 that do describe this occurrance and the Official Adm Reader documents used to explain to Hitler at Berghof on June 6th, 1941 the events ( in summary they describe the torpedo Alarm at 06.03 and 2 of 3 torpedo tracks personally saw by PG commander Kpt Brinkmann ).

On books you have the event well described ( much better than by L. Kennedy ) on 2 by F.O. Busch books, the PG Im ersten Gefecht ( German ) and The Story of the Prince Eugen ( English ) too, you can purchase easily and read them even thru this website.

On those books F.O. Busch (a Propaganda Officer on board Prinz Eugen during the battle on the PG main tower ) well describes the battle and do make a clear statement of Bismarck been on the starboard side of Prinz Eugen at a certain point ( after Hood Blew up of course ).
Not to mention the SIGNAL article and the Prints signed personally by Brinkmann.

So as you can see, everything is available and officially reported, it is just enough to read the right documents and books and take them in account without avoiding to mention what does not fit with pre-conceived views one wants to protect :D .

Moving to your doubt about depth charges and rings, I have resolved the all issue months ago.

Only one photo as been censored and basically the refuelling rings were always there on PG stern all across the Rheinubung operation.

Different story for the depth charges on the rack, they were 3 initially on the battle ( Nh 69722 ),..than surely 1 at the end of the battle,.. and after 3 again before BS got separated from PG and when PG refuelled on Atlantic,.. but nobody mentioned any use of them during the battle reports :!: .

Hope to have helped your understanding path,.. have fun and enjoy.

Ciao Antonio :D

Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 7:56 pm
by Robert J. Winklareth
Hi Ian,

First a personal note. I see that you are from Rotherham. During World War II, I was stationed at Delamere Park Camp for a few weeks after disembarking from the Mauritania at Liverpool. I was able to get a pass to the pleasant little town of Northwich before shipping out to Southampton for a trip across the Channel in September 1944. I enjoyed the picturesque Midlands countryside during my brief stay in England.

Antonio is quite correct in reporting on Ludovic Kennedy's earlier remarks, which I shall quote here in full to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding. Kennedy wrote: "Now in Prinz Eugen there were reports from the hydrophonic detection room of torpedoes approaching, both ships turned to comb, i.e., steer parallel to, their tracks. Captain Brinkmann even claimed to have seen the tracks, but this must have been imagination, only Hood had torpedoes and even if she had fired them before blowing up, they couldn't have run the distance in time."

Kennedy continued: "As Prinz Eugen swung around, funnel smoke blinded Jasper in the main firing control, so Albrecht, the civilian from Siemens and designer of the firing mechanism for the guns, fired the after turrets himself. Now the German ships turned back, confident, assertive, - - - " The rest is as quoted in my initial posting.

I did not include all of Kennedy's remarks in my original posting since I did not consider them to be germane to the issue. To comb the tracks of approaching torpedoes, the normal procedure would have been to turn to port in the direction of the enemy, but Kennedy indicates that the German ships turned to starboard, which is a bit unusual. Nevertheless, Kennedy goes on to say that the German ships turned back, presumably onto their original course, so that they could continue to take the Prince of Wales under fire with their full armament after their torpedo avoidance maneuver.

The issue is whether the Bismarck turned to starboard away from the Prince of Wales to avoid any further damage at about the same time (0602) that the British battleship began to withdraw from the scene. Kennedy makes no mention of any subsequent turn to starboard by the Bismarck at any time after the Prince of Wales gave up the fight, which is exactly my point and the heart of the matter.

German heavy cruisers were equipped with launchers for six depth charges spaced apart about six-feet apart around the stern edge of the ship, three to port and three to starboard. There is an excellent photograph on the placement of these depth charges on the Admiral Hipper in the book "German Cruisers of World War II." There are no depth charges visible in any post battle photographs of the stern area of the Prinz Eugen.

The post battle photographs of the Prinz Eugen do show a cage-like structure with some unidentified contents near the starboard edge of the cruiser's stern, but those contents are definitely not depth charges, as others have claimed. That is one of the remaining mysteries of the episode which hopefully will be resolved some day.

NH69722 appears to show the same cage-like structure on the starboard edge of the Prinz Eugen's stern. The object is in the identical location as the cage-like structure shown in the post battle photographs, and there does not seem to be a gap present that would reflect the two-foot separation between depth charges. If the object shown was in fact depth charges, they could have been jettisoned during the battle.

I hope that this clarifies the matter for you.


Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 11:43 pm
by iankw
Hi Robert, Antonio et al

Firstly may I say that I agree with you fully about the midlands? I am originally from Derbyshire and have always said that we have the most beautiful dales in the country. Of course my Yorkshire friends tend to disagree with me, but they are obviously biassed :lol:

To business.

I agree with you re the depth charges. They don't look like depth charges to me, they look more spherical than cylindrical but, not being an expert on German depth charges I accepted the opinion of those more familiar than I. Nevertheless, whatever they are, why does the number of them change? Does anyone have any idea? I have read as many posts as I could find on this, both here and on the Bismarck class forum. Sorry Antonio but I cannot recall any explanation being given. I may have missed it though.

Re the refuelling rings. The idea of censoring ONE of the pics just doesn't make sense to me. Why not censor all of them? Surely modern analysis of the original photographs would not be fooled by contemporary tampering? I believe it is very difficult to hide tampering even with modern technology, from expert analysts at least. Now I am not suggesting that this point is important for an understanding of the battle, since the photos in question do not relate to the battle timeline anyway. I am merely suggesting that one or more may not refer to Denmark Strait at all and, historically, needs to be properly identified. Just a personal opinion and one which I don't expect anyone else to accept.

So, Robert, it seems there is textual evidence of a turn by Bismarck. To accept this, as you seem to have done, makes it difficult to maintain that Bismarck didn't turn.

Combing the tracks can be carried out by a turn towards or a turn away. In WW1 Jellicoe made a point of informing the Admiralty that he would turn away in the case of a suspected torpedo attack. This was seen as being safer than a turn towards for obvious reasons. It is surely possible that a turn away was carried out on this occasion because it was uncertain how long was left before the arrival of said torpedoes? Also to turn towards PoW would take the German ships closer to the enemy, which is not what Lutjens wanted. He had a mission to carry out, which did not involve fighting enemy capital ships unless absolutely necessary. Finally, who turned first PE or Bismarck? Would either turn in the opposite direction to the other?

I have a lot of unanswered questions and am learning from you guys all the time. Thank you for taking the time to educate newbies like myself. I appreciate it. :D

Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 11:54 pm
by Antonio Bonomi
Ciao Bob and all,

come on Bob you must be joking ?

Kennedy statements for you are not germane to the issue ?

That is exactly the description of the Torpedo alarm by Prinz Eugen at 06.03 and the turn ( by BOTH German ships to comb ) to starboard ( as Prinz Eugen did irrefutably ) while combing the tracks ( so to be in parallel were do you think Bismarck turned ?? Just look at PoW maps and you will see ).

YES, funnel smoke blinded Jasper after a turn ( reference his report ) and he passed control to Albrecht since he cannot direct the fire anymore and that happend after 06.06 till 06.08 and Prinz Eugen was keep on firing ONLY with back turrets as I have re-constructed in full details event by event with maps and the Prinz Eugen layout turret rotation details, you should know it quite well my friend.

After this the German ships came back ( so after 06.06 at least as you can easily understand yourself ) by turning back as I have always demonstrated.

Photo Nh 69730 shows you the coming back of Bismarck on re-crossing Prinz Eugen wake clearly and irrefutably, and this closes the issue too.

So please do not mix concepts now to confuse people, that is the core of the issue and it is clearly explained by Kennedy very well.

Bismarck turned to starboard ( as PG did ) at 06.03 after the torpedo alarm combing the track with Prinz Eugen sailing to west and came back after 06.06.

One only needs to read it correctly and to read it all, and it is all germane to the issue, it is the core of it, explaining the whole matter.

As you said yourself I was correct on reporting Kennedy remarks, and that is what it is; Bismarck DID made that turn to starboard and sailed west for some minutes before coming back.
The issue is hopefully closed now.

Similarly I am correct with all my other statements as I do not provide anything else that what I find on Official sources ( documents or books ) so it is easy for me to sustain my wordings.

In the opposite you need to modify wordings and timetables ( Jasper time ceasing fire for example ) or to avoid to mention statements or occurrances ( like this one by Kennedy, the torpedo seen by Brinkmann, the missing Torpedo launch by Reimann, the starboard Bismarck description by Schmitz-Westerholt and Busch, the signing of the prints by Brinkmann, the OKM documents, the Hitler briefing by Adm Reader, Schmundt report, .... etc etc,..the list is long here ).

That is the difference between you and me now, I do not need to hide or modify anything as everything sustain my work and always will, irrefutably.

I am sorry for you my friend, no way out, the truth is now out there.

Please Bob avoid to enter an argument that probably is not completely under your knowledge, you seem not so competent about German Heavy Cruisers too.

Admiral Hipper and Prinz Eugen had 2 different racks and mechanism to launch depth charges :D .

While Admiral Hipper had 3 singular launchers Prinz Eugen had a single 3 charges rack, each side of the stern on both ships.
Blucher was not fitted with depth charges launchers just for you to know.

What Nh 69722 shows is the singular 3 charges rack loaded with 3 charges on one side of Prinz Eugen stern ( starboard ).

What the photo of Prinz Eugen stern after Denmark Strait battle ( with all cartridges on the deck and the censored refuelling ring ) shows is the rack with only 1 charge left on the rack.
I have also the not censored photo and the ring is there, I guarantee !!

Consequently 2 charges should have been gone during the battle, very easy to realize now.

After, last photo of Bismarck taken from PG ( not censored and with the refuelling rings back on the stern ) shows the rack with 3 charges back in.
So, somebody must have reloaded them.

On PG film when you see the refuelling of Prinz Eugen by the tanker on the Atlantic Ocean you can see the rack and the 3 charges loaded into it very well.

So as you can see it takes knowledge and skill to resolve the mysteries as I did already, mostly documentation and application, time and passion.

You can fail, and I did several times, but with open mind you can admit, learn from it and improve.

But once you know one thing and you are sure about it than you can defend your opinion against anybody sure that you have the competences, like I am doing with you about Denmark Strait now just applying this approach.

2 years ago I was not so competent about Denmark Strait battle and I even trusted your theory for a couple of weeks ( one of my several failures as you can see ), after I started my personal study as you know and now I can sustain all my work with my competences and skill and I am not going to quit learning, nor failing too :D .

Ciao Antonio :D

DS battle

Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 12:28 am
by Antonio Bonomi
Ciao iankw and all,

sorry I was writing and I did not see your post so my one went out soon after but without considering your statements.

Well, I saw you seems to have understood it quite well about the Bismarck turn and Kennedy wordings now, it should be very logic and an easy task.

Lets see if Bob will do the same now.

They turned away ( and you provided a good reason for that ) and Bismarck turned first after the Torpedo alarm by Prinz Eugen, as when the Prinz Eugen film starts the Prinz Eugen is on the middle of his turn and Bismarck have already compeletd her own turn to starboard and she is sailing west already.
Easy answer as well.

No way they turned into opposite directions as the film, photos and maps clearly prove it.
Easy and irrefutable.

You should have your depth charges answers as well, there are more detailed post's about it.
Those charges could have been fired electrically from main bridge ( that was the trigger to launch them too ) to confuse fall of shells from British ships spotters ( and this is only confirming in case how afraid was Brinkmann about been so close to main guns firing at him as it must have been ), but no mentions anywhere about this on official or unofficial sources up until now.
If you need more let me know.

All the photos pertain to the battle or soon after, you just need to add the missing censored refuelling ring on one of them.
There is a dedicated post were I have explained it all.
Key to understand and correlate are the PG fired cartridges.
On Nh 69722 there are the first 4 fired with first salvo on the main deck.
On after battle photo the PG deck is full of them even on the upperworks under C turret.

As one will easily imagine again by knowing PG ship details is the fact that since the used cartridges were unloaded from the back bottom part of the turret they can be left on the upperworks only if PG fired straight back toward the stern with C turret, easy, logic and irrefutable.

That is exactly what Albrecth did when Jasper passed control to him from 06.06 till 06.08 ( reference PG battle map ), as the forward turrets cannot be turned to the enemy anymore due to the course of PG in relation to PoW as I have demonstrated too.

Bismarck came under PG firelane after this so after 06.08 and that is why they ordered PG not to overshoot the Bismarck first, and soon after to cease fire at 06.09, exactly as Jasper reported on his Official battle report.
As you can see the statement is correct, as I knew and now I can prove it too, just as Busch did on his book as well, but I discovered this after this effort, a small personal satisfaction for me.

Have fun and enjoy your '' voyage of discovering '' about this.

Ciao Antonio :D

Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 10:01 am
by iankw
Hi Antonio

All of that makes sense to me, except the censoring of one photo. I still can't see why that would be done!! I will dig around for your fuller explanation of that.

Thanks for taking the time :D

DS Battle

Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2005 12:39 am
by Antonio Bonomi
Ciao Ian and all,

OK, good, I am happy you were able to make up your opinion about all this.

I do not know really the reasons of censoring, to me a lot of material was '' managed '' by censors once Prinz Eugen arrived in Brest ( my personal opinion ).

I hope that in the close future we will be able to find pieces of it.

I am hunting for this,..currently.

I hope also that Mr. Winklareth will respond confirming what appears so clear to us by simply reading correctly L. Kennedy statements.

Ciao Antonio :D

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2005 1:12 am
by Robert J. Winklareth
Hi all,

I was rather disappointed with Antonio's response to my presentation of the evidence that supports my concept of the battle. I did not expect or desire a further discussion of the issues, but rather, I had hoped that Antonio would provide some evidence to justify his theory as I have done to justify my version of the battle. I have again reviewed Antonio's latest Reconstruction of the battle, but unfortunately, I can find very little evidence to support that theory.

The past rhetoric on both sides has done very little to resolve the issue and we need to spend more time re-examining all of the supporting documentation to try to glean the truth of what happened during the battle. I would hope that Antonio would now devote some time in documenting his theory of the battle, as I have done to support my own concept of the battle. If there is any truth at all to Antonio's theory, there should be some evidence out there that would support it

Antonio could re-arrange the eleven battle photographs in such a manner as to show the slow progression of the Bismarck gaining on the Prinz Eugen at a rate of 100 yards per minute (one-third ship length). The latest version of his Photo Sequence Theory still shows, with few exceptions, the Bismarck all over the place regardless of the time, speed, and distance relationship between the two ships during the engagement.

Antonio must remember that there were only seven minutes from the time that the Bismarck purportedly turned to starboard away from the Prince of Wales at 0602 until the time when the Bismarck ceased fire at 0609. During that period, the maximum distance that the Bismarck could have gained on the Prinz Eugen was 700 yards (2-1/2 ship lengths) with both continuing on straight-line courses. Any lateral movement by the Prinz Eugen could increase that distance, but greater lateral movement by the Bismarck could have the opposite effect.

The point here being that successive photographs of the Bismarck would show only slight variations in the attitude of the ship as the Bismarck moved up an average of one-third ship length between each photograph. With the Bismarck some 700 yards off the port quarter of the Prinz Eugen at 0602 assuming a 5-degree divergence in courses and 1,000-yard separation at 0556, it would have clearly been impossible for the Bismarck to flip-flop from 700 hundred yards to port to several hundred yards to starboard and then flip-flop back to the port side of the Prinz Eugen in only seven minutes, as claimed by Antonio and as portrayed in his photo sequence.

Some are entertaining the thought that the Bismarck may have been as far as 3,000 yards astern of the Prinz Eugen at 0556 when NH69722 was taken. If this were true, the Bismarck would still have been over 2,500 yards astern of the Prinz Eugen at 0602, based on the same 5-degree divergence in courses between the two ships. That would have put the Bismarck completely out of the ball park insofar as attempting to meet up with the Prinz Eugen at the end of the battle at 0609.

Instead of conducting polls to test the imagination of fellow forum members, as with NH69727 and NH69728, it would be better for Antonio to produce enlarged photographs of the Bismarck's forward turret area to show clearly the front mantlet plates and gun tubes on the forward turrets as the turrets are aimed to port. This would prove conclusively that the photographs are port bow views of the Bismarck showing the German battleship coming toward the Prinz Eugen.

Antonio should also produce photographs showing the entire port side of the Bismarck illuminated by the flash of her guns firing to port, or provide a rational explanation as to how the entire port side of the Bismarck could remain in the shadow of the flash if the Bismarck had been firing to port, as he claims. All of the photographs that I have even seen of ships firing their guns show the same side of the ship being illuminated as the direction in which the guns were fired.

Antonio should produce photographs or battle film frames that clearly show the smoke cloud, resulting from the Bismarck firing her guns, as forming on the near (port) side of the ship in those views showing the Bismarck on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen. Or perhaps Antonio could provide a clear-cut scientific explanation as to why no smoke cloud appears to form on the near (port) side of the ship in any photographs or battle film frames that I have seen.

Antonio should produce a port bow view of the Bismarck and explain how the patches of light shown in NH69726 match the structural features of the Bismarck that were reflected by the flash from the Bismarck firing her guns. This would prove conclusively that NH69726 is also a port bow view of the Bismarck showing the Bismarck approaching the Prinz Eugen.

The Bismarck was traveling on a southwest course of about 215 degrees and needed to turn to port on a more southerly course to break out into the North Atlantic. Perhaps Antonio could explain to us why he believes the Bismarck actually turned to starboard toward the coast of Greenland and her nearby pack ice at about 0602. I could find no justification for such a maneuver, which defies all logic under the circumstances.

Perhaps Antonio could also explain why Admiral Lutjens would turn to starboard away from the Prince of Wales at 0602 and sail in a wide arc behind the Prinz Eugen, leaving the cruiser exposed to enemy fire. German naval operating procedures prescribed that lighter units be positioned on the "lee" (protected) side of battleships in combat situations, so why did Admiral Lutjens violate those procedures? Was he a coward?

All of the narrative and graphic evidence that I have seen places the Bismarck on the port side of the Prinz Eugen from 0601 to at least 0609. The starboard photographic views of the Bismarck are highly questionable, to say the least. If Antonio has any other evidence that would prove conclusively that the Bismarck was ever on the starboard side of the Prinz Eugen during the engagement, it behooves him to produce it now for all of us to evaluate.

Antonio alludes to "documents and eyewitnesses books" that he identified to me. I have no recollection of any such references, but if he would provide any quotations from those sources, or from other historians noted for their expertise regarding the battle, that would be helpful. I would still like to know what those references were and whether they are still available.

My concept of the battle was heartily endorsed by Prof. Dr. Jurgen Rohwer, who is an internationally renown naval historian associated with the Institute of Contemporary History in Stuttgart and an expert on the Bismarck operation. Dr. Rohwer collaborated with the Baron and British Vice-Admiral B.B. Schofield in preparing the material for their respective books on the Bismarck operation. Dr. Rohwer is also highly regarded by Sir Ludovic Kennedy, author of "Pursuit."

My version of the battle has also been accepted by the German Office of Military History Research in Potsdam and by the editorial staffs of Chatham Publishing in London and the U.S. Naval Institute Press as being factual. Antonio should present any endorsements that he has for his theory of the battle.