Saturday, 24th May
Weather at 0001: Wind North, force 4/5, visibility - moderate, Sea and swell 34. At this time reports put the enemy 120 miles 010 degs., from battlecruiser force, approx. true course 200 degs. Speed was reduced to 25 knots at 0008 and course altered by blue pendant to 340 degs. At 0012 and 000 degs. At 0017. At 0015 ships assumed first degree of readiness, final preparations for action were made, and battle ensign hoisted. It was expected that contact with the enemy would be made at any time after 0140. Cruisers at this time had lost touch with the enemy in low visibility and snow storms. B.C.1 signalled his intentions as follows:- "If enemy is not in sight by 0210 I will probably alter course 180 degs. until cruisers regain touch = 0031." "Intend both ships to engage "Bismarck" and to leave "Prinz Eugen" to "Norfolk" and "Suffolk" = 0032."
"Prince of Wales" Walrus was now ready for catapulting and, as Iceland was out of her range if more than half an hour's useful work was to be carried out, the pilot was given instructions to land alongside a destroyer when endurance was up. It was intended to fly off to port altering course to starboard as necessary. B.C.1 was informed accordingly. However, visibility deteriorated rapidly from about 0045, and as there seemed little likelihood of improvement and action was expected shortly, it was decided to de-fuel aircraft and stow it in the hanger. This was started at 0140 and B.C.1 informed. At 0147 B.C.1 signalled:- "If battlecruisers turn 200 degs. At 0205 destroyers continue to search to the northward." Difficulty was experienced in passing this signal to destroyers owing to visibility, and it is uncertain whether it was received by all of them. Course was altered by blue pendant to 200 degs. At 0203, B.C.1 then ordered "Prince of Wales" to search with type 284 from 020 degs. To 140 degs. As type 284 would not bear beyond 070 degs. Permission was requested to use type 281, but this was refused. Chance of encounter before daylight was now slight and B.C.1 gave permission for personnel to be rested while on the present course. Speed was increased to 26 knots at 0214 and 27 knots at 0222. Visibility was now about 5 miles and after a long gap in enemy reports "Suffolk" regained touch by R.D/F at 0256, her report putting the enemy about 15 miles to the northwest of the battlecruiser force. The large unknown vessel reported by "Norfolk" at 0229 appears from the plot to be "Prince of Wales". Regular D/F bearings were now being obtained from "Norfolk" and "Suffolk" and passed to B.C.1. Course was altered by blue pendant to 220 degs. At 0321 and 240 degs. At 0342. At 0353 speed was increased to 28 knots. Enemy was considered to be 20 miles to the northwest at 0400. Visibility continued to improve and by 0430 was about 12 miles. Consequently orders were given to refuel the aircraft. Owing to delays, principally on account of water in the fuel, aircraft was not ready until after fire had been opened on the enemy and it was damaged by shell splinters before it could be flown off. As the petrol constituted a danger, the aircraft was jettisoned into the sea. Meanwhile at 0450 "Prince of Wales" was made guide of the fleet while "Hood" stationed herself on a bearing of 230 degs., resuming guide of the fleet at 0505. B.C.1 ordered first degree of readiness at 0510. There was a long wait while the horizon became gradually more distinct and at last at 0535 a suspicious object was sighted and an enemy report made at 0537. "Hood's" report followed immediately. Enemy bore 335 degs. And was on an approx course of 240 degs., "Bismarck" astern of a lighter ship. Course was altered 40 degs. By blue pendant at 0537 and at 0541 "Prince of Wales" was stationed on a bearing of 080 degs. At 0549 B.C.1 signalled:- "G.S.B. 337 L.1" and a further blue two making to course 300 degs. Was executed.
Antonio Bonomi wrote: "What can be realized once the BC1 tracks are correctly plotted on the overall scenario map ? "
I'm not sure what you're trying to get at here ...
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