Talk:German battleship Bismarck/Archive 4

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Should Last battle of the battleship Bismarck be merged into German battleship Bismarck?

Should these articles be merged to eliminate excessive duplication etc? (P.S. I am not volunteering but willing to contribute if someone else takes the lead!!) Boatman (talk) 12:13, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

I don't think so. In rewriting this article, I came across material that was not specifically relevant to this article (which should focus primarily on Bismarck rather than on the engagement as a whole) that would fit better in the main article. Parsecboy (talk) 14:02, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
No. The point of creating Last battle of... was to avoid overwhelming this article (and Operation Rheinübung), and as a major action by several ships it has a certain independent notability. There will be some duplication but ideally the content of the actions in this article should be a summary (if not a precis) of what is in those articles. GraemeLeggett (talk) 15:45, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Decrypting of signals to Bismarck and identification of destination

The paragraph that commences "British code-breakers were able to decrypt some of the German signals" states that a signal was read that Bismarck was ordered to Brest. Firstly, naval enigma signals to and from Bismarck were, at that time, taking days to decrypt and so decrypted naval messages contributed nothing to the location and destruction of Bismarck. Secondly, The French resistance is supposed to have sent a message advising that a berth was being prepared for a large ship but this advice could not arrive for days because it was sent via Paris. Thirdly, I have not read in any sources that Bismarck was in fact ordered to Brest.

Staff in the Admiralty and Admiral Sir John Tovey's staff concluded independently that Bismarck was heading for the France before a decrypted luftwaffe response to a senior officer in Athens revealed that Bismarck was heading for the west coast of France. Also on 25 May Harry Hinsley in Hut 4 at Bletchley advised that the undecipherable signals to Bismarck which had previously been sent from Wilhelmshaven were now being sent from Paris, adding further evidence that Bismarck was heading south (Enigma, the Battle for the Code. Hugh Sebag-Montifiore, Cassell, London, 2004, Pp 178-179)Michaelm52 (talk) 02:43, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Parsecboy vs This Article = WP:OWN and WP:IDL

After editing this article last year, and adding that it was a Catalina reconnaissance aircraft from RAF Castle Archdale on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland that used the Donegal Corridor, a small air-corridor secretly provided by the Éire government, [1]. Over time the point was expanded and some others added that the Bismarck was spotted via her oil slick and then her position to the Admiralty.

Well that material lasted until June this year when the aforementioned editor, the "Lord Protector" of this article decided to remove these clear statements of fact. Where the plane was from, what it was, what it was doing etc....

Now it says:

A squadron of Coastal Command PBY Catalinas based in Northern Ireland were committed to the search, covering areas where Bismarck might be headed in her attempt to reach occupied France. At 10:30 on 26 May, a Catalina piloted by a US Navy aircrew located Bismarck, some 690 nmi (1,280 km; 790 mi) northwest of Brest.

No recognition of the base from which the planes came, or that they used neutral Irish airspace, or that it was an oil slick they followed. NI is 5,345 sq miles. The statements are as dismissive as saying it was "soldier from the United States" who attacked Omaha and Utah beaches.

I hate Wikipedia now because there is too much self-righteous, self-importance masquerading as contributions. The removal of this linked material is a testimony to that!! Again there is no recognition in the Bismark article concerning the heroic pilots from RAF Castle Archdale, flying in atrocious weather conditions, who found the Bismark. Or that this was all made possible by the Irish Government agreement to the The Cranborne Report that allowed them to use the Donegal Corridor.

This article has become the work, by the looks of it, of just one person who seems to have their own agenda. It's not good enough and frankly an insult to the brave men who risked their lives in WWII. But that historical acknowledgement is just rubbed out by some wiki-fapper, 70 years later who gets on their high horse about everything because they read a couple of books on the subject!! (User talk:

This article is about the ship not the RAF base or aircrew. Also note that BBC peoples war is not a reliable source for Wikipedia. Jim Sweeney (talk) 12:42, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Accusations and invective are about the worst way to try and make a point, as they reduce your own credibility. (Hohum @) 13:54, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
To be fair, Nate/Parsecboy is not some chum who's walked in off the street; he's a budding naval scholar in his own right. I also agree with Hohum in that attacks do not make for a good point. However, that doesn't mean he can't be right in part – if the reliable sources say that the Catalinas used the corridor, we should probably include that. I suppose this is where we need to talk to Parsec and see what the sources say! Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 15:26, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
The purpose of every article is to provide a comprehensive summary of the topic, not record every scrap of information that might be tangentially related to the topic. This article is about a German battleship, not a random PBY that located the ship. If the name of the unit is particularly notable (for example, the "Dambusters" that sank Tirpitz), then they should be referenced by name. If they are a generic coastal patrol unit (as is the case here), they aren't really deserving of a mention and any related material should go in the unit's article. Which brings me to my second point: we are not here to honor anybody. Last I checked, we don't break down the infantry units at Utah and Omaha by their state of origin. Lastly, I do have an agenda: to write high-quality articles that fit the goals of the encyclopedia. Parsecboy (talk) 16:13, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree Parsec, but I think that the use of the corridor should be mentioned if you can reference it. It's pretty important if a casual reader wonders how a PBY from NI managed to make it south enough to find Bismarck. It's up to you though, as you are the author. :-) Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 16:20, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
There are no returns in Google books; the only return in Google scholar is an article published local historical society by an author who appears to be focused on local history. Nothing turns up in regular Google in the .edu, .mil, or domains. Parsecboy (talk) 16:43, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Funny enough there was an article on BBC news his morning here [1]. Jim Sweeney (talk) 18:24, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Doubts and Details

I am lumping together a number of small point which can, I hope, be easily settled. If any of them needs a real debate, I suggest someone edits it out of here and uses it to start a separate thread.
1) Battle of Denmark Straight (par 1):- I think horizontal ranges are usually given in yards rather than feet, 26,000 meters are about 28,300 yards. There are other cases later on in the art.
2) idem (par 4):- Kennedy (p.83) gives THREE survivors on the bridge (Leach, Chief Yeoman of Signals + navigating officer who was wounded). Also the shell exploded after exiting.
3) idem (par 5):- Perhaps the point should be made that in refusing to continue the engagement with PoW, Lütjens was following his operational orders. (His predecessor, Marschall, had been dismissed for this very offense - see the wiki art. on M.)
4) The Chase (par 4):- Neither Churchill nor Kemp not Kennedy mentions any near attack on the Norfolk. Churchill states that the Swordfish were homed by radio onto the Norfolk which then passed them a course to find the Bismarck (a similar procedure to that applied for the last torpedo attack when Sheffield vectored Ark Royal`s planes onto the Bismarck). Kennedy (p.111) says that the Swordfish radar picked up the USCG Modoc which was then about 4 miles from the German battleship and broke cloud cover before realizing that she was not their target. There may be a conflict of sources here, but I am inclined to think that the reported near attack on the Norfolk is a garbled version of the above.
5) idem (par 10):- The phrase "a Catalina piloted by a US Navy aircrew" seems to me to imply that the plane was crewed by the US Navy. This may simply be that we don't speak exactly the same form of English on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Kennedy (pp. 141ff; 171 and notes) documents the fact that a number of US pilots who had ferried Catalinas across to the UK and were supposed to familiarize the RAF crews with the plane were unofficially used as copilots by the CO of 209 squadron.
6) idem (par 13):- Is it correct to say the Germans "repaired the starboard rudder"? To me "repair" implies that they got it to work again - if so, by setting it to 12º starboard helm they could have neutralized the effect of the port rudder and regained control of the course at the cost of a braking effect. Did they only manage to disconnect it from the steering motor, so it flapped loose?
7) Sinking (par 5.) The Nelsons only had two torpedo tubes and so the reference should be to the "port tube" (singular)--Jpacobb (talk) 01:34, 15 October 2011 (UTC)jpacobb

1) The convert template should have recognized that yd was the appropriate output, but for some reason it didn't.
2) Garzke & Dulin confirm only two survivors on the bridge, and both that and Zetterling & Tamerlander are much more recent publications than Kennedy.
3) That's a fair point and should be added.
4) I'd be ok with removing this, or at least adding a footnote that states there is disagreement over whether the incident took place.
5) The Catalina's pilot was Ensign Leonard B. Smith, USN.
6) They uncoupled the rudder shaft and engaged hand steering, but were apparently unable to overcome the 12 degree turn on the port rudder.
7) Fixed. Parsecboy (talk) 15:00, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
Many thanks for a prompt and illuminating response. I will take up points 3 and 4 in the article and 5 across to the article on Smith (which has a note asking for verification in the talk section).--Jpacobb (talk) 18:59, 16 October 2011 (UTC)jpacobb
Sounds good to me. I think the detailed information on Smith is better suited to his article rather than this one, but I changed the sentence to include a link there. Parsecboy (talk) 19:23, 16 October 2011 (UTC)


The "Discovery" section seems to heavily imply through omission of details that the British ships were incapable of penetrating the Bismarck's armour. I've added the fact that the barbettes of Bruno and Dora, protected by some of the thickest armour carried by Bismarck, were compromised at least once each. There is still the issue of the remaining text which, as it stands, gives the impression that the 14" and 16" shells of the British simply couldn't defeat the Bismarck's main belt - obviously not the case given that they had no problem with thicker armour. Paddyboot (talk) 08:23, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

I have reverted your addition for a number of reasons. First, the websites provided are not reliable sources (and you cannot interpret the images yourself, no matter how evident you think the conclusions are). Second, it's not particularly relevant to the discussion about whether British gunfire and torpedoes or German scuttling charges sank the ship - we're not talking about the performance of German heavy armor. The fact remains that there were no penetrations of the main belt, whether that is the result of the shells not hitting the belt (a relatively small target compared to the rest of the ship, especially at such close ranges where it would be difficult to depress the guns low enough to hit the belt) or the inability of the shells to penetrate it. According to Jackson, the 14" shells from KGV bounced off the armor belt. Regardless, implying that the British shells could penetrate the main belt because they did penetrate turret and barbette armor is synthesis, which is strictly prohibited. Parsecboy (talk) 12:43, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

I don't know why I'm even bothering to reply to this after all this time, but some points to address. First, claiming that it isn't "particularly relevant" to discuss shellfire/torpedoes vs scuttling seems rather disingenuous, since it is a point of historical and academic contention and the article goes into considerable depth on the subject, on the side of the latter it must be noted. Second, Jackson is hardly a creditable, quality source to cite, and Ballard's survey, while sound, was carried out 25 years ago with equipment of limited resolution (a gaping hole he describes does not actually exist, and at least part of the wreck was left unseen). It makes mention of "submersibles" - Ballard did not actually dive on the wreck, it was surveyed on VHS tape using the Argo sled, as noted in his book. The article makes no use of the more recent and forensically detailed report by the reputable Prof Bill Jurens and noted authors Garzke and Dulin. This does mention hits on, and penetration, of the main and upper belt by a small (very small in the former) number of heavy shells, contrary to your categorical dismissal, while noting that the torpedoes probably did not play a "major part" in the sinking. The article does rely heavily on Bercuson and Herwig's book which contains numerous technical and factual errors. The damage to the forward barbettes is a noted feature of battle damage on the wreck, yet no mention is made of it anywhere in the article, which seems strange given the detail devoted to other aspects of it. A vague reference to them being "neutralised" is the closest we get.Paddyboot (talk) 15:17, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

Article title

The title of this article goes against usual Wikipedia naming conventions. The article should be moved from German battleship Bismarck to Bismarck (battleship).Rreagan007 (talk) 06:10, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

No, it shouldn't. The more specific WP:NC-SHIPS prescribes article titles like this. In addition, the policy on article titles allows for parenthetical as well as natural disambiguation (which is what this article demonstrates). Parsecboy (talk) 11:51, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Largest and heaviest

We have: the largest battleship ever built by Germany, and the heaviest built by any European power. Is this a deliberate distinction? Rumiton (talk) 11:47, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Yes, though the European bit needs to be removed; the authors who made the claim (Garzke & Dulin) apparently weren't thinking of HMS Vanguard when they wrote that line, which outweighs Bismarck by a couple thousand tons in both categories. An editor raised the point in the FAC, which I haven't had time to get to yet. Parsecboy (talk) 12:17, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
"Largest" except as a synonym for "greatest displacement" is vague - eg Hood was 40ft longer. GraemeLeggett (talk) 12:52, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, "largest" here only refers to German battleships; also, Hood wasn't a battleship ;) In any case, I've fixed the sentence now to reflect the above. Parsecboy (talk) 12:57, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
I suppose I was really musing in general as to how one defines "largest" . GraemeLeggett (talk) 13:04, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Idea for Further Reading

I am proposing the addition of a further reading section to this article. I have recently come across a book that I think would add more depth and breadth to the topic. It is titled, "The Discovery of the Bismarck" by Robert D. Ballard, who is an authoritative figure on the subject of the German battleship, Bismark, since he was part of the crew that rediscovered the sunken wreck in 1988 and has already written another book already referenced in this article. The book contains an in depth history of the ship Bismarck, from different historical perspectives from all the ships involved in it's sinking, as well as documentation on the methodology and events of the ship that discovered the wreck.Danfmurphy (talk) 05:52, 3 February 2012 (UTC)

Edit warring over references in the Wehrmachtbericht has a point here. What is the purpose of including huge blobs of propaganda-driven text that is erroneous anyway? How does this increase the user's understanding of the ship itself? Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 18:13, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

It's another facet of the story of the ship, and it was considered highly important by the Germans at the time. In addition, official transcripts from award citations and the like are commonly used in articles (see, for example here or here). Parsecboy (talk) 18:27, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

It may have been considered important at the time, but thye were important for PR and proppganda, and the information is not relaible.

Also, how could you possibly object to including an English transliteration of that monstrosity of a German word "Wehrmachtbericht" which even an English speaker fluent in German would have to look up unless he was a real WW2 specialist.

English Wiki is supposed to be for the benefit of english speakers, and less than 99% of all English speakers know enough German to be able to read "Wehrmachtbericht" reports.

I would like to see consensus on this matter from English language speakers only, and let the Germans stay the hell out of the discussion, which does not really concern them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:01, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

There is an English translation next to each of the reports, which are clearly noted to be unreliable. Your assertion that an English-speaker fluent in German would have to use a dictionary to read the text is entirely baseless and therefore irrelevant. Part of the benefit of providing the original text is that so others can check the veracity of the translation, but I assume you've never worked with foreign languages in any kind of academic setting.
I don't know why you have so much hostility to foreign languages and those who speak them, but it really is troublesome. You need to check that mindset before it gets you ejected from the site. Parsecboy (talk) 11:07, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
I've raised this a few times as well as part of reviews (and I note that the consensus in those discussions was to retain this material), but I remain really uncomfortable with transcripts from the Wehrmachtbericht for a couple of reasons:
  1. Firstly, I see no reason to have a transcript of something of questionable relevance which could be easily summarised. We often include medal citations in articles on people who won their country's highest medal, but this is OK as the medal is typically the only reason for the person's notability and the wording is normally carefully vetted for accuracy and is the best source of information on why the medal was awarded. None of this applies here in my view - mentions might have been prized by members of the German military at the time, but it's not an accurate source of information and I don't think that it's seen to have lasting significance to modern readers. For instance, a quick search of Google books for the term returns few books in the English or German languages which mention it in their text (it pops up as part of references, though I'm not sure how it's been used) - I note that this is a highly imperfect method of checking this, but I think that it's indicative.
  2. It's basically a Nazi propaganda broadcast. I don't think that this needs much explanation, especially as wordy transcripts of Allied propaganda are (rightly) not considered suitable for inclusion in articles as well. Allied troops also thought it was a very big deal for them and their units to be mentioned in news broadcasts, and (as in the case of the Australian Army in the South West Pacific) got really grumpy if they felt that they were being ignored.
The current material in this article is particularly problematic as there's currently no explanation of what the 'Wehrmachtbericht' was or why it could be considered important, and I doubt that few of the almost 2000 people who load the article each day will have heard of this now-obscure broadcast. I don't endorse edit warring over this, however, and if its retained in the article including the German original seems sensible given the limitation of any translation. Nick-D (talk) 12:12, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
It doesn't really matter what you want: you have no authority to forbid people, whose native tongue is other than English, from participating in the improvement of this Wikipedia or in the discussion regarding it. Wikipedia is meant for users all around the world. My native language is neither English nor German, and I have participated in the improvement of five language versions of Wikipedia. -- (talk) 02:14, 27 June 2012 (UTC)

Even though I feel addressed by the request "to stay the hell out of the discussion" I want to add my opinion anyhow. Feel free to delete my comments here, I am not emotional over the matter. I disagree if we reduce the Wehrmachtbericht to pure Nazi propaganda, it was propaganda no doubt, but it was also much more. Unfortunately only author Erich Murawski (to my knowledge at least) has made a serious attempt at explaining the complexity of the Wehrmachtbericht and its implication on the war effort. The book was written in 1962 and not all of the archives had been accessible at that time to allow a fair comparison of the content with facts and/or what reflected the best knowledge the Germans had at the time in comparison to the truth. Is there even an English book on the topic? Secondly, the Wehrmachtbericht was an award to the individual, unit or vessel named in the report. I agree that it would be bad practice to derive factual content from these reports. Omitting the fact that Bismarck had been referenced in the Wehrmachtbericht would be like omitting the fact that USS Missouri had received a battle star or that USS Lexington received a presidential unit citation. Setting the right context of the Wehrmachtbericht gives the reader the chance to compare the facts around Bismarck, as written in the body of the article, with the words of the Wehrmachtbericht, which helped establish the myth surrounding Bismarck. Wiki, as an international multilingual, multi-cultural project, has the means to incorporate so many angels on a topic. But Wiki is also what its members and readers want it to be. So if the consensus is to remove value and content from the article for the sake of the English speakers, so be it. MisterBee1966 (talk) 10:49, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Operation Rheinubung

I notice from this edit that about 22 Kb of material from here have been duplicated to the Operation Rheinübung page. Is this a good idea? I’ve opened a discussion there and am inviting comments. Xyl 54 (talk) 22:53, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

There's been no reply to this for nearly a week, either here or on the other page, so can I take it that there’d be no objection to my trimming the Rheinubung section here down to a summary?
While we are on the subject, is it worth looking at the "Denmark Strait" and "Last Battle" sections as well? Xyl 54 (talk) 18:46, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I would prefer that you don't trim this article, first of all since it's a Featured Article. The wholesale copy-paste into the Rheinubung be undone instead. Truth be told, now that this article is in good shape (along with the Prinz Eugen article), I don't know what real merit the Rheinubung article has. This article is not overly long (the reason subpages are split off in the first place). If the situation was different (such as a single ship in a fleet that took part in a battle), yes, this article should have a summary of the engagement that highlights the role of this specific ship. But this ship essentially is Rheinubung, so it would be unwise to reduce the level of detail here. Articles should stand on their own as much as possible, and the general reason not to do so is, as I said, size concerns, which is not a problem here. It would probably be wise to simply redirect the Rheinubung article here rather than retain two largely duplicative articles.
As for the battle articles, they can probably be expanded to cover the British side better than this article does, and should probably be retained. Parsecboy (talk) 22:14, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for replying. I admit I was trailing my coat a bit by suggesting this. Although the logical arrangement would be summaries here and heavy detail at the main articles, most of the work (and therefore most of the edit history) is here, so if this was done it’d best be done by regular contributors to here, not by folk like me who are just passing through. And (as you say) it is a Featured Article as it stands. So I’ve done the BOLD bit and restored the other page to the way it was.
On the subject of a merge, though, if you feel it is appropriate we should probably discuss it there, but I wouldn’t agree that “Bismarck is Rheinubung”. There is the overall plan and its outcome, for a start; and the involvement (or non-involvement) of a bunch of other vessels (apart from Prinz Eugen, there's Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the U-boat Arm and the supply fleet) which I think are clearer in the previous (and now current) version of the Rheinubung page.
What do you think? Xyl 54 (talk) 13:05, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Generally speaking, battle or operation articles should present the big picture, while the ship articles go into greater detail on the activities of the ship in question (compare for instance, the Battle of Jutland articles and the current TFA, SMS Friedrich der Grosse).
Re: merging: that's fair - the problem, I think, is that there's sort of a parallel structure here; Bismarck is not a sub article of Rheinubung, unlike the Denmark Strait and Last Battle articles. The latter articles could be considered sub-articles of Bismarck, but Rheinubung certainly isn't, so there's a problem with what should be where. Parsecboy (talk) 17:15, 15 October 2012 (UTC)


The Intro already contains a huge amount of detail - more so than is actually appropriate - how could it hurt the article to add a few more words to actually clarify the reality? You can't say that "the sentence" is about something else - its the Intro, its supposed to be a summary of everything. Lastly, you cannot try to pretend there were only two British ships in the action at the death, when a few lines later you want to include the propaganda claim that the Bismarck was sunk by a torpedo from a third ship. Either we do the detail properly, or we leave the detail out of the Intro, but we can't have an inaccurate Intro. Wdford (talk) 17:55, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

The intro is supposed to summarize the article; where the ship was initially detected and where it was headed after the Denmark Strait are important parts of the story and should be in the lead section. The exact (or even approximate) composition of the forces Britain arrayed against the ship during the final engagement is not an important part of the story. The presence of Rodney and King George V are the most important warships for the final battle, as they did the actual work of destroying Bismarck. Yes, the cruisers and destroyers participated in the battle, but they did not inflict the crippling damage. No one is pretending that there were only two British ships in the final battle; as I have stated, however, they are the only ships that really mattered. Without them, Bismarck probably would not have been destroyed on 27 May (and if she had, it wouldn't have been the cruisers and destroyers that did the work).
As for the other changes you attempted, you in fact added a complete falsehood, with regards to Prince of Wales. Bismarck did not "seriously" damage her. She inflicted fairly minor damage, and it was the malfunction of most of PoW's guns that forced her to retire (which she quickly had back in working order, and in fact used against Bismarck the following day). I also don't see the need to remove the mention of the controversy surrounding Bismarck's sinking - it's fairly widely known and should not be omitted. Parsecboy (talk) 20:05, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
PS: Your first edit, which I did not notice until now, is also problematic, in that it supposes that the German claim is correct. It also divorces the German view from the British, which is a major issue. It should also be reverted, but since protection has been applied, it would be inappropriate for me to revert it now. Parsecboy (talk) 20:12, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
You have a very random approach to deciding what is important enough to be in the lead. You seem to want to exaggerate the role of the battleships, by omitting the crucial roles of other vessels. In your version, it seems like a straight fight between capital ships, but in reality it was anything but. A better analogy would be a bullfight, where the matador (in this case two of them) strut into the ring to kill a bull which has already been hamstrung by their multiple cronies on horseback. It’s strange that you claim the cruisers “didn’t inflict the crippling damage”, when you also insist on including in the Intro the propaganda claim that Bismarck was sunk by torpedoes from a cruiser.
I don’t agree with the claim that the two battleships “destroyed” the Bismarck, as this implies they sank her – and this turns out to not have been the case. If you want to see how a capital ship “destroys” another capital ship, look to HMS Hood.
Re HMS Prince of Wales, see the official report at [2]. The PoW received a lot more than “fairly minor damage”.
Lastly, underwater examinations of the Bismarck wreckage have shown that the German claim was indeed correct. The only dissenter reported here is Mearns, and the quoted source makes it clear that he has no evidence other than his “feelings” to support this claim. The source also mentions a very contrary claim by McLaren, which is completely omitted from the article, and makes it clear that the “British view” is emotional rather than factual. Lastly, this same source makes it clear that the Germans scuttled unrecoverable ships to avoid capture, as was also borne out by the scuttling of the Graf Spee, the Gneisenau and the entire High Seas Fleet after the Great War. It even says that the British knew during the war already that Bismarck was scuttled. Surely this should be accurately reflected in the Intro too? Wdford (talk) 14:00, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
Explain to me then what would have happened to Bismarck if Rodney and KGV were not present. Would Norfolk or Dorsetshire have braved Bismarck's 38cm guns by themselves in broad daylight? The fact remains that Bismarck was neutralized (by the battleships) by the time Dorsetshire was sent forward to administer what was intended to be the coup de grace. The torpedo hit from Ark Royal's Swordfish (the subalterno in your analogy) was not part of the final battle (apart from setting the stage); Vian's destroyers did not inflict any serious damage, nor did Norfolk, Dorsetshire, until the latter was sent forward to launch torpedoes (assuming that those torpedoes had a role in sinking the ship; if not, they're irrelevant).
"Destroy" does not imply "sink" - it means Rodney and KGV damaged the ship so seriously that it was inoperable. See any dictionary definition.
As for Prince of Wales, no, she was not seriously damaged. "Serious damage" (like that suffered by SMS König at Jutland) generally requires months of repairs; Prince of Wales was back in action the following day.
The problem is that there still is debate over the cause of the sinking; presenting one side as completely right and the other as completely wrong is a violation of the WP:NPOV policy. That much is non-negotiable. As for McLaren, he was part of the June 2001 expedition, and it isn't necessary to quote both him and Lange. There are no significant details from the second expedition McLaren participated in, which means there's nothing worth adding. And certainly not to the lead section. Parsecboy (talk) 15:10, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── According to Gaack and Carr, Kapitänleutnant (Ing.) Gerhard Junack executed the orders to scuttle Bismarck. MisterBee1966 (talk) 09:25, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

Firstly, it is not for us to speculate “what would have happened” had the battleships not been present. Probably the Bismarck would have been sunk by aircraft, as happened to Prince of Wales shortly after, or the cruisers and destroyers would have waited until dark to launch massed torpedo attacks. Probably the German officers would eventually have realized the situation was hopeless and scuttled, as they did the Graf Spee, to avoid unnecessary casualties. There was no rush - Bismarck was already crippled, was surrounded by a mob of British ships with air support, and wasn’t going to get home no matter what. However that is all irrelevant here anyway. My point remains that, if we need to include these details in the Intro at all, then we should include accurate and neutral details, not a pro-battleship POV.
If we are to follow the interpretation of “destroy” merely equals “render inoperable”, then the Swordfish aircraft "destroyed" the Bismarck. Again, I see evidence of POV.
According to the source I provided, which is a Royal Navy report, Prince of Wales suffered significant damage. In fact she required three weeks in repair dock after that action. We need to stick with the reliable sources, not some personal interpretation of what constitutes serious damage.
NPOV requires that we do not treat multiple independent underwater expeditions as being equal to a 70 year old war-time propaganda report. There is no real debate anymore, just some emotional Brits clinging to a preferred perception. I take issue with giving Mearns’ “feelings” as reliable evidence when in that same source, an equally reliable expert flatly states the opposite but is ignored. This too is a violation of NPOV.
Wdford (talk) 09:45, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
Three weeks worth of repairs actually suggests that the damage wasn't terribly bad (though hardly trivial). It took months, and in some cases years, to repair serious levels of damage to major ships of this era (though repair times were dramatically shorter than they seem to be today). I agree that the wording in the lead about whether the ship was sunk or scuttled is pretty unimportant: either way, she was doomed. Nick-D (talk) 09:56, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
Wdford, it's highly unlikely Ark Royal would have been able to sink Bismarck solely through airstrikes (recall that there were other torpedo hits from Swordfishes that had minimal effect). And it's unlikely that Vian's destroyers, even reinforced with Norfolk and Dorsetshire, could have sunk the ship by themselves. Again, recall they repeatedly attacked Bismarck the night of 26/27 May without success. Regardless, the battleships were the critical factor, and it remains the case that they were the warships that destroyed Bismarck. None of the other British ships inflicted catastrophic damage. As for your second point, no, the Swordfish did not render Bismarck inoperable, they rendered her unsteerable. There's a big difference. Eight of them, in fact.
The report is a primary source, something we can't use to support a conclusion. "Significant" damage is not the same as "serious" damage. Serious damage threatens the existence of the ship (for an example, this is a seriously damaged warship.); any warship that can return to battle within 24 hours and without the need for extensive drydocking is patently not seriously damaged. In any case, without a reliable secondary source to back it up, the claim that Prince of Wales was seriously damaged will not be included in the article.
Reread the NYT article; it very clearly states "This conclusion is still hotly contested by British researchers." William Broad (the author of the article) is not a naval expert, and so he cannot be used as a credible authority on who is right. "NPOV requires that we do not treat multiple independent underwater expeditions as being equal to a 70 year old war-time propaganda report" - no, the Mearns expedition went down in July 2001. And his "feeling" (which means "opinion" in this context, not some emotional response - given your trouble with vocabulary, especially with nuances in meaning, it makes me wonder if you're a non-native English speaker) is just as valid (though not necessarily as correct) as McLaren's or Lunge's. Our job is to provide both sides of the controversy, not argue which one is correct (especially when what are probably the most accurate opinions, that of Ballard and Kennedy, are a combination of both). The point is, we're not here to take sides in what ultimately is an emotionally charged debate on both the British and German sides. Perhaps you should re-read WP:NPOV, since you have a flawed understanding of the policy.
Nick, in my estimation, you're probably right on the money on the irrelevancy of the argument - Bismarck could not possibly have survived after the torpedo hit, whether it was sunk by British gunfire and torpedoes, or scuttled by its crew. Parsecboy (talk) 13:56, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
Most of the battleships that were sunk in WW2 were sunk by aircraft – such as Prince of Wales, Tirpitz, Roma, Yamato, Musashi and the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour. See [3] Others were sunk by torpedo, such as Royal Oak, Barham and Scharnhorst. Just because these particular British pilots and torpedo crews were incredibly ineffective doesn’t mean battleships were torpedo-proof. On the other hand, since the British battleships fired 700 rounds without sinking her, Bismarck was clearly battleship proof. To ensure the average user can understand your nuances correctly, we should therefore say the battleships "destroyed but did not sink" the Bismarck.
Since there is consensus that Prince of Wales was hit a number of times, the Intro should at least mention that fact. She didn’t retreat solely because of poor workmanship by the construction crews. It seems strange that you are prepared to accept the primary source of Mearns, but you regard the Royal Navy report as unacceptable. More POV?
The Intro should also modify the final line, to clarify that all save one of the underwater expeditions determined that the battle damage was not the cause of the sinking, otherwise the Intro is still biased. Ballard, Cameron and the Woods Hole people all agree that the battle damage could not have sunk the ship. Kennedy does not appear to have had first-hand info about the damage, and Mearns is assuming the gashes in the outer hull from tobogganing down a volcano represent fatal penetrations, without any actual evidence of such penetrations. I agree we need to include the British claim and their emotion, but we need to be more clear about the actual facts.
Wdford (talk) 18:53, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
Those are all disingenuous examples - Prince of Wales, Yamato, and Musashi were all attacked by scores of aircraft; in the case of Yamato, the total number of aircraft was 280. Ark Royal carried probably 2 dozen Swordfishes. Roma was hit by a pair of Fritz-Xs, one of which blew up the ship's no. 2 main battery magazine. And of course, Tirpitz was sunk by several hits and near-misses from 6-ton Tallboys, surely a much more powerful weapon than anything a Swordfish could carry. The probability that Ark Royal could sink Bismarck by herself is minimal. As for your suggested wording, that is unnecessary; the very next sentence states that the cause of her sinking is disputed.
That Prince of Wales was damaged isn't all that relevant to the story. The destruction of Hood, of course, is one of the main reasons Bismarck is famous; her altercation with Prince of Wales is not, and details of that part of the battle should be kept to a minimum. In fact, she did retreat because most of her guns malfunctioned; this is no fault of the construction crews, but simply a matter of her having been pressed into service before adequate sea trials could be conducted. Again, this is not relevant to the lead section. Mearns is not a primary source, the Admiralty report is; moreover, Mearns is a respected marine scientist (along with Dr. Eric Grove, another member of the expedition).
No, it's not necessary to get into the differing opinions on the specifics of the sinking in the lead. Simply noting that there is controversy and leaving the details to the main body is enough. Again, please read WP:NPOV. Arguing that one side is right and the other is wrong, no matter how clear you think the evidence is, is strictly prohibited. Please see the sections on balance and impartial tone. Parsecboy (talk) 01:32, 20 October 2012 (UTC)

Introduction misleading and non-neutral

The wording of this Introduction continues to be unacceptable, and one editor continues to resist all attempts to improve it, despite a fair amount of talk-page discussion.

The problems are as follows:

The Intro currently states that “At the Battle of Denmark Strait, Bismarck engaged and destroyed the battlecruiser HMS Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy, and forced the battleship HMS Prince of Wales to retreat.” A certain editor refuses to allow the clarification that the Prince of Wales suffered multiple hits in the process, (more than twice as many as the Bismarck suffered), and tries to make it look like "Prince of Wales" backed off solely because of “malfunctions”. If the “Prince of Wales” is important enough to be mentioned in the Intro, then this must be done fairly and accurately. The line should read “The battleship HMS Prince of Wales suffered multiple hits and was forced to retreat.”

I offered a perfectly good source for this, namely [4], which is an official Admiralty report. Although WP:PSTS does allow primary sources to be used “to make straightforward, descriptive statements of facts”, this actually qualifies as a secondary source, having been compiled from the primary reports of various technicians and carefully-reviewed and checked by naval experts (including the representative of the Director of Naval Construction at that shipyard). However a certain editor nonetheless continues to block this information from being added.

The same editor is determined to preserve the sentence “The following morning, Bismarck was destroyed by a pair of British battleships.” The reality is that Bismarck soaked up scores of hits and remained afloat, and sank only after being scuttled by her surviving crew. Bismarck was undoubtedly wrecked by the sustained gunfire, but was not sunk by the battleships as this sentence tries to portray. This is made worse by the sentence in the previous paragraph that states that "Bismarck engaged and destroyed the battlecruiser HMS Hood", thereby making it look like an equivalent action, which is not the case. Hood was sunk by Bismarck’s gunfire, but Bismarck was not sunk by British gunfire. The editor offers as support for his POV the claim that “destroyed” is a close enough nuance to describe the situation. The line should read “The following morning, a pair of British battleships engaged Bismarck and inflicted massive damage, but did not sink her”.

The same editor also includes the sentence “Several other expeditions surveyed the remains seeking to document the ship's condition and to determine what sank her.” However he refuses to allow the clarification that all save one of those expeditions determined that the Bismarck sank due to scuttling and not battle damage, with the excuse that it’s still under debate. WP:NPOV states that articles must "Indicate the relative prominence of opposing views. Ensure that the reporting of different views on a subject adequately reflects the relative levels of support for those views, and that it does not give a false impression of parity, or give undue weight to a particular view." See also WP:UNDUE. In the light of all the independent evidence, which supports the original reports of the surviving crew members and the known standard practice of the German Navy, allowing the Intro to reflect an “even” debate is a clear case of UNDUE. The line should read “Several expeditions have surveyed the wreck, and all save one have concluded that the Bismarck was not sunk by battle damage.”

Wdford (talk) 13:40, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

The intro should summarize "the most important aspects" of the article, see WP:LEAD. That Prince of Wales was damaged in the engagement is not an important part of the story. The malfunctions aren't even mentioned in the lead section, I don't know what your problem is there. In any case, if Prince of Wales were so badly damaged in the Denmark Strait engagement, why did she attack Bismarck the following day?
No, the Admiralty report is a primary source; do you know the difference between primary and secondary sources in a historical context? A secondary source in the field of history is something like a monograph or a journal article, which a historian has written through the use of primary sources like government reports, personal papers, and the like.
We already went over this - you clearly don't speak English natively. Please defer to those of us who do; I don't go bungling about the German Wikipedia insisting they adhere to my views on German word usage. By the time Rodney and King George V checked their fire, Bismarck was destroyed as a fighting unit. Her main and secondary batteries were out of action, her upper works were a shambles, and she was settling in the water. Again, I direct your attention to a dictionary definition of "destroy"; I suggest reading entries #4 and #5. I'll reproduce them here for convenience:
  • "4. to render ineffective or useless; nullify; neutralize; invalidate. "
  • "5. to defeat completely."
No, you're wrong, and you're deliberately misrepresenting the evidence. Two of three expeditions conducted by experts (Cameron is an amateur) favor the scuttling explanation, one favors the battle damage explanation. That is not an overwhelming majority. The very article used to cite the information on those expeditions calls the scuttling explanation "hotly disputed"; that certainly does not sound like it's a fringe argument to me (please read what a fringe theory actually is). In any case, getting into the details of the debate should not occur in the lead. As I said above, simply stating that there is a debate and what the positions are is enough.
The changes you propose are simply unacceptable for a variety of reasons, highlighted in the thread above and here. Parsecboy (talk) 14:48, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
I don’t speak German and I certainly don’t edit the German Wikipedia. However I hope you were not suggesting that the German editors should produce the objective story on the German Wikipedia, and leave you free to impose your POV on the “English” Wikipedia?
I also reject your use of the word “bungling”. Wikipedia is supposed to be written so that everyone can understand it, thus misleading “nuances” are unacceptable and clear simple terms should be used. Please see also WP:RF.
Re the battleship HMS Prince of Wales: I dispute your rejection of the source I provided, as per WP:PSTS. However, I can also provide another source, namely the report from the MV Northern Horizon expedition of July 2001 (Mearns’ mission, it seems). See [A MARINE FORENSIC ANALYSIS of HMS Hood and DKM Bismarck, by William Jurens (AM), William H. Garzke, Jr. (M), Robert O. Dulin, Jr. (V), John Roberts (V), and Richard Fiske (M) - ] The report says, at pg 4, that after destroying the Hood, “The Germans immediately shifted fire to Prince of Wales, hit her seven times in quick succession, and forced her to retreat in heavily damaged condition.” I think that settles the issue of the PoW. There is plenty of extraneous detail in the Intro already, of which you are quite possessive, and a few extra words to clarify the truth will not be an unacceptable burden. The line should read “The battleship HMS Prince of Wales suffered multiple hits and was forced to retreat.”
The same report adds a lot of interesting detail to the final gun-battle too. It clearly states at pg 5 that the 8-inch heavy cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire also participated in the shelling of the Bismarck, so your favurite battleships certainly cannot claim the sole credit. The report continues on pg 5: “Short of fuel and unable to sink his giant target by gunfire alone, at 1022 Admiral Sir John Tovey ordered cruiser Dorsetshire to sink the Bismarck with torpedoes. Dorsetshire hit Bismarck with three 533 mm torpedoes, each armed with 340 kg of TNT and set to run at a depth of about 4.75 meters. Two of these torpedoes hit on the port side and one hit to starboard. As Bismarck was beginning to capsize slowly to port when this attack occurred, it appears that one of these torpedoes may have exploded against Bismarck’s port side superstructure at about 1031.” This source therefore tells us, quite unambiguously, that the joint efforts of two battleships and two heavy cruisers could not sink the Bismarck, although they hit her about 400 times. The line should thus read, devoid of misleading nuances: “The following morning, two British battleships and two heavy cruisers engaged Bismarck and inflicted massive damage, but could not sink her”.
The above quote also says that the Bismarck was already capsizing when the Dorsetshire torpedoes arrived, and one torpedo actually hit the superstructure, thus Bismarck had clearly already been scuttled by that point. You cannot sustain the fiction that Dorsetshire sank the Bismarck with torpedoes when its known that the Bismarck was already capsizing before the said torpedo attack even took place. See also Pg 9: “Damage to the shell caused by the 1,200-meter post-impact slide of the main hull appears to have erased, obscured, or otherwise modified much of the damage that may have been caused by additional torpedo hits from Norfolk, Rodney and Ark Royal. Although these torpedoes certainly damaged Bismarck, they did not play a major role in her sinking.” See also pg 11: “No evidence to support (or refute) anecdotal reports regarding the employment of scuttling charges could be observed on the wreck.” This is coming from the report of Mearns’ own expedition, which you claim as the sole source in favur of the “sunk by battle damage” hypothesis. Clearly, it ain’t so. This detail should all be added to the article.
You cannot write off Cameron as an unreliable source – he has huge experience of surveying wrecks. Also, Cameron didn’t undertake this expedition all alone, with a canoe and a snorkel, he was supported by a large team of experts. Brushing off their findings is again evidence of POV. As far as I can tell there have been 6 expeditions to the Bismarck. None of the six supports the battle damage theory, not even the pro-British Mearns expedition, although Mearns and Grove expressed certain personal “feelings” on the subject. The issue of the “infuriated British” is media hyperbole, and is the least reliable of all the points here. Mearns himself admitted that he found no signs of torpedo damage on the armour belt. The section on the underwater surveys should be expanded to include all this very relevant detail, to remove the current misleading imbalance, and the Intro should be summarised with the line: “Six expeditions have thusfar surveyed the wreck, and all save one have concluded that the Bismarck was not sunk by battle damage.” In the body of the article we should also mention that Mearns’ own team does not appear to support his “feelings”.
Wdford (talk) 12:07, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
No, I was suggesting that I would not go to the German Wikipedia and try to tell them what their words mean. As for nuanced words, if you have a problem with sophisticated language, there is a better place for you.
Are you a historian? Do you know how historians use sources? I am a historian, and I can tell you that government reports made at the time are primary sources in the historical context. As for the severity of damage to Prince of Wales, I can provide sources that state the damage was not serious. For instance, Atlantic Convoys and Nazi Raiders states simply that PoW withdrew after receiving four 38cm hits. The Effectiveness of Airpower in the 20th Century also simply describes the two significant hits (the dud 38cm on the bridge and the 38cm hit aft that caused some minor flooding) and that PoW thereafter withdrew. Bismarck: The Final Days of Germany's Greatest Battleship described the hit on the bridge and attributed the retreat to the malfunctioning guns, not damage.
As for the lead more broadly (i.e., what material belongs in it), you should look at what traditional encyclopedias consider important enough to squeeze into much smaller entries. For instance, World War II: The Encyclopedia of the War Years references Prince of Wales only in passing, attributes the destruction of Bismarck solely to Rodney and KGV, doesn't even mention Norfolk, Dorsetshire, or any other warship in the final engagement, and subscribes to the battle damage explanation. World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia states that Prince of Wales was simply damaged, notes Rodney, KGV, and Dorsetshire in the final engagement, but does not pronounce one way or the other on the competing claims. In World War II: The War at Sea, Prince of Wales merely disengaged after taking several hits, and it also subscribes to the British claim; no mention is made of the scuttling. Whitley's Battles of World War II: An Encyclopedia states that PoW withdrew with damage and that Rodney and KGV "reduced [Bismarck] to an ineffective wreck" (that means they destroyed her, in case you were wondering); Whitley also mentions both theories but does not side with either.
As for Cameron, he's a movie director, not a naval historian or marine architect. His opinions hold about as much merit as yours (aka, none at all). I have provided you with several secondary sources that dismiss the German claim; you've read the article from the NYT and decided that the surveyors alone are the important opinions on the matter. Let me point you to the first line on page 17 of the Jurens/Garzke/Dulin/et. al. article: "The difficulties in interpreting the condition of wrecks on the bottom are very formidable indeed. Very often, particularly with older wrecks, forensic researchers have no “black boxes” to go by." As to the question of whether Bismarck was scuttled or sunk by torpedoes, allow me to point you to the conclusion of the same essay, on page 11: "No evidence to support (or refute) anecdotal reports regarding the employment of scuttling charges could be observed on the wreck." Basically, they said it's impossible to determine through marine archaeology whether Bismarck was sunk by torpedoes or scuttled. All of these men are noted naval historians and experts on the subject matter. If they say there is no clear evidence one way or the other, there isn't. And we will not be in the business of taking sides. Parsecboy (talk) 14:58, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

You are going to an inexplicable amount of trouble to block certain details from being presented in the article, and I can’t see any valid reason for this.

Re the Prince of Wales, its common cause that the PoW sustained multiple hits in the confrontation with Bismarck, and this is also discussed in the relevant section of the article. Why are you making such huge efforts to avoid including the line “The battleship HMS Prince of Wales suffered multiple hits and was forced to retreat”?

You have offered a fine range of sources to support your POV, but actually, contrary to your "summaries":

  1. Atlantic Convoys and Nazi Raiders states that PoW withdrew after receiving SEVEN hits, agrees that the two cruisers participated in the bombardment and agrees the British ships couldn’t sink the Bismarck with gunfire.
  2. The Effectiveness of Airpower in the 20th Century glosses over the entire battle, and gives a lot more credit than other sources to the aircraft (as one would expect from the title of the work). It nowhere attempts to refute the reports that PoW was hit seven times or that Bismarck was scuttled by her crew.
  3. Bismarck: The Final Days of Germany's Greatest Battleship actually says, on pg 117, “Finally Leach gave orders to retreat. If the uneven duel had continued, the outcome was clearly not going to be favourable. It was better to save the ship.” That’s not quite how you summarised the source, now is it?
  4. World War II: The Encyclopedia of the War Years has clearly glossed over this a bit too briefly, as many other sources give a lot more info than this. Wikipedia should strive to be better than other sources, not worse.
  5. World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia actually states that Prince of Wales took seven hits, and clearly states at pg 107 that the Germans scuttled the ship BEFORE the Dorsetshire’s torpedo attack. Again, your summary is misleading to the point of incredulity.
  6. World War II: The War at Sea says the ‘'Prince of Wales disengaged after taking “a number of hits”, clearly mentions the two cruisers were part of the gun battle, and makes the minority claim that the Bismarck was sunk by torpedo.
  7. Battles of World War II: An Encyclopedia admits that PoW withdrew with damage, and does not claim the Bismarck was sunk by gunfire.

All in all, apart from a very brief passing gloss from the Groves, your quoted sources heavily support my proposed amendments, do they not?

You cannot write Cameron off as merely “a movie director”. Firstly, Cameron is also a National Geographic explorer-in-residence and a member of the NASA Advisory Council. Second, he has extensive experience of surveying wrecks – more so than most people. Third, he was supported by a team of specialists, and fourth, he took actual film of the wreck, which gives him actual evidence on which to base his conclusions. If he says the armoured hull was intact, then so be it, and his opinion counts for a lot more than the opinions of those who drew conclusions based on reports of sailors who were miles away watching though smoke and heavy weather.

The scuttling is well attested. The eye-witness reports of the German survivors are detailed - Bismarck: The Final Days of Germany's Greatest Battleship, pgs 279 and 281 actually names Lieutenant Commander Gerhard Junack as the officer who gave the order to light the fuses which scuttled the ship, and notes that the survivors heard the charges detonate before they abandoned ship. The original accounts of the German witnesses have never been refuted by other eye-witnesses, the British even admitted that scuttling charges had been used (see above) and all the explorers who have actually seen the wreck have concurred that the damage to the armoured inner hull wasn’t enough to sink the ship. This is not a 50/50 debate, and pretending that it is so is a case of WP:UNDUE.

The comment on page 11 of the Jurens/Garzke/Dulin/et. al. article that says “No evidence to support (or refute) anecdotal reports regarding the employment of scuttling charges could be observed on the wreck" does not mean what you interpret it to mean. It simply means (as they themselves clearly state) that they were unable to survey the areas where the scuttling charges did their damage, because those areas of the wreck were inaccessible to them. They did however also admit that the observed battle damage was insufficient to sink the ship. Again, your interpretation of the source is blatantly biased and factually incorrect.

Re Mearns, whose alleged quotations clearly contradict the report of his own team, I took out the citations for the Mearns quotes because that source does not support the words you put in his mouth. I didn’t delete the quotes, but I cited the sources because they are clearly wrong. If you have sources that actually support what you claim he said, then by all means correct this.

Finally, I didn’t copy in text word for word, I did reword the sentences. However if a bit more rewording is required, that is easily accomplished.

I find it hard to accept in good faith your accusation that my amendments are “highly biased”, since my amendments are clearly supported by the sources. On the contrary, your preferred wording is clearly WP:UNDUE, your interpretations are not supported by the actual evidence or the up-to-date sources and are thus largely WP:OR, and your preferred wording clearly reflects a serious POV. Wikipedia should be comprehensive and reliable – therefore this article needs to be further improved.

Wdford (talk) 10:27, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

I already told you: the relatively minor damage suffered by Prince of Wales is not a critical piece of the story of Bismarck, which is what the lead section should be about. If you ask someone on the street what Bismarck is famous for, they will not say it's because she damaged Prince of Wales and forced her to retreat. They'll say (if they say anything, let's be honest) that it was because she blew up Hood in about a dozen minutes of firing and was then sunk herself after a huge chase by the Royal Navy. I don't know why you're obsessed with Prince of Wales, but in the grand scheme of things, she's mostly irrelevant to Bismarck's story.
As for the books: your claims are entirely specious. #1: the "seven hits" detail is irrelevant, as he does not comment on the severity of damage caused by these hits. Indefatigable took maybe 4 hits at Jutland before she blew up, while Seydlitz and Derfflinger each took over 2 dozen and survived. #2: that the book ignores the claim that Bismarck's crew was responsible for her sinking suggests that the authors don't believe it to be valid. The claim is certainly well-known enough to invalidate the idea that they simply didn't know about it. The point remains that the author does credit Rodney and King George V with destroying Bismarck. #3: Again, that says nothing about the damage, and more likely in fact refers to the mechanical problems that disabled most of Prince of Wales' guns. Don't put words in the author's mouth. #4 Your dismissal of the source is entirely baseless. #5: Same thing as #1 - 7 hits doesn't say how damaging they were. As for the scuttling, please explain to me where the author says "but it was the scuttling that sank the ship, not the torpedoes". Oh right. #6: Same as 1 and 5 - "a number of hits" does not say how damaging they were. #7: Who said anything about sinking Bismarck with gunfire? All I said was that gunfire destroyed the ship, which for the Nth time, does not mean sink.
Is Cameron a naval historian or marine archeaologist? It doesn't matter how many dives or documentaries about them he's made, he is not an expert. The condition of the armored belt isn't directly relevant to the issue, now is it? Torpedoes do their damage below the belt, as would the scuttling charges. Honestly, I don't know what your rabid problem is, the article leans toward the scuttling explanation as it is.
I also don't understand why you think the opinions of naval historians don't matter in determining the weight of opinion. The question is not a sampling of all those who have been to the site/event in question, but of experts in the field. This is why your additions are highly biased, because they only take into account a small portion of experts on this topic. If you want more sources, I'll supply them. Read the last full paragraph on page 97 of Sea Battles in Close-Up, which sums up the situation nicely. As for sources that discredit the scuttling, here's The Second World War and World War Two, both of which omit mention of the scuttling and credit Dorsetshire's torpedoes, and The Battleship Bismarck, which notes that the scuttling charges detonated and torpedoes hit at essentially the same time but does not ascribe the sinking to either.
As for Jurens et. al., did they say the ship was scuttled?
My mistake, I read the paragraphs in question fairly quickly and they appeared at first to be the same.
Oh, and by the way, here's a quote for you: page 240, "British gunfire systematically destroyed the Bismarck" (emphasis mine). Parsecboy (talk) 14:23, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

As the person that did the first systematic rewrite of this article many moons ago, may I add my tupp'ence worth?

1. 'Bismarck engaged and destroyed the battlecruiser HMS Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy, and forced the battleship HMS Prince of Wales to retreat.' For an introduction, this is sufficient detail. I note that the text states: 'The two German ships continued to fire upon Prince of Wales, causing serious damage' - this makes the point about damage without any equivocation.

2. 'The following morning, Bismarck was destroyed by a pair of British battleships.' I have sympathy for both contributors here, as no one disputes that Rodney and KGV left Bismarck ablaze and impotent, a hell-hole for its crew - as the Baron recounts. Would this tweak work: "The following morning, a pair of British battleships destroyed Bismarck's fighting capability. The cause of her [insert: subsequent] sinking is disputed......."

3. 'Several other expeditions surveyed the remains seeking to document the ship's condition and to determine what sank her.' I don't see what the issue is here: the wording sets the scene perfectly for the much more detailed analysis the text provides and cleverly avoids getting into the arguments that do come up further down. All the best, bigpad (talk) 16:41, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

Re #2 - I'd be happy with substituting "neutralised" for "destroyed" - perhaps "The following morning, a pair of British battleships neutralised Bismarck; the cause of her subsequent sinking is disputed. Some in the Royal Navy..." would be the best option, as it also avoids passive voice.
Re #3 - avoiding the specifics of the controversy in the introduction was the idea. It's best left to the text of the article, which can go into the issues much more deeply. Parsecboy (talk) 13:36, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
1. Why not just say: "and forced the damaged battleship HMS Prince of Wales to retreat." This is more factual, its one extra word, and it eliminates the rabid POV.
2. This wording gives undue emphasis to the British claim to have sunk the ship, which claim is based on hearsay but is contradicted by the actual evidence. It also ignores the contribution of the two cruisers. I would be happy with: "The following morning, two British battleships and two heavy cruisers neutralised Bismarck; the cause of her subsequent sinking is disputed by some." The detailed sections can then properly clarify the scuttling issue. If you leave out the POV re the British claim, then the last line is fine.
PS: Just saw a NatGeo documentary on the Bismarck, wherein Kennedy unambiguously says that the British claim is wrong, and film is shown of a valve that has been blown outwards by a scuttling charge. Interesting. Wdford (talk) 02:18, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry, you must be confused. This article is about the German battleship Bismarck. If you want to write about Prince of Wales in the lead section of an article, there is a better place for that.
I'm curious: just what do you think my POV is, pray tell? I'm sure your response will be entertaining.
I'll be frank. Your proposed alterations (which is to eviscerate the British claims to have sunk the ship) are biased and totally unacceptable per WP:NPOV. I don't know why I have to keep telling you this: the people who surveyed the wreck are not the only experts we should be considering.
I'm glad we're getting our history from a popular history that repeats the canard that Bismarck's AA guns couldn't depress low enough to engage the Swordfish, and calls Prinz Eugen a battlecruiser. Regardless, your characterization of Kennedy's comment is rather odd. Maybe you thought I wouldn't be able to find it. Here's what he said: "[The British] like to feel they done it all alone, but it wasn't quite like that." I don't see an unambiguous rejection of the British claim here. It seems to be rather more in line with his opinion as quoted in the article here than what you suggest. It's also very interesting that you decided to omit the comments from the other two naval historians presented in the documentary. Parsecboy (talk) 12:32, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
I am German and I fail to see why there is such a big fuss over this issue. You are arguing over the point whether the holes blown in the ship by the British were larger than the holes blown in the ship by the Germans. If the Germans would have wanted to sink the ship they could have done it much easier and with less loss of life if they had done it right in Hamburg. They didn't consider this an option until the British Navy had a few compelling arguments. The credit goes to the British! Whose hole was larger seems pointless to me. MisterBee1966 (talk) 13:25, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

I’m not the slightest bit confused. Prince of Wales is already mentioned in the lead section of this very article, and rightly so. All I propose is that the mention should be an accurate summary, and to do this, we need only add the single word “damaged” so as to avoid misleading readers about the true situation. Your attempts to prevent this are increasingly ridiculous, and clearly reveal your POV to “protect” the image of the Royal Navy and in particular that of British battleships. Why you feel this desperate need I don’t know.

We see your POV again in your next comment, where you accuse me of trying to “eviscerate the British claims to have sunk the ship”. The actual evidence shows that the ship was scuttled, and since this is a “Featured Article” as you keep reminding everyone, we should take care to record these matters accurately and in a neutral manner. It’s not a question of “whose hole was larger”, because according to the surveyors the British were not able to make holes in the armoured inner hull. The British claim has been "eviscerated" by the evidence of the independent surveyors, not by me.

We should certainly consider the views of all the “experts”, but we need to be a bit more careful in distinguishing a reliable opinion here. Historians need to stick to the evidence, and there are only two sources of reliable evidence re the scuttling issue – the German eye-witnesses to the scuttling activities, and the inputs from the handful of "the people who surveyed the wreck". The assumptions of the British participants are flawed by the obvious fact that they could not possibly have known whether or not the Germans had set off the scuttling charges. Any naval historian who merely repeats supposition and hearsay is thus not reliable on this issue. I am not suggesting that those inaccurate reports be deleted from the article; certainly they must be mentioned here. However they must be mentioned in their correct context, and without giving undue weight to sources which have been overtaken by later evidence.

BTW I am quite happy with Kennedy’s opinion as currently quoted in the article – Bismarck was on fire, could not manoeuvre and was being swamped by the very heavy seas, so could not escape and could not have survived forever. However the British could not sink her "all alone", and needed the Germans to do that for them. Fair enough. Wdford (talk) 21:48, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

That is probably the most amusing thing I've ever heard used to describe my position on anything on wiki. If you had half a clue, you might have thought to search the archives of this very talk page for the previous times this issue was discussed. For example, this one from back in 2007, when I was somewhat less concerned about concealing my opinions. Then there's the obvious fact that I've written a couple hundred articles on German warships of various types between 1860 and 1945. Explain to my why a partisan of the Royal Navy would spend the past 5 years documenting the major ships of the German navies while paying almost no attention to the RN. How about you do even a small bit of research before you start slinging accusations of bias around? It makes you look extremely foolish.
As for Prince of Wales, that she was present at the engagement and forced to retreat is more than enough for the introduction of this article. Anything more than that veers away from the main points of the article. Again, I suggest you read WP:LEAD. Why don't you try to write up an introduction of approximately the same length as this one, and covers as much of the story that this one does. The current version is 338 words. You might be surprised about what you have to leave out to keep within length constraints.
As for your comments re the experts: I take it you forgot that the Jurens/Garzke/Dulin/etc. article states that there was no evidence to support either claim, and that underwater archaeology is inherently problematic? As Cameron noted in his expedition, some 40% of the outer hull below the armored belt on one side is missing, which seriously compromises the ability to determine exactly what happened. There are also other ways to interpret the events of 27 May 1941 apart from direct examination of the wreck. For instance, the typical behavior of ships when scuttled should be considered; they generally settle relatively evenly, rather than capsize. See for example this photo of Bayern sinking at Scapa Flow, or this one of Hindenburg, both on an even keel. If the battle damage inflicted by the Royal Navy had no effect on the ship sinking, why did Bismarck capsize? This is not to say that the scuttling argument is wrong, it is to highlight that there are other things that historians have to consider apart from marine archaeology. Parsecboy (talk) 23:14, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
WP:LEAD doesn’t support your attempts to suppress from the lead the fact that Prince of Wales was damaged in the engagement – but then, you already knew that. However WP:LEAD does warn that many people only read the Intro, and so deliberately omitting the fact that PoW was damaged (or the participation of the two cruisers in the bombardment) could mislead readers, hence my argument all along. Adding a few extra words will not harm the Intro, and will in fact improve it. If you are concerned about the length of this Introduction, I can easily cut dozens of unnecessary words out and still comply easily with WP:LEAD. Should I BE BOLD and trim the Intro?
Actually the Jurens/Garzke/Dulin/etc. article states that no evidence to support or refute the scuttling “could be observed”, as the relevant areas were buried in the mud. (Apparently they chose not to enter the vessel). They however agreed that the evidence shows Bismarck was not sunk by torpedo damage. Your very selective quoting of this source again reveals your POV.
Actually the fact that the outer hull is missing greatly facilitates the ability to determine exactly what happened, as this exposes the inner armoured hull (which seemingly was not penetrated below the water line).
There is no evidence that scuttled ships settle evenly rather than capsizing. Ships that are scuttled during a storm are far more likely to be pushed over by wind and waves, and the sources agree that a gale was blowing on the day of Bismarck sinking. However, your POV is yet again revealed when you very selectively cite as examples the Bayern and the Hindenburg. The German fleet at Scapa Flow was scuttled on a calm sea, yet its known that both SMS Konig Albert and the SMS Seydlitz capsized when scuttled. See eg this photo. See also |this eye-witness account of that mass scuttling, which says that many of the ships keeled over. The evidence is clear that Bismarck was scuttled, and the pretense that this is still uncertain is POV and UNDUE.
Wdford (talk) 18:36, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
You have yet to explain how the damage inflicted on Prince of Wales is a crucial part of the Bismarck story. Can you please address this instead of repeatedly dodging the issue? That is the crux of the WP:LEAD issue, which prescribes that the introduction should only focus on the important aspects. For example, the paragraph in the intro of SMS Von der Tann only mentions the fact that she destroyed HMS Indefatigable; that she also hit other ships is not as relevant.
And what do you think it means when they said no evidence was available to confirm or deny the scuttling? It means they could not confirm through archaeological methods that the ship was scuttled. Get it through your thick skull: I THINK THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF BISMARCK'S SINKING WAS THE SCUTTLING CHARGES, NOT DAMAGE INFLICTED BY THE BRITISH. That was the whole point of linking to the 2007 discussion. Drop the "POV" bullshit, because you have no damn clue what I think. The reason I think including the British claim is important is because I have the ability to write history from a somewhat objective perspective.
As for scuttling, yes, one can deliberately capsize a ship by opening only the valves on one side, but if the scuttling charges are distributed evenly, the ship will settle on an even keel. Hence why Admiral Auphan ordered the French fleet in Toulon to scuttle itself on an even keel, so the ships could be more easily recovered after the end of the war. Perhaps the Germans deliberately capsized some of the ships in Scapa Flow to prevent the British from easily raising them. The records available don't cover this issue, as far as I have seen, and neither of us were there. Perhaps more importantly, scuttling is not exactly a quick thing. It took Friedrich der Grosse almost an hour to sink, and Hindenburg remained afloat for more than five hours. Even the light cruisers all took more than two hours to sink. Why did Bismarck sink so quickly (less than 20 minutes) after the scuttling charges detonated if there was nothing else happening to speed the process along? Again, this is not to say that I don't think the scuttling charges were instrumental in sinking the ship, but that there are multiple issues to address besides simplistic archaeological issues. That is why we need to include both sides of the story and give them relatively equal weight. Parsecboy (talk) 19:44, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
Please tone down your language, and focus on the facts.
The Intro as currently stands is excessively wordy, and should be trimmed. I attempted to trim it as per WP:LEAD, but one editor promptly put it all back. That same editor is now blocking the addition of one extra word, claiming that it’s not important enough for the Intro. However the Intro also does not need a whole line explaining who was Otto von Bismarck, we don’t need to explain that February 1939 is two and a half years later than July 1936, we don’t need to explain how many commanding officers the ship had or who he was, we don’t need to explain that the two ships were “however” detected “several times off Scandinavia”, and we don’t really need the long waffle about other surveyors “seeking to document the ship's condition and to determine what sank her.” If all this fluff is considered “critical”, then we can certainly add one more word to indicate that Bismarck hit PoW as often as PoW hit Bismarck, (and that Prinz Eugen hit PoW four times as well.) Should I BE BOLD and trim the Intro at the same time?
Jurens/Garzke/Dulin did not say there is no evidence to confirm or refute the scuttling, what they clearly said was that they were unable to “observe” those particular areas of the ship. However, what do you think it means when they said that the ship was not sunk by the torpedoes? Since gunfire and torpedoes have been eliminated as a cause of sinking, what remains? Also, there was no evidence of implosion, which indicates that all the water-tight doors were open, and this would not happen if the crew were trying to stay afloat.
As I have said many times already, mentioning the British claim certainly is important. However, WP:UNDUE requires that we do not create the impression that the debate is evenly poised, as all the evidence points in a single direction only. If you really are objective, you would realise this is the correct approach. We cannot keep the sentence "while German survivors ARGUE that they scuttled the ship", because it casts doubt on the scuttling theory, and there is no doubt actually, as even you now concede.
The speed of scuttling is dependent on how quickly the water enters, which in turn depends on how big were the holes in the armoured hull. The sources say that holes were blown in the hull by demolition charges, but they don’t say where or how big or how many. Obviously this would let water in faster than just opening some valves. Bismarck had already lost some buoyancy due to the torpedo damage to the protective outer hull, and the heavy seas probably played a role as well, but there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest the ship was sunk by torpedoes. You are dismissing eye-witness evidence and hard archaeological evidence in favour of unfounded speculation, and you still haven't offered a plausible reason for your stance.
Wdford (talk) 09:45, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
You don't like my language? Then stop being a dick. You want to focus on facts? How about you stop falsely accusing me of having a bias I clearly do not have.
As for your supposed efforts to trim the lead, all you did was slant the intro toward the scuttling explanation and remove the "several times of Scandinavia" bit. As you rightly point out, some people only read the intro; introducing Bismarck as the namesake for the ship and not having a dependent clause (not the same thing as a whole line, incidentally) explaining why he was chosen as the namesake is not helpful.
Since you keep ignoring me, I'll try again: why is Prince of Wales being damaged important enough to be included in the lead section?
They didn't? Then what does "No evidence to support (or refute) anecdotal reports regarding the employment of scuttling charges could be observed on the wreck" mean? Not being able to see it means they could not evaluate what evidence may be there, thus there is no evidence available to confirm or deny the scuttling explanation. Allow me to provide an analogous example: there's a dead body with no head; his attacker said he shot him in the head, but a witness said the guy shot himself in the head. You can't find the head. How are you going to prove who was right with no forensic evidence to use?
And no, they did not say that torpedoes were not responsible for the sinking. They said the additional hits from Rodney, Norfolk, and Ark Royal's Swordfishes did not contribute materially to the sinking. Notice that Dorsetshire is not included in that list. Who's reading things into the text now?
I don't know why I have to keep telling you this. The archaeological evidence is only part of the material we need to be considering when determining what weight to assign the two sides. That the British sank the ship is commonly cited in books that cover this topic, and more importantly, numerous books also cite the controversy but do not say one side is correct and the other not. We, as a tertiary source, need to follow what reliable sources say, not what you think after having watched a NatGeo documentary. And no, I did not "concede" anything. I merely told you what my personal opinions are on the matter, which as you might have seen, go back as far as 2007. That does not, however, mean I think I have a right to impose my interpretations on the article.
"there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest the ship was sunk by torpedoes" - oh, so the fact that the possible evidence of torpedo damage is unavailable is good enough for you to say it never existed now? The bottom of the hull is buried, so we can't see what evidence there is of scuttling, but that's ok, it's surely there. But the slide down the mountain erased the damage from torpedoes, which is fine because it wasn't there in the first place. You can't have your cake and eat it too, you know.
I'm getting rather tired of your WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT games. Why don't you stop wasting our time and wander back to your Egyptian race hypotheses - you're going to get nowhere here with your tendentious arguments. Parsecboy (talk) 15:20, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

Please stop your WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT games, put aside your blatant POV, and focus on the facts. I intend to make a number of improvements to this article, but you jumped in and started reverting before I got past step 1. The article was then promptly protected, and now you accuse me of not doing much?

The fact that Bismarck hit PoW repeatedly and forced it to retreat is as much part of the Bismarck’s contribution as blowing Hood out of the water, although it’s obviously by far the lesser part. You accept that this detail is necessary in the Intro, except that you desperately attempt to exclude the objective fact of the damage that was inflicted by Bismarck. Yet despite your demand that the Intro stick only to the “critical facts” as you define them, you insist on having a “dependent clause’ about Otto von Bismarck in the Intro, even though he contributed nothing to the vessel save his name, and his name is already blue-linked? This is hypocrisy, as well as POV.

Your headless man analogy is patent nonsense and another blatant attempt to divert the discussion. Let me give you a more relevant analogy: There's a headless dead body inside a ship; his attacker said he shot him in the head, but a witness said the guy shot himself in the head. The witness was far away on a stormy day on the outside of the ship, and couldn’t actually see who shot him, and is thus not really a witness at all. Meanwhile the attacker was standing within touching distance, and nobody has denied this fact. You can't find the head, but Ballard, McLaren, Cameron and others have found the head, and they described it in detail, and took photographs. There is plenty of forensic evidence to use, but you keep denying it, in favour of the claims of the witness who never actually saw anything but was widely reported nonetheless. Does this analogy help you at all?

Jurens etc didn’t say there was no evidence of scuttling, merely that they couldn’t “observe” the relevant areas. They also found no evidence that any torpedoes played a major role in the sinking. Jurens etc do however state very clearly that the most serious of the nine torpedo hits was the hit that disabled the rudders (from an aircraft, not the Dorsetshire), and they make no mention of seeing any damage from the Dorsetshire’s torpedoes except for the hit on the superstructure, which they conclude must have occurred when the superstructure was already 4 meters under the surface and which thus indicates the ship was already turning over.

Nobody said the evidence of torpedo strikes was erased by the damage to the outer hull – on the contrary. Puncturing the outer hull couldn’t sink that ship, as the inner hull was designed to provide enough buoyancy to stay afloat – as was demonstrated in battle. The inner hull wasn’t erased by the slide, it is still there and it was inspected by numerous expeditions such as Ballard, Cameron, McLaren etc who clearly state there is no evidence of penetrations of the armoured hull, nor any evidence of pressure implosions. Again you avoid the plain words of the sources, and attempt instead yet another blatant distraction.

Wdford (talk) 18:05, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

The lead section should summarize the entire article, which is why Bismarck as the namesake is mentioned with the construction and design para; his granddaughter christened the ship, and all. As for why we have to explain who he was and not simply rely on a blue link, the reason is that Featured Articles "[need] to be able to largely stand on its own",[2] without forcing readers to click on dozens of links to follow the article. Perhaps you do not know this because you have never written a Featured Article; I've written 31. In this case, it would be wise to defer to the vastly more experienced. I don't, for instance, go mucking about articles on the race hypotheses of Tutankhamen, because I don't suffer from the Dunning–Kruger effect.
There is no difference, apart from semantic, in the meanings of "there is no available evidence of scuttling" and "the areas of possible evidence are buried so they could not access them." But you can keep playing word games.
As for the headless man analogy, no, it was an attempt (useless, I see) to illustrate the situation. As for your version of it, no, Ballard, McLaren, etc. only found the body. The head (aka the direct evidence of scuttling or fatal torpedo damage) is still missing. Or do you have x-ray vision?
As for the ship already turning over by the time Dorsetshire fired the last torpedo, let me point out that the ship already had a 20-degree list by the time Oels ordered the ship to be scuttled. What caused that, pray tell?
Since you appear to be reading a different article than I am, I will reproduce sections here.
Page 9:
Sediments covered most of the areas where other torpedoes are reported to have hit. Damage to the shell caused by the 1,200-meter post-impact slide of the main hull appears to have erased, obscured, or otherwise modified much of the damage that may have been caused by additional torpedo hits from Norfolk, Rodney and Ark Royal. Although these torpedoes certainly damaged Bismarck, they did not play a major role in her sinking.
The last sentence refers only to the torpedoes launched by the ships mentioned, not all of the torpedoes that hit the ship.
I'm sorry, Jurens et. al. also said sediment buried the areas that were reportedly hit by torpedoes. My mistake. Let's look at page 9 again (the same paragraph, too!), because you seem to have trouble with reading comprehension:
Sediments covered most of the areas where other torpedoes are reported to have hit. Damage to the shell caused by the 1,200-meter post-impact slide of the main hull appears to have erased, obscured, or otherwise modified much of the damage that may have been caused by additional torpedo hits from Norfolk, Rodney and Ark Royal.
How did Cameron or McLaren get ROVs through all that sediment? And all Ballard had was Argo - he could not make internal examinations of the wreck. And to the last point, on the contrary, there were four penetrations of the armored belt - two in the main belt and two in the upper belt - that were observed on the expeditions. Each comment you add here makes it clearer and clearer that you don't know what you're talking about.
Again, you can keep playing games, but no one apart from you is convinced. Parsecboy (talk) 18:52, 29 October 2012 (UTC)


  1. ^ "WW2 People's War - World War Memories of an Ulster Childhood". BBC. 2003-11-18. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  2. ^ Me, two days ago. You apparently weren't listening