Talk:Last battle of the battleship Bismarck

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proposal to redirect[edit]

I once again strongly propose that this article be merged into the main article German battleship Bismarck. The other article presents a far more detailed account of this very battle, but this article contains very little detail that is not already present on the other side. Wdford (talk) 22:41, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

There is a huge amount of duplication of material cross a number of articles, namely the German battleship Bismarck, the Last battle of the battleship Bismarck the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Operation Rheinübung, Ernst Lindemann and Günther Lütjens for starters. I propose that each portion of the material be concentrated in detail in one or other article, and then the other articles all reference across to the main article in question, rather than the extensive duplications we currently have. Any objections? Wdford (talk) 07:53, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
This is probably a discussion that should be centralized somewhere, rather than spread out on all of the article talk pages. Perhaps moving it to WT:MILHIST with pointers from each of the article talk pages would be a good idea. Parsecboy (talk) 16:47, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
Good suggestion. Please see discussion at [1]. Wdford (talk) 11:52, 17 February 2013 (UTC)

US carriers at Norway[edit]

I always wonder if the three Enterprise-class carriers had been somewhere in Europe in the pursuit of the Bismarck? I have yet to find a reliable source citing that the Enterprise carriers were indeed in the Atlantic in May 1941. hmssolentlambast patrol records 01:34, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

No, they weren't - recall that Hornet wasn't even commissioned until October 1941. It's vandalism, and you were correct to revert it. Parsecboy (talk) 09:45, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Acknowledgment of Poland as a Belligerent due to the presence of ORP Piorun[edit]

I recently had my edit of inclusion of Poland as a belligerent reverted by a Denniss (talk) 08:24, 23 August 2014‎ (UTC) without any reasons to counter my own. As it is not disputed that Polish destroyer ORP Piorun was present and engaged in the hunt and sinking of the Bismarck, I think it correct that the presence of Polish forces be recognised in the article. Much in the same way it is in articles for other Battles in World War II where Polish Forces were involved, such as: Battle of Narvik, Siege of Tobruk,Battle of Monte Cassino, Operation Overlord, Operation Totalize, Battle of Arnhem) and others.

I make this case due to the fact that unlike the remnants of the Polish Air Force, which was fully incorporated into first the French Air Force and later the RAF, both the Polish Army and Navy remained as Sovereign forces fighting alongside the British retaining their own systems and regulations. While under British Operational Command (Some of the Army under French prior to their capitulation), these services fought for the Polish Government (by then -in-exile) (which had refused as a nation to surrender in 1939) and were part of Poland’s continuation of the war with Germany after the conquest of Poland. Retaining a slight difference from some “Free” forces who had broken away from their official Governments, that had surrendered to the Nazi’s, in order to continue the fight. Although many of these are still recognised as Sovereign Belligerents in articles.

Much like Royal Canadian Navy (also RAN & RNZN) sailors Polish Navy Sailors were not members of the Royal Navy but as part of their own respective Navies served on their own ships (some leased by Poland from the British to replace loses) within fleets of the Royal Navy. The Anglo-Polish Naval Agreement of November 1939 stated that the ships were sovereign Polish territory and that the Polish Navy whilst with the British was to be commanded by Polish officers, its ships manned by Polish crews, with Polish uniforms and ranks; and subject to Polish regulation. It was only to be subordinated to the operational control of the British Admiralty (Like many Commonwealth and Free Naval Units). [1]

Even if their independence from the Royal Navy is disputed the correct action would be to place them as belligerents bullet pointed under the United Kingdom as is done with the Foreign Servicemen within the RAF in theBattle of Britain article (and colonial forces) as it is not disputed that the ORP Piorun and her Polish crew were present.

Jan Mieszała (talk) 19:53, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

As in last October? GraemeLeggett (talk) 20:48, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree that Polish and RCN participation deserves mention as separate belligerents, especially the PN whose destroyer directly engaged Bismarck, albeit with a footnote that the PN was operating under RN operational control.Damwiki1 (talk) 00:10, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
I added back Canada and Poland to the infobox, I see no reason why not. //Halibutt 07:28, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
  1. ^ "Polish Navy (Polska Marynarka Wojenna)In Scotland". R M Ostrycharz. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2014. ]

Aircrew picture caption[edit]

The aircrew picture caption looks slightly wrong to me. The five aircrew may be on the Ark Royal but not from the Ark Royal - all five of them took part in the Bismarck chase from Victorious. I'd change it but I haven't got a decent source for it and the original picture states Ark Royal. --Bcp67 (talk) 18:58, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

Scuttling: von Mullenheim's memoir[edit]

Potential edit war here, because one editor is refusing to accept as RS, indeed mischaracterises, the personal account of the ship's senior surviving officer as to the condition of the ship at the time he abandoned. Battleship Bismarck, A Survivor's Story, by Burkard Baron von Mullenheim-Rechberg, Gunnery Officer aboard the ship on her final voyage (US Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1557504369).

While von Mullenheim-Rechberg's book incorporated the recollections of other survivors of the battle, German and British, the key elements in question, indeed the bulk of his book, are his personal observations (not that interviews with other crewmen would not be RS!).

Around this time, the order was given to scuttle and abandon the ship, although I did not know it then. In fact, no such order ever reached me, but the situation on board compelled me to conclude that it must have been given. Nevertheless, I did not allow the men in my station to leave while shells were exploding all over the superstructure and main decks, and ready ammunition was blowing up. To do so would have been nothing less than suicide. I did not give the order to leave until long after our guns had fallen silent, the enemy stopped firing and, presumably, the shooting had come to an end.
By this time our list to port was heavier than ever and starboard was the lee side. I called to the men to look for a place aft and to starboard on the main deck. Forward, there was too much destruction and the smoke was unbearable. The quarterdeck was out of the question: the sinking ship was too far down by her stern and heavy breakers were rolling over her from her port quarter. Those who made the mistake of jumping from that side or who were washed overboard in that direction were thrown back against the ship by the sea, in most cases with fatal consequences.

Now, perhaps User:Wdford can explain what his problem is with this, or the fact (which he, absurdly, claims is denied by "all the RS") that Bismarck was in fact awash at the end. Solicitr (talk) 17:48, 8 January 2016 (UTC)

Dunno who Mullenberg is ;) But I'd assume Wdford's objection is that what's on the blog page is not present in Mullenheim-Rechberg's account in Battleship Bismarck: A Survivor's Story. I haven't checked the book, so I can't vouch for the passage in question, but that's what I think he means, based on his edit summaries.
To the actual meat of the issue, it seems to me that it's solidly established that Bismarck was rather low in the water and starting to roll to port by this point. See for instance Jurens et. al. article (cited in the Bismarck page) that indicates that one of Dorsetshire's torpedoes seems to have struck the ship's port superstructure (with obvious implications). It's also worth pointing out that Zetterling & Tamerlander (also cited in the other article) agree that Bismarck was starting to capsize by this point. Parsecboy (talk) 17:57, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
It's possible that Wdford has the first edition (1975) and not the expanded second edition (1987), which added several RN interviews and, importantly, the account of Josef Statz, only survivor from Damage Control Central. I didn't cite him, but according to Statz the board showed the entire port side of the hull as red, i.e. "uncontained flooding." Solicitr (talk) 18:11, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
Just commenting on the various versions of the source. [2] seems to be clearly a self published page of little or no value. The English text on it may be from one of the English editions or it may not be an accurate transcription. There are two main editions in German; 1980 and 1987 which is expanded. These would seem to be the best sources. There are several English language editions derived from these translated by Jack Sweetman who looks to be a reliable worker. It would be interesting to know who made the additions to the 1987 edition. Were they all by Mullenheim-Rechberg? SovalValtos (talk) 19:07, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
"Were they all by Mullenheim-Rechberg?" Yes. "Among the numerous letters received from readers were many from Germans and others who from their own knowledge and experiences provided interesting additions to the contents in my story." -- v. M-R, Foreword to the Second Edition. Among those he names here are Donald Campbell, Air Defence Officer aboard Rodney, and Machinist Josef Satz, only survivor from Damage Control Central.Solicitr (talk) 20:38, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
Wdford's objection is that the way this amendment was added by Solicitr makes it seem that the ship was already capsizing before it was scuttled. The blog, assuming it is quoting the source correctly, says clearly that Mullenheim-Rechberg evacuated his men long after the scuttling had commenced, and that the scuttling must thus have been done long before the final torpedo attack as well. This is not how Solicitr's edit reads at all. Perhaps that was just careless editing, rather than deliberate POV, but it is misleading and cannot stand. The RS say that the hull was sound and the ship in danger of being captured before the crew scuttled it, not that the port rail was awash before the scuttling commenced. Second, a blog is not a reliable source. If the blog is quoting the RS correctly, then please cite the RS rather, and put the "Mullenheim-Rechberg abandons ship" edit in the correct place - namely at the end of the paragraph after the ship had been successfully scuttled, not ahead of the discussion on scuttling. Wdford (talk) 09:00, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
Well, gee, Wdford, maybe that's because the ship was listing heavily with her port rail awash before the scuttling. It's amazing to me how some people cling to this notion of the "UNSINKABLE SUPERSHIP" and insist in the face of all the evidence that her buoyancy was not compromised by British fire. Satz' testimony is that at the time he received the abandon ship order - passed at the same time as the scuttling order - the DC board showed the entire port side in red (uncontrolled flooding), and all of the starboard voids and bunkers as well as the magazines in green (intentional flooding); only the main engineering spaces remained white. Moreover, it can hardly be denied that the ship did capsize; if scuttling were the only source of flooding she would have gone down on an even keel.
As for the timing of the torpedoes- Dorsetshire launched hers "soon after 1000;" the abandon-and-scuttle order was passed approx 1015-1018, and even had the charges been retrieved from their lockers, installed and set instantly they were still on 9-minute fuses; the detonation could not have been earlier than ~1030. It could well have been later, since Junack said that after receiving the order he sent a PO forward to verify it, and only after the man failed to return did Junack proceed. This timeline is supported by all the survivor accounts which mention hearing the charges go off- these were the only loud sounds, there was no incoming British fire. And it's uncontroverted that Dorsetshire's third (port side) torpedo struck Bismark in the superstructure on the O1 level, in other words a ship that was already very badly listing. Her awash condition when he reached deck was also described by von Mullenheim-Rechberg... who also describes Rodney still sitting there, guns silent, which means that V. M-R came on deck not later than 1016 when Rodney and KGV withdrew.
And we also know from the wreck that Bismarck's main belt was penetrated by at least two heavy-caliber shells (almost certainly Rodney's). I can see no better way of putting it than did Garzke and Dulin (perhaps you'd like to challenge their credentials?) : "Was the Bismarck sunk or scuttled? Our answer is 'Yes.'" Solicitr (talk) 15:56, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
Well, User talk:Solicitr has certainly made his/her POV perfectly clear. However some of his/her comments are seriously doubtful. I quote below from three different reliable sources.
Bercuson and Herwig. {Bismarck: The Story Behind the Destruction of the Pride of Hitler’s Navy, By David J Bercuson, Holger H Herwig, at [3]}, do not give a chronological account of the final hour, but rather a number of different and overlapping accounts from different perspectives. They don’t give many fixed times, but they do state that:
  • The firing ceased at 10h21. At that time Bismarck still “refused to sink”, and Tovey thought it might yet float for hours. That would not have been the case if the port rail was already underwater.
  • Tovey could see the German crew abandoning ship already. The order to abandon ship was only given when the scuttling commenced.
  • Tovey then ordered the Dorsetshire’s torpedo attack, at 10h36, {ie NOT “soon after 10h00” as claimed by Solicitr}.
  • Tovey then headed for home to refuel. The battleships were thus on station until at least 10h36, if not longer. {ie they did NOT withdraw at 10h16 as claimed by Solicitr}.
  • First Officer Oels was killed by a shell-burst after the scuttling charges had been set, so the scuttling was initiated before the firing ceased, and thus long before the torpedo attack.
  • In addition to setting the scuttling charges, seacocks and flooding valves were opened, and the ship started flooding long before the charges themselves detonated.
Zetterling and Tamelander {Bismarck, By Niklas Zetterling, Michael Tamelander, at [4]} state that:
  • The order to scuttle and abandon ship happened when Statz could still hear British shells impacting, so sometime before 10h21 (pg 274);
  • Junack heard the scuttling charges detonate after the firing had stopped, so after 10h21, but while he was still inside the hull. (pg 281)
  • Junack was already on the external shelter deck when the torpedoes eventually hit, together with Mullenheim-Rechberg and others, thus the torpedoes hit later than the detonation of the scuttling charges and substantially later than the opening of the valves and seacocks (pg 279);
  • Parts of the deck were already awash when Junack reached the external shelter deck, thus after the scuttling but before the torpedoes hit (pg 281);
  • Mullenheim-Rechberg was in the water when Bismarck finally capsized to port, he scanned the entire starboard hull and saw no battle damage – not even from torpedoes (pg 282). The starboard torpedoes must thus have also impacted on the already-submerged superstructure.
Garzke & Dulin state {Bismarck's Final Battle, by by William H. Garzke, Jr. and Robert O. Dulin, Jr}, that:
  • “One of the questions we are often asked is, "Did the British sink Bismarck, or did the Germans scuttle her?" Our answer to both these questions has always been "YES." Based on the condition of the hull, especially in comparison to the after portion of the Titanic's hull, the testimony of Mr. Josef Statz, Wilhelm Schmidt, and Gerhard Junack and the author's examination of the damaged stability analysis of Bismarck, there is no question in our minds that scuttling charges caused the ship to sink at 10h40.“ This is quite different to the statement by Solicitr in his/her comment above.
  • They also state that “Dr. Ballard was surprised at the relatively intact condition of the wreck. The ship showed no implosion damage … This strongly suggests massive flooding/scuttling prior to sinking; structural implosions occur only when intact watertight compartments are crushed by increasing water pressure as a sunken ship plunges to the seabed.”
Finally, when the German WW1 fleet was scuttled at Scapa Flow, several of the ships did in fact capsize in the process. Seemingly, large warships DO sometimes capsize when scuttled. Wdford (talk) 10:14, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

I notice that Wdford has quoted Garzke and Dulin with a hidden ellipsis: the full quote goes on to say "Bismarck was a sinking ship, and her scuttling merely hastened an inevitable demise. Bismarck had been decisively defeated by the gunfire from her British opponents." I have no problem with G/D's emphatic "Yes" in answer to the question; Wdford, however, appears to be heavily resistant to any claim the British had anything to do with it.
I would again draw attention to Statz' testimony that the DC flooding board was red all along the port side while the main engineering spaces were still white or "dry;" this could only represent the state of affairs *before* the scuttling, which flooded precisely those central spaces. The "green" starboard voids and bunkers tell the same story: counterflooding would only have been ordered in an attempt to balance a portside list, and certainly not after scuttling had been initiated. Statz also describes how, as he escaped via a maintenance trunk, the ship was listing so severely he was practically hanging from the ladder, climbing upside-down; yet he reached the weather decks before the temporary shelling hiatus ~0950, i.e. well before the scuttling order was executed; he was a horrified witness to the effects of Rodney's point-blank fire..
As an additional point, I would observe that while I have no issue in general with the timeline Wdford deduces above, I would take issue with the implicit assumption that the detonation of the scuttling charges would have had a near-instantaneous effect; big ships just don't sink in a hurry (unless they blow up). I find it strains credulity to assert that Bismark went from fully afloat to superstructure awash in the brief interval between the scuttling charges detonating and Dorsetshire's torpedoes.
[Note- I don't think Dorsetshire's fish had much if any effect; the two hits to starboard obviously wouldn't have caused a roll to port, and the superstructure hit wouldn't have mattered. However, I am dubious of assertions based on Junack and M-R that Bis' lower hull had no outward damage at all; torpedoes even when fully contained by the TDS still do significant damage to the outer plating, and we know that Bis had suffered non-penetrating hits from both Victorious' and Ark's a/c in addition to the rudder hit and Dorsetshire. As of 2016 we still have no real idea of the extent of her below-waterline damage because the wreck is buried in silt up to that level.]
Bismarck's reserve buoyancy would have to already have been seriously if not fatally compromised by shellfire. The (undisputed) fact that the engine rooms were not penetrated does not by any means imply that the compartments outboard of those spaces were intact. Rodney's guns would have no problem punching through Bismarck's belt, or for that matter shooting under it given the Force 6 gale and high sea state. We do know that her port generator room was penetrated and flooded, and that one boiler room was penetrated and set afire (preventing Statz from following Oels), and these or other hits were observed by G&D in the Ballard imagery: "The splinter and main side armor belts, particularly on the port side, showed evidence of penetration, especially in the vicinity of the port forward and amidships 150mm turrets ... We believe several heavy shells struck aft of the port forward 150mm turret and penetrated into the ship."
Ultimately this is like arguing whether it was the cyanide or the bullet that did Hitler in: the answer is "Yes." It's remarkable how for this ship, and this ship alone, people seem to be emotionally invested in what's a a fairly insignificant issue, really: nobody tries to deny Japanese pilots the credit for sinking USS Lexington, even though her burned-out hulk received the coup de grace from US destroyers. The "invincible supership" was 40,000 tons of flaming wreckage well before she went under, no matter who put what holes in her bottom. --Solicitr (talk) 17:19, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
A small point of fact - the German ships at Scapa began to sink within 40 minutes. The order was sent at about 11:20, and by 12:00, Friedrich der Grosse capsized and was on the bottom 16 minutes thereafter. Presumably, the effects of scuttling would be significantly accelerated in a badly damaged warship. Parsecboy (talk) 18:05, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
At Scapa they may have not used explosive charges to avoid alerting british guards on watch. So water inflow was slower.--Denniss (talk) 20:17, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
A good point - they indeed did not have charges at Scapa.
In any event, the issue here is this edit - the article as it currently stands implies that the scuttling took place after Dorsetshire launched the torpedoes, which is not correct. Really, the entire section needs to be rewritten. Parsecboy (talk) 20:28, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

The emotion is actually coming from Solicitr, accompanied by much misinformation. It’s ridiculous to accord an obsessive reliability to the testimony of one crewman, but then to ignore the testimony of other survivors, including officers, whose evidence is unsupportive of the preferred POV. Makes it hard to AGF.

  • I see many mentions in different sources of Statz walking and talking and swimming, but no mention of his DC flooding board. However assuming Solicitr’s source is reliable, the question must still be asked – what does “red all along the port side” actually mean? Does it mean the ship was flooded right across to the center-line, or is it (most probably) referring only to the portside torpedo defenses? I also see no mention in any of these sources that the ship was listing so severely that Statz was hanging upside-down. I do however see G&D mention that “Statz and his companions climbed up this narrow 750mm diameter tube containing vital electrical and control cabling. He made his ascent in a listing, rolling, and pitching ship.” Seemingly their problem was more from the bad weather than anything. G&D also state that “Information from Mr. Statz has indicated that listing was at 15 degrees when he jumped into the sea at 1030.” A 15 degree list is hardly an issue – certainly he would not have been climbing upside-down.
  • Nobody is claiming that the scuttling charges would have had a near-instantaneous effect. However the time elapse from the detonation to the torpedoes was probably 15 minutes or more, which is hardly instantaneous. Also, the seacocks and flooding valves had been opened long before the charges detonated – probably even before the fuses were lit, because Junack waited for a bit while Oels was already going along opening valves. And we note that a warship is inclined to catch fire in a battle, and so the flooding mechanisms would be designed to permit very rapid flooding – there is no point in flooding a burning compartment if it fills up too slowly to do any good. Also, Junack was only responsible for the charges in the engine room – other charges elsewhere in the ship were probably lit by other officers, who did not live to testify.
  • Statz’ comments about the port generator room and the boiler room were ascribed by G&D to shells deflecting downward through the deck armor above the side-belt. G&D also state, with regard to the penetration of the splinter and main side armor belts, that “it is important to note that available imagery of the hull of the wreck of Bismarck is minimal”, and also “There were few photographic or video images showing the main side belt, so analysis of such limited evidence is inconclusive”; and also “The number of penetrating hits, as opposed to surface-marring fragment splashes on the armor, cannot be conclusively determined, due to shadow effects and the oblique angles of view”. Mmmmmm.
  • Final result – no battleship could possibly ever be invincible. The British lost several battleships to lowly U-boats, Hood was blown out the water by a handful of salvoes, Prince of Wales was sunk by 4 aerial torpedoes, Tirpitz was eventually capsized by multiple earthquake bombs, and even mighty Yamato could not prevail. However Bismarck faced 2800 heavy rounds at close range, plus dozens of torpedoes, and was still well afloat when the enemy had exhausted itself. Crippled by a lucky torpedo hit, mobbed by massed battleships and cruisers and aircraft carriers, defeated, but not sunk. Garzke and Dulin state that the ship sank because she was scuttled, as did Ballard. No ship is indestructible, but this one came closer than any other.

I agree that the section needs to be rewritten. Wdford (talk) 11:17, 12 January 2016 (UTC)

" Crippled by a lucky torpedo hit, mobbed by massed battleships and cruisers and aircraft carriers, defeated, but not sunk." Oh, no, no emotional investment here.
The proper orthography would be "defeated(but not sunk)" Bismarck was pounded into chutney in under an hour by two smaller, "inferior" opponents, on which she never laid a glove. Smashed, demolished, wrecked, destroyed. In particular I would point out that all her main battery turrets were knocked out in short order, hardly a positive commentary on her protection. Why precisely all that scrap metal ultimately and unavoidably slipped beneath the waves is largely irrelevant, and not an issue over which anyone gets exercised with any other ship but this one. Nonetheless, while one is free to place one's personal emphasis wherever one likes, one cannot go from there to start recreating a narrative in which the ship took no major damage from any hands but her own. She did. As Garzke and Dulin wrote, I repeat, "Bismarck was already a sinking ship." To pretend she was not taking on water prior to the scuttling is to willfully deny reality; to cite G&D as supporters of the "scuttling only" party is dishonest.
Punishment? Both Yamato and especially Musashi took far more before going down. After all, they were both much bigger and much better designed than Bismarck.
(NB: "lucky" torpedo hit- oh, yes, a weapon hitting the target it was aimed at in a vulnerable spot is always "lucky." Except of course Bismarck's hit on Hood, that was just German superiority......

  • Back to editing the article: the correct {WP:NPOV} approach here is for the article to acknowledge that the topic is debated by contemporary experts, which it is, and present a "Controversy" section with citations from both sides of the argument; the narrative of the final battle should stick to factual events in near-chronological order without indulging in special pleading for either viewpoint in the scuttling dispute. Solicitr (talk) 22:01, 12 January 2016 (UTC)
Statz' account, via v. M-R: "In the damage control center Statz remained standing at the table. His glance fell on the damage control board, which mercilessly revealed the bad situation of his ship. Red, the color for “taking water,” covered almost the entire port side; green, for “flooded,” showed for the port shell and powder chambers and nearly the entire starboard side— the outboard list-control tanks there had been filled for a long time. White, indicating “pumped,” was lit up only for the engine rooms below the armored deck." Note that this occurred just as Oels left DC Central to begin the scuttling process about 1015, and the "white" status of the engine rooms show that scuttling had not commenced. Solicitr (talk) 23:53, 12 January 2016 (UTC)
I agree with Solicitr that the topic is debated by contemporary experts .... and we should present a "Controversy" section. The lesser problem of the info box could be resolved by changing '1 battleship scuttled', to '1 battleship sank' rather than '1 battleship sunk'. SovalValtos (talk) 06:33, 13 January 2016 (UTC)
As Garzke and Dulin wrote, I repeat, "there is no question in our minds that scuttling charges caused the ship to sink at 10h40." To pretend otherwise is to willfully deny reality; to cite G&D as supporters of the "sank other than by scuttling" party is dishonest.
I see Solicitr is still clinging to old Statz and his coloured lights. On 11 Jan Solicitr wrote above that “Statz reached the weather decks before the temporary shelling hiatus ~0950, i.e. well before the scuttling order was executed..” He thus left his post long after the scuttling order was given, climbed upside down through the ship like Spiderman and reached the external deck by 9h50. Now Solicitr is saying that Staltz was still at his post as late as 10h15. Which is it?
Again, Solicitr states that Statz’ coloured lights showed that the whole port side was red, but somehow they also showed that half the port side was simultaneously green as well. Interesting. Plus which, if only the engineering spaces remained unflooded then the ship would have been on the bottom already – you need a lot of displacement to keep a 40,000 ton ship afloat. Oels would surely have noticed that he was already under water before giving orders to scuttle, Junack would not have had the need (or the ability) to light any 9-minute fuses, and Tovey would not have needed to order a torpedo attack 20 minutes later. The reliable sources, on the other hand, make no such claim about these coloured lights.
Yes, mobbed. Check out the order of battle – 7 major ships and 6 destroyers, plus a carrier-load of aircraft. By comparison, in a more-equal two-on-two battle a bit earlier, the fight was all over within 18 minutes – Hood sunk and Prince of Wales running for the horizon. Facts are facts, madam.
There was nothing wrong with Bismarck’s gunnery – as the Hood’s few survivors could testify. However as G&D state clearly: "Bismarck, unable to steer, was at the mercy of the gale-force storm. To fire guns from a platform that had unpredictable ship motions created a difficult gunnery problem, but Adalbert Schneider, Bismarck's gunnery officer, was able to obtain a straddle on Rodney before his ship began taking hits from British shells." Not bad shooting actually, under the circumstances. (I think this detail should be added to the article). Were it not for that one torpedo accidentally wrecking the rudders, the Royal Navy would have experienced a very different morning. The British ships, on the other hand, apparently scored about 400 hits out of 2876 heavy rounds fired – a hit rate of less than 14% - at point blank range, firing at a target that couldn’t shoot back for most of the engagement.
Yamato and Musashi were about 50% larger than Bismarck, as they were built without British treaty inspectors looking over their shoulders. They obviously then had 50% more buoyancy, and should indeed have been at least 50% harder to sink. Yamato went down surprisingly easily, considering her size, hit by eleven torpedoes and six bombs. Musashi in comparison suffered 17 bomb and 19 torpedo hits, and still almost made it to shore. Bismarck, dependent on engineering rather than sheer volume, absorbed up to 400 hits by heavy shells, as well as a number of torpedoes, and was still afloat. If we look at the British battleships, however ….
The correct WP:NPOV approach here is for the narrative of the final battle to stick to factual events in near-chronological order, including the FACT that the ship was well afloat until scuttled by her own crew (and still making headway, according to the observing British airmen.) We can certainly have a separate controversy section stating the view that the ship would probably have sunk EVENTUALLY from battle damage and heavy seas, (especially if the British went home, got more fuel and ammo and returned to continue the bombardment), but that this was never put to the test and therefore remains speculation. Wdford (talk) 12:36, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Bismarck suffered three 14in hits at Denmark Straits, two of which caused several thousands tons of flooding (and subsequent counterflooding) leaving Bismarck 3 degrees down by the bow and with a 9 degree list to port. Bismarck had an generator room, auxiliary boiler room, and boiler room flooded in her engineering spaces and serious flooding forward in the bow from just these two 14in hits.(M-Rechberg 1980,p.116-117 also see Bismarck's war diary) Now we are being asked to believe that ~400 additional hits including ~100 heavy calibre hits seems to have caused little additional flooding. There has been evidence presented that Bismarck did suffer additional flooding from this massive bombardment and this evidence should be given due consideration since it is improbable in the extreme that Bismarck did not suffer great loss of water tight integrity and flooding from these additional hits. M-Rechberg states that the list increased during the battle which is evidence of further flooding. Damwiki1 (talk) 19:01, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
I believe that this is a fair summary: "Bismarck was a sinking ship, and her scuttling merely hastened an inevitable demise. Bismarck had been decisively defeated by the gunfire from her British opponents. The order to scuttle the ship was given at 0930, about 45 minutes after the start of the gunnery action, after all main battery turrets were out of commission. By this time, the ship was a total wreck, incapable of defending herself." Bismarck's Final Battle Part 3. Note that Bismarck was "...decisively defeated..." before the RN ships had closed to try and finish her off.She was also a "...sinking ship..." prior to the scuttling charges being detonated.Damwiki1 (talk) 19:29, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Additional material from Bercuson and Herwig:
"...The Bismarck was blowing off steam, a thick oily smoke rising from the base of her funnel. She was listing 20 degrees to port, with starboard being the lee side. Her stern was beginning to sink and breakers were rolling over her from the port quarter, washing countless seamen overboard. All the while, the enemy kept the burning hulk in a murderous crossfire. Range fell to 3,000 yards, no longer even target practice. At 10:15 A.M. a pair of heavy shells from the King George V shattered the Bismarck's forward superstructure, producing a firestorm that swept up to her bridge. No one could have survived that explosion on the captain's or the admiral's bridge. Conditions below decks were almost indescribable.(50) Shell after shell slammed through the decks and exploded below. Red-orange flames came up through the ventilators. Fumes and nitrogen gas generated by bursting shells permeated the great and deep caverns inside the Bismarck's hull, forcing the men to put on gas masks. Paint burned off the bulkheads and suffocated those without masks. Splinters shot through the compartments. Safety valves blew off and condenser intakes exploded. Armored hatches and doors, ladders and companionways, were stove in or buckled, twisted in every shape and jammed. Many passageways were no longer wide enough to allow men with their inflated life jackets to pass through. Seaman after seaman ripped off his life jacket and ran topside. Screams of "I am dying, I am dying" reverberated throughout the interior of the battleship. The Bismarck's doctors and corpsmen could do little but give the worst cases morphine injections. The Bismarck's first officer, Commander Oels, took command of damage control down below. At first Oels urged the men to put out the countless fires raging throughout the ship. But he quickly realized that this was a labor of Sisyphus. As Oels made his way to Section XIII on the battery deck, he exhorted his sailors to fend for themselves. "Comrades, we can no longer fire our guns and anyway we have no more ammunition. Our hour has come. We must abandon ship. She will be scuttled. All hands to the upper deck."(51) In the engine room, Lieutenant Junack assumed command. He ordered all bulkhead doors to the shaft alleys opened and nine-minute fuses set for the scuttling charges. "Prepare ship for scuttling!" Junack then also ordered his men up to the main deck.(52) Up top, fires burned out of control. Heavy smoke lay over the Bismarck's deck like a deadly pall. Many who made it up from below were blinded by the thick smoke and fell back down through the gaping shell holes as they raced across her deck. The Bismarck was heeling dangerously to port, and water began to cascade down ventilators and shell holes on the port side. " (B&H pp. 292-294). B&H make it plain that Bismarck was sinking prior to the scuttling charges being detonated and prior to the 21in torpedo hits by Dorsetshire. A ship that has it's upper works riddled with shell fire and whose weather deck is being washed over by waves is doomed to sink, and sooner rather than later.Damwiki1 (talk) 20:29, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
More from G&D's full article The Wreck of DKM Bismarck A Marine Forensics Analysis: "...there were hundreds of hits ranging from 134-mm to 406-mm in caliber. The devastation caused by the shellfire combined with the effects of several torpedo hits to overwhelm and defeat the Bismarck, causing the ship to begin sinking due to uncontrollable progressive flooding. The German crew sped the inevitable demise of their ship by initiating scuttling measures...The inevitable sinking process was accelerated by the detonation of scuttling charges by the Germans. (This is our conviction, albeit a mildly controversial one for those who insist that there was no scuttling of the German battleship. Certainly, Bismarck would have sunk even if not scuttled by her crew..." So it's very clear that Bismarck was sinking prior to the scuttling charges being detonated.Damwiki1 (talk) 23:19, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

Scuttling: von Mullenheim's memoir (2)[edit]

I'm truly rather astonished that Wdford is still trying to recruit Garzke and Dulin to his side by selective quotation. One more time, for emphasis: "Bismarck was a sinking ship, and her scuttling merely hastened an inevitable demise." It's also remarkably telling that he still wants to tell us of how poor little Bismarck was "mobbed" by counting every British asset involved in the pursuit (and every shell fired, never mind that as always in naval combat only a single-digit percentage ever hit; 14% is insanely high efficiency), even though the actual combatants engaged in the final battle were almost exactly the same as those in the Denmark Strait two days earlier: two County-class cruisers, a King George V-class battleship and one other capital ship. The only difference was that the KGV was actually finished, and the Rodney wasn't an underprotected WW1 battlecruiser. It doesn't matter how many other RN ships were running about chasing Bismarck; they weren't there and didn't participate in her sinking. Rodney and KGV however, aided by cruiser fire, rendered Bismarck nullified as a warship in under 3/4 of an hour. Emotional attachment can't alter that; even if we were to accept the notion, in defiance of the evidence, that Bismarck accrued no flooding damage whatsoever from British fire that doesn't alter the fact that she was a burning, defenseless wreck. Oels himself said precisely that at the time he ordered the scuttling!
The fact of the matter is that it was bloody difficult to sink a dreadnought-era battleship by shellfire alone- in fact, it never happened, not once.* Even if we count battlecruisers, only Lutzow and Kirishima (arguably) succumbed to gunnery-induced flooding, and in both cases very slowly (in Kirishima's case, aided by poor damage control). To make a large hull sink you have to let in large amounts of water, and that means either making a very big underwater hole, or lots of small ones. KGV and Rodney, shooting from well inside plunging-fire range, weren't going to make a big hole in Bismarck's bottom. But they did make lots of little ones, and only the purblind could deny that Bismarck was suffering severe uncontrolled portside flooding and listing heavily before the scuttling charges went off.
*And, perhaps, Jean Bart at Casablanca depending on whether settling on the harbor bottom counts as "sunk," whether Massachusetts and not a bomb was responsible, and whether a half-finished vessel counts as a "battleship" Solicitr (talk) 01:48, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
Oh, I can't let this from Wdford pass without comment: Bismarck, dependent on engineering rather than sheer volume. Does Wiki's system allow for animated ROTFL smileys? Bismarck depended solely on sheer volume, at 40,000 tons with huge beam and massive metacentric height far outstrippingany battleship yet commissioned (for another month at least). That was pretty much her only asset, together with excellent fire-control optics; her design was in many respects primitive, as if German architects had just picked up where they left off in 1919; from an engineering perspective she was the least impressive design of her generation. Heck, in some ways the Scharnhorsts were better designs, certainly better protected. You want engineering excellence, look at Richelieu. Solicitr (talk) 02:01, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

I feel like this discussion has degenerated into an unproductive argument, and I'd like to get us back on track (if that's possible). Granted, the article as it stands is not in good shape - it needs quite a bit of expansion for starters - so it might not be all that helpful to talk about specific changes at this point. But what are we trying to accomplish in this discussion? Or are we just arguing for arguing's sake? Parsecboy (talk) 13:30, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

The article needs to state that Bismarck suffered engineering damage and significant flooding from PoW's two 14in hits. It also needs to state that Bismarck was sinking prior to setting off the scuttling charges and would have sunk even if the scuttling charges had not been detonated. The 2002 article by Cameron, G&D and Jurens should be the reference for for these changes.Damwiki1 (talk) 18:03, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

Last Para[edit]

I struck the last para, going on about RN losses off Crete and how the sinking of the Bismarck was 'convenient' for British propaganda, because it smelt bad. Although the rest of the article doesn't smell too good either, and it should be called 'Sinking of the Bismarck', because the Bismarck was sunk by the Royal Navy. The crew only carried out the scuttling procedure because the vessel was sinking. The loss of the Bismarck was a major blow to Nazi morale. Here is the German Jewish diarist Victor Klemperer in Dresden: '29 May: I... went to Jakob in Prager Strasse, big sausage shop and snack bar. I was already sitting in the back room when I saw the sign "No Jews allowed" -- not just the sign usual elsewhere: "Jews not welcome." I remained nevertheless. [Klemperer did not wear the star at this time.] There was black pudding soup and vegetables and black pudding soup again -- all without any coupons and I only paid one mark. But there were also conversations at my table. A young man with Party badge, a family. The young man talked about the latest bulletin, sinking of the Bismarck. Which had destroyed the Hood the day before [sic]. The German loss was more serious than the English, was irreplaceable. Our most modern battleship. [Note this was a Nazi Party member's view.] The daughter of the family said literally: "It's a sad week for us. First Hess, then Prien, now the Bismarck." ' (Victor Klemperer, The Klemperer Diaries 1933-1945, tr. Martin Chalmers, Phoenix Press, London, 2000, p.370.) The young woman was referring to the defection of Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess to Britain earlier in May, and the killing of the 'celebrity' U-boat commander Gunther Prien and all the crew of his U-47 by Royal Navy convoy escorts in March, a fact withheld from the German public till a few days before Klemperer's lunch at Jakob's. Klemperer himself, in his diary entry for 27 May (p.369), had suffered 'deepest depression' at 'the parachute landings on Crete, the tremendous cruiser losses of the English there... the sinking of the Hood,' but cheered up when a neighbour reminded him that 'Crete was not England.' And the Royal Navy was big enough to absorb the losses off Crete. The Kriegsmarine couldn't afford the loss of Bismarck. Khamba Tendal (talk) 19:47, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

And someone's duly reverted and stuck that last para back in, and it simply shouldn't be there. The loss of Bismarck was a decisive strategic defeat for the German navy, and no German surface raider, not even Tirpitz, ever troubled the Atlantic sea lanes again. Wittering about how the timing was 'fortunate' for the British government to distract from the less significant losses off Crete is neo-Nazi propaganda. There's a reason why Wikipedia is despised as junk information, and it's down to that kind of thing. I haven't struck the offending paragraph again at this time, because the person responsible is obviously playing games and trying to manoeuvre into a position where it can claim I'm 'edit-warring'. But this article is terrible, and that paragraph is an echt example of why it's terrible. Khamba Tendal (talk) 21:22, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

I'll check in a few days, and if the offending person hasn't said anything I'm going to delete again. And if they revert I'm going to delete again. Khamba Tendal (talk) 21:43, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

It's not about the ability to absorb losses, it's about public perception. The two are obviously very different things. Parsecboy (talk) 20:29, 10 August 2017 (UTC)

No. What's wrong with that paragraph is that it's not a matter of fact but merely opinion. It should not be stated, in Wikipedia's voice, as if it were somehow fact. The claim, per the footnote, is that Captain Pack voiced this opinion in his 1973 Ian Allan book about Crete. (Which is not the subject of the article.) Well, so he may have done; though elsewhere he is cited as saying that the sinking of the Bismarck distracted public attention from the naval losses off Crete, which is not quite the same as the callow claim that this was 'fortunate for the United Kingdom government,' as if the government were facing an election and as if the British public were not used to bad news. In any case public opinion is tricky to assess -- ask the pollsters who keep getting elections wrong. The claim would have to be put forward as Captain Pack's, preferably with a supporting quotation, and not presented as some kind of fact. Large numbers of the British public must have had husbands, brothers, sons or friends serving in the Mediterranean and wouldn't have been distracted at all. It's just a silly and unfounded claim.

The paragraph also trivialises and obscures the actual and factual significance of the destruction of the Bismarck, which is that no German surface raider ever troubled the Atlantic sealanes again: a decisive strategic victory for the Royal Navy. The German leader gave orders that the Kriegsmarine's capital ships could not be risked in the Atlantic, because the Royal Navy was obviously going to kill them. The Kriegsmarine's losses off Norway meant there weren't sufficient escort vessels to make the capital ships viable.

Meanwhile this article is still pretending that a ship the size of Bismarck could have been sunk by scuttling charges (a few sticks of dynamite placed to break the engine-room seawater feed pipe and the seacock controlling it) in ten minutes, which isn't remotely physically possible. Scuttling would have taken more like ten hours. Bismarck was sunk by gunfire. Khamba Tendal (talk) 19:02, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

I agree with most of the above comments. Pack makes no reference to Bismarck, the UK government or the UK public being distracted, therefore I shall remove the unsourced comments.Damwiki1 (talk) 19:25, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
On p.48 Pack mentions that the RN Mediterranean fleet had been "...shocked..." by the loss of Hood on 24 May 1941, but on page 58 he states that the loss of Bismarck on 27 May 1941 was "...particularly good news...". These are the only two mentions of Bismarck in the book.Damwiki1 (talk) 19:44, 11 August 2017 (UTC)