morning of 27 May Admiral Tovey manoeuvred his
squadron so that it would approach the Bismarck
from the west and have the target silhouetted by
the morning light. The battleships, King George
V and Rodney, sailed in line abreast about 550
meter (600 yards) apart toward the last reported
position of the enemy. The Bismarck, steering on
a meandering course at 7 knots, finally came into
view to the south-east at about 0843 and at a range
of about 23,000 meters (25,000 yards). As soon
as the enemy was sighted, the Rodney peeled off
to port and headed on a more easterly course to
engage the Bismarck separately as prearranged.
At 0847, the final battle began as the Rodney
opened fire against the Bismarck. King George
V opened fire at 0848. The distance was about
20,000 meters (22,000 yards).
At 0849, the Bismarck opened fire against
At 0854, the heavy cruiser Norfolk opened
fire against the Bismarck.
At 0902, the Bismarck was hit for the first
At 0904, the heavy cruiser Dorsetshire
At 0908, the forward range finder and turrets
A (Anton) and B (Bruno) were put out of action.
Therefore, on board the Bismarck, the fire
control was shifted to the after command
post, until this station was also put out
of action at about 0913.
At 0913, the Bismarck's after command post
went out of action.
At 0931, the Bismarck fired her last salvo.
At 0912 - 1016, the Bismarck received multiple
hits at point blank range between 2,500 (2,700
yards) and 4,000 meters (4,400 yards), but
was still afloat.
By 0920, the range had come down to 14,000
meter (15,000 yards) for the King George
V and 9,000 meter (10,000 yards) for the
At 0921, turret D (Dora) was put out of
action after one of its own shells exploded
inside the right barrel.
At 0927, turret A (Anton) and B (Bruno)
surprisingly fired one last salvo.
At 0931 turret C (Caesar) fired its last
By 0940, the Rodney was firing point-blank
at a range of 3,600 meter (4000 yards). The
Norfolk and Dorsetshire also closed in, while
the King George V continued to pound the
enemy from a range of 11,000 meter (12,000
yards). Tovey was anxious to settle the issue
as soon as possible so that his ships could
disengage before their fuel situation became
Soon all weapons was silent on Bismarck
but she was still flying her ensign and showed
no signs of capitulation.
(to the right) after her 180° turn
to keep clear of King George V's field
of fire. Bismarck is to the left of the
of the last photographs of the Bismarck,
taken from the Dorsetshire.
With the Bismarck still defiantly flying
her ensign, the British had no alternative
but to continue to fire on the ship until
the Germans capitulated or the Bismarck was
sunk, Both British battleships were running
critically low on fuel and would soon have
to break off the action. Seeing that gunnery
would not be able to deliver the knockout
blow that would send the Bismarck to the
bottom, Tovey ordered the battleships (Rodney
and King George V) to cease fire and return
to base. The destroyers Mashona and Tartar
had already turned back due to their being
low on fuel. Captain Vian's destroyers were
not only low on fuel but also out of torpedoes,
so there was no point in their remaining.
The Norfolk had just fired its last remaining
torpedoes at the Bismarck and turned to depart,
leaving only the Dorsetshire on the scene
with any torpedoes. The Dorsetshire was therefore
ordered to finish off the Bismarck.
As soon as all the weapons were silenced,
Bismarck's commander, Captain Ernst Lindemann,
gave the order to open the valves to the
sea and to set scuttling charges to sink
the ship. Once the charges had been set,
the order was given to abandon ship.
At about 1000, demolition charges exploded
in the turbine room on Bismarck.
At 1020, the Bismarck was hit on the starboard
side by two torpedoes fired by Dorsetshire.
At 1036, the Bismarck was hit on the port
side by a third torpedo fired by Dorsetshire.
At 1039, the Bismarck sinks at 48º 10'
north, 16º 12' west bringing to an end
a short but highly eventful career, marked
by initial victory and then ultimate defeat.
The battle had lasted almost two hours (0847
- 1039) before the Bismarck finally had to
huge Normandy dry dock at the French
port of St Nazaire (which had been built
for the great French liner Normandie)
which Bismarck headed for, after the
battle of the Denmark Strait. But the
Bismarck failed in her attempt to reach