The Final Battle
On the 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 the Rodney.

At 0854, the heavy cruiser Norfolk opened fire against the Bismarck.

At 0902, the Bismarck was hit for the first time.

At 0904, the heavy cruiser Dorsetshire opened fire.

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 Rodney.

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 salvo.

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 critical.

Soon all weapons was silent on Bismarck but she was still flying her ensign and showed no signs of capitulation.

Photo: Rodney (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 photograph. Photo: One 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 give up.

Photo: The 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 St. Nazaire.