Events involving the sinking of the Bismarck
March through May 1941
 
   
   
  Saturday, March 8, 1941  
  The Bismarck arrived at Kiel and took on supplies and the ship was painted with a camouflage pattern.  
   
  Moday, March 17, 1941  
  The Bismarck departed Kiel and arrived in Gotenhafen (Gdynia) Poland. Through April the Bismarck continued to conduct trials in the Baltic.  
   
  Monday, May 5, 1941  
  Admiral Günther Lütjens and German Chancellor Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler inspected the battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz at Gotenhafen (Gdynia) Poland.  
   
  Monday, May 12, 1941  
  Admiral Günther Lütjens and his staff arrived on the Bismarck.  
   
  Sunday, May 18, 1941  
  The battleships SMS Bismarck and SMS Tirpitz made a six hour maneuver. This was the only time the two ships ever operated together.  
   
  Monday, May 19, 1941  
  The Bismarck and the heavy cruiser SMS Prinz Eugen departed Gotenhafen (Gdynia) Poland for the Atlantic sortie codenamed Rheinübung (Rhine Exercise.)  
   
  Tuesday, May 20, 1941  
  The Bismarck was sighted by the Swedish cruiser Gotland and her movement was reported.  
   
  Wednesday, May 21, 1941  
  The SMS Bismarck arrived at Grimstadfjord near Bergen, Norway. While there the SMS Bismarck was photographed by RAF Flying Officer Michael Suckling. Later in the evening the SMS Bismarck and the heavy cruiser SMS Prinz Eugen departed for the Denmark Strait.  
   
  Friday, May 23, 1941  
  The German battleship SMS Bismarck and the heavy cruiser SMS Prinz Eugen were sighted by the heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk. The Bismarck fired five salvos at the HMS Norfolk but scored no hits. The concussion of the SMS Bismarck's guns damaged the radar and the SMS Bismarck had to drop behind the SMS Prinz Eugen. The SMS Bismarck then made an attempt to engage the HMS Suffolk but the HMS Suffolk picked up the SMS Bismarck making a turn on her radar and was able to out run the SMS Bismarck.  
   
  Saturday, May 24, 1941  
  The Battle of the Denmark Strait occurred when the German battleship SMS Bismarck and the heavy cruiser SMS Prinz Eugen engaged the battleship HMS Prince of Wales (53), the battlecruiser HMS Hood (51), and the heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk (78) and HMS Suffolk (55). The HMS Hood was sunk and the HMS Prince of Wales was damaged. The SMS Bismarck was hit three times and damaged by shell fire from the HMS Prince of Wales. Later in the evening the SMS Bismarck was attacked by Swordfish torpedo aircraft from the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (R38) and hit amidships starboard side. While the ship was not damaged one man inside the SMS Bismarck was killed by falling off a catwalk caused by the concussion of the torpedo.  
   
  The SMS Bismarck eluded the British ships searching for her and disappeared, while detaching her consort, SMS Prinz Eugen, to conduct independent operations. One of the pursuing ships was the battleship HMS Rodney (29), en route to the United States for a refit at Boston when she was rerouted to participate in the hunt for the SMS Bismarck. On board was U.S. Naval Observer Lt. Commander Joseph H. Wellings, who witnessed the ensuing battle from that unique vantage point.  
   
  PBY Catalinas operating from the seaplane tender USS Albemarle (AV 5) at Argentia, Newfoundland, and braving foul weather and dangerous flying conditions, searched for the SMS Bismarck in the western Atlantic.  
   
  Sunday, May 25, 1941  
  The SMS Bismarck was attacked by Swordfish torpedo aircraft but sustained no hits. The SMS Bismarck and the heavy cruiser SMS Prinz Eugen separated. The British lost contact with the SMS Bismarck. However, late in the evening Admiral Günther Lütjens sent a long radio message to Berlin. The message was heard by the British and the SMS Bismarck's position was given away.  
     
  Monday, May 26, 1941  
  U.S. naval observer Ensign Leonard B. Smith, USNR, flying an RAF Catalina, sighted the SMS Bismarck. British fleet units altered course accordingly and converged on the lone German capital ship. The SMS Bismarck was attacked by Swordfish aircraft from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (91), receiving 2 hits. One was amidships and one was in the rudder, jamming it while the SMS Bismarck was making a turn. This left the SMS Bismarck unable to maneuver and caused it to run in a circle. Later in the day the SMS Bismarck was attacked by the Polish destroyer ORP Piorun (G 65) but the attack was successfully driven off. The SMS Bismarck was attacked again by the destroyers HMS Cossack (F 03), HMS Maori (F 24), HMS Zulu (F 18), HMS Sikh (F 82) and ORP Piorun (G 65). Once again the attack was driven off. The same day, another U.S. naval observer, Lieutenant James E. Johnson, flying another RAF Catalina maintained contact with the German battleship as well.  
     
  Tuesday, May 27, 1941  
  The SMS Bismarck was sunk in action with the battleships HMS King George V (41) and HMS Rodney (29), and the heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk (78) and HMS Dorsetshire (40). The SMS Bismarck's crew set scuttling charges and opened the valves to scuttle the ship to avoid capture. The HMS Dorsetshire picked up 86 survivors but 1 died of his wounds on board. The HMS Maori (F 24) picked up 25 survivors. The U-74 picked up 3 survivors and the Sachsenwald, a German weather ship, picked up 2 survivors. 2,106 of the SMS Bismarck's crew were killed in action including Admiral Günther Lütjens and Kapitän zur See Ernst Lindemann.  
     
   
 

The objective of WW2Timelines.com is to provide a day by day account of the events that lead up to and were part of the greatest conflict known to mankind. There are accounts for the activities of each particular day and timelines for subjects and personalities. It is the of this website intent to provide an unbiased account of the war. Analysis, effects caused by an event, or prior or subsequent pertinent events are presented separately and indicated as text that is italicized.

 
   
  Copyright 2011
WW2timelines.com
Contact us using our email page