The German battleship Bismarck was the most feared warship in the world - a powerful complement to U-boats. But when she sank the pride of the British fleet, the battle cruiser Hood, in a matter of minutes, her fate was sealed. Tune in to learn more.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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welcome to stuff you missed in history class from Housetop works, dot com
welcome to the park. Unfair, daddy and I'm going to talk about it and, as you know, we ve been talking about shipwreck delight of entering the way and most recently we talk about military sham brags. The vow fell, the monitor
only in the motto in between the four I think about it,
trying to go over that list. In my head we had design flaws, we had rushed schedules, we had air attacks than we had torpedoes, but this epoch
it's gonna, combine. All of that. We have all for those things in one ship, plus a really heavy dose of revenge which always make the good past
ass before we get to that, though we're gonna set the scene for a little that an early night
forty one. The United States was still nearly a year away from entering World WAR two, but the cat
provided vital wartime supplies to the allied nations and to do so. American merchant ships had across the Atlantic to get to Europe, and this
Broken chain of supplies was really vital for the United Kingdom since there an island nation, yes, but we all know pretty much how effective the german you boats were at disrupting this chain thinking the merchant ships, but the
The navy also knew that having a few massive battleship thought there would make the black haired a whole lot
around England. So that's why,
in May in eighteen, forty one, they found the battleship Bismarck and the cruiser prince each Jan two blockade Breton. That's pretty scary. The kid at this time the Bismarck
the most feared worship in the world yet launch pretty recently before that. Nineteen, thirty nine and it was a tough, very thick armor, very fast and armed with very, very big guns and had an efficient crew
the top equipment. It was like the ultimate shipyard. Everybody knew it too, and the first volumes of his memoirs, Winston Churchill wrote that finishing
on two new british battleships, the king George, the fourth and the Prince of Wales with vital because quote they arrive
Of the Bismarck on the oceans before these two ships were completed would be disastrous in the highest degree as it can neither be caught nor killed,
We therefore range freely throughout the ocean rupturing all
the unification. Just in case Churchill quote, isn't enough for you. There's a national geographic peace, titled northeast super ship describing
this marks, I think that gives you a pretty good idea of what kind of vessel. That's of I'm
intimidating. So May nineteen, nineteen, forty one the Bismarck and the Prince eugene- are deployed from golden often on the Baltic Coast, in their planning to wine their way around to the Atlantic. There then
spotted off the coast of Norway by Broil AIR Force reconnaissance about they slip away before anything can be done so the british home fleet,
virgin onto the Atlantic to try to stop the ship in their covering all the rules that they can. It cannot let them
Mark get out into the open sea.
there is no sign of the ship for days and then finally on May twenty third, the cruiser Norfolk sites that this mark in Denmark Straight- and this is perfect, because the Prince of Wales
Does the new british battleship that England was rushing to complete as their along with
destroyers and the battle cruiser heard here and the herd was a type of battle cruiser that then develop before a world where wine and this type of ship was really fast, designed to outrun ships. That comes
late, not quite as well armoured as other as some other ships were nevertheless, the
british really liked the battle cruisers and had built credit,
of them during the war during World WAR, one and the hood was built in nineteen eighteen, the thirteenth and final bridge.
battlecries there, but even though she needed a refill by this point, she was still kind of a point of pride for the british and she had been sent out with the powerful, but still untested, prince whales,
kind of protection guidance. You know they they would tag team I got,
So the day after the cruiser Norfolk learn said, the Bismarck is an area, the prince of Wales spots, the german battleship the headphones.
first but she's, going too fast to be really accurate that this
on the other hand, has stereoscopic range finders. So a hit
causes an explosion and a huge fire. The ship then breaks
the two and sinks. All of a sudden and all that three of the one thousand four hundred nineteen men who are on her die here, and so the hood thinking means that its pay back time now for,
british and even after was worried that with the bismarck
on the loose all sorts of damage may feel. He was actually afraid that the Bismarck might come bombard, Halifax or New York City, or maybe it would
on the world and go to Japan, or maybe it would even take Martinique, though there are all sorts of gloomy thing,
It is about what the Bismarck on the loose might do, church
response there was pretty definitive, think the Bismarck. So
this is revenge.
The literally revenge right because one of the ships that the british Deploy is actually called revenge, the battleship revenge from Halifax and sent to the situation, but the british action
play most of their available warships. At this point, I take them off of their original missions, so joining the revenge or the battleships Rodney and the families, for example, which leave behind
convoys and head straight to the situation which I have to imagine, it would be pretty scary to be out in you: boat filled water if you're one of these convoy than you thier, battleship and most of the destroyers fail on off all the
you're, not comforting, they can't spare any of them, though. Meanwhile, the best
it has a few different options about what she can do. Admiral,
third chance can take out the injured prince of Wales
which we now stand a little bit of damage during the faint battle that thank the hood, though they could finish off the prince
whales and then go back to Norway for repairs and refueling or the Bismarck. Kid
out into the Atlantic and the plan
could be too had to France for repairs and possibly resume the blockade operation from their because winning a France, he'd have a say.
Shot than for the Atlantic and the admiral chooses this
an option going out into the Atlantic and eventually trying to get over to France. The Germans are off
converging a lot of their fleet in the area to so they know that the british want to think the Bismarck in there
bringing every available worship they can into the area, so the jury
thinking, if they put all of their available you both in the area the Bismarck might be.
The trail all these british ship into a trap of thoughts. If the you both stretch across the ocean
create a net of sorts. It could be really really disastrous for the British there's a big problem, though, with the planned you're. The best
is running low on fuel and it becomes clear that there will be just enough for them to get to France. None for the true.
Or, more importantly, for any diversions and to make
situation more complicated on May twenty. Fourth, tiny swordfish plans are launched from the aircraft carrier victorious at or
It causes minimal damage, but it's the Bismarck's first casualty gathers. Actually the first sailor is is killed aboard the Bismarck, though literally its first casualty, but the next day the Bismarck reduces its speed and starts performing some repairs clause, its accumulated a few problems
play, and also engages a little bit with the Prince of Wales, even though neither ship is ultimately had that.
though the Bismarck finally manages to shake off the british ships that have been nearby and breaks free and the british ships lose contact, unfortunately, for the
mark. They realise that the British have lost that radio cod
yeah they lost their signal. They don't know where they are, but the Bismarck doesn't know that yes, so they keep sending messages that that get all bunch together and end up coming out in one voice
very long signal, and by the time, their warned that the Brits ACT
did live contact in and by the time they start.
Containing that strict radio silence it's too late. The British have already picked up on the signal again.
Yes, so, though, the mood is actually Mary on board the Bismarck that night Hitler even sends a birthday message to add religions, but by then
morning patrol aircraft find the ship the Bismarck still
the chance, though, to make a break for France at this point. There is no way that the british ships that are nearby can catch up with them unless the Bismarck slows down considerably is slow down right, but the best
the British, have seized their aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal, to deploy more tiny swordfish planes with torpedoes yeah. In this time, those swordfish plans get two heads and one of them jams the business
twin writers and makes it so she can't maneuver any more and it will be impossible for her to get away just by the way you might want to look up the swordfish plans. They really look kind of like both the wood biplane super tiny, especially when you see them
compared to something the size of the Bismarck. It's pretty striking felt the ship, the Bismarck
the bombarded through the night by nearby
British and polish destroyers, but they're no heads by the next morning
The rod me and the King George, the fifth arrive and open fire. The Norfolk arrives. Pretty soon
join then than the cruiser the doors that sure and ultimately
so to our long attack with Rodney even getting into pointless
range by the Bismarck. Ultimately, two thousand eight hundred and sixty seven shells are fired on the ship, but it just won't go down. Finally, though, the Bismarck does go down in its three torpedoes from the door said sure. That's incur the morning of May twenty seventh with the cap
saluting on deck and the flag flying so just to give you an image of what that would have looked like some people, though, have suggested that the Bismarck was scuttled by her own crew yeah, instead of being thank by the the allied ships that, regardless the cat
and had already given the order to abandon ship and around eight hundred people on board managed to escape from other survivors.
you can actually see interviews, taped interviews with some of the survivors and they were count working really deep inside the ship
their stations and eventually realising that the British
were shooting more and more and they were shooting less and less, and when the ship with violent it was,
time to go and they pay
their way out of the labyrinth? I mean this huge ship. You can imagine what it might be like under
that all and further
who made it onto the dac, of course, they're still the bombardment going on for their mental everywhere in their body than they try to protect themselves behind
and her and finally
With eight hundred who survived not really that many manage to ultimately escape and be rescued, the bridge
Ships picked up a little more than one hundred men, but then they
the area. After a uber scare, some accounts even say that men were in the process of being hauled up when the british ships had
hey that men were in the process of being hauled up when the british ships had to leave a little bit later. You boats and a spanish heavy cruiser come around and find a few more guys, but
Yeah. There were only one hundred and fifteen men of the eight hundred that escapes the which were rescued toothache.
two hundred officers, and men were killed
The survivors, of course, than are prisoners of war. They were in
here again and kept his prisoners for for the rest, the war I dont think that their
too much information that was attacked
from them now they seem to be like they were
knowledgeable about their own immediate job, but not how the whole ship operated but
Royal Navy nevertheless considered thinking the Bismarck to be one of its biggest accomplishments is still pretty
highly regarded, and that's partly because the battleships seemed invincible. But clearly something went wrong for this
each monster ship to ultimately be taken down like that
yeah. So what was it? Well? Some people think that the business
just might not have been ready. She had
straining time at sea due to the severe winter of nineteen. Forty one- and there was no more-
for a long time. Basically, her schedule was absolutely inflexible.
it wasn't even enough time to put her through the complete battery of naval ordinance task. Some of her are tillers fire control and radar equipment was actually installed too late to test. Even so, there was no way to know me. I knew from the stuff that was tested didn't see,
entirely up to snuff the report,
which was filed ironically four days after the ship had already funk made. A hundred
seventeen observations and recommendations regarding improvements to weapons system than
A lot of these were minor, but there were few pretty serious ones and some regarded the ammunition that was pretty telling, because the Prince of Wales had actually been struck by several german dad's. That suggests a problem in the autumn
word anti aircraft artillery made up one third of the suggestions and if we think about those swordfish, not a single swordfish,
was shot down so
clearly, even though the Germans were firing pretty heavily on them, there was a pause
from there, and I think the report even noted that there were the correct and he aircrew
technical manuals and diagrams on boards are not even the literature they needed habit. Of course,
these recommendations, came way too late and that to take away here where that, even though it went down eventually, the Bismarck was remarkably Tophet withstood a constant barrage four hours, while the herd had gone down in just a matter of minutes, yet just wasn't equipped to fight aircraft me not seemed like
the thing that kind of early dead at an enemy. Clearly, that was also a hint that Europe's power would be the future.
the war months before a Pearl harbor even happen. So I guess historically, that's probably one of the biggest interests in the Bismarck that it's the hint about
and that coming later in the war. But in since this is a shipwreck we gotta we gotta close out with our are fine, there's, always after story and half in ITALY in
Tina. Eighty nine rob
Ballard. The famous explorer discovered the Bismarck six hundred miles off the french coast at fifteen thousand feet and within very good shape. Still, he had of course found the tape
in just three years earlier and then in two thousand for the hood with located and both of the ships were touched out of respect for the dead, but they were thoroughly
photographed and video and documented. I think you can look up a lot of pictures of the two of them in
get diagrams and in a people of
figure out what exactly went wrong now, what were the fatal strike than what explosion occurred on the herd and just China pieced together? What happened? Chips to both of the sites were also sort of memorial services too, because there were
still survivors of both of them and at the hoodie Memorial plaque, with actually released by it full living survivor at the Time
That was one of the most interesting things about researching this episode. Seeing some of the survivors account, then you can eat
The pictures of the men in the water from the Bismarck trying to get aboard the doors that sure well,
you know grabbing the rope than grabbing under floating things. It's pretty scary, looking without about. Does it for this shipwrecked many serious that we ve put together here with covered a lot of cool shipwrecks, and thank you to everyone for all of your great suggestions and were holding onto the rest, so hopefully
until more podcast animal.
I think we realised from doing us that all of these, even though we did a lot of medical as a list, a lot of these make great stand alone. Pied costs. We want to save their ass, so we can cover and fully that later on. The Bismarck was ultimately intended for a less business to Irish isn t long. The stories to guide but, like I said to you, gotta, covered here and we're gonna, now move on to the ceremony of kind of an beat listener mail that want to clear out on such a ending its
Johnny and she rode Dear Ferranti Billina Summer will be a long one for me, as I finish my year abroad in France this week, but do not go back to university in talk toper, so I decided to take a good
tour like low
Then the youth had never visited much the continent before, but your packets of definitely inspired me to take some of Europe's history. My stance will include Para Well Papers by Marie Antoinette Florence. Grimly glandular David is displayed in many had achieved, are buried Rome with a day to see the Vatican and mad king Lot vague cancelled, and then she thought said: she's gonna
in Vienna, the shoes
sing, maybe she's gonna a little Habsburg history, and I know that
earlier this year, I think they came up a few times in our inner bourbon theory and they got mentions yeah. But it sounds like a really good chirped. Any kind of Galileo can we come in Pakistan use these caves, but I always liked
about people podcast inspired vacation, makes me feel gotta Ya'Ll, gonna visit museums. We talk about and stuff, but an centres postcards definitely finnish garden, and let us know if you're going somewhere in summer, the promise we won't be cheated
no we want will like reading your stories in may read some here and you can send those of course always tour email at history, podcast to health affects dot com or you can set us up on Facebook or on Twitter, at least in history,
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