Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.
Why did the Royal Navy not pick up more Bismarck survivors?
LAST Sunday evening the SBS in Australia aired the first of what may be a very good series called 'Germany's War'. This one was on the sinking of the Hood and the subsequent destruction of the Bismarck.
Very interesting footage included the great Granddaughter of Bismarck launching the mighty battleship and a grainy old film claimed to be taken from the deck of the Prinz Eugen, of Hood under fire and as she blew up.
My inquiry relates to the casualties on Bismarck which, unlike Hood, did not blow up and sink in minutes, so there was plenty time to rescue men in the water. The show claimed that only around 120 or so of a total of over 2,000 German sailors were taken aboard RN ships. There was footage of the Germans in water. It looked like thousands of them. This was accompanied by an old British Naval Officer lamenting what a pitiful sight it was.
Indeed. Perched in front of the TV, I am also lamenting and wondering what black hearted swine gave the order to abandon 2,000 teenagers in the middle of the Atlantic and later claim it was because U-Boats were in the area. I can understand the Royal Navy was keen to revenge Hood, but that was mass murder most foul.
I also wonder about the reaction of the typical German U-Boat skipper of the time. If one had been present, peering through a periscope and seeing Royal Navy ships fishing men out of the ocean, what would he have done, torpedo the rescuers?
I don't think so.
To my point: Were only 120 or so Bismarck sailors rescued? I always thought it was more.
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David Irving replies:
YES, Bismarck was scuttled by her officers when she could fight no more -- Hitler's navy adjutant rear Admiral von Puttkamer confirmed that detail to me -- so there must have been many more survivors; while Hood blew up in one colossal flash after an unlucky direct hit on a magazine, and I believe that only two seamen survived the blast. Admiral Tovey wanted to issue a signal commending the courage of Bismarck's crew; Prime Minister Churchill forbade it.