Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945


Page published in May 2001 to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the sinking of the German battleship BISMARCK, 27 May 1941

The Fatal Torpedo Hit by Wesley Lowe

Page dedicated to the bravery of ES "Splash" Carver, godfather to Sandra "Bunny" Baker-Falkner

On May 26th 1941, Swordfish from the carrier HMS Ark Royal make the
       torpedo attack that will fatally cripple Germany's most powerful battleship,
      allowing the Royal Navy Fleet to catch up to and finally
           destroy their greatest surface threat of the Atlantic Campaign.

Wartime colour photograph of the German Battleship Bismarck

Sixty years ago this week the Fleet Air Arm took part in the pursuit and destruction of the German Battleship Bismark in North North Atlantic 23 - 27 May 1941. Battle Honours were awarded to Squadrons: 800, 808, 810, 818, 820, and 825. Honours were also awarded to HM aircraft carrying ships: Ark Royal, Dorsetshire, Edinburgh, Galatea, Hood, Kenya, King George V, Neptune, Norfolk, Prince of Wales, Renown, Repulse, Rodney, Sheffield, Suffolk, and Victorious.

Source: Fleet Air Arm Battle Honours

The Fleet Air Arm was crucial to the pursuit of the Bismarck, by crippling the great ship on 26 May, 1941 which led to her final sinking on 27 May 1941 by the HMS King George V, HMS Rodney and HMS Dorsetshire.

See the Detailed account of the torpedoing by the Fleet Air Arm of the German Battleship Bismarck which led to its sinking.
On 24 May 1941 all nine Swordfish of 825 Squadron of HMS Victorious, under Lt Cdr E Esmonde led the first strike against the Bismarck, three Fulmars of 800Z Flight followed with orders to observe the attack and then maintain contact at all costs.

HMS Victorious flight deck 24 May 1941, with Swordfish of 825 squadron and Fulmar of 800Z Flt ranged on deck prior to the first strike against the Bismarck

On the 26th May 1941, HMS Ark Royal took up the challenge of attacking the Bismarck with her 5 Fleet Air Arm squadrons embarked:

807 squadron: Lieutenant-Commander James Sholto Douglas DSO, RN
808squadron: Lieutenant-Commander Rupert Claude Tillard, RN
810squadron: Lieutenant-Commander Mervyn Johnstone DSC, MiD, RN
818squadron: Lieutenant-Commander Trevenen Penrose Coode, RN
820 squadron: Lieutenant-Commander James Andrew Stewart-Moore, RN

HMS Ark Royal flight deck being prepared for her Swordfish to attack the German Battleship Bismarck in 1941

The Fleet Air Arm strike which finally crippled the Bismarck on 26 May 1941 was flown in two waves and associated sub-flights, the first wave was led by 818 squadron (Coode, TP Lt Cdr RN (CO 818 squadron) and the second by 810 squadron (Stewart-Moore, JA Lt Cdr RN (CO 810 squadron)

See the List of Aircrew of 810 and 818 Squadrons from HMS Ark Royal which crippled the Bismarck, 26 May 1941

See the List of British Forces Deployed against Bismarck during Operation "Rheinübung", May 1941

Search sector chart for HMS Ark Royal, 26 May, 1941.

 Bismarck firing at the Royal Navy Fleet

The first British shells fall near the Bismarck.

Bismarck sinking by her stern as seen from HMS Dorsetshire

Swordfish 5S of 818 Squadron, FAA returns to HMS Ark Royal after observing the sinking of Bismarck

“With Gallantry and Determination”
The Story of the Torpedoing of the Bismarck by Mark E. Horan. In Battleship Bismarck website.
The Story of the Torpedoing of the Bismarck - Read all about the men who piloted the obsolete "Stringbags" and managed to disable the powerful battleship. 
Public Records Office's "Battlefront: The Sinking of the Bismarck."  This is an excellent UK£12.99 document pack containing twelve
original documents which recreate the dramatic search, chase and sinking of the Bismarck. Highly recommended and available now! CLICK HERE for more information. 
"Sinking the Bismarck 1941" by Bruce Heydt in FAA Aircrewmans association website An in depth account of this famous battle. 
Sink The Bismarck in "British and Commonwealth Campaigns of World War II" by British-Forces.com Detailed summary history of the Campaign to sink the Tirpitz
Sinking the 'Bismarck' by Lawrence Hogben
The Battleship Bismarck by Manuel P. González Contains an extensive narrative and photos. This site contains everything you may ever have wanted to know about the Bismarck. Every technical aspect is covered as well as an account of the battle. 
The History of Bismarck and Tirpitz by John Asmussen 2000, 2001 Includes details of the attack and sinking of the Bismarck by the Royal Navy 1941
HMS Hood Association website One of the most professionally made royal Navy association sites anywhere with a wealth of information about the ship that fought against the Bismarck 60 years ago today.
Kennedy, Ludovic. Pursuit: the Chase and Sinking of the Battleship Bismarck. New York: Viknig Press, 1974.
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)  Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)  'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 


HomeSearchContact UsSite Map

Return to Home Page


This page is published by Fleet Air Arm Archive and is updated regularly.
© 2000-2001 All rights reserved for all information created for or on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Archive
Contact email: drucker@fleetairarmarchive.net