The Hood and The Bismark

On the 20th May as HX-126 steamed towards the UK a German fleet including the battle ship Bismark was coming the other way.

Luckily for HX-126 the Bismark took a route round the North of Iceland to enter the North Atlantic through the Denmark Straight between Iceland and Greenland. The British were aware of the German battle ships and were hunting them.

On the 23rd May the reformed convoy HX-126 steamed across the bottom of the Denmark Straight. Around 19:30 that evening as HX-126 went East, about 100 miles to their North a British formation including the Hood and the Prince of Wales were hurtling West at three times the speed of the convoy, intending to intercept the Bismark.

HMS Hood carried 1,418 men. Ten and a half hours later 1,415 were killed when the Hood exploded and sank after being hit by a shell from the Bismark during the battle of the Denmark Straight. The H.M.S Hood Association have fantastic detail on these events at www.hmshood.com. Their site is a great reference for anyone wanting to research Naval history and they have gone to great trouble to remember all 1,414 men.

The Bismark was damaged in the encounter and was itself sunk on 27th May with the loss of around 2,131 crew. Another terrible loss of life and in this second instance largely unnecessary as the Bismark was clearly beaten but would not surrender.

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