Section I- Background / Section II- Primary Sources / Section III- Working Notes / Section IV- Modern Battle Theories
This effort was originally necessitated by several minor discrepancies or discontinuities associated with the commonly accepted version of the battle: Most of said issues are related to the actions of the German force composed of the battleship "Bismarck" and the heavy cruiser "Prinz Eugen". Specifically, some ranges, exact intervals, headings and movements of the vessels (primarily Bismarck) are not well documented and can thusly be viewed as somewhat questionable.
The minor problems mentioned above have led some to believe that the battle did not unfold as recounted in various books written by participants, or in the official German and British versions of the battle. One theory even went so far as to suggest that many of the famous German battle photos and probably elements of the battle film itself were consistently printed/shown in reverse from May 1941 onward. It was initially because of this theory that efforts were made by this web site and others to obtain all known source documents related to the battle. Note- We have reviewed all firsthand source material and have even interviewed battle participants. Our own review of available materials has led us to conclude that the reversed photo theory is unfounded. This view has been further corroborated by surviving eyewitness officers from Prinz Eugen who have stated that the "reversed photo" theory is absolutely wrong. Lastly, we should also note that not only is the issue nonsense, it is also not particularly relevant to Hood's involvement in the battle.
Despite the advances made in recent years, some aspects of this battle continue to be sources of debate. With this in mind, if you are someone interested in researching the various aspects of this famous battle, please feel free to use the following materials/links. Ignore books and theories- instead, first review the data and make up your own mind. With this in mind, we recommend that you Skip Item IV until after you have reached your conclusions. Afterwards, read the theories in Item IV as well as various books/articles to see what others have arrived at.
1. German Records and Documentation
Prinz Eugen Reports/Evidence-
- Kriegstagebuch Des Kreuzers Prinz Eugen (Prinz Eugen's War Diary, May 1941)- A decent source, but a bit generalised in KzS Brinkmann's main narrative. The reporting of 1st Gunnery Officer Jasper appears to be the most consistent/credible of all.
- Prinz Eugen Machinery Log Excerpt- Documentation of the speeds attained by Prinz Eugen during the battle. As with the war diary, it is a bit generalised.
- Extract from Prinz Eugen Signals Report- Brief summary of some of the key signals received by Prinz Eugen during the operation.
- Position Statement of the Commander of Cruisers, Vizeadmiral Schmundt, regarding Prinz Eugen's War Diary- This report is interesting in that although Prinz Eugen is praised for her accurate fire, she is also criticised for not dropping into Bismarck's lee during the battle. This also condemns the lack of torpedo deployment.
- Torpedo Report- Response to a critique from Vizeadmiral Schmundt's critique of Prinz Eugen's failure to launch torpedoes at Prince of Wales.
- Position Statement of the Chief of Fleet, Admiral Schniewind, regarding Prinz Eugen War Diary
- More High Command commentary on the conduct of Prinz Eugen
- Gkdos .1077/43 A IV 2nd deposition (Konteradmiral Brinkmann statement on log discrepancy) - A 1943 document in which Brinkmann stands by his original report.
- Prinz Eugen Rheinübung Film- This is a film shot by a PK detachment assigned to Prinz Eugen. The film shows Bismarck to starboard and slightly aft of Prinz Eugen firing on the near side. There is no sign of the original negative.
- Battle Photos- Review of photos taken during the battle. Some of these are "stills" taken from the battle film, some appear to be separate entities.
- Signal Magazine - September 1941 (Issue 17) featured eyewitness artwork by PK man J.C. Schmitz. The artwork is based upon battle photos and is authenticated by Prinz Eugen's captain, Helmuth Brinkmann.
- Prinz Eugen Im Ersten Gefecht- 1943 book by battle participant Fritz Otto Busch.
2. British Records and Documentation
- ADM 1/19140 – Sinking of H.M.S. Hood: conflicting reports by German officers. Sinking of Hood by Long Range Torpedoes. An unfounded rumour. Of no use to this effort.
- ADM 1/11726 – Loss of Hood in action with German battleship Bismarck: report of Board of Inquiry. This is merely a summary of the loss of Hood with largely information derived from the main inquiry documents (which are already available here). Thus, this version is not really of any use to this effort.
- ADM 1/30817 – Loss of H.M.S. Hood
- ADM 116/4351 – Loss of H.M.S. Hood in action with German battleship Bismarck: Boards of Inquiry. Primary Source. Extra information (times, ranges, etc.) on the battle. Best source for information on the actual sinking of Hood.
- ADM 116/4352 – Loss of H.M.S. Hood in action with German battleship Bismarck: Boards of Inquiry. Primary Source. Extra information times, ranges, etc.) on the battle. Best source for information on the actual sinking of Hood.
- ADM 53/114888 – H.M.S. Prince of Wales log May 1941. Nothing detailed, except that it confirms her speed as being 28 knots or higher.
- ADM 53/115099 – H.M.S. Suffolk's log May 1941
- ADM 53/114810 – H.M.S. Norfolk's log May 1941
- ADM 199/1187 – Pursuit and destruction of German Battleship Bismarck. This appears to be rehash of inquiry documents.
- ADM 199/1188 – Pursuit and destruction of German Battleship Bismarck. This also appears to be rehash of inquiry documents.
- ADM 234/321 – No. 5 Chase and Sinking of German Battleship Bismarck 23-27 May 1941
- ADM 234/322 – No. 5 Chase and Sinking of German Battleship Bismarck 23-27 May 1941
- ADM 234/509 – Sinking of the Bismarck 27 May 1941: Official Dispatches. Primary Source. Prince of Wales's Gunnery Aspects Report & Salvo Chart - Good document overall.
- ADM 234/510 – Sinking of the Bismarck 27 May 1941: Plans (Note- This is in Section III below, under "Battle Maps and Charts".)
- ADM 267/64 – Hood: board of enquiry into loss
- ADM 267/111 – Prince of Wales (includes extracts of narrative of operations against Bismarck)
- AIR 15/415 – Report from Sunderland aircraft of Hood's loss. A detailed aerial eyewitness account of the battle.
- McMullen Letter – Letter from Colin McMullen (Gunnery Officer of Prince of Wales) to Ludovic Kennedy in the early 1970s. Describes the Battle of the Denmark Strait from his point of view. Interesting information concerning the difficulty experienced in initially ranging Prinz Eugen and Bismarck.
- Battle Damage Sustained by H.M.S. Prince of Wales – Information and photos related to the damage received during the battle.
Quick Reference Data-
Battle Maps & Charts-
- Examination and Explanation of "Prinz Eugen" Torpedo Officer's Chart
- Prinz Eugen Battle Map
- Prince of Wales Fall of Salvo Chart & Official Track Maps
- Suffolk & Norfolk Chart
- Alternative Battle Maps
Battle Photos & Film Comparisons
- Paul Cadogan's article - The Battle of the Denmark Strait as Seen from the Prinz Eugen
- Examination of Battle Photo NH69726
- Examination of Battle Photo NH69727
- Fall of shot of German salvoes directed against Hood (in development...if you'd like to help, please contact us)
- Fall of Hood's salvoes directed against Prinz Eugen and Bismarck (in development...if you'd like to help, please contact us)
- Hood's Fire Control (an overview by William Schleihauf)
- British Shell Flight Times
- German Shell Flight Times
Eyewitness Observations of Hood's Sinking and of the Wreck
- Descriptions of the Shelter Deck fire (in development...if you'd like to help, please contact us)
- Descriptions of the explosion (in development...if you'd like to help, please contact us)
- Descriptions of the stern during the sinking (in development...if you'd like to help, please contact us)
- Descriptions of the bow during the sinking
- Descriptions of Fire/Firing Forward (in development...if you'd like to help, please contact us)
- The July 2001 Channel 4 Expedition to Locate and Film the Wrecks of Hood & Bismarck
- A Marine Forensic Analysis of HMS Hood and DKM Bismarck (SNAME)
- Tim Woodward's VADM Holland Tactics Dissertation
- Sean Waddingham's article - Decision in the Denmark Strait: VADM Holland - Blunderer or Blighted by Fate?
- Antonio Bonomi's reconstruction of the battle
- Battleship Bismarck- 'Operation Rheinübung'
- Bismarck and Tirpitz- 'Operation Rheinübung'
- Our web site's version of the battle - The Pursuit of Bismarck and the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood
- More to come. If you have a realistic theory, send it to us. If it follows the basic known facts, we will gladly post it here.