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Thread: Bismarck sighting

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    Default Bismarck sighting

    Hi All

    Does anyone know the crew composition of the Catalina which sighted the Bismarck prior to its sinking?

    All the best

    Malcolm

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    Default Bismark Sighting

    MALCOLM, I cannot give you the full crew listing of the Catalina , i can add the following.
    the last sighting was made by a Catalina of 210 sqd the a/c in question being W8416 .Flown by F/L HATFIELD they made contact with the BISMARK at 2350 hrs from A height of 4,000feet,they were immediately fired upon by the ship, the F/L HATFEILD took violent evasive action which resulted in rolling one of the crew of the CATALINA FITTER/LAC ROY DAVIS out of his bunk . the bismark was sunk at 1040hrs on the 27th MAY
    F/L HATFIELD AND HIS CREW were told this when they landed back at OBAN .
    not much but i hope it helps a little
    phill jones

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    A number of Googled sites disagree!

    From http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq118-1.htm
    It was not until 1010 on 26 May [1941] that British luck changed. A British Catalina aircraft of No. 209 Squadron [Castle Archdale], piloted by US Navy observer Ensign Leonard B. Smith, USNR (US Naval Reserve), spotted Bismarck at a range of about eight miles. While Ensign Smith flew the aircraft and evaded accurate German antiaircraft fire, his British copilot radioed a report of the enemy warship's location.

    See also http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/65/a4358865.shtml and
    http://www.bismarck-class.dk/bismarck/history/bisdiscovered.html

    The plot thickens!! Who was in the left-hand seat up the Front Office?

    Also (and this is a minor neutrality point), from Lough Erne (in N Ireland) the shortest route to the N Atlantic was across c. 5 miles of Irish (Eire) territory! Every time an RAF Catalina transgressed did the Irish Govt send 'stiff note' of complaint - and the UK Foreign Office send a voluminous apology!! And everybody got on with what they had been doing before??!!!

    And what, one might ask, was Lt L B Smith, USNR, doing in a belligerent a/c a few months before his Boss had included the USA in WW2 subsequent to Pearl Harbour (7 Dec 41)?!!! The Kreigsmarine could have called an international foul!, and demanded a replay!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 3rd October 2010 at 15:16. Reason: Various later info!!
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    Malcolm,

    No.209 Sqn
    Catalina I AH545 WQ-Z

    P/O D A Briggs
    Ens L B Smith USN
    P/O Otter
    F/O Lowe
    Sgt Edmonds
    Sgt Burton
    Sgt Leigh
    Sgt Dunning
    Sgt Stenning
    LAC Martin

    Col.

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    Peter,

    Bismark Briggs was the other pilot. He always said the Bismark found them rather than they found it. They descended through cloud to appear within firing range and Bismark drew their attention by opening fire.

    The USN Ensigns were part of a party of 12 who were despatched by Admiral King to "convert" the RAF crews onto the Catalina.

    As part of their duties they flew regular operations with the RAF crews.

    In August 1941 Ensign Eldred USN was killed as captain in command when his RCAF Catalina crashed on take off at Stranraer.

    Since he was killed before the official entry of the US to World War II he appears on no American Battle Monuments.

    Ross
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    Ross,
    That seems bl**dy unfair. A technical/administrative b*lls up!
    Yr mention of Adm King releasing US personnel for "conversion" duties on Catalinas, etc, seems slightly at odds with his attitude towards the Brits later in the war when he appears to have been quite anti-Brit? Presume the Allies decision to go for "Germany First" as opposed to Adm King's wish for "Japan First" was the stumbling block?
    Why were all the Senior Commanders in WW2 such prima donnas - with the possible exception of Bill Slim?!!!!!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
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    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Peter,
    The route you describe over neutral territory was known as the Donegal Corridor. It was a secret agreement following informal approaches by the UK Representative to Ireland Sir John Maffey and the Taoiseach Eamon de Valera.
    Individual flights were not recored normally, only the sum total each 24 hours. The flights were from Lough Erne direct to Donegal Bay, thus saving Coastal Command fuel and time.
    There was also an unoffical route used by Eglinton, Ballykelly and Limavady units which routed across Lough Foyle to over Inishowen ( neutral territory) and into the Atlantic. Another unoffical route was forged by the same units and also other units in the eastern part of N.Ireland which in turn routed south through Monaghan and to Galway exiting neutral airspace in the area of Kilary Harbour. A blind eye policy operated there as well.
    Regards
    Tony K

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    The words and deeds of Admiral King should be read as a result of the attack on Pearl.

    In the days pre Dec 7th the USN and King were outspoken as to keeping the US out of the european conflict but behind the scenes quite a bit was being done to help the UK.

    Just to name a few..
    In 1940 all USN vessels encountering a submerged contact would broadcast the fact "in clear" by radio thus alerting the RCN vessels and convoy escorts.

    USN airfields were made available to the RAF Hudsons of No.53 Sqn when the U-boats started to lay in wait off the Gulf.

    Initial Liberator delivery to Coastal Command were crewed by USN and USAAF regulars or those who had very recently left the forces.

    The B-17C aircraft delivered to Coastal Command in the first batch also went with US training crews.

    A situation which was to be repeated with the Pentagon Overt appeasment stance over the Falklands but actual covert supply of Portacabin City, MAC fuel transporters and turn over of Wideawake as a FOB.

    Regards
    Ross
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    Ross,
    Understand! Was on Ascension with Mobile Met Unit 72-hrs after the Argie invasion of Falklands. Rather more US assistance/co-operation than we had been led to believe might be the case! If we'd been (meteorologically) stuffed there was a lift-and-listen phone in the Nose-Hangar which, when you lifted it said "Weather Patrick". Say no more! But we get "off thread", or are guilty of "thread creep". Never shall it happen!
    Peter
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    Thanks everyone

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