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15 October 2014
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How The Bismarck Was Found

by StokeCSVActionDesk

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Archive List > Royal Navy

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Arthur James Sinker
Location of story: 
The North Atlantic
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 September 2005

Before relating this story I would like to point out that this is not from my memory but from an audio tape my father did for me about 5 years before he passed away aged 86 years in 2002. Although at the time he was physically frail his mind and memory were fine.

My father, Arthur James Sinker (20.7.1016) volunteered for the Royal Navy in May 1940 and was trained as a R.D.F. operator (Radar). In September 1940 he and his friend Charles Tuckwood (deceased) from Leicester were drafted to HMS Suffolk.

In 1941 the German Battleship the Bisamarck and a cruiser had left their home port and were attempting to reach the Atlantic and hunt for them was commenced.

HMS Suffolk and HHM Norfolk were designated to search the Denmark Straight, both ships had radar but of different types, the Norfolk had a fixed aerial type and the Suffolk had a rotating type of aerial. They had been searching the straight for several days back and forth when early one morning the navigating officer entered the radar office and my father asked hi which direction they were sailing and was told westwards towards the Atlantic, he also asked why they wanted to know, the reason he gave was that they had been given orders to do a forward sweep of the radar, that is instead of all around the ship, only to their front, but as no one knew where the Bismarck was it could just as easily be behind them, the officer said ‘That’s a Possibility’ and left.

It was early morning and very foggy so if anything was behind them they would not have seen it until to late so my father asked the seaman (name of Parker) who was actually operating the aerial to do a full sweep all around the ship, this request was heard on the bridge which was just below the radar office and an order came from the bridge to belay the request and carry on as directed. A short time later the ships Captain, Capt. Ellis came into the radar office and asked why they had requested a full sweep of the radar, my father gave him the same answer he had given the navigating officer, the captain listened to him and said to carry as before but do an occasional full sweep, which they commenced doing.

A short time later when doing a full sweep covering the stern of the ship the radar picked up 2 echoes (contacts) about 10 miles astern, this information was passed to the bridge and the ship went to action stations, but it was thought at the time it may have been HMS Hood and the Prince of Wales. Radar contact was kept on the two ships until they came out of the fog and could be seen, it was then that seaman Newall recognised them as the Bismarck and a cruiser. The captain immediately ordered hard to starboard and we went into the fog but keeping them on radar and came up behind them, an enemy sited signal was sent and we started to shadow them by radar until the action with HMS Hood and the Prince of Wales, my father was on his rest period and watched the battle commence and saw HMS Hood explode and sink.

Both my father and Charles Tuckwood were awarded the DSM for their part in the episode.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Jim Salveson of the Stoke CSV Action Desk on behalf of Ronnie Sinker and has been added with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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