News – May 27, 1941 – NBC News Of The World – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
May 27, 1941 – News for this day began with a bulletin. The German Battleship Bismarck had been sunk in what was it’s maiden voyage, some ten days after launch.
The battle took place in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 300 nautical miles (560 km; 350 mi) west of Brest, France, on 26–27 May 1941 between the German battleship Bismarck and naval and air elements of the British Royal Navy.
On 24 May, before the final action, Bismarck’s fuel tanks were damaged and several machinery compartments, including a boiler room, were flooded in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Her captain’s intention was to reach the port of Brest for repair. Late in the day Bismarck briefly turned on her pursuers (Prince of Wales and the heavy cruisers Norfolk and Suffolk) to cover the escape of her companion, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen to continue further into the Atlantic. Early on 25 May the British forces lost contact with Bismarck, which headed ESE towards France while the British searched northeast, presuming she was returning to Norway. Later on 25 May the commander of the German force, Admiral Günther Lütjens, apparently unaware that he had lost his pursuers, broke radio silence to send a coded message to Germany. This allowed the British to triangulate the approximate position of Bismarck and aircraft were dispatched to hunt for the German battleship. The battleship was rediscovered in the late morning of 26 May by a Catalina flying boat from No. 209 Squadron RAF and subsequently shadowed by aircraft from Force H steaming north from Gibraltar.
Churchill was determined to demonstrate the commitment and capacity of the Royal Navy to the Americans, who he was actively encouraging to enter the war, and the destruction of Bismarck allowed him to do just that.
Conversely Hitler was furious, he restricted the flow of supplies to his fleet, denied them freedom to operate as they wished and turned his back on a maritime strategy. He was to become absorbed in his invasion of the Soviet Union, due to be launched in a few weeks’ time. But he would turn east with Britain undefeated in the west, her supply lines to the rest of the world intact.
That was just one of the many items that made news this May 27th in 1941. You can hear the rest of the broadcast, as it happened from NBC’s News Of The World.
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