World War II: The Battleships – Full Documentary


(ominous music) – [Narrator] The war at
sea between 1914 and 1918 was mainly between two great fleets, Britain’s Royal Navy and
Germany’s Imperial Navy. The sea war encompassed
all the world’s oceans. It also saw the development of new naval weapons and battle tactics. The German and British
navies each had two roles. One was to destroy the
other’s battle fleet and the second was to destroy
the enemy’s merchant shipping. Both sides went to war in 1914 with both these roles given priority. In modern times, the navies
tend to concentrate their fleets around the giant aircraft carriers. In 1914, however, and later in 1939, it was the battleships that
were the fleet’s flagships. These were the largest
type of warships afloat and had the biggest guns. Prior to 1914, the battleship had gone
through major changes. At the turn of the century, this type of battleship had
guns of different sizes. There would be four 12-inch
guns in the main turrets with smaller caliber guns along each side. The purpose was to be able to
engage all types of warship and to attack from all angles, but as the years progressed,
there were many changes and a new way of thinking was to produce a new type of battleship
which had much larger guns. This was called the dreadnought, so called after the first British vessel which began this type. The dreadnoughts were
given 10 12-inch guns with just a few lighter
weapons for close defense. When these battleships came into service, it immediately made all
previous types obsolete. Germany, keen to build a
navy as strong as Britain’s, embarked on a massive
shipbuilding program, thus began the dreadnought race. (triumphant melody) This led to ever increasing tension between the two countries. By the outbreak of the First World War, the German Imperial Army had
13 dreadnought-type battleships against the British Royal Navy’s 21. The German type, however,
was a vast improvement on the original British type. They had much larger caliber guns with 15 inch guns on all turrets. These guns had a range of
more than 12 kilometers, this was three times that of the pre-dreadnought type battleships. However, during World War I, the battleship’s effective range of firing was limited by the primitive capability of the optical aiming
instruments and devices. Another development was
that these new types also had much more efficient energy use, burning oil rather than coal which gave them much greater range. Torpedo launchers were also
fitted to the new battleships. At the outbreak of war, the opposing fleets sailed
to their wartime bases. For the first year, the war
at sea was relatively quiet and the new battleships saw little action. In January 1915, however, there was a serious class in the North Sea off the Dogger Bank. British naval intelligence
intercepted German radio signals revealing their battle cruisers were making ready for an assault. Five Royal Navy cruisers were dispatched which completely intercepted
four German battleships. One of the British ships
was hit several times and badly damaged whilst the
German battleship Seydlitz had two of its main turrets destroyed. The Blucher was also hit
which slowed her escape. She was then attacked by
four of the British ships. She was sunk with nearly 800 of her crew going down with her. In 1916, Admiral Hipper
sailed into the North Sea with five battle cruisers heading a fleet of 16 modern battleships. Their purpose, to draw the Royal Navy out of their base in England. Initially, the plan worked. The British released its
fleet to answer the threat. From the onset, it soon became clear that German gunnery was superior to that of the Royal Navy. Their greater accuracy achieved largely because they now had new
stereoscopic range fighters. Four of the British battle
cruisers were badly hit and another blown up and sunk. British supporting battleships
arrived at the scene and began to pound the German fleet, but this did not stop
the German battleships, they fought back and sunk yet another
British battle cruiser. (bombs exploding) The battle which became known
as the Battle of Jutland raged for 90 minutes, 90 minutes of the most intense fighting ever to take place at sea
during the First World War. Despite the superiority
of the German fleet, they were heavily outnumbered. Von Scheer’s fleet couldn’t
sustain the level of punishment and were finally forced to withdraw. The Royal Navy had won the
battle, but the cost was high. British losses were far higher, in fact, than that of the Imperial Navy. Germany would never risk
her fleet in open conflict for the rest of the war. In 1918 with the war lost, the German high seas fleet
sailed into the British base at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys to surrender. The ships were impounded, but the German Imperial
Navy was to deliver its final blow to the British. They scuttled the entire
fleet of battleships, battle cruisers, and destroyers. Admiral von Reuter’s
decision to scuttle the fleet cost Germany its battleships, but the success of the operation served to take the sting
out of the peace treaty when it was signed a week later at the Palace of Versailles. Part of the treaty stipulated that Germany had to give up her
battleships and cruisers. Thanks to von Reuter, however, the majority of that fleet were destroyed and the victors had to leave
Versailles empty-handed. At the end of the war, the rest of the mighty German fleet was disbanded under the
terms of the armistice, allowing her to keep
only a few minor ships for coastal defense. Any new ships built were
to be restricted in size, thus any navy that Germany had would be far smaller than
that of any other country’s. When the Second World War came, the part played by sea
power was not so different from the part played during
the 1914-18 conflict. Its prime role remained
in securing the oceans and denying them to the opposing fleets in order to ensure that
the maritime communications could be maintained. Thus, navies were still centered
around the battle fleets and at the outbreak of war, the battleships remained
their primary vessel. (ships rumbling) (crowd cheering) in the buildup to the war, Hitler had ordered that the German navy be strong enough to challenge the British and embarked on a major
construction program. In contradiction to this plan, Grand Admiral Erich Raeder,
the naval commander-in-chief, felt that such a plan would be hopeless and that Germany could never match the strength of the Royal
Navy on the surface. Instead, he opted for a
plan of U-boat construction to cut Britain’s maritime lines. (metal rattling) (water splashing) The German naval
expansion program, Plan Z, therefore represented compromise. There would be some new battleships and also a major refit
to the existing fleet. But by 1939, the British Royal Navy was still the largest in the world with its empire colonies, it
had bases all over the globe. They hoped to draw the
German navy into battle and destroy them. At the opening of the Polish campaign, the first battleship to see action was the Schleswig-Holstein. She was the last of the
pre-dreadnought battleships and by the outbreak of war was
considered almost obsolete. She had been deployed
in the Polish campaign and was used extensively
to bombard the port areas such as here in the port of Danzig. The ship had sailed into the port with storm troops hidden below decks. During the attack, the
bombardment lasted all day and continued through the night. The Polish port which was being
used as an ammunition depot was heavily defended. Finally, after a very gallant defense, the Poles capitulated. Her task completed, the Schleswig-Holstein moved
out into the Gulf of Danzig to continue bombarding
other shore defenses at Oxhoft and Hel and Heisternest where she was joined by her
sister ship, the Schlesien. This left the way clear
for the troop ships to pour into Danzig. Danzig had been part of Germany until the end of the First World War and Hitler had been determined that it should be returned to the Reich, taken by force if necessary. The attack had started
on the 31st of August. On the 2nd of September, Hitler had indicated to the western allies that he would withdraw from Poland provided that he was
allowed to retain Danzig and the Polish corridor. Raeder was wary of having to confront the might of the Royal Fleet too soon and warned Hitler repeatedly that the German navy was
not yet ready to face them. On the 3rd of September, he was called to the Reich Chancellery and informed that in response
to the invasion of Poland, Britain had declared war on Germany. Hitler repeatedly assured Raeder
that this wouldn’t happen, but was forced to concede apologetically, “I was not able to avoid
war with England after all.” Raeder observed bluntly, “The
surface forces are so inferior “in numbers to those of the British fleet “that even at full strength, “they can do no more than show “that they know how to die gallantly.” The Admiral Graf Spee was the third of Germany’s pocket battleships, but was to become the most famous. (eerie melody) On the 13th of December 1939 while raiding merchant ships
in the south Atlantic ocean, she was challenged off Montevideo by the British cruisers
Ajax, Achilles, and Exeter. The battle that followed highlighted the fundamental weakness of
the Panzerschiff concept, for the Admiral Graf
Spee was not fast enough to dodge the faster cruisers and her triple 11-inch turrets could not cope with the
three fast moving targets. Although, she’d crippled the Exeter, the Admiral Graf Spee was
damaged in the fighting and was forced to put into
Montevideo harbor for repairs. Skillful bluffing by the
British created the impression that powerful forces were close at hand. Langsdorff was instructed by Hitler to avoid the humiliation of
the surrendering of his ship, so on the 17th of December, the ship was scuttled in
Uruguayan territorial waters. Under the captaincy of Langsdorff, the Admiral Graf Spee sank nine ships, totalling over 50,000 tons. Not a single civilian,
officer, seamen, or passenger lost their lives at his hands. In a last letter written
moments before he took his life, he revealed, “A captain with a sense of honor “cannot separate his own
fate from that of his ship “and I can only prove by my death “that the fighting
services of the Third Reich “were ready to die for
the honor of the flag.” (battleship grumbling) The Scharnhorst was launched
on the 3rd of October 1936. This fast and robust
vessel weighed 32,000 tons. Her sister ship, the Gneisenau, was launched two months later. These two new ships gave a new slant to the definition of a battleship by sacrificing armor plating
to secure high speed. These two ships spent
the first part of the war attacking merchant shipping
convoys in the north Atlantic. In November 1939, they
intercepted a convoy off the coast of Iceland escorted by the armed
merchant cruiser Rawalpindi. She engaged the Scharnhorst immediately. In the exchanged that
followed, she was sunk, but her sacrifice enabled
the convoy to escape. The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau gave further British battleships the slip and returned safely to
port in Wilhelmshaven (speaking in foreign language) – [Translator] The goal
of the whole business was a trade war. We were not the first
battleship in the Atlantic. The Panzerschiffs,
which were later renamed the Admiral Scheer and the Graf Spee, had already been active before us. The Scheer was our example as it had been very successful and we were ordered to
carry out our attacks using the same methods. This meant to set sail
and find as many convoys and merchant ships as possible and to either destroy them or capture them and bring them back to fort. Well, the British had already
added armored merchant ships to their convoys as protection and these were armed and sometimes they were protected with battleships or cruisers. We wouldn’t always risk going
into battle against a ship which may have had better
armament than ours. This could’ve had severe consequences. This would only result
in us losing our ship or bringing them back battle-damaged and this would’ve taken us out of the war either for good or whilst
it’s being repaired. We had many ships around
us in our battle fleets which were used for reconnaissance. We also had our aircraft. These would search the
seas for the convoys and in particular, those without escorts. Although, sometimes the
merchant ships were disguised and had hidden guns. Unfortunately, most of
the ships or convoys that were sailing without escorts were ships that were not carrying any significant or important
loads or were empty, but that didn’t stop us. Before we would engage and start to shoot, we would always give the convoy the opportunity to stop and surrender. We attacked the ones
which hoisted the war flag or sent out Morse or
radio signals for help. We did capture quite a few ships. Most times, we operated independently. In fact, both the
Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau acted independently of each other, but both ships came
under the direct orders of the battle fleet commander. Although, we were in the same fleet, we rarely came into contact unless it was to receive new orders concerning posts or reconnaissance areas. During the campaign in the Atlantic, we were at sea for nine weeks. – [Narrator] On the 7th of April 1940, Britain’s Royal Air Force
spotted German merchant ships steaming north towards Norway. They were headed for the
ports of Narvik and Trondheim. Each of the ships disguised as coal ships were packed with storm
troops and assault troops. Germany was about to invade Norway. Amongst the fleets were the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. There were also two-thirds
of Germany’s U-boat fleet, deployed to protect the troop ships. Although, being spotted by the RAF, fog and low cloud had
helped to mask the ships and although, the British
home fleet had been alerted, they were slow to respond
to the possible threat. The convoys reached their destinations relatively unhindered. Although, one of the merchant ships had been sunk by a Polish submarine. One British destroyer
which had also managed to intercept the fleet was rammed by the German cruiser Hipper which sent her to the
bottom of the North Sea. German seaborne troops made five separate landings in Norway at Oslo, Kristiansand,
Bergen, Trondheim, and Narvik whilst airborne troops seized
the airfield at Stavanger. Apart from the loss of the Blucher, all other German objectives were taken with relatively little
resistance from the Norwegians. However, by the time of the
invasion on the 9th of April, the British home fleet
had almost caught up with the German fleet and whilst the troops
were being landed safely, there were soon to be ferocious
battles going on at sea. Both German and British
losses were going to be heavy. (speaking in foreign language) – [Translator] We were on
the occupation of Norway which took place in April 1940. Normally, we would hear rumors which would spread over the
ship before any orders came, but this time most of us were
taken completely by surprise when the order was given. We just set sail all of the sudden with hardly any warning given. All of the ships were fully loaded and we had a fleet of destroyers with us. These destroyers were
packed full of ammunition, lancers, and equipment. We sailed up the coast of Norway and then on route, we were
told that our destination was to be Narvik. Our job was to travel with
the destroyers to the port, protect them whilst they went
in and the troops disembarked and all the ammunition
and equipment was unloaded and then protect them
on the way out again. The journey up was pretty rough. There was a gale blowing and
the seas were running high. It was worse for the destroyers. It got so rough at one point that equipment was falling overboard and not just equipment, some
men went overboard as well. It was that rough. Well, we finally took the
destroyers into Narvik and they unloaded. Whilst we were waiting
for them to come back out, we were attacked. It was early morning and still dark and the British fleet
had caught up with us. The battleship Renaud, we fought with her for about two hours. The Gneisenau was also involved. We managed to get away and
sailed towards our destroyers as we had to get them out safely. However, we heard that it
would no longer be necessary as the British had caught
them on the way out and they were all lost. The missions we were on
during the Norwegian campaign, and I did five more of these,
usually lasted about a week, sometimes they would last three weeks and the longest one we
did lasted for nine weeks which is a long time on the Atlantic. We saved 18,000 nautical miles. Life onboard could be difficult at times, but being seamen we were used to living in small cramped spaces and we were perhaps better
off being on a big battleship rather than on one of the smaller ships. Most Germans like to eat
potatoes and it’s funny, but that’s what I miss most of all. Of course, it would’ve been impossible to carry enough potatoes onboard to last 2,000 men for nine weeks, there would have been no
room left for anything else. We had a good crew and the officers in
ranking were all very fair. Of course, we always
moaned about the boss, but without someone in charge, it is impossible to run a ship. There was never any question
when orders were given, you just carried on your duty, but quite often the job was not easy. At sea, there would always be
what we call the war guard. There was a war guard
for both cruise stations on the guns where I was, a starboard guard and a backboard guard. There would also always be a guard on duty who guarded the ammunition and machines. We all joined in with this duty and took turns on the rotor. On some occasions, we were
all on duty all of the time, so there was little time
for recreation or resting. I also remember when I was on guard duty, I would have to eat my meals at my post. Sometimes this war guard would be hard. Then, there were only four of us, so we could take shorter
duties and have time to rest. This was usually when the weather was good and we could see more. There was also a night guard on the guns. This was usually the middle gunners and during the daytime, the heavy gunners, this ensured that we had our guns manned and operational 24 hours a
day and could act immediately. The worst time for us was when
we were out on the North Sea, out in the real cold icy conditions. The cold made everything difficult and the conditions were hard. It wasn’t the same for the
rest of the crew onboard because when the ship was
cruising, there was heating, except for the towers where
we were, they had nothing. We used to borrow electrical heaters from wherever we could find them, but this was not possible
out on the rough sea, so we usually ended up standing for hours on duty in freezing cold. This type of work is no piece
of cake, let me assure you. – [Narrator] In June 1940,
the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were sent north with an
order to carry out an attack in the north of Norway. The Norwegian campaign
was drawing to a close. With the evacuation of
Allied troops from Narvik, Germany now had a strong
foothold on the whole country. The German fleet were intending
to intercept the ships carrying the retreating Allied forces. On route, the German cruiser Prinz Eugen engaged one of the empty
British transport ships which was on route to Narvik, but had allowed an
accompanying hospital ship to continue its journey. The British home fleet had deployed some of its capital ships
to the area for protection including the aircraft
carrier HMS Glorious. The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau
spotted the smoke cloud from the Glorious at a distance
of about 30 kilometers. Accompanying the carrier
were British destroyers. The two German battleships
moved in to engage the British. From a distance of 29 kilometers, the Scharnhorst opened fire. (weapons blasting) The German gunnery was
efficient and effective and within minutes, the
Glorious took a direct hit. She started to burn which meant that she could no
longer launch her aircraft. The two destroyers
accompanying the carrier moved in close to protect her and opened fire on the German ships. The distance between the opposing
forces was by now closing. As the Glorious began to sink, the two destroyers fought a fierce battle. However, the first one was soon sunk, the second one, the
Ardent, was hit and sunk, but not before letting
loose four torpedoes. The Scharnhorst took a direct
hit from the starboard side, gouging a hole four meters by 10 meters under one of the main towers. – [Translator] The ship
was severely damaged. We didn’t know quite how much until later, but we did know it was serious. The middle engine had
been damaged and flooded and the turbine was no longer working. Fortunately, we did
manage to get to Trondheim with just one engine, but we could hear the
main shaft knocking loudly and we only just made it. – [Narrator] Following a
period of repair at Brest, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau along with the Prinz Eugen
and accompanying destroyers were to make one of the most
dramatic breakouts of the war. They boldly sailed at full speed through the English Channel. – [Translator] After the ship
had been in Brest for repairs, we had new orders. The trade war in the Atlantic was becoming increasingly difficult and whilst we were hold up in Brest, we knew that we were in
range of the British bombers and they knew we were there. It was necessary for the whole fleet to breakout before we were attacked. There were three options open
to us as we could see it. We could either sail to the
Mediterranean going via Denmark or we could try and sail up past Norway back to the safety of the Bay of Germany, or we could dash out
through the English Channel and this seemed the best option. The British, however, were expecting this and did everything they could to make the channel impassible. However, we took the chance and much to the disbelief of the British, we made a dash from the harbor. There was an attack from the bombers, but it was a cloudy night and they were not
successful in stopping us. Somehow we were just very lucky and it was not until we got
to the most narrow point in the channel at Dover Calais
that we were spotted again. They attacked us with their land battery, but this was no good as we were just out of
range of their guns. Then the aircraft arrived. All around us, the
Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau, Prinz Eugen, and our destroyers
and torpedo aircraft, we were all shooting like mad. The British also sent
some torpedo aircraft. These approached us very bravely and made a gallant effort to attack us. But they were too slow. They didn’t get a chance
to fire one torpedo. We shot down every one of them with our anti-aircraft battery. By this time, luck was
once again on our side, the Luftwaffe arrived and kept the British
fighters and bombers busy and shot down many of the RAF aircraft. All of our ships managed to breakout of the channel undamaged. – [Narrator] The Scharnhorst continued for the next two years
plaguing Allied shipping, but in December 1944,
her end was in sight. During the Battle of the North Cape, she was engaged and
sunk by British cruisers and only 36 of her crew survived. On the 14th of February 1939, the massive hull of an
unfinished German warship slid into the water at
Hamburg, the Bismarck. For the Nazi Party, this
was a day to celebrate the new might of German war power, a moment that was enjoyed
by the fuhrer himself. This was to be one of
the strongest, largest, most powerful, and most modern battleships of all the world’s navies. However, the legend of the Bismarck is one that spans a mere 277 days. Only 277 days from its
launching to its sinking. And yet, the gigantic
Bismarck was responsible for one of the most gripping
dramas to take place at sea during World War II. During that short span of time, it was the most powerful
battleship in the world. Onboard was the most up to date and most superior technology available. It’s massive array of weapons and the extremely high
level of its crews training made this ship a seemingly
invincible war machine. The sea power of the Bismarck now stood between Germany and victory and no navy in the world had ever engaged an enemy warship like her. (speaking in foreign language) – [Translator] Just
before the summer of 1940, I was ordered to the battleship Bismarck. We spent the next few weeks getting to know the ship inside out, learning where everything
was and how the ship ran. Next, we were allocated to our positions. I was ordered to join
the 15-inch artillery, the middle artillery, and I was trained how to use the guns and how to work the ammunition chamber, and all aspects of this station. And then we set sail. We were ordered to run a
series of tests and trials for the new ship in the Baltic Sea. Our job was checking
the guns, calibration, and firing with blanks. With practice and
getting to know the guns, we managed to achieve a salvo rate, one round every six seconds. Considering the size
of our heavy artillery, this was pretty good. – [Narrator] The British had been waiting for the Bismarck to make its move and as the mighty battleship slipped past the coastline
of Norway, she was spotted. A signal was transmitted to the Admiralty Building in London. A Royal Air Force reconnaissance aircraft was sent to confirm the sighting. The aerial photographs
were sent back to London and the sighting was confirmed, it was definitely the Bismarck. She was lying in anchor,
hidden in deep fog in a fjord whilst her accompanying
ships took on fuel. – [Translator] Nobody onboard knew that we had been spotted
by the Royal Air Force and consequently we were unaware that Britain knew we were coming. We sailed into the
Denmark Strait on the 22nd and this was when we
had the first encounter with two British cruisers. All of the sudden, these
two British cruisers came out of the fog. We were given permission to open fire, but then the two cruisers
disappeared again into the fog, so we couldn’t see them
to hit them with our guns. The British also had radar just as we did and here, the commander of
our fleet made a mistake. He assumed that the cruisers
hadn’t seen us visually and that although their radar
beam might’ve hit our ship, they did not reflect back
to the British cruisers as this type of radar was
ineffective at this time. – [Narrator] This belief,
however, was incorrect. The British cruisers, Suffolk and Norfolk, had seen Bismarck accompanied
by the Prinz Eugen and already knew her whereabouts
from the previous signal. The new position was
transmitted back to London. As Bismarck continued, a message was sent to the battleship Hood giving them coordinates and orders to intercept
and engage the Bismarck. The Hood at this time was
Britain’s capital ship and most closely comparable to Bismarck. Although aging, she was
still the most powerful ship in the Royal Navy and was considered to be a
worth adversary of the Bismarck. The Hood together with the Prince of Wales and six destroyers set
off to cut off the enemy at the Denmark Strait. The ships closed fast on each other and prepared to do battle. In the first exchange, the
Hood and the Prince of Wales opened fire with the
Bismark and Prinz Eugen returning fire immediately. In the first minute, a shell from the Prinz Eugen hit the Hood starting a fire which
rapidly spread forward setting the whole ship ablaze, a huge explosion followed moments later. The Hood sank within minutes, having fired only five or six
salvos in the whole exchange. Of its crew of over 1400
men, only three survived. With the Hood destroyed,
the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen turned their guns on the Prince of Wales. He was also hit and forced to break off any further offensive action. After the appalling loss of the Hood, the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen endeavored to make good their escape, but the captain of the Prince of Wales faced difficult decisions. She was a new ship with
many teething problems still to be ironed out. There were many casualties and her bridge was seriously damaged. She eventually retired
to Iceland and refueled. Though, unknown to her,
she had hit the Bismarck causing a major oil leak and making her intended foray
into the Atlantic impossible. – [Translator] Well,
we had taken three hits against the Hood. One in the engine room, one
in the front of the ship, and one in the launch position. One of the crew had died in the battle. We sailed a bit further and then it was decided
that the Prinz Eugen should carry on towards Greenland and we, the Bismarck,
would try to make it dash to Brest for repairs. – The problem we had was
that the welded seine between the backboard and
the second boiler room was seriously damaged
and water was coming in. We were all on the alert and were kept very busy. When water comes into a
ship, as you can imagine, this is the worst that can
happen, people start to panic. Later, after this, things
started to settle down and we went back to
our normal combat posts and the ship steamed on. Later that day, Bismarck was attacked by aircraft from the
new carrier Victorious. One hit was obtained but
caused little damage. The German ship separated and the whereabouts of
Bismarck became unknown, but for the British, the hunt was on. Catalinas took off to join in the search. As the Catalinas scoured the ocean, there came a break in the clouds and the tell-tale wake
of a ship was spotted. As the ship came into view, the signal was flashed back to the fleet, the target had been sighted. (machine beeping) Within minutes, the Ark Royal
together with the Force H drew close and reported to position. The weather was particularly bad in the vicinity of the target, but the crews were told no
other ship was in the area. The order was flashed to the Sheffield to find and shadow the Bismarck. The Ark Royal never noticed her departure. The aircraft of the Ark Royal
flying in difficult conditions picked up a ship on their radar roughly in the position where
the Bismarck was expected. Assuming it to the Bismarck,
they pressed their attack, but on the Sheffield. But fortune was turning
against the Bismarck. Onboard the Ark Royal,
the returning aircraft were rearmed and refueled. In heavy rain, the Swordfish
took off for the second attack. Without doubt, this
would be the last chance to stop Bismarck’s escape. Read Admiral PD Gick was
one of the Swordfish pilots who flew against the Bismarck. – We went in using the
ASV which was ahead of us. To our amazement, all the gunfire was bursting right out ahead of us, but while you can convince yourself that these black blobs
weren’t gonna hurt you, you didn’t worry, and we discovered
afterwards that the Germans were so convinced that no aircraft could possibly fly as low as 100 naughts, that their gun control organization and there was their minimum speed. We climbing were doing
75, flat out doing 80, so we were completely out of harm. It was a lot of luck really. – [Translator] On the 26th in evening, we were attacked for the first time by the British Swordfish,
the torpedo aircraft. Later in the night, a second attack came and this time they were more successful. We got hit. We had tried to evade the
aircraft and torpedoes, but on this time, we
took a hit on the rudder. It was badly damaged. It was bent about 12 degrees and after this, we could only sail about eight miles straight with the help of the engines
working against the rudder. We were helpless. We must’ve been about six hours
ahead of the British fleet, but because we could not escape,
only go in large circles, they caught up with us. At about 6 AM, they caught us. We tried to accelerate
away, but it was useless, we could only travel in a circle, about a 12 degree radius. It wasn’t long before we all realized that we had become a sitting target for the British fleet. – [Narrator] Steaming
helplessly in circles, the Bismarck was engaged
the following morning by the British fleet being hit repeatedly by the battleships
Rodney and King George V. (speaking in foreign language) – [Translator] We took two direct hits on the front of the ship, the tower crew came up top and warned us to get away
as quickly as possible as the tower was about
to explode at any minute. The ships guard sounded the
order for the crew to retreat. We ran back to the part of the
ship where our quarters were. We were below deck. There was panic everywhere. The crew from the operating rooms, the ones that manned
the boilers and turbines had been given the signal Measure V. The V meant versunken, sinking. We had 15 minutes to abandon the ship. I tried to open the hatchway. This was impossible because the flacks had
fallen on top of it. I shouted out for someone
above to try and move them which luckily, somebody did
hear and they were moved. I let the other comrades out first and made sure the room was clear. Then, there was another
direct hit on the deck. We lost so many men and many
more were badly injured. Then, I managed to get
to the backboard side, this was a mistake on my part, the water was pouring in. I had to pull myself up
higher out of the water and get to the next level up the ship. You cannot imagine or believe what I saw. I was on a deck in front
of the Caesar Tower. There were at least 50, probably
more like 100 dead bodies. You just cannot imagine such a sight. – [Narrator] Reducing the
Bismarck to a flaming shambles, the Rodney and King George
V had to urgently retire due to an acute shortage of fuel and Bismarck’s final destruction was left to the crews of Dorchester. In all, 111 men from
the Bismarck were saved, but almost 2,000 including
all her officers had perished. It was an enormous
relief to the Royal Navy that the Bismarck had been sunk, not least that the loss of the
pride of the fleet, the Hood, had been avenged. The first lord of the
admiralty, AV Alexander, went onboard the Rodney to
address her ship’s company. – The destruction of the Bismarck, a great and powerful ship had to be accomplished for the divisions of
the British Royal Navy because in the navy, I
know officers and men know how to avenge the loss
of those who are comrades and many of whom had been shipmates. – Three cheers for the
first lord of the admiralty. Hip, hip, hip. – [All] Hooray! (people cheering) – The Lutzow was launched
under the name Deutschland, but in February 1940, Hitler decided that the loss
of a ship called after Germany would be a bad omen, so the name was then
changed to the Lutzow. In 1940, she took part
in the Norwegian campaign before sailing further north to threaten Allied convoys to Russia. In December 1940, she
and the Admiral Hipper took part in a raid against a convoy defended by eight destroyers. The destroyers put up a formidable defense in what became known as the
Battle of the Barents Sea. Finally, the battleships were
forced to abandon the raid. Hitler was furious at such
a disappointing performance and threatened to disband
the navy altogether. Relations between the
fuhrer and his grand admiral had reached breaking point. Raeder resigned and was
replaced by Admiral Doenitz. The Lutzow was sent to the
Baltic for training duty, but later operated to support the army against the Russians in eastern Baltic. Two months after the
Bismarck had been launched, her sister ship, the Tirpitz,
had rolled down the slipway. At 52,600 tons, the Tirpitz
was 2,000 tons heavier than the Bismarck and had
a larger armament and crew. She had been deployed to Norway in 1942 where numerous fjords gave her plenty of relatively safe anchorages. In September 1943, British
midget submarine known as X-craft had managed to get into her fjord and damage the Tirpitz with limpet mines although all of the X-craft
were lost in the process. Bomber Command was next
to attack the Tirpitz. – [Man] On September 15, 22
Lancasters of Bomber Command carrying 12,000 pound Tallboy bombs attacked the 45 ton
German battleship Tirpitz at her anchorage in Kaafjord. On the run up, small amounts of low cloud made bombing difficult and a huge smokescreen put into operation not more than eight
minutes before the attack soon obscured the target. The Lancasters flew from a Russian base to make this attack. It was carried out from
between 13,500 and 17,500 feet. Despite of the fault of the smokescreen covering not only the Tirpitz,
but all the surrounding area, in this attack, the battleship
received a direct hit for it on the starboard side. – [Narrator] Once again
the Tirpitz was damaged, but once again, not significantly, so Bomber Command was forced to continue further raids against her. – [Man] October 29,
Lancasters of Bomber Command carried out their second attack
on the battleship Tirpitz which had been moved Tromso fjord after the attack on September 15 when a direct hit was scored
with a 12,000 pound bomb. Cloud in the area made the bomber’s task very difficult on this occasion and strong opposition
came from the battleship. On November 12, 29 Lancasters
with 12,000 pound bombs carried out the third and
last attack on the Tirpitz. On this occasion, weather was clear. As the aircraft went in to attack, all the guns of the great ship
blazed away, but to no avail. Three direct hits were scored. Shortly after the attack,
the battleship capsized. – [Narrator] Now the Tirpitz was sunk, Germany had lost her most
important remaining battleship. During the course of the war, the Royal Navy had fought
a long hard chivalrous war against the might of
Germany’s capital ships, but by war’s end, the
importance of the battleship had diminished with the rise
of the aircraft carrier. Her role eventually being reduced to little more than
that of carrier escort. (dramatic melody)

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Comments

  1. 52:08 ?All of the Bismarck's officers were killed?? Not true. The commander of the rear gunnery tower, Baron Burkard von Mullenheim-Rechberg, was the senior ranking survivor. After the war he wrote and excellent book about the Bismarck, it's voyage, the battles and aftermath. Highly recommended. There are so many errors in the commentary to this video. Very poor research. However the interviews with the sailors and airmen involved are worth the frustration.

  2. The guy who was a 15 inch gunner saying they fired a round every 6 seconds. As a 16 inch gunner I call bull shit since with an experienced crew the highest rate of fire is ONE round every 30 seconds for the 15 and 16 inch guns.
    1.) Drop the breech plug.
    2.) Ram projectile in.
    3.) Gently push the powder bag in so you do not ignite the black powder in the ignition pad on the rear of the powder bags.
    4.) Close breech plug.
    5.) Insert primer. ( about the size of a .410 shotgun shell)
    6.) Fire.
    7.) Blow 150 psi air down the barrel to clear out any burning embers so they do not ignite the powder bag for the next round.

    Repeat for each shot. No way he was firing one 15 inch round every 6 seconds. http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_15-42_mk1.php
    GMG2
    U.S.S. Missouri BB 63
    Turret 3 Center Gun.

  3. Out of the Hood's crew of 1,400+ there were only 3 survivors…. Wow. 😔

    Bismark, 111 survivors out of 2,000 brave sailors.

    Naval warfare in the big war was catastrophic as far as men and tonnage lost. Almost incomprehensible. The north Atlantic was bad, but the Pacific theater was even worse. Hard to imagine. Brave men on all sides in such a brutal conflict.

  4. Riddled with errors, and the Hood was not comparable to Bismarck, she was a battle cruiser, lighter armour and smaller caliber guns. The KGV and Nelson class battleships were comparable.

  5. In World War II battleships were obsolete Billy Mitchell prove that 1921 his airplanes that he used little by wings SANK everything that they put out there to test battleships went down in 20 minutes of course THEY didn't like that when he told them they were incompetent they ran him out of the military it's a shame he died six months before Pearl Harbor they were looking for the carriers JAPS SANK a bunch of obsolete battleship which we we floated all of them but three they were relegated shelling beaches I have one word to say about General Billy Mitchell. PROPHET !

  6. 15 inch guns and 1 round every 6 seconds is incredible. Current US Navy 5 inch guns are 1 every 1 second but they are just not 15 inch guns

  7. Might be full of inaccuracies, and the title should really read 'Germany's Battleships', but it's worth watching for some pretty rare footage of the invasion of Norway and the sinking of the Tirpitz, and the interviews with some of the surviving German sailors.

  8. Greatest battleships of WWII
    Missouri
    Iowa
    New Jersey
    Wisconsin
    Bismarck
    Massachusetts
    North Carolina
    West Virginia
    Yamato
    Masushi
    Nagato/Mustu
    Nelson/Rodney

  9. At 5:31 he says the German ARMY had 13 Dreadnought type battleships. And I suppose the Navy had 50 divisions of infantry.

  10. Interesting how increasingly antiquated so many of these ships appear. Hood looks more like a WWI era ship than like the Iowa or Yamota class of ships.

  11. It's good to see it from the German point of view. But the account of HMS Hood was wrong. She never caught fire. A hit by a 14" shell from Bismarck penetrated the deck and detonated the aft magazine. Hood was later shown to have been turning to bring her aft guns to bear. Bismarck got lucky.
    The British used Swordfish biplanes (slow but very capable) because they could actually take off and land on heaving decks in the North Atlantic.The pilot who hit Bismarck's rudder had been on the Taranto raid and knew his survival depended on keeping low – where the ship's guns could not get low enough. This battle proved that even the biggest battleships were no match for aircraft.

  12. Not related to the vid. Who else saw that $##@@! Trump ad on what a "great job" he has done the last two years? That PO me. Campaign ads really shouldn't be on YouTube. Bad enough we see them on TV all the damn time!

  13. i might be thinking of another battle but can anyone tell me when the hood and bismark met, i had heard that the german battleship didnt return fire immediately, i believe by an admirals order, until the captain said 'i will not have my ship shot out from under me'. but here he says they returned fire immediately. anyone know?

  14. Always refreshing to hear a non-American accent narrating a war documentary, sick of hearing how G.I Joe single-handily won every war, even the ones that pre-date the settling of the Europeans whos decendants founded the USA, all whilst flying "Ol' Glory" and how all other countries were fighting their wars blindly with wooden clubs.

  15. 大東亜戦争は日本の辛い歴史
    この日から、日本は主権を奪われた
    戦争は負けないことが大事だな

  16. fuck, get off of my goddamn channel and I don't give a shit if Germany lost the fucking war

  17. Sorry, but I've just watched the first 5 minutes and encountered numerous errors. The comments below are accurate and I'm very disappointed. If you want to do a documentary firstly make sure that what you say is accurate.

  18. The coverage of Jutland has so many inaccuracies.

    They wanted to lure out and destroy the British cruiser force under Beatty not destroy the entire British fleet. The German gunnery was not superior, with Lutzow, Seydlitz, Von Der Tann suffering serious damage and huge numbers of direct hits. The German line DID buckle, twice in fact. They didn’t stand their ground – they retreated from Jellicoe’s main force twice. The ‘Superior German force’ the German’s were outnumbered and outgunned. The British had more guns, were faster and could fire at greater ranges. Not to mention the numerical disadvantage.

  19. In terms of naval power the British relied more on quantity over quality, while the Germans relied more quality over quantity. The British thought was that sheer weight in numbers with older ships would overwhelm and defeat the enemy. The Germans had superior ships in terms of new technologies and the amount of firepower the ships wielded.

  20. The Graf Spee, the most famous German ship of World War 2? Really? Has this chap ever heard of the most famous German warship the Bismarck? I'd take a bet that most people when asked about German warships would mention the name "Bismarck" first…..

  21. This is the most inaccurate peace of crap video I've ever seen!!! Liked the pictures and footage but soooo many statements were complete B.S.. Anyways a lot of brave men on both sides lost theire lives. May they R.I.P

  22. Contrairement à tout le monde, j'aimerais faire un aveu sur la montre de la Patrouille de France: je ne sais pas ce qu'elle vaut pour les pilotes, mais putain, qu'est ce qu'elle est laide. C'est vraiment le modèle à 5€ qu'on gagne dans les stands de tir des fêtes foraines. Pilote, j'aurais honte de porter une merde à 2 balles qu'on offre aux mômes pour leur Noël.

  23. Having read the comments and just heard the commentator say the German Imperial ARMY had battleships, I switched off

  24. 5:45 They had much larger caliber guns, with 15" guns on all turrets. Not sure about back then, but even going into WW2, caliber on a naval vessel is it's barrel length in bore diameter. BB55, USS North Carolina, 16" shells, 45 caliber (16" X 45 = 720" or 60 feet). Not sure if this applied to all navy's.

  25. 5:28 "…the German Imperial Army[ sic] had thirteen…battleships…." Which they no doubt put to good use in the trench warfare that would soon rage on the Continent!

  26. By the time war broke out in 1939 the big battle ships was already obsolete,one aircraft could now sink a battle ship that cost hundreds of millions.

  27. What a load of rubbish, World War II: The Battleships….. ? It should have been called WW2 The Shit Battleships that won by numbers….. and it only talked about the British/German ships. Typical British rubbish, half of their officers should have been hanged for war crimes against their own troops! No wonder Australia HATES the POMS! Human FILTH!

  28. Historically inaccurate. This video leaves you with a misguided education on all aspects of the subject matter.

  29. The German interviews were cool.
    Brits were so lucky of Hitler's haste in not allowing time for a balanced naval fleet.
    The Brit navy had been in declined since WW1 and it showed.
    Poor sailors… of both navies.
    Rest in Peace

  30. Rather biased towards German ships and a few inaccuracies. Where were mentions of ships like the Queen Elizabeths, especiially Warspite who had something over 15 battle honours over both wars? She and her destroyers hammered the Germans at Narvik, Matapan, Calabria, not a mention! Also, Bismarck was not the most powerful ship of the war. Arguably Yamato or Musashi were. Hmm.

  31. Britain did not fight a chivalrous war, ever. This crap is such propaganda. The truth behind the tactics of the British and Allies stratigies was appalling. Using civilians as bait, lying to their public to sway opinion and support, it is truly sick the way "Great Nations" conduct war and the methods they employ.

  32. I don't know much about the battleships of this era, so I'm happy I've got the facts from this documentary

  33. I gather from the comments, which for the most part seem to be better informed than the docu itself, that the enthusiasm is not quite unanimous… So I'll chip in:
    Why do translations always have to range from very approximative to downright bad ? How hard is it to get an exact translation and just read it? <sigh!>

  34. Waste of money and lives of German Navy.Had Hitler spent all that money on a Massive Sub force to starve Britain, he could probably forced them to give up.
    German surface fleet and men man to man as good as the British ,but way inferior to the greatly more numerous Brutish Fleet.
    It was sad to see, however, a fine superior Bismarck a sitting duck with a defective rudder.Freak occurance,but part of war.

  35. Scharnhorst: engaged and sunk by British cruisers at the battle of the North Cape. Since when was HMS Duke of York a cruiser?

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