Since I did not see the explosion of our first opponent myself, because of the ordered target change, I asked the comrades after the battle who had been eye witnesses of this brief event.
It was our artist, our painter and specialist who was able to describe the scene most effectively :
[Julius C. Schmitz-Westerholt was a Leutnant (S), (S = Sonderführer = specialist). See: article and watercolors in “Signal” No. 17, 1941. It is posted at http://www.Kbismarck.com
]. [There is also a post-war account of this in: The Story of the Prince Eugen, pp. 43-44, Fritz Otto Busch, Robert Hale Ltd., London, 1960]
“ When the alarm came, I was obviously asleep. After all, it was only about 0430 AM. Because of the constant air raid alarms, I expected that we would be awakened by an alarm. Anyway, I wake up promptly during every change in course or speed. I had worked hard on my sketches and I was dead-tired, and I must have slept like a log. I race topsides, obviously still a little dopey, to the starboard boat deck, past the 10.5 cm Flak, and then across from behind the catapult to the portside.
I see the smoke clouds on port, and I run back and plow up to the bridge and up the fighting top mast to the admiral’s bridge.
I did have a cabin there at one time, and I knew that I would have the best view from the signal bridge for preparing my sketches.
Furthermore, I had my Leica around my neck, but I did not get a chance to take any pictures during the battle.
I had to pay too much attention to the events, to remember the colors, the shapes and everything else, everything that one may need later on, in order to reproduce a picture of such a sea battle correctly and flawlessly.
My school buddy and friend, the senior air force lieutenant, was already up there. We always called him the “Flying Master”, captain knows ! ”
Certainly I knew that and I listen eagerly.
If anyone can, this artist certainly had observed in detail the colors and mood of such a battle scene.
And he certainly did just do that.
When the specialist [the painter] looks across to the English through the large artillery binoculars, across to both battleships which are in a staggered formation bearing down with white foam at the bow, the pilot taps him with the elbow: “For heaven’s sake, they apparently feel as if they are terribly powerful! ”
We all had a similar feeling, when these ship came toward us with point blank abandon, a typical English habit of underestimating the opponent!
And then “Bismarck” fires, and the painter runs across to the starboard bridge wing, because the battleship is in a slight starboard staggered position in relation to “Prinz Eugen”.
He [the painter] watches the unfolding picture of power that our flagship projects: clad in giant clouds of powder vapors which rapidly swirl aft because of flank speed, its barrels directed toward the enemy, the rangefinders and the entire superstructure illuminated by the fiery bright firing flashes.
One, two salvoes burst away, then the specialist [painter] hurries back to capture a view of the impacts at the enemy.
And right in the middle of his walk, right behind the small protective screen that is provided for the signal crew of the watch, he is slammed with sheer brutal force against the mast: our own turrets have opened fire !